Monthly Archives: August 2011

the accidental wedding photographer.


I don’t do weddings.


I mean it.

Except when approached by an incredibly lovely couple who referred to me by my very first photography teacher, Diane Tyska at Mother McAuley High School, who happened to be planning their daughter’s wedding because she lives in Atlanta and was getting married at home in Chicago. PHEW! You got all that?

That’s how I met Mike & Nancy Wisniewski, whose daughter Kathy is the afore-mentioned bride, and an extremely lovely person in her own right. Lovely on the inside and outside, I might add. Which made me really thankful that I said Yes to the Dress.

Kathy was marrying George (also very nice) at the Ridge Country Club in Evergreen Park. The bride’s room was the women’s locker room. Not the prettiest room for a beautiful bride. But when I took Kathy over to a window to get some portraits, her bridesmaids jumped up on the bench to look over the lockers to see what was going on. And we had a little fun.

“Oh, isn’t she so pretty!?!” “Oh! I can’t wait to be a bride!” “Oh, our little Kathy is getting married!”

The girls played along and wow! I got some great images from that locker room.

To make matters even better, I recently won a contest with this very image. My favorite photo blog, The Collective, had a contest for wedding images, I entered on a whim, and took second place.

I am still wondering how that happened.

I’ve booked more weddings since winning the contest. I have found that each couple comes with their unique story, that each ceremony will be as special and different as the next. And that I am blessed to have been approached by some really wonderful couples.

Stay tuned here for the Wrigley rooftop wedding, the high tea and croquet wedding, the downtown wedding and the wedding where the bride will be given away by her two sons, in full military dress.

I don’t do weddings; but I really can do people’s stories.

never gets old.


I have Page One today.

After 25 years of working at newspapers, it still warms my heart to see a day’s work sent out into the world.

Some Page Ones have been more memorable than others. Two indicted ex-governors. A new Chicago Mayor. A firefighter’s children at his funeral. Tornado-ravaged Utica. My first Page One was a great image of a guy leaping over a giant puddle when the Loop flooded in 2000.

Today’s Page One, like all of them, is special for several reasons. First, I’ll remember this summer working with our fearless intern, Ariel Cheung. We have worked together a whole lot and have managed to become friends. At this assignment, we had a lot of fun running around, surveying damage at Grant Park, even after security told us we couldn’t. We got to climb up and see the view from the rooftop of a Michigan Avenue building… a pretty rare opportunity and a direct result of a relationship I established with someone on previous assignments. That makes me feel good.

I even suggested the headline that was used. Very cool.

Conventional wisdom predicts “paper” news will die sooner than later. I will miss seeing my hard work beaming up at me from my driveway, and hearing from friends and family who tell me they saw it too. The Internet is fleeting; tangible evidence of a job well done lasts only seconds. On paper, it can last a lifetime.

I treasure every one of them.

meeting the osteens.


Reporter Ariel Cheung and I met Victoria and Joel Osteen at U.S. Cellular Field (Comiskey Park) on Tuesday. Her story and the photos are online at

I don’t regularly listen to or view the Osteen’s broadcasts. But I have read about the incredible growth of their Houston ministry. And how they are often criticized for being “too positive.”

Really. Too positive?

They are, without a doubt, a beautiful couple. Married for 25 years, which immediately¬† makes me admire them. And they are NICE. Not icky-nice. Genuine, heartfelt nice. I’ve been around enough people in this job to feel what is real and what is not. They are for real.

I love that they are getting out there, letting people know that everything will be OK. That life is hard, indeed, but also worthwhile. That  difficult times will pass and things will get better. That you can rise above it all, and be all you are created to be.

And how does all that happen? The Osteens don’t have a magic wand they wave around.

They stand firm on God’s promise, and back themselves up with God’s word.

And that is pretty powerful stuff.

cutest. family. ever.


Mrs. Janes is a teacher at my daughter’s school. My girls have never been her students, but she has worked with student council and is known as one of the many “really nice teachers” we have in our district.

Mrs. Janes won a session gift certificate at the Rogers Towing charity auto show I took part in last January. It was an event sponsored by a school family; a first time event to raise funds for special rec and it was pretty awesome.

As a mom of two young kids, it took a while for Mrs. Janes to book the session, but it was well worth the wait. We scheduled for one of my favorite local shooting venues, Hickory Creek Forest Preserve.

Despite a little humidity and two young kids, we pulled off a great session in the woods. The kids stayed focused on all the textures, sounds and smells around them, and we kept it light-hearted and fun. We avoided scraped knees, unfortunate falls from the tree trunks and any tears from cropping up.

It’s no wonder Mrs. Janes is known as one of the “really nice teachers.” Her family was incredible, and we had a lot of fun exploring the woods together.

I try to take part in community charity events as often as I can. I believe in sharing my blessings with others on a regular basis, especially with my friends and neighbors who unequivocally support my business.

Meeting with the Janes family, I know those blessings came back 10-fold.

To see a few more images from the Janes family session, please visit my facebook page for a short video!