Portrait Without a Name

We were having lunch at Spice Road Table in Epcot, but I obviously picked the wrong seat at the table. I had my back turned throughout lunch and didn't even notice the woman sitting behind me.

Luckily, my daughter's fiancee, Ben, also shoots, and he mentioned what a "picture perfect" set up it was. He was absolutely right.

I took some surreptitious shots, but HAD to introduce myself before I left. I asked permission, and she graciously consented. Good for me, because the surreptitious ones just didn't feel right to me.

Uptown Saturday Night

The Salt Shed in Chicago is an amazingly fun music venue in Chicago. Food trucks abound before the show, plenty of choices. Like "The Gilty Pig".

Eric and Jen run The Gilty Pig. But from the looks of it, Jen didn't know about the sign until it was too late. Eric's got that "I'm in trouble" look. And Jen has the "Yeah. You are." reaction.

Francine, SC (by way of Paducah, KY)

I met Francine (she was doing her yardwork) as I "sniffed out" an abandoned house in Conway, SC. She was the epitome of Southern hospitality. When I inquired about the "residents" next door, she explained that the previous owner had died years ago and left the house to his children, who have since left it to whatever squatters and vermin happen by.

She was afraid of posing by the barn because snakes live under there. I put my foot under it, and told her "I'll take the first bite". When nothing bit, she was willing to pose for 2 pics.

This was, by no means, the end of Francine's story, but I think I'm running out of room.


I've lived at my current apartment for about 3 years now. It's nothing special (probably even less than that), but divorce can have a very detrimental impact on your financial present and future.

There are a lot of jerks that live there. People still blowing off fireworks even though it's August. Residents with the biggest dogs also seem to have the fewest dog poop bags. This is fortunately not everyone in the complex.

I've een Stanley over those last three years, always passing with a wave, smile, and a hello. But the other day we struck up a conversation that just seemed to lead from one topic to another. The state of the world, and of our country. Entitlement that it sometimes seems that EVERYONE around you feels. Kids. Respect, and lack thereof. No matter what we talked about, Stanley was quick to smile and chuckle.

I think Stanley and I have a lot in common. We are both alone for the most part. We have family but live alone. It gets lonely and frustrating sometimes, and there is always a need for a little human connection. At least I have work to go to. Stanley has his garden. At least the plants don't talk back to him.

Scott's Second Job

Scott is the owner of the property/farm/produce stand who was gracious enough to let me shoot on his property. He got there a bit before I did, and he was already how picking corn that morning. He had no other help that day, so it was up to him to provide "customer service" as well. It also seems to be a bit of a self-serve honor system, and I guess they trust people if they still have that as an option.


I met Johnny as I was "perusing" what I assumed was an abandoned house in my area. I saw a man working on a truck, so I walked up to make conversation and inquire about the house. To my surprise, I heard 2 voices. I looked below to find Johnny hard at work, while the friend was "busy" waiting for Johnny to tell him to start the truck. Johnny asked what abandoned house I was talking about.
Whoops. Turns out that abandoned house is actually Johnny's house. Luckily I was able to extricate my foot from my mouth enough to smooth talk Johnny into a portrait. I assured him he didn't have to do anything but look at me, and I would be out of his hair.
I left him with my card, because he assured me "If you think I make a good picture, I should introduce you to some of my friends." I'm hoping I get the email or text.
This is EXACTLY why I always ask people if I can take their picture. I find I meet the most interesting people.


Meet Tyrue Slang Jones. I was at the Star Lounge Coffee Bar/Dark Matter, and how could I NOT notice Slang standing there? By himself, with the shoes perfectly accenting the mural. I asked, he agreed. I mentioned how the shoes worked with the mural. He responded with "I painted that."

Already long story short, Slang painted this mural (and the design on their coffee mugs, and much of their interior artwork) amongst so many other pieces and projects seen around the city. Amazing works of art that you just kind of take for granted because they seem to have ALWAYS been there.

Some people are just born an artist. It is effortless (or at least it seems that way). This describes Slang. Watch some of his videos and see if you don't agree.

When I see a person that I hope to get a picture of, I ask. I am not a big fan of the "surreptitious snap" - not knocking those who do it, it's just not for me. Don't get me wrong, I HAVE done it, but if possible I try to avoid it. 1), I would appreciate if someone would ask me if they wanted a picture of me, and B )it gives me the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people.

A Glimpse of Suburbia - Susan

My Saturday morning walks with Addie are always a good way to start the weekend. Quiet and peaceful, and the opportunity to say hello to some neighbors.

I'd hate to make someone feel like they were working on their weekend.

