A Look Back at 2013

Challenges come in a variety forms and 2013 was no exception.  As it always would seem, you have to take the good with the bad.  We have to man up, take it head on, or, as one of my buddies says, tuck your skirt in.  I'm no stranger to challenges and they don't often have a regard of my opinion in the matter anyway.  They show up without warning, and set you off balance even in the happiest of times.  They're often just around the corner, lurking.  They're devious jesters who hide around corners waiting to jump out at the opportune moment.  But last year had its surprising good moments too.

The year began at Notre Dame, much as it always has.  I've always enjoyed taking photos in the Basilica.  The light and vastness of the place has always been attractive to me.  Normally, the choir loft is restricted to visiting spectators, but that particular day, I knew a gentleman working up there on some electrical issues.  He gained me access to the loft, and I was able to capture this image.    

 Taken from the choir loft, February 2013.  

Taken from the choir loft, February 2013.  

After being around Notre Dame most of my life, I have a lot of photos of the Dome.  I captured this image on a snowy morning in early March.

 Taken in front of the Dome, March 2013.

Taken in front of the Dome, March 2013.

With it being Winter still, you knew there had to be a hockey game involved.  You let the whole team down if you didn't know that.  Irish Hockey fans will get that joke.  At least, they better.  

 Compton Family Ice Arena, March 2013.

Compton Family Ice Arena, March 2013.

In April, I was notified that my job at Notre Dame was being eliminated.  For the first time in 18 years, I didn't know what to do with my career.  I didn't know if staying in design and photography was the best idea, or if I should move into another field.  I had till July to make a decision.  I tabled the idea for a while.  

Then, in late April, one of my friends wanted a special project done.  He approached me about doing a Photoshop composite of him onto an album cover by Eric Clapton and BB King.  We set up the shoot at his house at the appropriate angle with him sitting in a chair.  He wanted to be super-imposed in the backseat, sitting next to BB King.  Easy enough, right?  Below is the before and after of that print.  This print hangs in my office at home at this very moment to remind me that no matter how tough a challenge can be, it's surmountable in some way.    

 Photoshop Composite, April 2013.  

Photoshop Composite, April 2013.  

In the time that followed, I decided that I wanted to stay in design and photography.  Now, I just needed to find another job that would allow me to do that.  But where?  The resumes were sent out and the interviews began.  I interviewed at different places in the area, but no one seemed committed to hiring.    

During that time, I had an ongoing discussion with one of my closest friends about doing a sunset shoot on the roof of the Hesburgh Library.  He had to be involved because of the access to the roof itself.  It's one of the tallest buildings on campus, if not the tallest.  I wanted one last shot of the Dome before I signed out for the last time.  But there had to be key elements in place:  A perfect sunset.  Perfect clouds.  And on a perfect day.  As April went by and May began, we waited.  Then, one evening as I watched what the skies were doing, I saw the elements take form.  The clouds were right.  The colors were right.  The air felt right.  I made the call.  Tonight was the night.  The rest is history.  Here's a capture from that evening.  This was without a doubt my favorite moment of the year.     

 Dome Sunset, May 2013.  

Dome Sunset, May 2013.  

A photographer can never resist the opportunity to take photos of fireworks.  It's like railroad tracks.  We're drawn to them for some unknown reason.  I just wish that all railroad tracks ended up in Hogwarts.    

 Fireworks over Diamond Lake, MI, taken July 2013.

Fireworks over Diamond Lake, MI, taken July 2013.

Near the end of July, we decided to take spend a few days in Chicago for a vacation.  We met up with my Father in Law and stayed at a place near the north shore of the lake.  It was a great trip.  He brought his BMW with him and I couldn't help but take a few shots of this beautiful machine.  And it drove just as nice...I can vouch for this.

 BMW 385i, taken July 2013.

BMW 385i, taken July 2013.

In August, our Hisbiscus flowers are in full bloom around our house.  I love these flowers.  They're so large with beauty.  This image was captured in our front yard.  At the time, I didn't know how important this image would become.  Wait for it.    

