Dont Sit Back!!

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I just watched a Live feed on Facebook by Stel Bailey. She was talking about being a GO GETTER!!!. I do believe that gigs and clothing etc… Is not going to be just handed to you in the photography and modeling industry. Yes you will be able to land designers and yes they will want you to shoot their stuff, but not with a ton of footwork and talking so they get to know you and what you can do for them.

Over the past several months I have worked with an awesome friend/model Jessie Ann and I have done a ton of footwork to get where we are at as a team. Not only have I done promoting her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram etc.. But she has also promoted herself to get where she is at. I went to the companies with her original photos she had from another photographer and said here is a model I would like to shoot your stuff with. 3 companies and 1 designer have jumped at the opportunity.

The point is I did not sit back and let those companies come to me and expect they just are going to send stuff. I worked my butt off to get them to want us and me to shoot for them. Just to mention a few names, Swimrags Swimwear, Rock God Eyewear and even now Husk Apparel. This was not easy!!! People it takes hard work and alot of determination.

Many hours were spent planning the shoot for me to go from Illinois to Pennsylvania. Spent alot of time discussing locations, getting lodging for the weekend, food , and transportation from here to there and then to the locations once I get there. It is not easy to do all that and then you have to battle weather elements in the middle of April. We shot on a beach for the swimsuit part of our shoot, on Lake Erie again in the middle of April. Be prepared for elements if you are doing this in April, and make sure you have the proper attire for in between wardrobe changes, so your model stays comfortable. I would rather I freeze than my model. So in between shots she was in my jacket, In a Pink Victorias Secret Hoodie covered in towels just so she was warm and could be ready to go brave the elements for the next suit.

Like I said sometimes in order to get results though you must produce the results. It is not just about things being easy. I have invested alot of time and effort to get where I am at and It has been very rewarding at times. Make sure when you approach companies you have a good body of work or a great portfolio. that is absolutely necessary. They want to see what you can do who you have shot with, where you are published, etc….

Getting published is a whole different ballgame and again that I will discuss in another blog because there is alot more to write on that!!!

Thank you for reading again,

Brian Andrews

The Great Useless Amtrak Employees At Union Station, Chicago, Illinois

Normally I include a photo of some sort in every blog I write. today I am not including one, instead I want to write about the horrible experience I had with Amtrak the past day.

Last night I got to the Illinois Terminal, Champaign, Illinois about 5pm or so,I was a couple hours early due to the fact my ride had to be somewhere else that evening. My train was supposed to be in at 6:59pm Heading towards Chicago, Illinois. around 7:15 they finally call us out to the platform to wait. All the passengers including Myself waited an hour outside, until the customer service rep said it was going to be  awhile until the train would be there.

We went inside as the customer service reps and police started telling the customers they could not divulge any information as to why our train was this late. People started investigating it themselves, and found out our train that we were supposed to catch had been hit by a Tractor, the witnesses I talked to had said a Semi carrying a tractor had hit the train.

For the next 2 hours or so we sat around until Amtrak finally admitted, that their train had struck farm equipment. It was not until about 9pm or so when a freight engine finally towed the Amtrak train we were supposed to be on with the remaining passengers going to Chicago, and they let them off at the Illinois Terminal. As the Train passed I had noticed just how damaged the Engine pulling the Amtrak really was. As the Passengers were getting off shaken by this incident, Channel 3 news had showed up to interview them and get a shot of the train being towed.

We sat there until about 10:30 When the girl at the Customer Service Desk made an announcement, that all passengers going to Chicago should remain in the Amtrak lobby until further notice about the buses they had got. Around  11 pm they finally told us our buses would be there momentarily, and they had us stand outside on this island with a small roof over it as the rain came down. We stood there until 12am before any buses finally arrived.

We had boarded the buses as the bus driver started loading from the middle of the line and not the beginning of the line, and he had caused one female passenger to become irate with this, and he tried to play Mr. Tough Guy, and get in the woman’s face literally. After we boarded the buses, it was finally time to leave, but as we got further down the road, we had all realized the bus we were on had no heat. We dealt with this for about two and a half hours. We finally arrived at what we were told was Union Station in Chicago, Illinois, yet we were dropped off two blocks from the station itself, and we all had to walk in 45 degree temps through a steady rain.

We had got to the doors of Union Station, and the police were standing inside, and would not listen to who we were, and things were about to get heated. The Manager was a tall skinny, white , shaved head snob with glasses he finally listened after 5 minutes of arguing trying to prove who we all were. We kept telling him we are Train 392, and the buses just got us here, and yet he stared at us like we were zombies about to eat him. He had finally let us in, and we were all ushered downstairs and told to go to the Amtrak Lobby basically without question, as if he was trying to avoid being confronted by already Irate passengers.

