Sunday, June 29, 2008

Loving Life!

Yesterday was the first day of the famous Taste of Chicago summer festival. And, being so close to the ocean I couldn't help myself and left the "Taste" to take a boat tour along the harbor. I have some great images to share with you from my excursion but for now here's a few "hot off the press" that I thought you'd enjoy.

The weather is wonderful today so have a great Sunday!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Fun!

A few weekends ago we had our annual Summer Pool Party and it was a blast! Last year I broke my Olympus Stylus Epic as it got wet during a cannonball by one of the kids (once it dried out it worked but I didn't want to risk it again). So, this year I picked up an underwater case for my Fuji F10 and this event was the time I tried it out.

I was a little skeptical at first but it held up well. It did come apart twice but fortunately there was no damage to my camera. I don't know if I rolled it up correctly so I will have to "play" with it some more.

Being able to be in and under the water is great as you're exposed to angles and perspectives that are only available from being in the water. If anyone uses this brand of underwater casing I'd love to learn more about your experiences with it. And, if you'd like to learn more about it check out this website.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why didn't I think of that?

Never forget that as an entrepreneur and artist you are always selling an experience. Starbucks, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, BWM, Panera Bread and Lexus all understand this basic principle of marketing in the new millennium. And because they understand how to reach a sophisticated audience born with and adept at using the Internet/YouTube/iPod/iPhone/Playstation (insert your favorite whizbang gaget) these brands continue to survive and thrive despite the economic highs and lows of our economy.

Well, meet a couple of guys who used a little creativity and an ordinary/everyday product, in an over-saturated market, to create prosperity, freedom, and long-term growth for themselves and for their company. I believe this falls into the category of "Why didn't I think of that?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Love

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. With the summer now in full swing I've been spending a lot of time at the marina and downtown. And of course that means I have to take my camera with me to capture the beauty of this city. I haven't forgotten to share with you the big news regarding what God has done, nor the images from my weekend photo shot at Morton Arboretum. So, here's to a week full of wonderful weather and ever-increasing creativity. Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Breeze

Happy Friday! And, thank God it's finally here.

I love the summer, I mean I really LOVE the summer. Sunshine and good weather just does something to me creatively. Although the winters here are crazy the summers are mild and quite pleasant. Recently, I had to spend some time downtown and couldn't resist sharing some of the beautiful Chicago summer with you.

There are two fountains in Millennium Park where you can get drenched in water. There were hundreds of kids there having a ball. In fact they were having so much fun that I wanted to join in and get wet. I wasn't prepared that day but I will return and join in - beer belly and all.

Here's to the joys of youth and the blessing of summer! Have a great weekend.

(This post was made @Caribou Coffee - Sam's home away from home office)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

There can only be one...

You gotta love this game!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One more thing...

The Internet is a beautiful thing! With a little help from Google I found my old martial arts instructor and karate association from Germany! Is that cool or what? Check it out:

Black Knight Karate Association

We practiced the Okinawan art of Gojuryu and I was with them for a little more than a year. This was my instructor in Germany - Mr. Oneal (we called him Sgt. back then). Believe it or not I've met and trained with this man - Mr. Edward M. Brown Jr. And, before I moved to the Midwest I use to train with the world-renowned Dr. He-Young Kimm in Han Mu Do.

Wow, this is bringing back so many memories. I'll have to scan some of my old black and white prints from the last tournament we hosted on our base. Warning - you're gonna laugh when you see me with my white belt competing in a forms competition. And as some of you may know I used to wrestle way back in High School. I'm not going to post a picture of me in my wrestling tights - the world is not ready for that one yet. Hey, I'm not ready for that one!

If you're interested in learning more about Gojuryu check this out:

And to learn more about Han Mu Do check this out:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A night out with friends

Recently, I had the opportunity to get out of the house and have some fun with a few friends. I don't get out that much so I couldn't resist the invitation for a good time and some good food.

We all met up at a really cool place called Jersey's Pizza and Grill. This was my first time there and it is a great place to chill, grab some really good food, and check out your favorite sporting event. Since we were all martial artist we went to check out the UFC and the place was packed with martial artists from all styles and walks of life. They have two 6' x 10' HD big screens and thirty two 42" HD Flat screens. And the neither the food nor the decor dissappointed.

But, what was really special was that I got to meet some of my fellow students that I haven't met, and was reunited with an old friend from "back in the day." Here's a few snapshots from our evening out that I hope you enjoy. If you're ever in the area do yourself a favor and check out Jersey's.

This is Lorenzo and Bill, two of our school's instructors. Not only are they fantastic martial artists, but they are geniunely great human beings. Everyday they live their lives to help other people any way they can. I've got a lot to learn from them about serving others as they are the "real deal."

Although I just met these guys that night, they treated me like we had been friends for 20 years. I don't know what it is about HapKido but it attracts some of the nicest and "real" people I've ever met.

Lorenzo took some time to share his new website with us. I'm so happy for him and all of the movie success he is having. Not only is he staring in the soon-to-be released martial arts film "Hand-to-Hand", but he's also written and is directing his own film this summer!