Party in the Front 

Faith in humanity restored! Just when I had given up for the day in getting a picture that I wasn't embarrassed by, I happened upon these two kind souls in the Party City parking lot. They could NOT have been nicer about accommodating a complete stranger with a "Photo of the Day" request. I wish I had caught their names, but wind mixed with age and a rough day of tinnitus means I didn't dare ask their names a THIRD time.

I'll get the names eventually. They have my Instagram handle (f_u_oscar), and they actually got a laugh out of my name. When I explained the meaning of it, the only response was "Yeah. F&$k Oscar." I'm sure Oscar would get a laugh out of it as well.
(For the record, the gentleman on the left goes by the handle "Weasel Sims", on Instagram as
<a href="https://instagram.com/weaselsimsran?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=be44ueshs354" rel="noreferrer nofollow">instagram.com/weaselsimsran?utm_source=ig_profile_share&a...</a>
Check him out!)

Mad Dog, No Glory

(From "A Day in Pilsen with Kathy and Caitlyn). Walking down 18th St at 10:30 am, I was approached by this gentleman (even though he was seated). He asked me if I would get a bottle of wine for him. He had the money, so someone was going to get it for him, might as well be me. I didn't ask for ID, I assumed he was of legal age.

Three bucks. That's what he gave me. I went into the liquor store and asked what their cheapest wine cost. "$3." Plunked it down (no tax), grabbed a bottle of MD 20/20 red, McDonalds to-go bag, and I made my delivery.

Kathy asked if I felt like I was going against "my code". I wasn't giving him the money or giving him the incentive to go further down the rabbit hole. One way or another, it was going to end up in his hands.


I met Harry on the street today. I had (wrongly) assumed that he was a new street resident of the neighborhood. I learned a lot about Harry in the 15 or 20 minutes we talked.

We talked about marriage and relationships. Harry was married young, to his school sweetheart who he met when he was 14. They married at 19, but it didn't last. After 6 years of being single, Harry realized he just LIKED being married, so he re-married.
As I said, Harry is NOT homeless. He has a wife, he has a house. But as much as he loves being married, he goes out scavenging on his days off, because being at home with his wife drives him nuts. He likes the "hustle" on the streets, the scavenging for pallets and scrap metal.

When I took his picture, I commented to him that I didn't even have to ask him NOT to smile. He responded, "I don't need anyone to tell ME not to smile!" ironically, he said it with a laugh.

I hope that I see Harry again on the street. We had a lot in common, and it was really nice to connect with someone when you're not expecting it.


Good time at the fundraiser at Lagunitas Brewery. Cool place, but you can only take so much of the soundtrack from Willy Wonka before you say "peace out". Thanks to Holly - dear friend and she never has a problem when I say "I need to get a picture!"

3 years, 6 days, 5 hours 

That's how long it's been since I've seen Levita. December 14th, 2015. I took her to McDonalds on a rainy afternoon to help her clear her head. I went back to work, and haven't seen her until today.

Both our lives have changed over the last three years. I'm not going to get into personal details, but suffice to say, I am holding out hope that her life is also changing for the better. Her new apartment isn't much, but it's hers, and she is very happy and proud of that fact.

It was good seeing her again. She is just as gregarious yet savvy as I remember her to be. She is a survivor.


I ALWAYS ask permission before I take someones picture. I usually do this because 1). I'm polite that way, and B). I don't need the hassle if the person prefers to not have their picture taken.

That being said, you get used to hearing "No thanks." But not from Keith it was more "No problem!"

Keith works at Federal Moto, a custom motorcycle shop in Chicago.
<a href="https://www.federalmoto.com" rel="noreferrer nofollow">www.federalmoto.com</a>
If you really like the smell of motor oil, chassis grease, etc... or you just like really nice people who obviously are dedicated to customer service, check them out!

Keith - Another Chapter in Divine Intervention

So my daughter Abbey texts me today to see if I can drive to her work to bring her coffee. Looking out at the around 6" of snow and the whipping winds, venturing out for a 15 mile drive to drop off coffee wasn't on my list of "want to do" for the day.

But I did. As I got to "the mall", I noticed Keith sitting by himself. He looked a little "lost" or disoriented. I sat down next to him and asked him if he was ok or if he needed some help.

Turns out Keith had an aneurysm a few years back. He was in a coma for months, and lost the ability to function on even the most rudimentary levels. But he never gave up. He still has trouble with his right side, and can't even feel if a glove falls of his right hand. His exercise is his daily walk, and in the winter, he does his walking at the mall.

He lives by himself, he takes the bus to the mall, he does his walk, and then goes home. Honestly, I'm not sure if I would have the resiliency to do even that.


