A New Understanding: 2015 Retrospective

01_guypoy2015_122915Mammatus clouds in the sky over St. Nicholas Church in East Chicago, Ind., following a thunderstorm, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. Mammatus clouds are formed by cool air sinking rapidly from the upper atmosphere.

For the past several years, whenever I’ve sat down to begin selecting my favorite images for this year-end blog, I’ve gotten an overwhelming feeling of worry. I’ve always second-guessed whether I’ve shot enough things throughout the year that stand out enough to be featured together in a best-of collection. Typically, my worries go unfounded, and I’m left struggling to narrow down 50 or more of my favorite images to a palatable selection.

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Goals, Growth, and Gratitude: 2014 Retrospective

01_2014_yearendLightning strikes the Willis Tower following a severe thunderstorm as seen from Solidarity Drive, Monday, June 30, 2014.

“Do you ever wonder how many times your life is gonna end? Like how many people you’re… like how many times your life is gonna totally change and then, like, start all over again? And you’ll feel like what happened before wasn’t real and what’s happening now isn’t actually…”

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Wet Plate Journey


Bronwyn Coffeen and John David Mercer pose for a wet plate collodion portrait on their wedding day in Mobile, Ala., Saturday, July 19, 2014. The 8×10 tintype image was produced using a vintage 1896 view camera with an 1880 brass petzval lens.

The technical journey photography has taken me on over the past twenty years has been nothing short of remarkable. I’ve gone from shooting 35mm film on a Canon AE-1 for the Block Jr. High yearbook, to shooting on my first digital camera in high school that had a whopping 1/3 megapixel (yes, one-third of one megapixel) resolution, to clacking away at ten frames-per-second on the latest Canon 1-series digital bodies. While digital technology has allowed me to obtain images that would have been impossible to capture as cleanly on any other format, there’s something about the digital workflow that lacks soul. I can’t hold 1’s and 0’s in my hand. I can’t accidentally drop and scratch a .jpeg file. I can’t smell a histogram.

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Hungry Jack Frost


Dick Reillo and Stella Jimenez during an outdoor winter portrait shoot, Thursday, March 13, 2014. Special effects were used to create the snow for the shoot, which was done on a clear night.

My good friends Dick Reillo and Stella Jimenez have been asking me to do a portrait of them in the snow for months. While there’s been no shortage of the real thing here in the Chicago area as of late, brutal cold and winds have accompanied almost all of our snow storms this season. With a successful portrait under the real thing looking doubtful, I assured the couple that I’d give them a snow picture one way or another.

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