When with Roma….

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Chicago, photo book, photography, Portraits

Meet Roma.

portrait photography diana nguyen

I had reached out to her in mid-January as she was interested in working with photographers to build up her portfolio. And of course, we picked a cold day to meet at Montrose Harbor. ūüėČ Brrrrrr…..

It was fun walking along the shore, shooting and getting to know each other, which I never realized would be the added benefit to doing portrait photography. I really like how it worked out that way.

portrait of Roma taken by Diana Nguyen

portrait of Roma by Diana Nguyen, Montrose Harbor portrait of Roma by Diana Nguyen, Montrose Harbor

While Roma was fun to shoot, I was fascinated with the amount of seagulls flying around us.¬†But I was¬†really¬†fascinated when I saw a trio of people pull a large bag of bread. I thought they’d take their time distributing it. But no. The guy in the group took the bag and went to town:

man feeds bread to seagulls
And friends, this is how to get 100 seagulls to flock to you!

Portraits at Architectural Artifacts Chicago

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Chicago, photography
woman on clock
It’s time….

Sometime last week, my friend Jeanne mentioned there was a meetup at Architectural Artifacts. A quick google search told me that this would be my type of place.

And OMG, it was. [Pst, that above pic of Mel in front of the clock was my favorite shot of the day – and so far, year.]

This was my first meetup in awhile as I decided to cut back on them. There was a period where I would try to go to every single one of them. Lately though, it has made my life easier to meet up with friends I’ve met on Instagram (and I’ve met and gained a good number of them in the last two years*) and allows for quality one-on-one time with them, knowing that we’ll allow each other to hit the “pause” button on our conversation when we spot a moment that needs to be captured. (This happens quite a bit with Elina.) I’ll have to write more on this topic later. Meanwhile, let me say that this was a great meetup. I got to see some friends I haven’t seen in awhile and work on shooting more portraits.

portrait at Architectural Artifacts
Leola. Gah, she looks so elegant in this shot.
portrait at Architectural Artifacts Chicago
Jina. I dig this girl. And everytime I looked at this on my camera, I thought it was a picture of me, lol. (Aside from the Asian thing, I don’t think we look alike¬†otherwise. Ha ha ha ha.)
portrait at architectural artifacts
Cat – one of the meetup organizers. I saw her dress and asked if I could take her pic. I didn’t notice her boots until I sat down to edit the pic. I WANT THEM.
portrait at Architectural Artifacts Chicago
A fun shot of Melissa
Architectural Artifacts Chicago
Jeanne & Elina

Gah, I loved this place. And I’m definitely coming back. Also, I hope someone gets married here and invites me. ūüėÄ

*For those of you starting out in photography, I encourage you to go to meetups to meet and network with like-minded people. The first meetup may not yield any results….but just keep attending them. It’s dramatic to say that doing this is “life changing” but it really has been for me.

Photography books I’ve been reading lately

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photo book, photography

photography books on nightstand

“So tell me about yourself.”

I usually answer this question with mentions that I live with my roommates (er, family) in the suburbs, I like photography and that I enjoy reading. Naturally, the follow up question to the last question is¬†“What book are you reading now?” or “Do you have any book recommendations?” I think¬†they’re usually expecting fiction requests (The Kite Runner and or anything by Khaled Hosseini) and unfortunately, these days, I’m more of a non-fiction reader. I’ll spare you the business books on my nightstand now (did I just lose you?) since this is a photography-oriented site. ūüôā But for those of you who¬†enjoy a good picture book from time to time, here are the photography books I’ve poured over in the last month all thanks to the libraries in my area*:

Photo books I’ve read before that I¬†really liked:

Do you have photography books you’d recommend?

*Support your library!

Chicago morning with Paris

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photo book, photography, Portraits

Every year, I mention a New Year’s Resolution, but I can’t say I’m awesome at keeping them. This year, however, I think I might actually be on track with doing more portrait work. Yay!¬†It’s probably too early to determine if I stick with it, but so far it’s been fun and challenging that I just want to keep going.

