Afew weeks ago, I received a call from the University of Phoenix as they were researching Chicago portrait Photographers and had found me through the ASMP.  They were looking to do a feature story on one of their recent graduates for the Alumni Associations’ publication, Phoenix Focus and sent me on assignment to capture a few environmental portraits.

The subject of the story, Ted Barrett had been in the corporate world for several years, working in business development and account management when he decided to make a major change.  Returning to college, he studied Psychology, received his certification as an Autism Behavior Interventionist and now provides therapeutic services to kids who fall within the autistic spectrum.

Because Ted works with his clients in their homes, the Art Director was hoping to do something outdoors which of course is always a gamble as the weather gods like to toy with the nerves of certain Photographers such as myself.  After speaking with Ted, who may possibly be one of the nicest guys on the planet, we scheduled for a 10am shoot with the next day being our back-up in the case of rain, hail, tornados, etc.   It is Chicago after all.



A few days prior to our shoot, I took a drive just west of Chicago to the the very charming town of Oak Park.  Within the main part of town, there is the Frank Lloyd Wright Historical District and this is where I found the perfect spot for our shoot.  Looking south, there was a row of super cute houses with just enough color to add dimension to the background.  And across the street, the sidewalks were lined with huge oak trees and white picket fences.  Finally, right around the corner was a shaded park that would work as a great alternate for our more casual environmental portrait.

For lighting, we went with a 48″ octobox for the main light and a smaller softbox with an egg crate modifier as a back kicker.  The beautiful thing is that I had just exchanged a few external battery packs for the Paul C. Buff Lithium Extreme pack which has proven to be an absolute powerhouse.  The recycle time, even at 800ws is lightning fast and completely reliable not to mention that it is just heavy enough to function as a light stand weight so no need for additional sandbags.



After about two hours, a plethora of questions from curious passerby and three wardrobe changes in the back of Teds’ car, we called it a wrap.  And I have to say, I do love the challenge of walking into a different “office” on a daily basis and having a plan but also always being ready to adapt to the changing circumstances of light.

And of course, it’s always a pleasure to meet such interesting people who choose to take a chance and do something different because as my favorite On Golden Pond actress, Katherine Hepburn once said “if you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”