Category Archives: Reflections


It’s been a week already since I jumped in my car in the darkness of the early morning and, like an ice clipper through the Arctic, made my way through the dense fog of central Illinois on my way east for Thanksgiving.

At the end of my 10 hour journey to northeastern Ohio lay my prize: a warm, inviting home full of loving family and the best food a boy could eat. This year was especially joyful for me; I wasn’t able to make it to Thanksgiving last year to see all my family and I got to see my Mom for the first time since she moved to North Carolina more than a year ago.

This year’s holiday was about reconnecting with family, spending time with those I don’t get to see that often, re-energize my emotional batteries with love and support from my family and, of course, eating amazing food.

I was also blessed with the opportunity to meet a family member I’ve never met before: my amazing second cousin, Melissa, who is a classical pianist and currently pursuing her Master’s in Performance Administration in New York City. For those keeping track, she has only been in the Big Apple since August; having moved from Colorado, let’s just say that she’s had her fair share of northeastern weather.

With another year quickly wrapping up and the Thanksgiving holiday still on my mind, I thought it would be nice to take some time and reflect on some of the things I am most thankful for this year.

Giving Thanks

It seems like we all spend far too much time throughout the year complaining about all the things that we don’t have or don’t get to do in our lives when we should be spending more time realizing all the blessings that we do receive. Here are just a few of the things I am most thankful for this year.

My Partner in Crime
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I would probably be a broken shell of a person if I had never met Caitlin, my fiancĂ©e. She keeps me grounded and is the voice of both reason and comfort when I need them most. I am most thankful for the chance to share my life with her and getting to share in hers as well. I’m also very thankful for the laughter we share. Whenever I am having a bad moment, I know she will be there to remind me that all things in life can be laughed at and that, no matter what, I will always have someone to join me in that laughter.

The Kids
They may not be human, but make no mistake: our three cats, Marie, Sookie, and Bella, are our kids. They fight, they play, and they keep us on Caitlin and I on our toes. Most importantly, they make us laugh and they make us love. I can’t imagine what our lives would be like without those obnoxious fur balls swirling around us at home.

Friends & Family
In my world, these two groups are one in the same. My family, especially my parents, are some of my best friends and my friends are some of the best family I have. With everyone so scattered across the globe and all of us with our crazy schedules, we don’t have much time to stay in touch or see one another, but we do all we can and we soak up what little moments we are given.

This also holds true for my new family; Caitlin’s parents and family have welcomed me with open arms since the day we met and I look forward to the time spent with them as much as I do my own.

Passions & Challenges

I don’t know where it came about, but at some point in my journey, I realized that the meaning of life, for me, is to learn and to love. I’m very thankful for all the talents that the universe has bestowed on me, especially my passion for learning new things.

While I often struggle with not having time enough to dedicate to any one thing, especially my music and photography, and wanting to learn something new, I’m proud of the knowledge I’ve gained and my enjoyment for helping others learn as well. I’m glad I am able to see obstacles as stepping-stones and not stumbling blocks, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Health, Home, & Happiness
Last, but not least, I am thankful for every single day I get to be alive and healthy doing what I love doing most, the beautiful home that Caitlin and I purchased last year, which provides a roof over our heads and a warm place to spend time with one another, and, of course, the ability to smile and laugh, which makes all the things I do and experience all that much better.

Tuesday Viewsday: Black & White Winter

It’s finally happened… the temperature has dropped to the mid to low thirties and the bone chilling wind that likes to gust and whip at your extremities has started blowing. This can only mean one thing: winter is finally here. While we may not have snow on the ground here in Illinois, make no mistake that the time for wool caps and socks is upon us.

Waiting for Spring (2012)

Waiting for Spring (2012)

As we wait patiently for the first flurries to drop from above, it’s always good to take this time to catch up on the year’s projects and to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going. As always, I’ll do my annual reflections and resolutions postings sometime in the near future, but I hope that you take a few moments of quiet time over the next few weeks and reflect on your lives, the people around you, your relationships, both old and new, and anything else that has caused an impact in your world over the last year.