At the Champaign, Illinois Terminal WE WERE TOLD THAT AMTRAK WOULD PUT US UP IF WE MISSED OUR CONNECTING TRAINS BACK HOME, AND WE WOULD BE PUT UP IN A HOTEL. I told the Manager at Union Station this, and I was told this is my final destination this is where I stay. I then proceeded to tell him I have been stuck in Champaign, Illinois for 6 hours, some of us brought just enough money to get back to our destinations, and we are hungry and just want a place to lay our heads. He vehemently denied Amtrak ever telling me this although this was a guy in Chicago telling me what someone in Champaign said. I finally had had enough. I went to Customer relations to ask to use the phone, because mine was not working, and I was told I could not use the phone, and Mr. Tough snob manager came out and tried to confront me again. This time I told him we want accommodations or I want a cab back to my mothers house which is 75 miles away. He refused again telling me he cannot get me a cab because them getting us there this late was not their fault and this is my final destination and this is where we will stay until our trains in the morning.

After Awhile I went back in and told him again look this is not our fault and should not have to pay the consequences because of the mistakes of Amtrak. He had then told me he was gonna call the Police. I said fine call the police because I think this whole thing is gotten way out of hand, and the fact you will not take care of your customers but instead refuse to listen or even provide a cup of coffee for that matter for the weary travelers which you refuse to help.

The police arrived listened to both our stories agreed my story was the more compelling argument but he could not do anything, and he left. The manager then passed the buck to !-800-USA-RAIL the customer service line, I said I did not want to speak to a representative on the phone. He then asked me why I left Champaign If I knew I was going to be stuck here in Chicago for the night, I explained to him once again, We were told we would be put up in Hotels for the night, He then Proceeded to tell me, and mind you this was now past 2:30 in the morning that he had just called the Illinois terminal and they never said that Illinois Terminal usually closes completely for the night before then. So I knew he was blatantly lying to me right there and then. He then proceeded to ask me why didn’t i just stay there in Champaign and have my parents come get me because that is where I was headed for the weekend. I told him I live 240 miles from my parents they are not going to travel 240 miles at Dam near 11pm at night to come get me to bring me up. Mind you my father is well into his seventies, and does not walk to well anymore. He then said well why didn’t you call them and ask for a ride when I got to Union Station, We got in about 2 am and my parents are still 75 miles from that point. I was getting mad at his why didn’t you questions, because he acted as if it were just that easy.

I waited until about 6 in the morning as I finally nodded off in an Amtrak lobby chair for about an hour maybe less, it was not comfortable, and I did not sleep well. I went to customer relations to try to use the phone again, because Amtrak does not have WiFIi like they claim in Union station it is only for those who are using sleeper accommodations . i explained I was part of the 392 debacle, and my phone does not work right now I would just like to call my parents to let them know what time to meet me in Fox lake, Illinois this morning. She  snipped at me I need a ticket to prove that because we normally Do NOT DO THIS! I said here is my ticket and you and your managers have already put us out, I need a phone!. She let me use the phone, and afterward told me my ticket was no good since I did not take the train into the station. So I had to go get a new return ticket, because If you do not Check in on the train, they do whats called a forced check in and your ticket is no good. Mind you some of us never got checked in on the train because we got bussed because of this fiasco. I went to the customer service lady at the ticket counter, she actually called customer service to clear the force check in. and was the nicest lady I encountered all night that worked for Amtrak! I even told her that.

I suggest that if you take Amtrak read their small print, and buyer beware if a train gets in a wreck before or while your on the train you may experience some of these same problems with bad customer representatives of their company. If this ever happens again no matter how I will find a way back home to my own bed before I try to go on ! It is not worth the hassle and the problems you encounter. These guidelines for the way they treat people need to be rewritten for them at Amtrak.

Sorry for the rant I just wanted to get this all off my chest as I have now been up for almost 24 hours with maybe an hour or so of sleep or a power nap. I would like comments on this ! and tell me your views.

Thank you,

Brian

Traveling

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      I went down to Tuscola, Illinois this past week again I love going down there. most of the land is Farmland, Untouched, Or photo spectacular. Let me explain that last one photo spectacular. I mean that there are so many unique aspects old barns, old signage, or even your early 20th century brick roads. While traveling I love looking out the window seeing barns such as pictured above. I love having the little bit of puffy cloud cover, because it gives depth to the photos. As I said before I love looking at something and seeing something old as a beautiful piece of America. Driving down through central Illinois you see corn and soy. our 2 major bumper crops! It is nothing but fields for miles and I love it!. I love the open skies, the fresh air, and not smelling exhaust, and other pollutants in the air. I cannot wait to go back down there again I have tons more to photograph down there!.

Drive-In Memories

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       Photo Above: McHenry Outdoor Theater, McHenry, Illinois

As the Sun starts to set, so does the time I knew. Growing up on Friday, or Saturday nights the parents used to get us in our pajamas, pack a couple of bags of Okee-Doke Popcorn, usually cheese and regular, and put us in the car and take us to the Cascade Drive-in, in West Chicago, Illinois. We used to go when I was real young in the 69 Camaro that was my Mom’s, or the 69 Barracuda which was my Dad’s. The Camaro was Blue with a white rag top, what a beautiful car. 

        When the upkeep got to expensive for those cars, my Mom and Dad bought an 83 Citation, It was Maroon with a Hatchback. Again they would pack us in that car, and at the Drive-in they would put the seats down, and we could lay in back. We would usually try to make it through the first movie, and sometimes on a rare occasion we would make it through the second one to.