These days, I pretty much go with the assumption that people are going to be hesitant about letting a stranger take their picture. Honestly, what does someone have to gain by it?

I'm glad when I ask and get approval. I very rarely take someones picture without talking to them first. If they say no, I get it, I thank them, and I move along.

Walking through Wrigleyville yesterday evening. I noticed the environment before I noticed Sebastian. And when all the elements just kind of fell into place, I had to ask if I could get a picture. Gladly, Sebastian could not have been nicer.

There are times when I'm glad that I am proven wrong about people.


There isn't much of a story with Morgan. I really didn't learn anything about her, except for the fact that she is a really nice person who was kind enough to let a complete stranger (one who looks like me, no less) take her picture. I saw her as she was walking down the street, headphones on, with the colorful skirt and the blue coat. The reflections in the window were just a bonus to me.

Southern Hospitality from Mozambique

I had to get to Fort Benning, GA. before I ran across some real "southern hospitality". Kenneth was, by far, the nicest individual I met on the road.

Kenneth works at the Thunderbird Inn in Georgia. As far as I can tell, he may own it. He was there when I checked in at 9 pm, and still there the next day at 7 am. And he showed no signs of going anywhere.

The place is a bit of rat hole, but he was very cordial, and he had no problem when I asked if I could take his picture. He mentioned that he has a double lazy eye (one is more severe than the other).

While the South as a whole might not be "backwards", the Thunderbird Inn seemed to be a step behind the times. I was particularly struck by the cash register and TWO adding machines with paper printouts. I guess just in case the first one breaks, right?

Stef, Mike (L-R)

The things people throw away these days.

I'm not talking about Stef and Mike, the two people on the couch that was being thrown away. They were just waiting for Mike's roommate to come back to give him a hand moving the couch up to his apartment on the third floor. And with the tiny narrow hallways in our apartment complex, it honestly probably took them about an hour to get it up the stairs.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not speaking negatively about Stef and Mike. They were very kind and friendly. Nor am I knocking or mocking the practice of taking someone else discarded goods. Hell, I got a pretty sweet pair of perfect salon chairs just last week.


As I passed by the auto salvage yard on Carroll St., I spotted House. He was rather hard to miss, with his bright red shirt and trimmed white beard. And also because he stands about 6'6", and probably goes about 350. House is an imposing enough figure, he can afford to be nice to people. He knows nobody is going to cross him.

House does part-time work as private security. I found that really easy to believe. He may be nice, but I don't know anyone that would want to test his limits.


On my lunch walk, I saw Molly from down the street. Not wanting to appear "stalker-ish", I did not quicken my pace to be able to catch up with her. Alas, as I got about 50 feet away, the doorbell she was ringing buzzed her in. Oh well, I thought, opportunity missed.

She saw me walking and made eye contact with me. "Are you coming into this building too?" "No", I replied, "but I have a favor to ask you", etc…

Her only request was that I help her jam the door open so that she didn't have to get buzzed in again. The only thing I had available was my camera bag (strap visible, lower right). It did the trick.

I used to think that pretty much everybody in the world was an asshole that didn't give a shit about anybody else. I'm starting to think I was just hanging around with the wrong people.

Caitlin and Jack

"K-A-I-T-L-Y-N?" I asked?. "No, it's C-A-I-T-L-I-N. And his name is Jack." 1 minute later, as I was saying my goodbyes, "OK, C-A-I-T-L-Y-N." "Nope, it's C-A-I-T-L-I-N. That's OK, there's a lot of different ways to spell it."

We happened to be walking in the same direction. As we were about to part ways, I asked, "C-A-I-T-L-I-N?" "Yep, you got it. Have a good day."

I probably still screwed it up.

Porthole Tucker

Tucker had the location, I had the execution. The definition of teamwork. At Phyllis' on Division and Wood in Chicago.


A perfect Chicago Spring day. A great day to meet Vito, because Vito is the perfect Chicago name. No story to tell other than that. If only the weather would last more than a day.

A King in His Castle

Dave lives in a one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Chicago, with the bedroom, kitchen, and living room rolled neatly into one package. Not the best neighborhood, so there are various "self-defense aids" placed around the apartment.

Also placed around the apartment are remembrances from past wives, past lives, and past loves. Dave has had a "colorful" life, and everything on the walls is a little souvenir from a specific time in his life. Of course, not ALL of them are wholesome memories. Dave is, after all, a single man.


