Sometimes it is hard to find, but it is always there.
These past few weeks have been filled with ups and downs. While there are many messages of hope and optimism, some days it gets harder to see the glass half full when it slowly seems to be draining from within.
You can sit in your home while being forced to engage in social distancing and wrestle over these thoughts in your head. You can be angry, scared or frustrated. But remain hopeful.
Many people are feeling the effects that are currently occurring in our society. From businesses closing their front doors to millions of people not knowing how they’ll make ends meet next month to fellow humans risking their lives to continue to work in order for the rest of the world does not shut down entirely. Be hopeful.
This is a moment in time that no one will forget. Each day it feels like we are still waking up to a dream. That we will somehow flip on the news and hear that none of this happened and while we eat our breakfast, drink our coffee and continue with our normal daily routine. That has not happened yet. The clouds still remain dark as we slowly, day by day fight through the fog. But the sun will shine again.
‘Hellos’ will once again be able to be said and accepted face to face.
But these are the days that keep you strong. These are the times where you search in your back pocket and pull out that memory of kindness, humbleness and gratitude that once made you smile. These are the days that you remember the softness of a hug, the warmth of being surrounded in a crowd, and the inviting eyes of a stranger as you pass each other on the street.
And while many aspects of life has changed, some may be gone, hope will always be there.
A Road Trip Through Italy: Italian Cities
Back from the Italian Alps
Still in a daze from the scenes of Northern Italy, we continue traveling on the open road. Living out the words to Chuck Berry’s No Particular Place to Go, we find ourselves in a flux of mountains and age-old cities. Arco, a small town north of Lake Garda with its ancient hilltop castle and mountainous backdrop was the stunning welcoming that we needed. Without thinking, we pulled over. From the second I pulled the door handle, my eyes were jumping from one scene to the next. This was the start of a new adventure.
Exploring the Italian Coast
Although, the objective is to head down the Italian Coast and make a loop back to Venice, this trip was not ruled by an agenda. We took each road, each turn, each place as it is. This is the only way I can imagine traveling for myself. It’s cliché to even type “Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey.” But that is what traveling, adventure and memories are. I can share pictures of beautiful Italian destinations but what I can’t share are the laughs, the long rides, the happiness that simple conversations with strangers bear. I try to convey as much as I can through photography while at the same time, I enjoy keeping some of the most important moments to myself. Moments that I will look back on in my own time and just smile. I did that, I was there, and I will never forget this.
Lost in Italian Cities
Italy is alive through its stories, through its past. From Venice to Milan to Florence, you could close your eyes and imagine with ease walking in a time that’s not yours. A hurried Filippo Brunelleschi drifting through the streets of Florence or a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci as he adds the final brush stroke to The Last Supper in Milan. It’s hard not to get lost in your surroundings, to get soaked up in the architecture, art, nature and landscape of this beautiful land. I have never stepped on a street that felt so catalytic in the importance of history than the streets of Italy. It’s hard not to fall in love in a country like this.
Serendipity: The City of Siena
The chants of a faceless crowd finds its way through the winding, cobblestone streets of Siena, Italy. Moments later the crowd with their Contrade’s emblem banners raised in hand, marched their way around the corner. This was the celebration of the The Palio horse race. A passionate event with its origin tracing back to the 6th century. This was how Italian cities felt. Frozen in time while the rest of the world marched on.
What was important about this, was that this was never planned. We didn’t know about this city nor of this celebration that only happens twice a year. Sunset was quickly approaching and our original destination was out of reach. By chance we entered the city of Siena for the night. This was probably one of the most memorable moments of any trip that I have ever had. It wasn’t scripted, it was living in the present. It was discovering a love for a place that was waiting to be found.
If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Italy
‘Twas the morning before Christmas and all through Chicago, the lakefront was silent apart from the waves below. (I know, I know, I’m quite the gifted wordsmith.)
My eyes slowly opened to the alarm I instantly regretted setting just a few hours ago. It was Christmas Eve morning but the view outside of my window begged to differ. I hazily grabbed my camera bag and stumbled out of my apartment which was still enclosed in the shade of night. Like the every previous time I chased the sunrise, the first 10 minutes being awake I contemplated turning around to the dream of falling back into the comfort of my own bed but how many moments worth remembering started off like that? (rhetorical question…I’m sure many.) Shaking out the cobwebs, I pressed on to my favorite place to watch the sunrise on the lakefront.
It’s always that moment just before the sun rises above the horizon, where the warming hues spill its way through the sky that keeps me forever in awe. Seeing how beautiful the start of a day can be seemed like a fitting way to end off the year. It’s like they say what feels like an end is often a new beginning.
