A portrait of my dearest on a bitterly cold morning before sunrise


Two weeks ago, we drove to Champaign, Il to photograph a poster cover with a group of runners. The idea was to get a silhouette shot of five runners on the clearest morning we saw in the forecast.

While we waited, I used Tina to stand in on a few shots. Here’s one of my favorites.

I altered the sky colors quite a bit, but I loved the way Tina is just barely visible in the dark.

Click to enlarge.


The confusing world of an artistic mind


This last year has been change, change and more change for me.

I used to blog here at Le Café four to six times a day. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But I always blogged. Every day.

I knew I wanted to pull back. And I did. I stopped blogging controversial material, because I felt the rift it drove between my family and maybe some friends. And I even felt that it was affecting my professional life a little.

I don’t think less about controversial, political or religious topics. I just don’t post it. Not here anyway.

I want to talk artist thoughts, but it’s tough to discover the artistic voice I want to put out there.

It’s tough to nail down a certain online persona when the options are endless.

What it comes down to is to just be me. And to just talk about it as if it were completely normal. And I guess the voice will just arrive.

One thing that has inspired me this year is the twelve months of self portraits challenge project I’ve done all year. I have one left. It’s going to be in December.

The challenge has been an exercise in creativity, but also in the process of getting tangled in the mire of trying to be artistic, when life isn’t all that benevolent with offering time to get untangled.

That’s what creativity is: It’s not always being creative. It can become forced. It feels forced. When you press that button that publishes it for the world to see, it feels coerced. You feel dirty. You feel insecure. Art isn’t always the outcome, but the process.

Below the fold, I’ll add all 11 self portraits from this year. Drop a comment and let me know which is your favorite. I think July is mine.

My least favorite is May. The flowers.  Continue reading “The confusing world of an artistic mind”

Reliving our short 40 hours in Istanbul


As our schedule allows, I’m running back through our trip’s photography to find more that I haven’t posted yet.

I will warn you. I’m posting a lot here.

I can look at street photography all day long, which is why I feel comfortable posting many photos in a row. If it were a photo shoot with a model, I only post one or two finished photos. I could be wrong, but the industry tends to lean toward not over doing it when showing models or portraits.

But everything’s different when looking at the street, especially when it’s foreign to the viewer.

The great pinch in the tuchas when looking at Street photos is that these people and places exist. Every day that you live your life, somewhere else, there are gobs of people carrying on their day to day business. They’re going to school, to work, to church and to play. They eat and shop, all in places and in languages that differ very differently than your day. While you were born in your family, with your friends and your deeply-loved hobbies, ideas, beliefs, politics, there are zillions of people who have astonishingly different views.

Where you are born is a lottery that so many win. And there are contrasts to winning the lottery that boggle my mind with every viewing of a street photo.

What’s left after all this thought is the humbling reminder that despite all our differences, we are all the same. We all want to eat, to sleep, to love, to be healthy, to laugh and to live.

We are all incredibly different while excruciatingly similar.


















































A room with an enchanting view

When Tina and I travel, we’ve found AirBnB to be the best way to stay. We’ve used the service to travel in France, Turkey, Italy and when we visited San Francisco earlier this year.

In Rome, we stayed in a beautiful apartment where the walls were floor to ceiling art and books. Had we stayed in a hotel, we would never experience the life of an Italian in such a culturally rich way.

From the decor to the layout, we get to live like a Roman.

Enjoy some of the interiors of the space below.






A handful of knee-jerk responses to our European Vacation

  • When in Europe and don’t want to use cellular roaming, but use maps (at least on iPhone), you can at least use the GPS to find out where you are without using data. This was especially helpful when getting lost in navigating the streets of Venice. I discovered it in Rome, and it would have been helpful while in Istanbul. Although I noticed that in Istanbul, I could use the compass without using roaming data. Compass was extremely helpful for navigating everywhere, as all I had to determine was which way we needed to go, and then click over to compass to determine which way to go.
  • The above remix’d song from a French band called Lilly Wood and the Prick was our official vacation song that will be associated with the trip.
  • We stayed in AirBnBs, and the homes were exceptional if not awesome. EVERY home had white walls, which convinced me to let Tina repaint our walls white in our apartment.
  • In our experience, AirBnBs are WAY better and more economical than hotels when traveling Europe (and America). They give you a chance to discover a new city in a home, with a kitchen. One night in Rome, I cooked spaghetti and meatballs. One night we bought a variety of deli-type foods from a small place in Florence and reheated it at our home. We tried cheese encrusted with red pepper flakes, another cheese with truffles, wild boar, a spinach lasagna, a potato and ham frittata, traditional Bolognese sauce with pasta. We tried an olive-filled bread. In Rome, we stayed in the home of a famous writer. The home was filled with art and books. It was just as important to us as walking the streets of Rome.
  • We stayed one night in the Airport Hilton, which was not nearly as comfortable. The air in the rooms is stale. In the morning our lips were chapped and it just felt dirty and traveled.
  • I thought Istanbul would be more dangerous, but ended up getting my phone stolen in Rome. A place where I thought we’d be a bit safer. My phone was in the front pocket of my coat. I’m pretty sure I was knocked hard from behind and it was slipped out very quickly. Fortunately it wasn’t something like my wallet or passport. Still annoying as it would have been helpful to have.
  • Italians are — from what we could tell — a very kind and energetic people. We went to one store near our Rome apartment twice, and the guy remembered Tina from the day before. He was so kind and helpful. Most people we met were approachable and thoughtful. One cheese shop owner gave us an incredible dinner recommendation at a place called I’Raddi. This was a restaurant far from any tourist attraction, and man, was it great!
  • We took one paid tour while in Rome and it was invaluable. We learned things we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. But Tina and I like traveling on our own; laying down our own schedule and route.
  • In France and many places in Asia, I could always find a grocery store that rivaled the size and offering of most grocery stores here. But in Turkey and Rome, we didn’t see larger sized grocery stories. We stayed in non-tourist locations, and space seemed to be at a premium.
  • We were in Venice on Halloween, and it was refreshing to see that every child’s costume that we saw was homemade. Not one costume was something bought at a store or resembled a Hollywood character like Superman or Spiderman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But kids in Venice don’t have a Target or Walmart to shop in.
  • Everywhere on earth, there are people that appear honest and ones that will take advantage of you as soon as you open your mouth. In Turkey, a cab driver told us it would cost triple to get to our apartment … which was about a half mile from our location. Other people seemed more honest.
  • Turkish Airlines, like all airlines these days, has no flipping knee room — even for Tina. And like any 12-hour flight, the bathrooms become revolting throughout the trip. I hate this so much, but there’s no way we can afford business class as it was some $5,000+ per person. Surely there could be a “meet me in the middle” offering between no room and some room on International flights that doesn’t involve getting the exit row.
  • Someone should do a film to put on exhibit of people putting luggage into the overheads. I find the process endlessly entertaining especially on long flights when people somehow slip more bags on the plane than should reasonably be allowed.

I realize these are a lot of thoughts, and I likely will think of more.

What are your responses to travel, European or otherwise?