Sun in the Wintertime

What’s a photographer to do in a pandemic? I’m someone who likes to photograph people most of all. I need to avoid people as much as possible right now. And when I’m around others, I can’t photograph them in the close manner I’m accustomed to.

So I spend a lot of time outdoors. And with my family. I’m fortunate to live with 6 other people and I never take that for granted. I look at this as my professional blog, so I try not to focus too much on my family, even though they’re with me for nearly every shoot that isn’t for a client.

This is an unprecedented time in our recent history. I don’t think I need to draw hard lines between “personal” and “professional.” My family is here experiencing this pandemic with me. We go to local parks and playgrounds. These are the things I photograph.

My brain tells me these shoots get repetitive. But my spirit knows that each time I go out with my camera, new things happen – things that will only happen one time in the course of human existence – and I’m there to document and interpret them.

So, here’s my visual journal entry for this week. We spent time in a brand new environment to us: Eagle Creek Park on the NW side of Indianapolis. We walked, climbed, thought, poked at things, broke ice, fell down, wrestled, and took in the rare Indiana winter sun.

Related Posts

It’s been nine months since I started making these quarantine stories. Here are a few of the first ones from last spring.

Perry K Steam Plant

perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana

If you’ve been in downtown Indianapolis you’ve surely noticed the billowing steam that emanates from the Perry K Steam Plant.

This cloud factory provides steam heating to over 250 commercial buildings and industries in downtown Indy. That makes it the second largest central district steam heating system in the United States.

perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana

I had the opportunity to tour the facility with Caldwell VanRiper, the ad agency for Citizens Energy Group.

Giant industrial plants are my kind of thing, so this was a great opportunity to get some really cool photos, like at Angola Wire or Purposeful Design.

perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana citizens energy
perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana
perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana citizens energy
perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana

The History

Formerly Indianapolis Light & Power’s Kentucky Avenue Station, The Perry K Steam Plant was finished in 1893 and began supplying electricity to Indianapolis that same year. Citizens Energy acquired the plant in 2000.

Located near Lucas Oil Stadium, the steam plant is at the corner of West Street and Kentucky Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.

Join my mailing list to see more photo stories like this one every week.

perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana lucas oil stadium
perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana exterior
perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana
perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana
perry k steam plant indianapolis indiana

Related Posts

If you’ve enjoyed these photos, check out some other cool industrial work that I’ve done.

Monumental Marathon

Last fall marked my third time documenting the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. It’s always a lot of action and emotion with plenty of great photos to take (if you know what you’re doing, that is).

My SEO plugin wants me to type a bunch of words. “F*ck off, plugin,” I say! I’m going to tell this story through photos. Just look at the images and feel like you’re there.

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. elite
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. warmup
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. preparations, finish line
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. Meridian St.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. Central Library
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. Statehouse, capitol
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. winner
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. finish
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. finisher
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. celebrate
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. spectator
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019. finish
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, 2019.

Let’s work together

If you have an event coming up and need a photographer to create meaningful images that serve multiple purposes: advertising, sponsor gifts, collateral or post-event gallery purchases, give email me and we can talk about your project in detail.

Related Posts

If you’re into the sports, check out some stories from both amateur and professional athletics.

Bethel Cemetery

indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery civil war reenactors

One of the many reasons I love my work is that I never know what type of shoots are going to come my way.  Documenting the rededication of Bethel Cemetery is definitely a photo story different than any I have done before.

A logistics company called Cardno contacted me in the fall to document the opening of a new/old cemetery. Due to necessary infrastructure improvements, Bethel Cemetery was relocated from its home by the airport to an area within Concordia Cemetery on the south side of Indianapolis. Cardno led the project.

indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery civil war veteran
indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery rededication

Established in 1827, Bethel Cemetery saw its last known burial in 1935. Among the buried are veterans of the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

An initial survey of the site identified over 150 headstones. Throughout the relocation project, 543 individual were discovered. In the process they salvaged, restored and reassembled headstones that had fallen into disrepair. 

indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery civil war reenactors
indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery civil war reenactors

Bethel Cemetery Families

Descendants of some of the Civil War veterans attended the rededication as well as some historically prominent families from the Indianapolis area. As a part of the rededication, reenactors from from the Civil War and War of 1812 along with an Honor Guard from the IN National Guard gave salutes to the veterans.

indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery rededication
indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery rededication

Take the next steps

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If you own your own business or are a marketing pro and you want more info about having me out to do a story, send me an email.

indianapolis indiana bethel cemetery rededication

Related Posts

I do documentary photographer for all sorts of commercial clients. Check out these stories below to see some cool stories.