      I remember seeing some great movies there, but before every movie they would either run a cartoon, like popeye, heckle and Jeckyl, or a Bugs bunny Cartoon. Sometimes if we were lucky they would run a Three Stooges short  until the sun set far enough down for the movie to start. This is not a practice alot of Drive-In theaters do anymore that I would love to see brought back.

       We saw such movies as Karate Kid 2, The Last Star Fighter, Space Camp, Starman, and the Three Amigos. Those days the theaters had playgrounds, of course they were monkey bars, swings and maybe 1 or 2 other items. Playrounds became a thing of the past when people became sue happy, and the playgrounds were all metal equipment. The Insurance companies basically told the theaters no more. Another sad notation in our American culture.

      Years later my family moved to the McHenry County area. It was fairly rural but the one thing we did have and still do, if we can keep it alive is the McHenry outdoor theater. I worked there 11 summers, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The crews I worked with became my summer family, and I even met my ex-wife there. Even though we wound up getting divorced we had 3 beautiful children together. My kids when they were younger would get in the car and we would take them because daddy was working, and they could watch a movie. They basically spent every summer night when they were younger at the Drive-in.

      Now the McHenry Outdoor Theater is facing its biggest challenge. It is becoming to expensive to run 35 mm film anymore, and alot of companies will not produce first run films in 35 mm format. Most theaters have now switched over to digital, and McHenry is trying to do the same. If they do not raise the money to put in Digital Projection they could be facing a grim, and heartbreaking future.

        Most Drive-ins I remember are now a thing of the past. I do not like this because people have become to lazy, and would rather spend time on their couch with cable or red box and watch movies in the comfort of their own home. I would rather be at the outdoor sitting in my car enjoying a double feature, or even a single feature because some theaters do not have double features. I want to eat popcorn, drink Coca-Cola, and eat hotdogs, pizza, and burgers.

     So far this year I have relived some of those old memories I went to the McHenry Outdoor a few weeks ago, and just last week I went to the Harvest Moon Drive-in, in Gibson City, Illinois. Harvest Moon Is a Twin Drive-in in the middle of Gods country. It is the worlds first wind powered theater, with digital projection on each screen. It has a wonderful little concession stand to.

     If you want to see the McHenry Outdoor stay open please patronize it, become a good customer. Lets not forget the Drive-In It is a good family night, and we do not want to forget the way America was. Thank you for reading this I really hope you enjoyed this!!!

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Photo above: Harvest Moon Drive-in, Gibson City, Illinois

shooting photos at night!

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              So recently I have been out at night alot in different towns. Towns like Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, St. Charles, Illinois, and McHenry, Illinois. Most of these towns are near a major water source of some sort, be it a river, or lake. Being near a Major water source, and the vintage feel to these towns, they can produce some visually stunning images, such as the image above taken of the clock tower in St. charles, Illinois, along the Fox River.

       For this photo I had set the iso low I think it was about 200 , and I brought the F stop to about 20 and then set the shutter to bulb, and let the photo exposure for about 50 seconds. only problem I had that night was the fact I was in and out of buildings, and there was some dust in the air due to a nearby storm brewing, So between the Air conditioning in the buildings, the dust in the air, and the mosquitoes gathering in swarms around the river I would get some spots in the photo because my lens would fog from the air conditioning , and then the dust hitting the lens and sticking because of the moisture buildup, and mosquitoes who decided my lens was a good resting spot. When I went home I would notice the spots in the photos and use the patch tool in photoshop to remove them.

      A few photos I still want to get down the road from me there are 2 baseball fields, and the light towers sit above the trees and at night those lights light up the open field next to it. to me this causes me to think Field of Dreams. Another photo I want to get is rides at a carnival with a long exposure, and last but not least as many times as it has been photographed the Chicago Skyline at night!!! or dusk.

       So these are just a few things why I enjoy night time photography!! for the visually stunning photos, and hey when doing this DO NOT forget to bring your tri-pod your hand is not steady for 50 seconds let alone about 5 seconds. So good luck for all those who want to try night time photography.

So I went for a walk!

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So yesterday I decided at 85 degrees finally in Illinois, I was gonna go for a walk. I had heard of a park near me where there had been Bald Eagle sightings. I walked for about an hour with no obvious bald eagles in sight. I came to a gravel roadway, which is used for automobile traffic, and foot traffic to the nature preserve at the top of the hill. As I walked I ran across this little guy you see here pictured above.

Here he lay sunning himself on a roadway where he could get ran over by a car at any moment!!!. As I approached him he did not move much, but instead decided a safe spot would be underneath my shoe. He then slithered under it and coiled up!. So I moved gingerly, not trying to hurt the snake.  I made my way off the roadway, where I took out my camera and decided to lay in the weeds to photograph him at his level. I think one lady was even about to pull over to see if I was alright, because I was laying in the weeds. As I finished photographing my friendly little snake, I decided maybe the road was not such a good place for him. So I gently pushed him off to the side of the road into the weeds. He slithered happily into the weeds, and I hope now he will live a full life of insect, and mouse hunting. Good luck little Friend!!!