Syboo works in the box warehouse across the street from our studio. While I have only met most of the individuals who work there in passing, I know that they are just about the friendliest group of guys I've ever (not) met. There is always a wave, a handshake, a "How ya doin'" from across the street. So when I saw Syboo, Beats perfectly placed, sitting on the hydrant, I knew I had to ask for a picture. He was glad to do it.

Lunch Conversations Interrupted

Walking around at lunch to take pictures also means that I invariably end up interrupting other people's lunches. Luckily, Andrew (front) did not seem to mind. As I was about to shoot, John (in the cab) looked up, so I merely requested that, if he could look at me, that would be great.

Neither of them seemed to have a problem with my "No Smile" request, but Andrew seemed to pretty much ignore it.


As we were walking out of the machine shop for what may be the last time, I spied Jose (whom I had not met before), and there was no way I was not asking for a picture. As usual, my "no smile" request was met with a mixture of bewilderment and bemusement, and, as usual, the reaction of his friends consisted of catcalls and autograph requests. But he was a very good sport about it.

As I was shooting, I spied a figure on the stairwell behind Jose. Thinking it was my partner in crime "wolffmatt69" (co-worker Matt Wolff), I barked, "Hey, get your ass out of my shot!". I then realized it was Ken, the gentleman who has been our gracious host for the last 4 days. He took it in stride.


As a favor to Neil (the manager of the metal recycling plant), I graciously offered to do a portrait of him and his bulldog. So, while I was passing by today, I figured I would try to set up a time with him. No Neil. Luckily, Carl was happy to help me look for him. Plans were set, and I was about to leave. But I couldn't leave without asking Carl for a portrait. Again, he was more than happy to help me out, even though he doesn't look like it.

Xavier, or Some Good Deeds Do Go Unpunished

Long story. Bear with me or move along…

Yesterday I promised Ponytail that I would bring lunch for him and Hollywood. He seemed a bit down, more so than usual. So I picked up an extra-large pizza, heated it up at work today, and set out in my car to find them. Of course, they were not where they said they would be. Why would they?

I drove a few blocks either way, until I spied an individual pushing a shopping cart. I didn't recognize him, but I rolled the window down to talk to him.

"Hey man, have you seen Hollywood or Ponytail?"

"Hollywood? He's right here."

Hollywood indeed was standing right next to the man (his name is Ron). I gave him the pizza and a 6 pack of root beer, and made him promise that he would save some for Ponytail. He probably didn't, but what else can I do?

As I was speaking to them, I saw an individual a couple of buildings away. He was staring at us, and I assumed he was going to give me shit for "encouraging" the homeless. So I went to speak to him.

I was wrong again. I met Xavier, a local artist who is working on a commissioned mural for Chicago House, a local Social Service agency that helps the homeless. I had asked Xavier for a portrait before, but he told me he did not have the time to stop. He appreciated the fact that I let him be, and did not take a picture without his permission. So he relented this time.

Xavier was painting his mural outside for lighting sake. He explained the light outside, especially on a cloudy day, is much more even and uniform compared to what he could do inside, and he can back up and study the entire scope of the mural easier.

We spoke on a multitude of topics, from rent prices in the city compared to the suburbs, to the difference between the homeless in our neighborhood compared to downtown.

If you've made it this far, thank you for bearing with my ramblings. If not, well, that's your loss.


I had the good fortune of photographing Nate before, but there was always something about the shot that left me "wanting". I felt like I really didn't do my best. I was lucky enough to pass him on the street again today.

I have a pretty good memory, so when I passed by with a holler of "How ya doing', Nate?", he looked, recognized me, and responded with "Still walking' around takin' pictures, huh?" Conversation started, which led to my Mea Culpa and a request for another try. I think I did better this time.


I didn't get a name, and I didn't ask for a story. But I thought this gentleman's face had so much character, especially in the harsh light, that I had to get a picture.


Matt and I first met Neil months ago on one of our neighborhood walks during our 365 project. He is the manager of a local metal recycling plant/warehouse, and he told us anytime we wanted to come by to shoot, feel free.

We were pretty excited at the opportunity to shoot inside on days of inclement weather. So, every day during our lunch walks, we would pass by. No Neil, doors closed tight. Still we persevered, until it became a running joke with us. "Go by Neil's?" "Sure, why not." "OOOOOHHHHHH, not here." And off we would go.

Fast forward to today. Beautiful sunny day, and who should we run into. Neil. He immediately invited us in and gave us a tour of the facility. Just the kind of place I like to shoot in. Dirty, gritty, a place low on manners, but super high on character and personality…sort of like me!

As we walked through one of the many makeshift lunch rooms, Neil stopped, I asked him to look at me, and I snapped a couple of shots. Thought nothing of it until I looked at it on screen.