Indiana City Brewing

Indiana City

Last week I visited Indiana City Brewing on the southeast side of downtown Indianapolis to check out their brewing process. It was fun to watch. The building they’re housed in is super cool and the morning light definitely heightened the scene.

I’ve been doing documentary photography and drinking beer (not at the same time) for nearly two decades, so it’s crazy I hadn’t shot any stories about brewing. Glad to finally end the drought!

Meet the Brew Crew

The Indiana City Brewing team has the flow down, moving quickly between tasks. Nick Shadle (the man in the mask) is Head Brewer. Ryan Oesch (the guy with the overalls who you can just tell has good taste in music) is Production Manager. And finally the dude with the best title of all, Cellarman, Mike Abrego.

So if you stop by the brewery and see them around, tell them you saw their photo on here and Zach says hello.

Indiana City Brewing Taproom

Now that you’ve seen all the photos, check out their site for more info and stop by the taproom soon!

We are partnering with Indiana City Brewing for a giveaway on our Instagram page now through November 22, 2019.

They are having a ticketed release party on November 23 for the beer brewed in this photo story, Cratchit’s Winter Olde Ale.

Related Posts

Artist Aaron Scamihorn does the label art for Indiana City, so check out these posts where he makes an appearance.

aaron scamihorn

Indiana Pacers and Motorola

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

The NBA season is about to get underway, so I thought it time to finally share this shoot from last season.  The Indiana Pacers hired me to document the inaugural game for their partnership with Motorola.  I was brought in to capture some pre-game shots in the locker room and game action photos that highlighted the new patch.

It was a fun challenge to highlight a 2.5″ patch within the context of game action. I used a Canon 1DX camera body and 400mm f/2.8 lens. This allowed me to get very close up with the shots I was taking and the patch stood out as a result.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Changing Angles

I always like to see what other angles will yield. Getting higher up in the stands and shooting downwards with a super telephoto lens places the court as the background and really isolates the subject. I really like the scoreboard in the shot below as a visual element.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

High & Low

The two images below show different angles on a similar play. The image on the left was taken in the stands, the right side from the floor.

I like the cleaner background on the right image, but I also like the perspective of being at eye-level on the left photo.

However, shooting from the stands runs the risk of interlopers getting in your frame. That blur on the left image is a cotton candy vendor who wandered into the frame with less-than-ideal timing.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Get Close

My style of photography involves getting as close as I can. Typically that means I like to move physically close to the subject.

However, that’s obviously not possible with professional sports, so I enlisted the aid of a Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens. This beast weights about 8.5 pounds and the glass at the widest is about 6.5″ in diameter. Not something I want to use every day, but for getting super-close, sharp images with great background blur, it was perfect.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Access

One of the perks of working for the Indiana Pacers and not a media outlet is the special access.

Getting close to the bench during a timeout allowed me to get some unique angles that aren’t afforded most photographers. Also, shooting some images in the locker room before the game was a unique experience.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Always on the Lookout

Even when I have a very specific task (like getting shots highlighting the sponsor patch), I make sure to get other good shots when I see them. These could have other uses for the client.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Join the email list

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Related Content

We definitely have lots of sports stuff to peruse. Here are a few more posts…

Indiana Grown Marketplace

Indiana Grown Marketplace Peaches

Indiana Grown Marketplace

These are images from the 2019 Indiana Grown Monumental Marketplace. This event only happens once a year and includes nearly 150 vendors from across the state of Indiana. I was hired to provide a comprehensive catalog of images for digital and print advertising and I only had four hours to do it.

