Out of Chicago Flower and Garden Photography Conference
August 2018

Yet another awesome photo conference by Out of Chicago was held from August 26-30 at the Chicago Botanic Garden (and an Embassy Suites nearby), with attendees from all over the United States. With teachers like Anne Belmont, Charles Needle, Mike Moats, Alan Shapiro and David Cobb (and a few others), it was bound to be a challenging experience! Would you get any sleep? Would you come away with a great flower (worthy of Anne), or garden (worthy of David) photo? Would Alan’s “in your face” approach lead to camera shake? You didn’t know when you started, but you knew you would learn some new approaches, and be challenged to go beyond “that shot you usually get” (thanks Alan, the eyebrow-raised New York Angel on my shoulder!)

Living 10 minutes from the Garden I decided to save $500 on the hotel and commute to the classes. Of course my wife picked that week to go to London, so I was stuck getting the kids to school and getting to the photowalks late every morning! I thought it would rain early in the week, but it only did a little, and the cloudy weather was perfect for shooting! I only got a little wet, once!

Anne’s opening presentation was nothing if not inspirational! Indeed, that desire to be inspired, to shoot emotionally, to go where no photographer has gone before (sorry), was one of the unexpected benefits of the week, with several instructors challenging you to see how the shot is a reflection of your inner self: what you actually “see” comes from deep inside you, from where you are most authentic. Also, criticism says more about the criticizer than it does about the target? I guess that’s most often the case, but probably not always? I digress…

So my schedule was chaotic, and not ideal, given my circumstances (darn family thing)! But the walks I did get to were great, and pointed out areas of the Garden I had never been too. Shari Miller, Charles Needle, Thomas Shahan, Alan Shapiro, Tony Reynes and David Cobb were all awesome to listen to and follow, and quite different in their approach to getting the shot, but all with an abiding passion for not only photography, but helping others become great photographers as well.

Alright, enough talk, let's get to some photos! Thanks Photo Inspirers! And thanks Out of Chicago!
5th Annual Out of Chicago Summer Conference
June 2018

Another great photography conference was held from June 21st-24th 2018 in downtown Chicago by Chris Smith’s Out of Chicago Photography Conferences. The conference, several hundred strong, was centered at The University Center of Chicago, but was also held on the streets of Chicago with many photowalks at all times of the day and night! This was one Lake Forest photographer who was ready for some great photography training and great shooting.
My conference began Friday morning, with an all day architecture lecture and photowalk led by Angie McMonigal and Michael Muraz, of Chicago and Toronto, two brilliant architectural photographer/teachers. We got some great shots in the morning at the Palmer House, and the The Chicago Cultural Center.
After lunch we got out our longer lenses and proceeded to shoot the outside of the Aqua building and then Millennium Park!
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Friday night’s keynote by Scott Kelby was pretty much what I expected, after reading one of his books I knew what a hilarious and “no bull” approach he has to teaching photography. I doubt that any of the hundreds of attendees that night left without several good belly laughs about the state, and the business, of photography. Afterwards, I was happy to join legendary street photographer Steve Simon for a photo crawl to the Chicago Theatre.
Not too early on Saturday I joined Scott Kelby’s Portrait Retouching class, which was great because you can’t know too much about Photoshop. I had no idea the Liquid filter was so incredibly powerful! I also really enjoyed Jim Welninski’s class Imagination and the Fine Art Photograph, where the class members made comments that everyone, including Jim, seemed to really appreciate! Ugo Cei’s class on the Secrets of Travel Photography gave me one great tip: the perfect simplicity of only one person in the shot! Later I took a stroll over to the Buckingham Fountain to get these daylight shots.
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After dinner another photowalk, this time with Mr. Kelby, took us to Crown Fountain and the Bean. Scott warned us beforehand to watch out for stray elements in the edges of your frames that were only there to ruin your great shot.
I took another stroll after that to the Buckingham Fountain, where I wanted to get some night photos of the Chicago skyline behind the lighted fountains. Of course I met up with several attendees with the same idea I’d had!
The next day I enjoyed classes in Black & White Photography from Jim Welninsky, Photography Business from Michael Muraz, Macro Photography with Lou & Todd Nettlehorst, and Creative Habits with Angie McMonigal. All in all a wonderful creative and learning experience! Next year’s Summer Conference will concentrate on architecture and street photography. Thanks to Out of Chicago for an awesome learning (and fun!) experience!
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