100 times out of 99, my OCD is going to kick in and I will maniacally straighten all the crazy lens caused by shooting at 24 MML. But not today. The garish colors, the timing of the tv set (that's for you, Tucker Chris), the odd askew angles. It felt so right that I couldn't bring myself to "fix it".

Robert P

My first thought when I turned the corner was "Wow. Richard (www.flickr.com/photos/26178772@N02/20750868141/in/datepos... ) has gotten older." As I got closer, I still wasn't sure, so I asked if his name was Richard. He replied "Nope" in the raspiest voice I've heard in a while. It sort of sounded like he was eating a sandpaper and gravel sandwich , and I had interrupted his lunch break. So I introduced myself, and complimented him on his attire. I said I admired him because he dresses like he was telling people "You should respect me." He found that amusing, so he let me take his picture. He did insist, however, that I get a copy for him. That's a deal I will make every time.


When I asked his name, at first I thought he said "Bessie". "That can't be right" I thought to myself, so I asked again. "Percy", he repeated, through a very thick accent. I thanked him, shook his hand, and asked where he was from with an accent so thick. "West Africa. I have been in Chicago for 5 years now." I asked where he liked living better. "I love it here. The freedom here." What about the weather, I asked. He smiled and nodded. "Okay, the weather is better there." I'm sure it's a trade he is more than happy to make.


It was a beautiful Spring-like day in Chicago today, except for the 40-50 mph winds. But since you don't have to shovel wind, I'll take it for February.

I saw Joanna walking down the street, and her hair and sweater were perfect as she passed by the blue poles. I thought for sure she was going to say no, but I must have been just charming enough for her to allow it.

She was trying to get her hair to stay out of her face for the picture, but I told her it was fine to just let it go. I thought it was a pretty decent testament to the day it was.


Philip was crossing the street, and there was no way you could miss him. I missed him by about 15 feet, so I turned the corner to catch up to ask for a picture.

"Excuse me," (no response). "Excuse me" (a little louder, still no response). I figured I was getting sent the message without him saying "Don't bug me" flat out. Then I noticed the earbuds.

He turned around, I shook his hand, and explained what I do. No problem. He was walking down the street, so, by my rule, this is where I saw him, so this is where I photographed him.

LOVE those sunglasses. And the cigarillo (which he almost put out before I shot) is just the icing on the cake.

Lauren, Texting, Vaping

Not much story to tell. In fact, none. I saw Lauren sitting just like this today and everything clicked. The color of the handicap ramp, the door, the vape pen... everything. She asked me what I wanted her to do for the picture. "Don't move, just look at me. And please don't smile." I'm not sure I had to tell her the last part, but better safe than sorry. And besides, she was a sweetheart for letting a stranger take her picture.


From a distance, I assumed Frank was most likely a construction worker (contractor/electrician/etc…) but most definitely a "union guy". His demeanor, his gait, the way he smoked his cigarette. It all said to me "You can ask, but get ready for the "Get the fuck away from me" response". I asked anyway.

Frank could not have been nicer, more open, or more soft-spoken. He is not a contractor/laborer as I assumed. Frank works for Busy Bee Promotions, and they have been in the midst of expanding their Chicago location. This gives him the opportunity to wear more "casual attire" to work (which is dressier than my best day at work).

Matt and I have been passing this building by for months. They have been doing extensive rehabbing, and we were always jonesing to get in to shoot. It appears that we missed our window of opportunity, as the move is nearly complete. But I'm glad that I was able to meet Frank.

I'm sure I'll be able to find another desolate building to shoot in.

"You Ain't Even Seen This Cap Yet"

I saw Andrew from about a block away and knew immediately I needed to ask for a photo. He started to walk away, and I thought I had lost my opportunity. But he came back into the alley, so I approached him and started talking. It turns out that Andrew used to work at the Art Institute, so he appreciated what I was doing. I showed him some of the pictures I had taken around the neighborhood, and he was impressed with my willingness to go out in this cold wave.

As I was taking his picture, I mentioned how much I love his attire, most notably his hat (which had the tassels tucked into his jacket. "Man, you ain't even seen this cap yet." I'm so glad I make conversation sometimes, because I like the results.

Alicia at the Bus Stop

As time has gone by, I've gotten better at reading people on the fly. So when I saw Alicia (black coat, black pants and boots, black bus stop poles, etc, and flaming red hair), I approached her. I immediately sensed she might be a bit reticent about having her picture taken. Since this is how I originally saw her, complete profile, this is how I asked her to stay. She seemed a bit bemused and said OK. I definitely got the vibe that, as long as she didn't have to do anything, (turn, smile, etc...) it was all good.