If you’re the kind of person who looks for great locally-made products, you need to check out Indiana Grown. They help connect Hoosier farmers and producers with consumers. Each year they take over Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to host the Indiana Grown Monumental Marketplace.

farmers market
Indiana Farmers Market
Indiana Farmers Market
Indiana Grown Marketplace
Indiana Grown Marketplace

Related Posts

Purposeful Design

Purposeful Design in Indianapolis, Indiana makes beautiful hand-crafted and custom furniture. That alone is impressive. Pair that with their mission to help individuals who have faced addiction and homelessness and you have an organization that is changing lives.

Training

Most of the men who work at Purposeful Design have no experience woodworking. They receive training and work their way through the various machinery to be able to work on all aspects of furniture production.

They have also started a school that consists of 30 hours of coursework in the areas of woodworking, discipleship, and job readiness.

Ministry

Ministry is at the foundation of Purposeful Design. Craftsmen participate in a discipleship program to become servant-leaders. Workers gather daily for a prayer and are open to share with the group and receive support.

Check out the Purposeful Design website to learn more about their services, request a quote on a custom piece of furniture, or donate to their mission.

Send a Referral

Do you know any organizations doing important work? What about craftsmen making cool stuff? Leave a comment or contact us to let us know!

Video

I created a short video of some action around the shop. Click the link below to take a look.

Related Content

Bottleworks District

Bottleworks District is a massive development underway in downtown Indianapolis. This past weekend I took a tour of the property with Hendricks and their marketing partner Pivot.

In 1931 Coca-Cola built a state-of-the-art bottling facility in Indy. It’s an amazing example of Art Deco architecture. Unfortunately, the property was used primarily as bus storage for Indianapolis Public Schools since 1969. As a result, the condition of the buildings is not what it once was.

Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.

In 2016, the city sold the 11-acre site to developer Hendricks Commercial Properties. Hendricks is developing the property, an entire city block, into a mix of commercial, retail and housing called Bottleworks District. So, the original administration building will become the first West Elm branded hotel, designed by Ratio Architects. There will also be food vendors, a movie theater, apartment and condo housing, a business incubator and office spaces.

Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.

There are a lot of amazing details still in place in this building and it’s exciting that Hendricks is working so hard to restore as many of the original pieces as possible. Refurbishing the terra cotta exterior tiles alone will cost $4 million. Bottleworks District is shaping up to be a major destination in Indy and I’m excited to see the results!

Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.
Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.
Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.
Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.
Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.
Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.
Bottleworks Development by Hendricks Commercial Properties, including a West Elm hotel designed by Ratio Architects. In partnership with Pivot Marketing. Images by Zach Dobson.

If you’re into the whole urban scene, check out these other posts fromChicago and Nashville.

Indianapolis Public Schools

This time last year I worked on a project documenting Indianapolis Public Schools. I went to 10 different schools over the course of four days in April & May to photograph students in classes and activities. The images highlight the special programs and opportunities each school has to offer.

Here are some of my favorites. What’s the same and what’s different from when you were in school? Tell us in the comments!

Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools

100 Acres at Newfields

On a warm day in January, we stop by 100 Acres at Newfields with the kids. If you’re not from the Indy area, Newfields is the campus that contains the Indianapolis Museum of Art. 100 Acres is part nature preserve, part modern art gallery.

The best part of visiting 100 Acres at Newfields (to a parent) is that kids are welcome to interact with the art. My kids definitely take full advantage of that!

Enjoy the warm winter weather vibe! What’s your favorite part of 100 Acres at Newfields? Leave a comment below.

If you want to get out of winter all together, check out these photos from the Indiana Dunes from last summer. The post features the state park, which is now surrounded by the nation’s newest national park!

Jingle Rails 2018

jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis

You see model trains a lot during the holiday season, but nobody does model trains like the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis. Jingle Rails is their annual train display. Models travel through famous local scenes and national landmarks from the American West. You’ll find downtown Indy, complete with a scale model of the Soldier and Sailor’s Monument, lights and all, along with Lucas Oil Stadium. There’s also Las Vegas, Yosemite, and new this year: Route 66.

jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis

The Men of Jingle Rails

Equally as interesting as the trains are the old men who are really into it. I happened to notice one gentleman making a repair, so of course I had to take a moment to capture it…

jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis
jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis

Indiana Railroad

Jingle Rails is sponsored by the Indiana Railroad. Their signature red locomotive travels overhead throughout the entire exhibit.

jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis
jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis
jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis

Had enough trains yet? No? Here’s a few more…

jingle rails eiteljorg indianapolis

Thanks for visiting our Jingle Rails coverage for 2018. We were there last year as well, so you can check that out here: Jingle Rails 2017. I work to take new angles each year.