I kept momentum last Saturday when I met up with Paris downtown where we shot around Buckingham Fountain and then at the Art Institute. In person, Paris is striking. In fact, while we were shooting inside the Art Institute, one of the [female] security guards leaned in to say “She’s the art here.” Indeed. But it wasn’t until I got home and went through the pictures that I realized that¬†she has a great facial profile. I wonder if she knows that….

Paris Jolly lookbook
Click on the image above to check out more pictures of Paris

On Tuesday, I was delighted to find that Flickr added this picture of Paris to the Explore section of its site.

Georgia O'Keefee at Art Institute of Chicago

Thank you for a fun Saturday, Paris. Can’t wait to shoot again.

Happy Sunday!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photography, Portraits

Buckingham Fountain in chicago

As I’m typing this, it is 5 (FIVE!) degrees out. This makes Giada happy, but that leaves the rest of us¬†to deal. Brrrr….

I have had a full weekend up until 11AM today when I took LO to his swim class. Now I’m letting Sunday wind down by editing photos. I’m still keeping up with my New Year’s Resolution of trying to shoot more portraits this year and met up with a young model named Paris yesterday morning (when it was slightly¬†warmer out). I’ll share more as I get through the editing.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


model in front of Buckingham Fountain Chicago

selfie with Andy Warhol's Elizabeth Taylor portrait

Photographing in 10 degree temps

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photography
winter in evanston
Lighthouse Beach in Evanston

Last weekend was cold. I stayed out at home in the suburbs because it was Family Weekend (one of those self imposed weekends where I try not to head into the city to shoot so that I can maximize my time with both my 11-month old, Giada and The Dog Walker), which worked out nicely as I ended up taking advantage of shooting close to home. On Sunday, I took my LO to his first swim class and had lunch with a mom friend (her son fell asleep while mine decided to throw¬†things off the table. Lucky me!). Afterwards,¬†I headed home thinking I’d edit my photos from the day before.¬†Then, I got a text from Anjo.

“I am going to go to Evanston later. Do you want to meet up?”

My gut reaction was, No way.¬†I’m soooooooooo tired. So I texted back that I was tired but to let me know what time he was heading in the area in case I changed my mind.

“Sunset at Grosse Point Lighthouse,” he replied. I told him I’d let him know, but I pretty much knew my mind was made up in not going.

Or was it?

A few minutes later, I texted¬†him back letting him know I’d meet up with him. I’m not sure what caused the switch (I think it was mostly because I wanted to see Anjo as I haven’t seen him since before Christmas…let’s tell Anjo that’s what it was, he he), but I’m glad I did…..even if it was 10 degrees out that day (-18 if you factor in wind chill). Last year, one of my favorite Instagrammers Angela Conners posted a winter picture and accompanied it with a caption that read:

The days when you don’t want to leave the house and shoot are often the times you should.”

I keep that in mind all the time now. So while my pictures from that night weren’t phenomenal, I think taking the step to get out of the house and into the cold started a new habit. Thank you Anjo (and Angela) for inspiring me to get out for a bit last Sunday.

Couple at Evanston lighthouse beach

dog at evanston lighthouse beach
This dog wouldn’t release his ball to me. I tried not to take that personally….
lake michigan, evanston lighthouse beach
It doesn’t look cold, does it?

Anjo setting up his tripod to capture the icicles formed by the branches. I followed him....and a few minutes later, the high tide swept over my running shoes. Yowser. I didn't last much longer after this.
[Crappy picture alert] Anjo setting up his tripod to capture the icicles formed by the branches. I followed him….and a few minutes later, the high tide swept over my running shoes. Yowser. I didn’t last much longer after this.

evanston lighthouse beach night
Brrrrr….time to get indoors

My holidays in Chicago [a photo recap]

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Chicago, Design, photography, Travel

Since my photography portfolio was a little bare in 2015 (I have a decent excuse¬†I think), I’ve been trying to make up for lost time and¬†keeping¬†Walter¬†by my side. If using my camera on a daily basis is a sign that I’m on the right path, then my year is off to a great start. I promise to keep this blog current….but before more time passes, let me revisit a few pictures I took over the holidays in Chicago.