Terriol has Style

While walking down an alleyway near work, we passed by an auto salvage yard. There wore 4 or 5 guys standing around talking. Terriol (pictured) did not have the most "approachable" look on his face, but when I saw his hat, I had to ask for a picture.

To my pleasant surprise, he almost sheepishly agreed (after his friends egged him on). He was very quiet. Maybe he just lets his fashion do the talking for him. I first noticed his hat, but if I didn't get the whole ensemble in the picture, it would be an injustice. Besides, I had to get the door handle in the shot.


Ivan is just one of the reasons I love this neighborhood so much. The people (for the most part) take the time to be approachable. I remarked to Matt that I can't imagine most people who are walking around downtown are going to take a moment to listen to you when you ask if you can take their picture. They, most likely, don't want to hear a whole "365 explanation".

Katheryne and Polly

Let me start by saying I hope I spelled Katheryne's name right. She told me "with a Y", and then spelled it, but I forgot it anyway. Taking my best guess. Anyway…

Maybe it's something about these bright sunny days. I seem to run into the most interesting people.

I met Katheryne (L) and Polly (R) on the usual lunchtime walk. Their personalities, their look, and their enthusiasm seemed absolutely PERFECT for a bright sunny day. Leave it to me to kill it all with my standard "Please Don't Smile" art direction. I think they found it a little odd and a bit amusing, but I am ever so grateful that they were good sports about it.

I think what struck me the most about them was the memories they brought back to me. I was (and still am) a huge fan of the hardcore punk scene back in the late 70's and early 80's. Their dress and their openness reminded me so much of the attitudes of those scenes. Hard to quantify, but lucky for me, I know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

I really hope they see this picture, and even more, I hope they like it. Thank you, ladies, you made my day!

I'll shut up now.

Tuck Tuck

Technically, I followed all my "rules". I shot it in the environment I found him in, he is looking directly at the camera, and he is not smiling.

Uriah, Rachel, and Shela

There's just something about this area (specifically this dock) that keeps me coming back. The people are always changing, so you're really never sure who you're going to meet on any given day.

Today I met (from L to R) Uriah, Rachel (she insists it's Rachel, even though her friends call her Raquel), and Shela. They were a bit hesitant about me taking their picture until I showed them the previous pictures I had taken in this spot. Once they saw pictures of people they knew, I was all good. Street Cred has been established!

As usual, no smiles (although Shela cheated), and positioned just as I originally saw them. Rachel (Raquel) was about to put down her salad, but I asked her to hold onto it. I honestly can't imagine this picture without it.

This... is Raul

So I says to Matt today as we are walking around, I says "Matt, I'm gonna walk up there." And he says "The guy in the red hat?" Yep, I'm that obvious. We were maybe 200 yards away, and he had me pegged.

Raul was on his lunch break. He was a man of few words but a big smile. I, of course, asked if he could kindly put the smile away for a couple of minutes. I think people are a bit puzzled at first when I ask them not to smile, and that is the subtle reaction I like to get.

Old School New School

I first met Bob. Whenever I meet someone with cool hair, my "icebreaker" is to let them know how envious I am of their hair, and then ask if I can take a picture. I didn't think I would get the same opportunity 10 minutes later with Reyna.

Going Solo

Originally shot for "Glory Boyz" (10-08-2015). It was used as an inset along with the group shot. I received a "special request" to do this shot as a solo work. Who am I to say no?

Glory Boyz

As I was sitting in the street shooting this evening (see "The Great Race"), I was asked "Are you shooting a video? We're looking for someone to shoot a video."

Glory Boyz (not sure of the spelling, so I apologize if I got it wrong), are a local group and they are looking to make their mark on the local music scene. They need pictures, I need pictures, so it sounds like we can work something out.

It did not take a lot of persuading for them not to smile. And the poses and hand gestures were all their idea. But I thought it was all pretty appropriate.

As we parted ways, JR (right, yellow mohawk), yelled to me "Hey man, let's get fuckin' rich together." You gotta like the enthusiasm.


John collects and sells pallets in the neighborhood. He has a leg up on some of the other residents, as he has a truck to transport them with.

It was unbelievably refreshing to see someone without a perfectly trimmed and manicured Hipster beard. I'm really getting tired of that trend.

Chicago Hands

As I shook John's hand, I noticed how weathered they were. John collects, buys, distributes and re-sells pallets, so he is continuously lifting, storing on his truck, etc... These are working hands. I told him he had "Chicago Hands". He laughed almost derisively, but I explained. "Chicago hands. They work hard, they ain't afraid of getting a little dirty. It's how you lived your whole life." He thought about it for a second and nodded in agreement.