2018 Holiday Events

As legendary Hoosier Michael Jackson once said, “Don’t stop ’til you get enough.”  So by all means, please enjoy our other posts from this season.  Click the image below.

indianapolis holiday photography

Christmas at the Zoo

Santa's Village at Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Next up for our holiday events is Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis.  This is always a great event at the Indianapolis Zoo because in addition to Santa’s Village and lights throughout the zoo, a lot of the animals are out and about and available for visits.

Santa's Village at Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Santa’s Village

Santa's Village at Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Bicentennial Pavilion houses Santa’s Village which includes Santa’s house, decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus, reindeer, a mirror maze and more.

Santa's Village at Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Tunnel of Lights and Santa's Village at Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The tunnel of lights at the edge of Santa’s Village is a popular spot for portraits and selfies (above).

Santa’s Study

Santa's Study at Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Christmas at the Zoo is one of the best places around to visit Santa.  He has a very tastefully appointed study in the village.  This Santa has nailed the classic Santa look and he’s very good with the kids, as you’d expect.

Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center during Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Follow the lighted walkways to visit attractions like the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center.

Visiting the animals at night is a great part of Christmas at the Zoo.  Max, a three-year-old orangutan, was kept up late by visitors, but his mom did her best to get him calmed down and back to sleep.

Oceans

Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana. Cownose Ray exhibit.

The oceans exhibit is a popular spot during the cold weather.  It’s close to Santa’s Village and a good place to come in and warm up for a bit.  The kids enjoyed these cownose rays (above) because they look like they’re smiling.  The California sea lions (below) like to swim laps, passing as close to the glass as possible.

Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sea lion exhibit.
Santa's Village at Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Christmas at the Zoo is a must-do for families in central Indiana.  I recommend arriving early to enter Santa’s Village right at 5:00.  That way you can do the Christmas activities with little to no wait and spend the rest of your evening just walking through the zoo, enjoying the lights and animals.

For more Christmas at the Zoo, check out my photos from last year on this blog post.

2018 Holiday Events

As legendary Hoosier Michael Jackson once said, “Don’t stop ’til you get enough.”  So by all means, please enjoy our other posts from this season.  Click the image below.

2018 Holiday blog posts by Zach Dobson Photography

Newfields Winterlights 2018

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

This week we visit Newfields Winterlights in Indianapolis, now in its second year.  With over 1.5 million lights, this is THE light display to see.  Newfields is the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the surrounding grounds.

In this post I talk about photographing in the difficult lighting conditions we encounter at this time of year.

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

Winterlights Before Sundown

When you think of light displays, you probably think of nighttime.  However, if you wait until total darkness to start shooting, you miss out on some great opportunities.

The above photo shows the Lilly House during Newfields Winterlights.  This image is made after sunset, during what’s known as the “blue hour”.  A couple benefits of having the ambient light left in the sky in this photo is that it throws some additional light on the primary subject (the house) and it adds some subtle color and texture to the sky.

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

Let Lights Stand Out After Dark

Once it gets completely dark outside, I like to take the opposite approach I talk about in the last section.  I embrace the contrast of the lights against the darkness. In the photo above I found a line of sight where I have lights filling the frame at varying distances from the camera.

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

Bokeh, Bokeh, Bokeh

For the uninitiated, bokeh is the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photo.  People often ask how to achieve that “blurry background” (see photo below), but bokeh can occur in the foreground as well (see above photo).

People often assume that you need an expensive lens for this, but that’s not exactly true.  The two most important factors are a lens with a wide aperture (f/1.4, 2 or 2.8) and the distances between the camera, the subject and the background.  The foreground should be close to the camera and the background should be a good distance away.