Chicago architecture christmas 2015

My husband and I have a little tradition of visiting a museum every Christmas Eve. Sometimes others accompany us. Other times, it’s just us. This year, we had the little one (LO) with us and weren’t quite sure how long he’d be kept interested for so we did something a little different.

skydeck Chicago Christmas Eve, glass ledge
We went to the Sears Tower!

As soon as he went onto the glass ledge, LO¬†lost his balance and fell forward. Nothing out of the ordinary…except that it was on a glass ledge. All the tourists up who witnessed it all let out a huge “Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh!” But then all was fine. He got up and kept walking to to see more of the city. (My husband, on the other hand, was a little freaked out and tried not to think about the fact that he was standing 1000+ ft up in the air.)

sears tower skydeck

Skydeck chicago Christmas Eve

view from Willis Tower

I was surprised about how crowded it was (and we arrived¬†at opening time). However, it all worked out as we were only there for about 45 minutes. That gave us enough time to experience the view (within LO’s time tolerance zone) and then head back home. (We did stop by JP Graziano¬†on the way out of the city. Love their sandwiches. Also, if you’re a giardinera fan, my husband swears they make it the best.)

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the suburbs, but the day after Christmas, we ventured downtown with my brother and his girlfriend who came in for the holidays. We started the day by introducing Jessica to Italian Beef at Al’s (I don’t think there’s a better introduction). I hope we didn’t hype it up too much¬†for her as we kinda love Al’s around here. You’ll notice there aren’t any food pictures.¬†I was all over Snapchat on this day, so I didn’t take any food pictures. Oops. (Jessica did though.)

Al's Beef Chicago
Squad. (This was the only picture I got at Al’s…and it was through Snapchat. Bad Diana.)

Afterwards, we drove downtown to see Maggie Daley Park. I feel like I’m the last person to visit¬†this place (well, this and The 606 – I know, I need to get on that!), but wow, what a park.

Maggie Daley Park
Did I mention it was a cloudy day?

I cannot wait to come back when the weather is nicer.

From there, we took a slow walk toward The Bean by going over the BP Pedestrian Bridge. At this point, we thought it was a good idea to take the kid out of his stroller. He liked stretching his legs, but he kept bending over to pick up leaves from the ground (to put in his mouth, of course. Yum).


BP Pedestrian Bridge Chicago

The Bean Chicago

But don't worry, we managed to get a family selfie. :)
Of course, we captured a family selfie. ūüôā

We took a quick detour to the Chicago Cultural Center to warm up before heading¬†over to the West Loop to have afternoon tea at The Allis. It was a Saturday, and I didn’t think to make reservations. (Note: you should make reservations if you’re going on a Saturday. Duh.) But luckily, there was a cancellation so we were seated and had such a great time. I wish I had pulled out¬†Walter, but¬†I was occupied with¬†Snapchat (The Allis and tea presentation¬†were both too beautiful not to do an immediate share), stuffing my face and trying to keep LO entertained.

Afternoon tea at The Allis
Picture from my phone

A few things about The Allis:

  • The staff there was so nice, especially the hostess (whose name I, regretfully, didn’t get).
  • The Allis is a beautiful space.¬†I want to come back one day and just pour over the photography books they have on the shelves at the front entry….while eating everything behind the glass display up at the bar.
  • I want to spend the night at the Soho Hotel one night and¬†walk down to¬†The Allis the next morning to drink coffee and stare into space. (Yes, I really like this place.)
  • The afternoon tea service here is simple but so great. It was fun to watch my 10-month old eat sandwiches (he never had them before) and a bit of scone. He loved everything that went into his mouth (even if they weren’t leaves). The kid is ruined. Thank you to The Allis for that. ūüėČ

Do you get the feeling that I’ll be back? (Yes, I’ll be back.) So yes, that was my Chicago holiday in a nutshell. When my brother & his girlfriend (ahem, now fianc√©e) come back to Chicago,¬†I honestly wouldn’t mind repeating this itinerary although I may just do this on my own sooner rather than later.

