Saturday, July 28, 2007

Midsummer Downtown Block Party

City Block Parties happen all the time. Vendors give away lots of goodies like Frisbees, magnets, candy, pens, etc.

But besides getting all the promotional items, I like watching all the activity that goes on. There's something about a community get-together that is just fun to be at. People seem to have a great time just hanging around listening to music or watching kids putting on a dance show. Reminds us all of simplier times I guess.

(By the way, all images were taken with a Fuji F10 "point and shoot" camera.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chicago, Schaumburg and Oakbrook Offices

Chicago Downtown Office

Schaumburg Office

Oakbrook Office

I've met most of my clients at my Schaumburg office because all of my sample albums are kept there. It's also got a very large table in the boardroom so it works out great for doing album layout sessions for matted albums there.

But I also have offices in Oakbrook (near the Oakbrook Center Mall) and in downtown Chicago on South Wacker Drive which I use for other purposes that are not for client consultations. Since my album samples are stored at the Schaumburg location, it is difficult to move them all to Oakbrook or Downtown for client meetings. But the other two offices work out well for meetings that do not require the sample albums to be there.

I thought I'd post a picture of the three boardrooms for those who might be curious to see how the rooms compare.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Don't They Feed These Guys At Weddings?

Sometimes these weddings take so long.. the guys get a little hungry!

Actually, these guys had some difficulties with their cuff links and wanted a shot to show how hard it was to deal with.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tae Kwon Do

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I studied Tae Kwon Do when I was in high school. It was really the only form of exercise that I didn't mind doing. I was able to obtain a green belt ranking.

Later when I was living in San Diego and was 30 years old, I decided to go back to take more lessons. I was one of the few "older" students in the school but I didn't mind. I found it to be just as much fun as when I was in high school. I was allowed to keep my green belt ranking because the instructor felt I still had the skills to maintain that belt rank.

Unlike many other students who were more interested in moving up their belt ranking, I wasn't as interested. I had been asked many times from both of my instructors to test for the higher belts, but I just never bothered. But it was always interesting that they would pair me up against Red Belts or Black Belts whenever we sparred. I suppose they felt it was a more even match that way. :)

Before moving back to the Chicago area from San Diego, I decided to enter a tournament. I knew that this would be my one and only chance to compete and that I would most likely not be taking any more formal lessons going forward. I was placed in the 30+ age grouping. In this catagory, anyone over 30 was to compete against each other, regardless of their belt ranking (however Black Belts needed to compete against other Black Belts.)

I was lucky to take 2nd place in the forms competition and I took 3rd place in free sparring. Not the greatest, but not bad... I still have the trophies today!

It wasn't until years later that I found out I had a torn meniscus in my left knee and I had to undergo knee surgery to repair it. Today, my knee works just fine, but I still "baby" it by avoiding doing kicks with my left leg. I'll never know for sure if I had injured my knee because of the Tae Kwon Do activities or if it was something else, but chances are, it was because of my martial arts training.

Still, I encourage everyone to take up some form of Martial Arts training. It's great exercise and it has the benefit of being a form of self defense as well.

Can I still fight if necessary? You bet... it's something you never forget. Can I kick as high as the guy in the picture above... sure can!

It's Been A BUSY Couple of Weeks!

Wow, these past couple of weeks have been rather busy!

2008 weddings are booking very well for me. Just these past two weeks, I've met with several clients who have decided to go forward with hiring me for their weddings. I've been at the office quite a lot in these past couple of weeks meeting with potential clients. It's always fun to meet new people and I'm always glad when they are referrals as well.

One of my brides last year has sent me three referrals already! I'm really lucky to have such enthusiastic clients who tell all their friends and acquaintances about me. It's because of these kinds of clients that my business continues! Thank you!

This Saturday's wedding is for the bridesmaid of one of my past clients. And just today, her cousin booked her May 2008 wedding with me as well!

Thanks very much to everyone for keeping me in business!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Vendors and Fans

Besides watching the game, I like watching the fans and food vendors at baseball games too!

These were just some of the people there. I wonder how much beer and hotdogs are sold at a baseball game? I think there's more beer and hotdog vendors than any other kind of vendor there. But I saw vendors also selling peanuts, ice cream, Cracker Jack, "foam fingers" and cotton candy. But the cotton candy vendors must have it easier than the other guys since their product is a lot lighter in weight than something like beer!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cubs Vs Astros at Wrigley Field

Beautiful Wrigley Field

The Pitch

The Swing

Another Swing

Point of Impact
(click to see larger image)

"And it's One, Two, Three Strikes You're Out!"

"Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!"

I have not been to a Cubs game in several years, so going to the game today was a real treat.

My friend Steve treated my brother, another high school friend and me to a day at Wrigley Field and we had a terrific time! The game started out with a lot of action with plenty of homeruns happening between both teams.

But as hard as they tried, the Houston Astros were defeated 7-6 by the Cubs!

Go Cubs!

I shot nearly 150 images. Besides photographing the game (we were seated in aisle 222, several rows behind home plate), I also made sure to photograph some of the “action” happening around us too! The fans are a huge part of the game in my opinion and it would not be complete without photographing them as well.

We all had some hotdogs (can’t go to a Cubs game without having at least one hot dog!) but some fans followed the advice of the song, "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" (“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…”)

Going to a ball game with friends is about as American as apple pie!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No More Cake Smashing!