Where to can you watch the sunrise? Click Here to see my favorite Chicago Spots
If you like this, you will love 360 Chicago Sunrise
Fall Chicago Photography
For a brief period in time, nature and Chicago becomes in accordance with each other. Bright reds, yellows and orange strewn with life throughout the city; a blanket trying to warm the life of the city as the temperatures begin to lower.
Chicago goes through a momentary identity change as the trees begin breathing life into the architecture. Fall is my favorite time of year. It reminds me of how captivating change can be but also how delicate and short it can be as well.
This year I feel like I took it for granted. At the first change of color, I told myself that I would be out enjoying it behind my camera. But one busy weekend after the next, time quickly passed and I felt like I missed one of the most magical times in Chicago. I knew I had to make my way to see the remnants of the passing season. On a Saturday morning in November, I walked and walked throughout the city seeing familiar scenes in a new way.
Here are a few snapshots from a brief period of time I thought I missed.
If you like this, you might like 360 Chicago Sunrise
A Road Trip Through Italy
I honestly do not even know where to begin. It’s been about a month since getting back from Italy but the winding roads, the running canals and the picturesque backdrops are still fresh in my mind. Ever since seeing a picture of the slopes of Seceda in the Italian Dolomites, I knew that I would be walking on that very grass to witness it for myself. With no plan in mind except to go, I booked my ticket. There’s no turning back now.
The Floating City
Every adventure starts somewhere, and mine began in Venice. An agglomerate of land carved out by canals running through it like veins in a body. Truly the most romantic city that I have ever seen. Without a single road, you experience every twist and turn right under your feet, seeing fragments of history at every step. From San Marco Square to the Grand Canal to the singing of the gondoliers as the sun touches down, Venice was a masterpiece that surpass every expectation that I ever thought I had about it. A dream city floating on water and this was only the start.
The Pale Mountains
Located a short few hours from Venice, sits one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Dolomites are a mountain range that crowns northern Italy. A place of wild mystery and now a friend & I are about to make our way through it. The very first time seeing just a hint of the jutting rock of the Dolomites my eyes were transfixed. The jagged mountains shooting up into the sky, surrounded by rolling green hills and mirrored lakes, this was a paradise that could have only been dreamt up in fairytales.
Lago Di Braies
This was the first night in the albino rhino (which I secretly called our white Jeep). We just spent the day on the road winding our way through the Dolomites heading north toward Pragser Wildsee for the night. Arriving in a small town well past 9pm, we found the only place that was open for a meal. It was a small Hotel/ Restaurante that I wouldn’t ever have known existed if it wasn’t for our late arrival; it was posted at the end of numerous switchbacks overlooking the small, flickering city below. It was a hidden gem that was home to some of the most welcoming people but also offered one of the best meals on this trip. These are the moments that I will always stay with me.
After eating, we found our way to a small parking lot to call home for the night. Not being a stranger to sleeping in a car I quickly got as comfortable as I could to call it a night. I laid there listening to a few passing cars but my mind was still racing with excitement. Although I could feel my body physically tired, these swimming thoughts of what was in stored for the next day won the battle for the first few hours but eventually faded.
We woke up at first light to the brisk mountain air and made our way to this little lake in the Prags valley. Lago di Braies is one of those places that I have/ you may have seen many pictures of but nothing could have prepared me for seeing this place in person. The water was still and blue, the light was just waking up and slowly finding it’s way through the surrounding mountains. There were few people up, making it beautifully quiet. This was the first time (but not the last) where these far away places that I grew up seeing pictures of weren’t so far away anymore.
Every oversea trip that I have ever been on has been based on one single image. Kirkjufell in Iceland, Trolltunga in Norway, Neist Point in Scotland and for Italy it was the Seceda. These are the places that restore the childlike mentally of how simple life can truly be. These are the places that swim over you like a breath of fresh air, that revives that sense of curiosity and adventure. These are the places, that makes me believe how beautiful the world really is. I really wish I could talk more about it, but I don’t have the words. I mean the Seceda ridge line was the catalyst of this whole trip and when I first laid eyes on it, I just sat, and laughed in disbelief. A place like this actually exists.
The first leg of this trip was the most important part to me since it was the whole reason why I pushed the confirm button at checkout for my flight. I have been fortunate enough to have seen some beautiful places in my life but experiencing the Dolomites was something else. It left me speechless with a feeling that I really can’t explain. You just have to go and experience it for yourself. It’s such a beautiful place that many people do not associate when talking about Italy and maybe that’s one of the beauties of it. With every turn was a moment filled with anticipation as I could never have predicted what I would see next. Northern Italy makes you feel small and unimportant in the best possible way, washing away egos and selfishness and shines light on the world around you. Now off to the next adventure.