For the image below, I am standing a few feet from the subject, shooting at a low aperture (f/1.4).  As a result the background has a nice blur.  For the above image I am standing just a couple feet from the lights in the foreground.  My focus is on the tree in the background that is about 50 yards away, again shooting at a low aperture (f/2.8).  A telephoto lens heightens this affect.  For the image above, I’m using a 70-200mm lens at 200mm.

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

The image below, inside the Lilly House at Newfields Winterlights, shows how you can use both a foreground AND background blur in the same photograph.  This image is shot with a 24mm lens at f/1.4.

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

Underexpose Holiday Lights

I typically underexpose images with holiday lights.  That means I make the images darker than what the light meter recommends, so the image appears somewhat dark on the camera screen.  If you go the opposite direction, you risk the lights being overexposed.  When that happens, you lose the subtle detail in the lights and you can’t get them back.  Sometimes overexposure is an interesting affect with holiday lights, but it’s better to do it purposefully.

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

Embrace the darkness of interior spaces.  Expose for the brightest point and underexpose at that.  Don’t use flash! Tape it shut if you have to.  Flash will kill all the subtlety of warm winter lighting.

If all you have is a lens with a high minimum aperture (~f/4 or higher), well, I suppose your best bet is just shoot at a high ISO (1600, 3200) and see how it goes.  If you have just a little bit of money to spend, there are a few options of lenses you can get to make low light photography easier.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 for $125 (new)
Canon 35mm f/2 for $240 (used)

Happy Holiday shooting! 

Extra Credit & Extra Newfields Winterlights

How do you photograph the same thing more than once?  Check out my Newfields Winterlights post from 2017 to see how the images compare.

indianapolis-newfields-winterlights

2018 Holiday Events

As legendary Hoosier Michael Jackson once said, “Don’t stop ’til you get enough.”  So by all means, please enjoy our other posts from this season.  Click the image below.

Industrial and Warehousing Photography

Morales Group is a leading staffing agency in Indianapolis.  The Morales Group attributes their growth to their commitment to serve: their clients, associates, staff and the community at large.

Recently I had the opportunity to collaborate with them on a new photography catalog to be used on their new website and marketing materials.  I photographed their real employees, without the use of models or staging, working in their actual jobs.

The first few sets of images are screen shots from the website (designed by Willow Marketing) followed by the original images.  As an advertising photographer, I always have to be sure to shoot with space to provide room for type and to fit a digital layout. Utilizing my documentary photography approach makes this a unique challenge.

Indianapolis staffing - Morales Group - documentary commercial photography

      

If you’ve made it this far, you’re liking what you see.  You should probably sign up for our newsletter to be the first to see new images. Click here to be added to the list.

Jingle Rails

Another stop we made on our holiday tour of Indianapolis was Jingle Rails, presented by The Indiana Rail Road Company, at the Eiteljorg Museum.  Eight model trains travel through miniature scenes including downtown Indianapolis, Hollywood, Las Vegas and western landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.  After the Jingle Rails photos, you’ll see a few general shots of the museum which has plenty to explore too.

Jingle Rails runs through January 15th, so be sure to check it out!











Christmas at the Zoo

This week we headed to the Indianapolis Zoo for their annual Christmas at the Zoo.  2017 saw the addition of a new Santa’s Village under the Bicentennial Pavilion. With Santa in his study, Mrs. Claus in her kitchen and reindeer in the barn, there was plenty to see and do.

The kids enjoyed multiple trips through the “Snowflakery”, which is a short, but surprisingly tricky mirror maze. PRO TIP: Keep your hands in front of you so you don’t smack your face into a mirror!

Head to the zoo early and you’ll probably see a good number of cool/cold weather animals out. We took a short walk through the the forests (located next to the pavilion) and saw tigers, bears and eagles out in the cold weather.

Kids. Just being.

I had a co-op day recently at my kids’ preschool and thought I’d take a few photos.  It’s a kind and loving environment where kids can explore their own interests in their own ways.  They spend time outside every day, including in the rain and snow.

Scroll through the gallery below to see what it’s like on a typical fall day with a group of three and four-year-olds.  You’ll see them playing with some kindergarteners on the playground, too.