Every now and then, a bride or groom gets a cake "smashed" into their face by their new spouse. But it doesn't happen that often anymore. Most are rather conservative about this tradition of cake feeding.
The funny thing is, I often hear a stern warning from the person being fed to the person doing the feeding to "Be Nice." That often works. But sometimes, it doesn't and then the cake gets smashed into the face anyway. Just remember that retaliation often follows!
Last Saturday's couple decided to do the conservative thing, but they fed each other at the same time. Wonder what would have happened if one did the smash and the other didn't?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Jennifer Keller - Harpist

Ok, if you read my blog regularly, you know that I am a big guitar fan. No secret there.

But given the choice of a guitar, a string quartet, or any other instrument(s) for a wedding ceremony, cocktail hour or reception... my number one choice would be... a HARP!

That's right. A Harp! Even before photographing weddings 17 years ago, I always thought that the harp was the most elegant of instruments. The sound from a harp is so pure and soothing that it makes perfect sense to have this wonderful instrument at weddings.
But unfortunately, very few people hire harpists for weddings! I just don't understand why! Perhaps people don't think about it or they just don't know where to turn.

Well, look no more! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND booking Jennifer Keller for the job! She plays so well and she's got the COOLEST HARP around! It can be played acoustically or plugged-in and amplified! That's so cool!

I've got a story that I must tell you about Jennifer. About ten years ago, I went to the Arlington Heights Guitar Center to look at the latest musical instruments. Being a guitar player since I was ten years old, I love going to music stores! Well, I never forgot about the time I went to Guitar Center and saw this harpist who brought in her harp to try out sound systems! Unbelievable! In all the years I had been going to various music stores, I had NEVER seen anyone bring in a harp! I mean, after all, it's GUITAR Center... not HARP Center! Well, everyone around had to check this out for themselves. In one area of the store, we had the Heavy Metal guitarists who were busy strumming away on the electric guitars making all sorts of noises. Then in another room, there were the drummers all testing out the latest drums. But in the sound reinforcement room, there was Jennifer testing out sound systems! It was the funniest sight to see these long-haired rock 'n rollers standing around checking out the harp player!

I never forgot that in all these years. Then just yesterday at my 7-7-07 wedding, guess who was hired to play the harp? Yes... it was Jennifer! Until yesterday, I did not know Jennifer because we had never been introduced. But she looked so familiar. So I went up to her before the wedding and introduced myself and I asked her if she had played at one of my weddings before, but she said she had not. During the ceremony, I kept thinking to myself, "Where have I seen this lady before?"

It wasn't until the cocktail hour when I saw her playing the harp through a sound system that it dawned on me that she could have been the lady who brought in her harp to Guitar Center many years ago. So I asked her if she had purchased her sound system at Guitar Center and she told me that it was about ten years ago that she did. It was her!

I got such a kick out of it that I had to tell the bride and groom. After I got home from the wedding and was uploading my images to my computer, I told my daughter about Jennifer too. She remembered the story I told her years ago of the "Guitar Center Harpist" and she was happy that I had finally met the lady from the story!

Well, I want to give Jennifer my highest recommendation! She plays wonderfully and I don't know of any other harpists out there who can perform at your wedding and also at your cocktail hour or reception too! Without a sound system, it's very difficult to hear the harp over all the people milling around at a cocktail hour. But with Jennifer's great sound system (she bought a good one), you can hear her easily.

Please book Jennifer for your wedding! She's very reasonably priced for her services and she's a pro. If you have not yet decided on an instrumentalist for your ceremony or for your cocktail hour or reception, consider hiring Jennifer. I don't give many vendors this kind of recommendation, but I will for her. She left a very favorable impression on me ten years ago which I had never forgotten. If you want your guests to remember your wedding... hire her! They will be talking about it for years too! Here's her website:

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Here's a shot from the wedding of June 23. Navy Pier has fireworks displays in the evening and we were lucky to get a few shots while we were at the Adler Planetarium. We were hoping for some larger fireworks displays, but we were lucky to get what we got. I'll bet they did a bigger display on July 4 though!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Monday, July 02, 2007

Another Taylor

This is a Taylor GS8-E Custom.

Last year, I owned a Taylor GS-MSe (Maple sides and back with a Sitka Spruce top with the Expression pickup system installed) and ended up selling it. So this year, I decided to get the new GS8-E Custom which is a guitar with Indian Rosewood sides and back with a Sitka Spruce top. It also has the Expression pickup installed but is considered a "custom" guitar because it has a cutaway. Taylor doesn't make the GS with a cutaway unless it is ordered as a custom guitar.

The Rosewood version of the GS should make the guitar a little warmer sounding than the maple version. Plus the cutaway should make it easier for me to reach the upper frets.

The 2007 version also includes the new 9 Volt Expression system as opposed to the older (2) AA battery sytem. Body sensors can be turned on and off too. And, the new headstock joint makes the neck so much nicer as well! But I'll be removing the pickguard on the guitar like I have done on all the other Taylor guitars I've owned.
By the way, I also picked up a new Taylor DN3 guitar too and will install a K&K Pure Western Mini pickup in it. The DN3 is a dreadnought design with a gloss Sitka Spruce top and satin finished Sapele back and sides. Essentially this new 2007 model replaces the older 310 model. Photos at another time...