Topher, Nymeria

I met Topher (L) and Nymeria (R) while I was out walking around the neighborhood at lunch. When I first saw them, I immediately noticed the amount of space between the two as they walked. So when I asked them to pose in front of this garage door, I wanted to approximate the distance between them.

I asked Topher my requisite "Please Don't Smile" for the picture. Obviously, Nymeria did not hear me when I asked.


I met Darryl in the neighborhood, and this is exactly how I first saw him. When I introduced myself and asked if I could get a picture, he spoke so softly that I had to ask him three times. I know I'm getting older, but my hearing isn't THAT bad.

Marc, Dark Matters

Took a big bad 15 minute lunch today and grabbed an iced coffee at Dark Matters. Never been in there. The place is like Willie Wonka meets Build-a-Bear meets Starbucks. It wasn't necessarily loud, so I don't know if Marc was wearing the headphones for safety sake or for hipster-cool retro sake. I'll go with the latter.

BlairCat or Blair Do? Vote Now!!

Not every day can be depressing and somber, can it? No way! So let's vote now on Blair's new nickname. YAY!!

There are 2 choices on the table - "Blair Cat" (in honor of Blair's cat, pictured), or "Blair Do" (in honor of Blair's new haircut, also pictured).

Now, I know we 365'ers live in Chicago, but please, ONLY vote once. And if you have a better name, please feel free to cast a "write-in" ballot.

Thanks for participating! Have a great day!


Vacation blows.

I'm on vacation this week, which means I am working harder than I do when I'm at work (unless my boss is reading this). Yes, Kathy, I only have myself to blame for that. No, Kathy, I don't expect you to feel a bit sorry for me.

Anyway, between projects (and on my way back from Home Depot), I "treated" myself to Steak n Shake. I know, I don't deserve to treat myself so good. But it's cheap, they have the world's best fries, and I have a soft spot for their "American Graffiti"-esque decor.

No story about Dakota (the guy standing there) except for the fact that he let me take his picture.

Back to work now. If any of you single ladies are looking for a guy who loves to stay home and clean the house while you go out with your friends, have I got a guy for you!


OK, so today started off pretty bad. I was afforded the "luxury" of showing up for work a little later, so YAY!, I can sleep in.

Boo! That meant I hit the height of rush hour. What is normally a light and relaxing 45 minute drive turned into a 2+ hour stuck on I-55 with every rotten person that was obviously on their way to the local Asshole Convention. I had forgotten all the nastiness that you see on the roads.

Whenever I got my faith in my fellow man shaken (like this morning), I invariably meet someone that helps to restore my faith. Today, that person was Kasumi.

I met her in our neighborhood at lunchtime. She was very receptive to my request for a picture. She was absolutely natural and totally at ease, very confident and in control. She had a dynamite smile, but I had to follow my gut and ask her to not smile (sorry, I still like it better that way). After I took a couple of pictures, I thanked her, and we parted ways. Then I saw the street, and had to ask if I could get one more picture. I wouldn't have blamed had she walked, but she was very happy to indulge me. I'm glad she did.

Thank you, Kasumi. You helped to restore my faith in mankind. I'm glad I met you.

A Wanted Man

Long story. I apologize in advance.

We had a good bit of leftover food at work today, and I was going to bring it home. Kathy suggested that, instead, I bring it over to this group of homeless people that is living under the Metra tracks on (address removed to respect their privacy). I liked the suggestion.

I introduced myself to the first gentleman, Calvin. I brought him the food, and he was polite and grateful. I talked to him for a few minutes, and asked if I might be able to take a picture of him. He said he would, but he has some warrants out for his arrest and can't have his picture taken. I told him I understood, that I respect his privacy, and I wouldn't ask again. But I did ask his neighbor Willie.

Willie had a great laugh and seemed very open. But not about having his picture taken. Seems he and Calvin have some things in common. As did Janice, although I tried to desperately to get a picture of her with her blond wig and hot pink dress. Same with Gregory and Ed.

Since that wasn't the sole purpose of me going there, I thanked them all, I shook their hands, and I said my goodbyes to each. As I was driving away though, I saw the bear. I knew I had to get a picture of that.

Ed was standing there, and as I waited for him to move (I didn't want to upset him and just take a picture), I asked him if he would be willing to stand there with his back turned. That worked for him.

I left feeling like I had done something decent. I am certainly NOT patting myself on the back. But I try to talk to and show respect to these people because they are people. If, for even a few minutes, this group of people can take their minds off their situation in life, then I think it was the right thing to do.