 Red Hibiscus, taken August 2013.  

Red Hibiscus, taken August 2013.  

In the weeks before, I was also working with another friend of ours about an exterior sign that he needed produced for a local park in his neighborhood.  I put together a design for him based on what he and the neighborhood association needed.  This was the final outcome.  It was a V-shaped exterior sign capable of being seen from multiple directions.  

 Exterior sign for Klinedinst Park, August 2013.  

Exterior sign for Klinedinst Park, August 2013.  

At this point in time, I had been working at a new company called Valley Screen part-time.  When my term at Notre Dame ended, I began working for them.  I was essentially doing the same job that I was doing at Notre Dame with the addition of getting my feet wet in the knowledge of RV design.  You know those large, swooshes and designs you see on the sides of RV's and trailers?  They do that.  Well, now I do that too.  It's really interesting.  I'll save that for another post.  

By this time, October had come and things were getting busier with photography.  The OIT at Notre Dame hired me to shoot their Mobile Summit.  For those that don't know what that is...it's basically an all day event where mobile vendors come and spread the word about their product.  It's also used as a means to communicate with campus about adapting the use of mobile technology for the betterment of production from day to day.  I actually had the unique opportunity of meeting Coach Muffet McGraw that day.  Very nice lady.  She gave a wonderfully interesting speech about how mobile technology has improved their workflow as a basketball team.  

 Coach Muffet McGraw, taken October 2013.

Coach Muffet McGraw, taken October 2013.

My sister also got engaged last Summer.  We waited until the Fall colors were in full swing and did an Engagement shoot at her fiance's house.  Patrick, her fiance is a great guy and he's helped her and my family tremendously over the last few years.  I even heard the same thing from Yoda.  Good people, he is.  

 Jennifer and Patrick, October 2013.  

Jennifer and Patrick, October 2013.  

That same month, my buddy Alan wanted to get portraits done of his family.  We discussed locations for a while and ended up deciding on downtown Niles.  Most our time was spent near the bridge along the river.  Special thanks to the whole Cramer family for taking time out for this shoot.  It was a lot of fun.  

 The Cramer Family.  From Left, Grant, Angie, Alan and Bryanna, October 2013.  

The Cramer Family.  From Left, Grant, Angie, Alan and Bryanna, October 2013.  

My wife and I love to eat at this local restaurant called Uptown Kitchen.  One night, we went there to eat with her Mom.  While we ate, I noticed that there was local artist's work displayed in there, including paintings and photography.  We thought it might be a good idea to contact them to see if they'd be interested in displaying my work.  Within the next week, I met with the owner and his response to my work was overwhelming.  We narrowed down which prints he wanted to display and not only did he want some for Uptown Kitchen, but also for the Mark!  Which, is another restaurant he owns near Notre Dame.  Remember that photo of the Hibiscus flower I took?  There is a 30"X40" print of that hanging in Uptown Kitchen.  It's beautiful.  

 Uptown Kitchen, November, 2013.  

Uptown Kitchen, November, 2013.  

 The Mark, near Notre Dame, November, 2013.  

The Mark, near Notre Dame, November, 2013.  

 The Mark, near Notre Dame, November, 2013.

The Mark, near Notre Dame, November, 2013.

The year concluded on a great note.  Not only did I have my photography displayed in two of the area's best restaurants, Valley Screen offered me a full-time position right before the holidays.  So, that helped ease my mind some!

Over the holiday break, we woke up one morning and opened the front door to find this array of frost on our storm door.  I snapped this macro shot of it.  I thought it was neat.  Technically it was taken in January of this year, not 2013.  But, I can get away with it.  It is my blog and all.      

 Frozen ice patterns, January, 2014.

Frozen ice patterns, January, 2014.

Wishing everyone a great start to the new year.  I'm happy with the progress I made in 2013 and can look back on the year in a good way.  Bring on 2014!