If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Scotland
The Walt Disney Concert Hall
Day and night… bump bump… This being a product of my insomnia at 3am. A little symbolic too, days and nights become synonymous with each other. Some days I can fall right asleep at a ‘normal’ hour while other nights I toss & turn until the sun comes up. On those nights I find myself working on pictures like this to calm the mind. A day. A night. The rhythm of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California.
If you like this, you might like my Surreal Photography
A Day at the Blackstone Hotel
Walking down Michigan Ave, you’re bound to notice a few of Chicago’s most architecturally significant buildings. From the Wrigley Building to the Tribune Tower to the John Hancock Center, but if you head a little bit south there is an unmistakable mansard roof peaking above the skyline.
I was fortunate to have been able to spend a night at the historic Blackstone Hotel last month. The home of the original “smoke filled room”, today it’s a mix of historical, modernism that you can not help but wonder about the stories that were written inside of these walls. Opening the door to my room I was immediately welcomed with sunlight reflecting off the marble floor as well as their signature KOVAL bourbon waiting to be poured. It was a luxurious room that I never wanted to leave. I found myself sketching behind a desk during the day, watching the city lights at night and waking up to the sunrise over Lake Michigan in the morning. Although my time here was only for a night, it was a wonderful experience that I would not trade for the world.
Outside of the Blackstone
Located in the heart of Chicago, on one of the most vibrant streets, you immediately feel like you have the whole city in the palm of your hands. Just looking out the window to the mind blowing view of Grant Park made me want to grab my camera and just go. And so I did.
The streets were alive, Grant Park was preparing itself for summer and the tulips scattered throughout Chicago sprang to life. I don’t live in Chicago, but I’m here quite often. I usually drive up here, park and either walk or take the CTA to get around the city. But this time, I found myself walking for the entire day, never once worrying about what time it was or when I should leave. I was free to just enjoy the city… just me and my camera. This was a convenience I never once thought I’d appreciate until my stay at the Blackstone.
This was simply an amazing opportunity that I’m for ever humble to have experienced. Below are a few of my favorite pictures I have ever taken and it is all due to everyone at Blackstone Hotel. A big thanks for letting me be apart of the heart that beats the city. This was one of the most relaxing days that I’ve ever had and now I have a new favorite hotel. Until next time, and trust me, there will be a next time.
Interesting Facts of the Day:
- The Blackstone Hotel opened its doors on my birthday April 6th, 1910 (I wasn’t born in 1910)
- It attracted everyone from Teddy Roosevelt, the Rockefellers, to Nat King Cole and Al Capone.
- The Blackstone Hotel was declared a historic landmark in 1998.
If you like this, you might like 360 Chicago Sunrise
Chicago Lakefront | Sunrise
Photography has led me down on an array of unpredictable paths thus far. It has sent my curiosity on adventures across the world, has kept my mind awake as I drove through the night across the country and has me constantly exploring every aspect of Chicago. This seed of curiosity has always existed, but photography has this uncanny ability to push and drive a person. In this case, the person is me.
My First Time…
The first time I have ever felt this push was on an early Sunday morning. It felt like yesterday (This is definitely the first sign of me sounding old right? Next I’ll be saying “Back in my day we had to listen to music on compact discs…) that I woke up to my 5 am alarm. A difficult feat for a person that usually falls asleep at 2 am, but nonetheless I was determined to see my first ever Chicago sunrise. Still in a daze, I grabbed my camera, tripod and made my way to Dunkin Donuts because well yeah. Once I was able to think again, I made my way to Chicago.
Being my first sunrise, I did not have a clue on where I should go nor did I think of simply googling “where to see the sunrise”. As I was brainstorming possible locations, I found myself on autopilot to a little stretch of the lake shore in Lincoln Park. The Fullerton Beach has always a favorite spot of mine during the day. It had it all; a skyline view, a beach, an endless view of Lake Michigan and my personal favorite, a rocky coast. At around 6:30 am, a warm glow began to spill over the horizon. I was completely alone on this little oasis outside of the city and had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. It was surreal. Ever since that day, photography pushes me to not only wake up, but to continually chase, see and soak in more of these beautiful displays. Although, these pictures are not from this story, I come back to this spot often and think about this day every time I watch a sunrise here. (they updated this location from when I first came here but you can still see the remnants of the rocky coast that I so much enjoyed)
A sunrise is the most honest moment I have ever seen.
I think we all have that place where you can sit without any of the worry and noise of your life, and just… be. This little strip of the lakefront is mine.
Want to see a photo from this story? See my first Chicago Sunrise Here >
If you like this, you might like Natural Moments in Chicago >
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