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winterlights

Winterlights is the newest of the major holiday attractions in the Indianapolis area.  A part of the 152-acre Indianapolis Museum of Art campus, recently rebranded as Newfields, the event features more than a million lights, winter treats and displays set to holiday music.  The family and I decided to check it out this week and we highly recommend a visit!

Pro tip: Arrive just before sunset. The colors of twilight in the sky behind the lights is a nice bonus, and night falls within half an hour, so you get the full effect of lights at night, too.










Indianapolis Zoo

Here are some photos from a recent trip to the Indianapolis Zoo.  Even though it was a rainy day, there was a lot to see and the animals were out and about.

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Refugees in Indiana

Like many people, the images I’ve seen in the news lately of refugees fleeing violence and war have affected me deeply.  Parents are going through extraordinary lengths to protect their children, risking their lives seeking safety and stability.

America is a country founded and built by refugees and immigrants with these same basic goals.  That’s why this spring I began documenting refugees in Indiana.  My goal with this series is to show people living in local communities who embody what it means to be Hoosiers and Americans.


Rana and Reem Okar, 35, are twin sisters from Syria.  They lived in Damascus for 30 years, and although smoke rising from bomb blasts in the distance had become regular occurrences and work commutes were lengthened by checkpoints, they felt safe in their city. They lived in a tight-knit community where eveyone knew each other and they would spend hours after work most days talking with friends and family at restaurants and hookah bars.

They came to the United States in late 2012 to visit family and by late 2013 decided to seek refugee status, as they were concerned about the escalating discord in their home country.

After few years of working various part time jobs in retail, both Rana and Reem were able to find regular full time employment that they enjoy.  Reem works with the program and camping department  of the Boy Scouts and Rana works as a team leader for Engaging Solutions, providing call center operations for health care providers.

Currently they live in the Southport area of Indianapolis with two of their sisters, but are looking to purchase a home on the north side.  On weekends and during vacations they like to travel around the state seeing sights like Brown County State Park and Cataract Falls or shopping in towns like Nashville and Zionsville.

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Monumental Mile

To start this month, I documented the Monumental Mile in downtown Indianapolis.  This was a fun community event with a straight-shot run along Meridian Street from 12th Street to the finish line at Monument Circle where participants and guests could partake in some local beer and food from sponsors like Quaff ON! Brewing and Chipotle.

Below is a handful of my favorite shots.  Click here to view a larger gallery on my website.

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Holladay Properties

Holladay Properties is a full-scale land development, design/build and fully-integrated real estate company.  They contacted me to document a sampling of the type of spaces they build and lease.  This gallery shows warehouse, office, education/research and sports facilities in Indianapolis and Westfield.

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Personal Legend Project: Kurt Braunohler

01_kb_4091Kurt Braunohler, Comedian

The first time I photographed comedian Kurt Braunohler was at RIOT Comedy Festival in Los Angeles in 2014.  At that RIOT show, his joy and enthusiasm for performing was immediately evident and there was a great connection with the crowd.  That’s exactly the sort of thing I’m looking to document with this series.  So when I heard he was performing at the White Rabbit Cabaret in Indy, I knew this would be a great show to shoot.  And Kurt delivered!

Kurt will be filming his Comedy Central hour standup special on September 24th in Portland, OR.  Keep an eye out for it!

02_kb_4037
The following six questions are answered by each subject in this series.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Oh man, Personal Legend seems a tad grandiose for slinging jokes at drunk folks. I just don’t function well in an office, and was willing to do anything to not have to do that for the rest of my life. Including 20 years of failing at comedy.

03_kb_41072)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I guess the first time I improvised on stage in a class when I was 22. I had done acting before and enjoyed it, but when I did my first improvised scene, that was when I thought “oh I want to do this for the rest of my life”.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I lose track of time every time I’m on stage. In stand up its called “running the light” and it’s not a cool thing to do. So I try to be cognizant of it, but time flies when I’m up there.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Gatekeepers. Those people that you have to impress in order to get access to opportunities. I always rankle that one person’s opinion decides my fate so often. And because I dislike that so much I tend to inadvertently go out of my way to NOT impress those people. It’s probably a shitty defense mechanism. But I’m sure it’s hurt my career in the past. So I guess I’M my biggest obstacle.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Do the work. You gotta hustle. You have to always be creating something. There is no resting. There’s that old Zen Koan “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I remind myself of that all the time. It’s easy to think that people are successful because they got lucky or were given something. The more great comedians I meet, the more I realize that these people are great because they are always creating and always working. And working makes you better. It’s tough, and I don’t want to do it often, but I have to.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Do it. Try the thing. Take the class. Get on stage. Fail over and over and over again. It probably won’t even feel like failing, because you’re doing it. Being in the arts isn’t like piloting a plane. No one can teach you how to do it – which is tough. But also, nobody’s gonna die if you fuck it up. So just start RIGHT NOW.

