The Day Mike Went to Prison...

The Day Mike Went to Prison...

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Beauty can be found in some strange places sometimes. Last Saturday, I spent over four hours in prison. It was a wet, cold and dreary day– just like you’d expect every day to be like at a correctional facility. The Joliet Correctional Center opened in 1858 and finally closed its heavy steel doors for the last time in 2002 due to budget cuts. Since then, people have broken into the prison to explore, take photos or vandalize. But in 2018, to raise money for the local museum, the prison has opened up for special history and photography tours. And that’s what brought me to Joliet in the middle of a downpour early on Saturday morning…

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Run, Kid, Run...

Run, Kid, Run...

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 My favorite picture of the day, when one little girl was left behind by all the other kids. Then her sister came up behind her, put her arm around her and ran the rest of the race as her guide.

My favorite picture of the day, when one little girl was left behind by all the other kids. Then her sister came up behind her, put her arm around her and ran the rest of the race as her guide.

Yesterday I photographed a 5K run for one of my local clients. After the adults ran, there were several heats for the kids. The excitement was high for a lot of the kids, but it was heartbreaking to see some small kids in complete and utter terror as the race started and all the sideline parents screamed ‘encouragement’ to their little cherubs. In the final race, the 7-10 year olds, thirty kids tore out of the gate in one huge pack; it was scary to think what would’ve happened if one of them had tripped, as someone did in the 4-6 year olds’ race, when a little person pile-up was narrowly avoided.

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At the end of the day, fortunately, all of them made it back to their parents, and the event was a success. At least I think they did. I left before all the 7-10’s made it back to the finish line. Hmmm…

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Invasion of the Trolls

Invasion of the Trolls

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One of my favorite clients is the Morton Arboretum, who I've been shooting for for about the last ten years. One of the cool things about the Arboretum is the yearly installation exhibits they've been doing. I've shot Steel Roots (steel piping twisted into the shape of tree roots), Legos, metal frogs, even large scale origami art, but I think this year's takes the prize for the coolest. For the last couple months, artist Thomas Dambo from Denmark and his team have been constructing gigantic trolls from reclaimed wood, and placed them in fields, in the woods, overlooking the highway and elsewhere.

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I spent a couple hours photographing the trolls under construction in late May. Now they're finished and I'm heading back this afternoon to photograph the 'official portraits' of the completed trolls, with people to show the scale of the giants. Should be fun.

The trolls are on display for the next 2-5 years, depending on how long they last in the Chicago weather. If you're in the area, go see them; you won't be disappointed.

When the President Comes to Town... and Needs a Photographer

When the President Comes to Town... and Needs a Photographer

 The Family Photo

The Family Photo

The Irish Consulate in Chicago called me, wanting to know if I’d be interested in photographing the president of Ireland, Michael Higgins, on his visit to the city. Without missing a beat, I said yes and got the details. A few weeks later, after being checked out by the Secret Service and Irish security, my son (in his first job as my assistant) and I found ourselves in the Drake Hotel, ready to photograph 300-500 guests, all eager to shake the president’s hand and have their picture taken with him.

 Setting up the family photo- President Higgins has many relatives living in the US.

Setting up the family photo- President Higgins has many relatives living in the US.

 Attorney General, Lisa Madigan (in blue dress), representing Chicago politics

Attorney General, Lisa Madigan (in blue dress), representing Chicago politics

 Secret Service not looking conspicuous at all. My son David is in the front, fitting in well.

Secret Service not looking conspicuous at all. My son David is in the front, fitting in well.

 I was told the woman on the left is one of Muhammad Ali’s daughters.

I was told the woman on the left is one of Muhammad Ali’s daughters.

 The late Cardinal Francis George stops by for a few laughs with the President.

The late Cardinal Francis George stops by for a few laughs with the President.

 Everyone got a picture with the president

Everyone got a picture with the president

 In the end, David and I got to pose with the President too. Photo by Shane O’Neill/ Fennell Photography (Dublin)

In the end, David and I got to pose with the President too. Photo by Shane O’Neill/ Fennell Photography (Dublin)

 I set up a website where everyone could download their pictures, as well as order prints.

I set up a website where everyone could download their pictures, as well as order prints.