P.S. I pulled together another photo book recap if you’d like to see it [just click on the image below and it’ll take you to the ISSUU page).

Christmas in Chicago photo book

Click: Here’s Giada!

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Giada, Portraits

I wanted to try to shuffle in a few pictures I took over the holidays, but sadly, I haven’t had a chance to edit them yet. Instead, how about I take you on a little detour?

Giada in CS Modern Luxury
Giada’s first print feature!

Back in December, I received an email from a photo editor at CS Modern Luxury¬†asking if I’d be interested in having Giada’s picture published. Let me think about that.


After a few emails back and forth, I was told that the spread would go to print after the New Year. So earlier in this week, I stopped by the closest newsstand (which I’m always happy to visit) that I knew would carry the magazine and grabbed a few copies to share with Giada.

Giada in CS Modern Luxury

I don’t think she’s quite a diva yet, but hey, it’s good to have her grounded.¬†(Whew.)

Okay, now that I’ve posted this, let’s hope this gets me back on track. Holiday recap post next….hopefully! ūüôā

P.S. If you’re reading this, CS Modern Luxury, you have brought many smiles to the household this week. Thank you!

Anna in Chicago

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in photo book, photography, Portraits

photographing in Chicago, black and white picture

After an afternoon shooting in Arlington Heights, Anna and I agreed to meet up downtown the next day. “Should we meet up at The Bean or the Cultural Center?” was the question. We went with the Chicago Cultural Center, but I was 15 minutes late and then spent about 20 minutes looking for her (because I couldn’t find the Tiffany ceiling…seriously, it’s the featured attraction there and I couldn’t find it. Oye) so maybe we should have met at The Bean!

Chicago Cultural Center, silhouette

After a few minutes there, we went out into the cold and pretty quickly stumbled into an alley filled with smoke. There was a restaurant vent that was pumping out all the smoke (coupled with a lot of food aromas). It smelled delicious and more importantly, gave the images a romantic look.

shooting in Chicago alley, photography

shooting in Chicago alley, photography

shooting in Chicago alley, photography

I got a little obsessed with wanting to shoot on the Nichols Bridgeway (the pedestrian bridge from Millennium Park to the Art Institute), so we finally got up that way.

Nichols Bridgeway Chicago

Nichols Bridgeway Chicago

At this point, I admitted to her that I needed a sugar fix as I was crashing. Ha ha. Luckily, she was down for some coffee, so we left Millennium Park. Of course, we took a few pictures on the way out.

Nichols Bridgeway Chicago

portrait in Millennium Park

Millennium Park, Crown Fountain

portrait photography in Millennium Park, Crown Fountain
The guy – who seemingly appeared out of nowhere – in the background made me laugh.
Chicago alley
Took another alley detour en route to Intelligentsia
intelligentsia coffee
This is the only picture I took at Intelligentsia.¬†Kinda boring next to all of Anna’s portraits, eh? ūüėČ

We sat in the crowded coffee shop just chatting and getting to know more about her. (Fun fact: she has a Vietnamese sister-in-law. I knew I liked her for a reason, lol.) It was getting late (i.e. I promised I’d be home for dinner), so we called it a day…but not before swinging around to The Chicago Theater.

Chicago Theater street photography

Chicago Theater
Happy 2016!

I’m hoping all the portraits I do for the rest of the year goes as well as it did with Anna. (Thank you, Anna!!!)

P.S. I put Anna’s pictures in a photo book format on Issuu. Click on the image below to take a look:

Lookbook on Issuu