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Click here to take a look at some photos from Kurt’s RIOT show in our 2014 gallery.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post new sets of images.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Daniel Elsener

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Daniel Elsener, President, Marian University

My in-laws, Jan & Steve McCracken, are Marian alumni.  As a part of their efforts fundraising for the school, they’ve invited my wife and I to the university’s annual gala a few times over the years.  At these events, I’ve always enjoyed hearing President Elsener speak.

He mentions here the importance of family as a primary aspect of his true calling, and notably, he and his wife have raised nine children. His eloquent words on a subject that is his “true calling” leaves me feeling uplifted and inspired to continue work on my own Personal Legend.  I hope you can also experience this through President Elsener’s thoughtful responses to our questions below.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend? 

First and foremost, my life’s calling is to the married life with my wife and, together with her, to be a good parent. Outside of that vocation, I’ve always been called through prayer and experiences to be a leader in my work which centers around advancing education. As a teacher, I felt called to serve every student and have her/him become something better than s/he would be alone. As a principal and superintendent, I was responsible to do the same with faculty, staff, board members, and donors for both single schools and for entire school systems.

Admittedly, there is an order of magnitude difference in the task of being principal of a school with 500 students and serving as superintendent of an archdiocese with 71 schools that serve 25,000 students, but the calling and responsibility to advance the flourishing of our young people through school program-based education, parental and community engagement, and fundraising support is the same.

I truly do believe that many years ago, I recognized a seed of conviction in my mind, heart, and soul to serve as an educator, and through prayer and experience, I have nurtured that seed and magnified my commitment. Now through my leadership role in the educational sphere, and more specifically through my work at Marian University as president, I am answering my call to further advance the preparation of great leaders for health care, education, business, not-for-profits, civic life, and other ministries.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Even as a young person I had an inkling that I was meant to lead and facilitate people moving to a better place. The experiences I had growing up as a captain, class president, and as organizer of various projects and events in my family life, neighborhood, school, and church gave confirmation to this inkling.

As you grow, especially if you incorporate prayer and reflection, your calling becomes more clear and pronounced. I was told a long time ago by a friend and strong leader that when your intellect and critical analysis; your research and learning; your personal and professional experiences; and your prayerful reflection are synthesized, your calling becomes crystal clear on multiple levels. I’ve found that to be true. When learning, exploration, and lived experience in areas of interest are prayerfully reflected upon at every stage – in advance, during, and following – one’s calling becomes more pronounced, invigorating, satisfying, and clear.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

This is an intriguing question. I never go to work and yet I never leave work. I thoroughly enjoy what I do – I am excited to jump in, to advance our mission, to make it go. I only find myself “outside the zone” when I find myself upset that I can’t get more done because of limited time and resources.

I believe that you only find yourself outside the zone when you lose sight of the fact that you can only do your best, keep advancing, and be thankful for your progress. The greatest threat to the fulfillment of your calling is when you allow your struggles to remove the joy from your vocation or you forget to have faith that through continuous generous and prayerful effort, your greater aspiration will indeed come to be in God’s infinite Plan.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The greatest challenge has always been the balancing act of doing well what you are called to do in different aspects of your life and allocating the proper amount of time, resources and emotions to each and all together. Once the calling becomes an obsession or starts to become something you want to do alone instead of with your Creator or others, you tend to get overwhelmed, frustrated, and become a less joyful servant. Simply, we are not God. Rather, we are God’s feet, hands, heart, ears, and eyes in service to His Plan. This outlook gives perspective and peace of mind.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Pursuing my calling has taught me that being other-centered, ministry-centered, brings with it a certain freedom from concerns about perfection, from a preoccupation with the duration of your time on earth, and from worry about what others may think or judge in terms of possessions, decisions, moves, and/or stances on issues. When you follow your calling, you find yourself at peace.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Give a good deal of thought, prayer, and inquisitiveness in research and analysis to that which interests you and the ways in which you can serve well. Focus on serving well because in serving well you will find the straightest path to happiness. Gain experience and reflect on this experience. I often have students and others say I wish I knew what to do. If you really want to know what to do, build up your life experience by trying different things. It will become more and more clear what brings happiness and benefit to you and others.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Bill Browne