This is Bill and Sal. Seven years ago when I started training in HapKido they were both black belts and teachers at our old school. Way back then they endured my myriad of questions and would always take time after class to help me and any other students who needed help.

Well, over the years I was reunited with Bill but had lost touch with Sal. Bill kept in touch with Sal and told Sal that I was training again and he came out to see me. It was really cool seeing Sal after all of these years. He looks great and is now not only highly ranked in HapKido but is also a top Aikido instructor.

What a great evening! If you'd like to learn more about our school check out Ki-Do Dojo. To learn more about Aikido check out Shinjitsudojo.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Windy City

Chicago is a great big city! I am originally from NYC and have traveled and lived in several cities both in the US and abroad. I LOVED Dusseldorf and Munich. And, Paris wasn't bad either. But, Chicago has become one of my favorite big cities.

Where else in the world can you go from the Yacht Club to the Magnificent Mile to Millennium Park in a little more than a bus/cab ride. Not to mention just about every kind of food you could imagine is right at your fingertips. Yes, the winters are brutal but what a beautiful place this is in the summer!

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Former Life

Happy Monday! Whew, what a week. Time is truly speeding by and waits for no one. But, I've got some cool stuff to share with you so it will be worth it in the end.

While searching for a print for an upcoming portrait competition I "ran" across these images from my days as a technology executive. The young lady on my left is Kim Cattrall, now famous from Sex in the City. Unfortunately, I don't recall the actress' name to my right but both of them were starring in a series on the USA Network. They were on-hand to promote their series and USA had this crazy idea of creating personalized TV Guide covers.

They were both very nice and seemed to really enjoy meeting everyone who stopped by. I'm glad to see the tremendous success Ms. Cattrall is having as she was really kind (this pose was their idea as my idea was really boring).

Although I'm a photographer I love taking pictures with celebrities. It must be the TV guy inside me. Here's a few more that I thought you'd enjoy.

This is me kickin' it with world-famous and "pound-for-pound" one of the greatest fighers ever - Mr. Sugar Shane Mosley.

This is yours truly with boxing legend Evander Holyfield. Please remind me to share the story of how this image came into being. It is a testimony of Evander's big heart and love for people.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

I don't recall if I've ever shared this with you before? And maybe subconsciously I was a little afraid to. But no more - for we overcome through the power of our testimony!

Not long ago while organizing several hundred print photographs I stumbled upon this image. It is 18 years old and was from the Ramstein Air Show Disaster in Germany. I thought I had given all of my images from this event to the authorities but somehow this one made its way home. It is titled "Am I My Brother's Keeper" and after all of these years it still brings back memories as if it were yesterday.

I won't go into detail as there's so much that happened that day but while I was taking this shot my roommate grabbed me and my other roommate and we started to run as fast as we could. Almost immediately I could feel the heat behind me as the flames from the burning jet fuel began to engulf the area where we were standing. As we felt the heat on our backs getting closer to us we suddenly dove behind a garbage dumpster and hugged the ground. We didn't know if the burning fuel would come over the dumpster, but it was all that was there to cover us.

When we heard the fuel splatter on the dumpster, we got up and witnessed what could only be described as a war zone. Not to be morbid but there were hundreds of people sitting under those canopies engulfed in flames in this image.

On that day my roommate was his brother's keeper - he saved our lives.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because as some of you know I've been really working hard to get my life "back on track." How I got off track I don't know but all I know is I have ended up in a place that I didn't plan on reaching. The only way to describe it is that my life no longer represents me. So, I've had to learn how to exercise my faith in a whole new way to get back to a place where my life represents me.

If you're a frequent reader of my blog then you know that I am often open with my life experiences. I believe that by occasionally sharing my "ups and downs" I can help someone else know that they are not alone, God has not forgotten about them, and they can overcome whatever they are facing in life. That is the spirit of this post as I often have to remind myself of my victories and what God has brought me through. I should have died that day or been severely burned and crippled for life and yet, I wasn't. So, no matter what the enemy says about our lives he's a liar and we have the victory!

Just like David rehearsed his victories before defeating Goliath we should also constantly remind ourselves of what God has done for us. I know that if you change your focus you can change your life.

So, if someone out there is feeling down and defeated be encouraged - the battle is not over and you win!

Thank God for His goodness and focus on what your heart desires and together we will transform our lives into the experiences that best represents us! We are our brother's keepers and I hope this transparent moment encourages someone to never give up, quit or faint!

Have a blessed and empowered day and know that I am praying for you!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Marina

One of the wonderful things about living in this city is that I'm so close to the water. I've been in love with water since I was a child. And, I've been in love with boating ever since my Grandfather took me fishing when I was little.

As I've gotten older I'm not so crazy about all of the maintenance associated with owning a boat but I LOVE to be out on the water. In fact I'm seriously considering getting a Jet Ski so that I can quickly and easily get back out there. So, I can't help myself as I'm drawn to water like a moth to a flame.

While taking a break from the Gospel Music Festival I "found" myself at the marina on a beautiful afternoon. And it didn't disappoint. For those of you who "feel" me about water and the ocean, here's a few pics from a little time spent at the marina. Enjoy and be blessed!