As I was walking around at lunch today, I swore I was NOT going to do another street portrait today. But then I saw Marlene sitting in the little doorway, and I just couldn't help myself.

She was sitting in the doorway just like this, texting. The red boots, the red hair, the red door, the red brick...it went together almost too perfectly. The green eyes with the green glass frames was just the icing on the cake.

She asked me if I wanted her to put her chefs jacket on. I explained that I wanted to photograph her exactly as I found her. I was so glad that she was happy to help feed my "habit".


I met John today under what can only be described as "adverse conditions". I was sitting on the steps at the Ashland L tracks, looking through my camera to see if anything held my interest. I pointed the camera at John and his friends (about 7 people), and he immediately vocalized his displeasure with me, assuming I had taken pictures of him (I had not). A profanity-laced verbal beatdown ensued, and I felt I had no choice but to go down and talk to him.

I went up to him, offered my apologies for upsetting him, and told him I meant no insult or offense. He calmed slightly when one of his friends actually came to my defense, stating that I was merely a street photographer, and I was probably just looking through the camera (I was). I believe that man may have been my guardian angel.

I took the opportunity to introduce myself by name to John. I extended my hand, shook his, and explained exactly what I was doing. I showed him some of my pictures of local residents (Aaron and his cat Sylvester), and explained that I ALWAYS treat the people that I photograph with respect and understanding. Again, I apologized to him that he felt I was intruding.

After about 15 minutes, he seemed to understand that I meant no harm and was not taking his picture for either a) legal reasons, or b) financial gain. At that point, I asked if I could take his picture. No pressure, I said. I understood he would probably say no, but at least I could leave unharmed. To my surprise, he said yes.

I hope that at this point, I have shown he and his friends that I can be trusted, and that I have the opportunity to photograph them again.

Dondeea, corner of Damen and Grand

I met Dondeea while walking around at lunch today. I really hope I spelled his name right, I had to keep repeating it to myself to make sure I remembered.

I screwed up my first shot of him, so walked back to ask for a "re-shoot". I'm glad I did. He was sitting just like this, and I like this environment so much more.

Danny (L) and Mike (R)

1 block from the studio. Saw Mike talking on his phone because they (Danny and Mike) couldn't get in to the building to make their water delivery. I took the opportunity to engage them in conversation, and take a quick picture.

He Yang

He Yang (pronounced "Hu Yahng") is a Photo Art Director from our company's studio in Shanghai. When I was working in their studio, she was the perfect host. She was very patient with me and my lack of knowledge of their country. culture, and language.

She was in Chicago for a few days to visit our studio. I hope that she enjoyed her stay as much as we enjoyed having her. Not only is she very talented (I have seen her personal work, and it's incredible), but she is possibly the sweetest person I've ever met.

Laura, Proprietor. Melvin, Customer.

Laura is the owner of "Laura's, A Cut Above" barber shop located in the downtown Downers Grove train station. When I say barber shop, I mean "Barber Shop". Not hair salon, and not "trendy hipster $90 haircut" barber shop. This is a classic sit down, friendly chat, pay me on Thursday type of barber shop.

I know plenty of people mock the suburbs, but there really is something nice and simple about places like this. It really does just kind of take you back.


I met Carl today down by Millennium Park. He was quite vocal with his shouts of "Go Hawks" as he high-fived everyone who passed by in a Blackhawks jersey.

I asked if I could take his picture as he stood there, and he was more than happy. After I took them, he was almost embarrassed as he leaned towards me and asked if he could have a penny. I handed him $2, which he at first refused. I insisted.

He then gave me a huge bear hug (he is slight, but he was about 6'5") and thanked me. I could see the look on some peoples faces as they watched from the diner we were standing in front of. I guess some people are just too good to accept people who aren't "up to their standards". I'm glad I am not that way.

Reynato of Fat Ricky's

Tonight, I had nothing more planned than getting a pizza, going home to watch the Hawks game, and taking a picture of my lens cap. Plans dashed when I walked into my all-time favorite pizza place, Fat Ricky's.

Reynato works at Fat Ricky's, and he doesn't speak a lick of English. So his co-worker (behind the pillar) had to translate. He didn't agree until I told him I didn't want him to smile. For some reason, that puts people at ease.

The co-worker did not give me his name. In fact, he didn't even want to be in the picture. I'm glad I didn't give him a choice.

Adios Junior

Leo (left) and Junior (right) are father and son and work in the merchandise department. Junior likes guns, vape pens, and reptiles. Today is Junior's last day at work. Adios, Junior. It was nice to work with you. Leo, I'll see you tomorrow.

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