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Bill Browne, Principal/President, Ratio Architects

Bill founded Ratio in 1982 and the firm has gone on to create many iconic Indianapolis buildings such as Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Indiana State Museum.  In reading Bill’s answers to the questions below, it’s no wonder he and his company have been so successful.  Photographing during a design meeting was a fascinating glimpse into the process.  As someone who works alone most of the time, I enjoyed seeing how a room of people can come together to form one, cohesive idea.

Once again, you’ll notice a husband and wife connection here, as Bill is married to Tiffany Benedict Browne, who was featured in the April 24th post.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Without a doubt, my passion is architecture, as I have always believed my true calling was to be an architect.  I enjoy cities, looking and studying their buildings.  I also enjoy learning the history and evolution of urban places.  It has and continues to consume me.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Oddly, I recall at the age of 10 that I wanted to become an architect.  I am not exactly sure what specifically happened in sixth grade, but something about architecture stuck in my head and has stayed there ever since.  My family would routinely go on driving trips around the city and the state looking at historic sites, and perhaps this triggered it.  Or it could have been simply looking at interesting buildings in pictures that got my attention.  I was always drawn to the fine arts; drawing and singing, so in all likelihood it was a combination of several influences that led me to passionately pursuing a career in architecture.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

In some ways I experience this regularly.  I practice the profession daily.  This includes finding design/client opportunities, pursuing them vigorously,  securing the commission, collaborating with my colleagues in their design, seeing it through its construction, and then turning it over to the client. 

I also “chase” new architecture by other architects across the nation, and globe to some extent.  My travels and vacations are rife with architectural tours, finding architectural gems, both historical and new, in very out of the way places, photographing them, learning/studying their details and striving to better understand how this architect solved the client’s desires.  This profession breeds individuals who are so passionate about the work that it is naturally consuming.
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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The obstacles have changed during my career.  It is like climbing a ladder.  Early on it was convincing and demonstrating to clients I/we were capable of designing their building and spaces.  Then it was completing the commissions satisfactorily both personally and for the client.  As the firm gained respect then it became the many business challenges of leading and managing a large architectural practice; talent attraction/retention, keeping a full pipeline of work, making a profit to reinvest in the business, and maintaining high quality of design in the work.  Now the challenge is how to stay relevant and authentic as the profession advances itself in the computer age where virtually anything in design seems possible.

Certainly the elusive challenge will always be the pursuit and completion of the “pure piece of architecture”.  An architect has a vision for a building, but the execution of this vision takes many people to realize.  The details are where the architecture comes to life.  This is also where architecture breaks down when it is not executed or constructed properly.  If all of the details of the building vision are executed perfectly, then the pure vision can be achieved.  This is rare indeed.  I am not sure any architect has ever achieved this, although there are some buildings that without a doubt are very close to accomplishing this goal.  This challenge exists as we start and chase this on every new project.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

I can unequivocally state that I enjoy getting up almost every day as I head into my profession.  I love what I do.  It has brought me so much such self-satisfaction and joy.  It has also shown me that I can provide this experience for the colleagues who work with me/us.  

By pursuing my passion, my focus has always been on it and everything else was a result.  Whether it was accolades from the client, peer awards, financial success, or gaining the next commission, by staying true to my passion of creating and producing as high a quality of design for our clients with each project, all of these rewards will fall into place.  Pursing these rewards directly will never result in the same level of accomplishment.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Pursue your true calling or passion with total abandon and vigor.  Immerse yourself such that it becomes part of your very being.  The reward is hard to describe.
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