And, since we are looking back, I wanted to share this photograph with you. I snapped this black and white image at the beginning of this year shortly after moving into my new home. For me, this year was marked with a whole load of new experiences and projects to keep me busy, but nothing was more instrumental in the effect on my life than purchasing my first home with the girl.

This image was captured as part of my Project 52 series, which, like most of my time-based projects over the past few years, quickly got derailed and I never returned to it. In the past, realizing this derailment would upset me, but I realized that this year was about setting priorities and, for me, Project 52 quickly took a back seat to remodeling my home, building a garden, landscaping, pursuing my Master’s degree, traveling, and teaching.

The assignment that was given for this piece of the project was to photograph something around your home that demonstrated a personal “vision” statement that you also had to generate. For me, this image is about the untold story. When Caitlin and I moved into our new home, we saw this old bird bath pedestal and concrete tire with a pole sticking out of it in the yard. We still have no idea what these were used for, but I suspect the pole was for tying up a dog.

Vision Statement
Every moment, past or present, has a story. Whether that story is clearly defined or written “between the lines,” I capture the moments that bring those stories to life.

For those who know me and my photography, you know I’m drawn to “leftovers” – items that used to be a vital part of our daily lives and then were just left alone without anyone ever returning. To me, these two items, being so close in proximity to me and representing a new chapter in my life, are also “leftovers” so I had to capture them.

And, nothing says winter like white so a black and white treatment went a long way toward making this image come to life.

So what do you think? Do you like it? Hate it? Does it tie in with my vision statement? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s To You, Larry Troy

Sociology Professor Larry Troy with a Student

My Friend, Larry Troy

The people who know me know that I have two distinct sides to my personality. On one side, I’m a fun-loving, laid-back, smiling, laughing, good-timing guy. On the other end is my overly sensitive, “see the beauty in the world,” cry during episodes of West Wing, sentimental fool. While I do get heckled from time to time, often joining in myself, I find that these two sides allow me to be a well-rounded, and ultimately, better, person.

On this blog, I try to keep the topics lighthearted and fun to read, but from time to time, that sentimental fool pops his head out of the little hole he hides in and I start typing away.

Well, kids, today is one of those days. Don’t worry… I’m not sad or depressed; I’m not going to start painting my fingernails black and listening to death metal. But, I do want to reflect on the passing of a friend.

On September 25, 2012, a friend of mine passed away without any warning. His name was Larry Troy and he was a Professor of Sociology at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, a fact that I didn’t know until recently. While this may seem like a small drop of water in the proverbial ocean, Larry was more than just my friend in spirit, but in passions as well; we shared a love for creating photographs and learning new things.

Dedication & Drive

"It Comes in Colors" by Larry Troy

“It Comes in Colors” by Larry Troy

I met Larry at an art fair in 2011, my first year doing the art market scene around Peoria. He came into my booth and we chatted for nearly an hour before he was pulled away; I’m sure he would have talked all afternoon if he was given the chance. We bonded over a mutual love of photography; Larry had only recently started exploring this passion of his.

I urged him to check out the Peoria Flickr Group, of which I am an administrator, and to join us on some photowalks. I didn’t realize that he lived in Decatur, but such was his passion for learning and photography that he quickly became a very active, and welcomed, participant in our monthly walks. He was always asking questions and chatting with everyone he could; he loved meeting new people as much as he enjoyed clicking the shutter button.

It was Larry’s drive and dedication that pushed him to attend two of my 2012 workshops, the first two I’ve ever taken on. You could tell from the smile on his face that he was so excited to be learning new lighting techniques at the Peoria Strobist Model Workshop in May; off-camera lighting was something he never even considered diving into, but there he was anyway.

Life In the Viewfinder

On September 15, 2012, I held my first HDR workshop at Hanna City Work Camp and, of course, Larry made the drive up from Decatur to take part. The one thing I will remember about that day until it’s my time to punch the card is the look on Larry’s face; it’s the same look my students at Bradley University get when I’m teaching. He was young again and knew there was a whole load of knowledge he still had to gain.

Unfortunately, for him and for all of us, Larry didn’t get the opportunity. It’s weird to me to think about being there with him as he captured the last images of his life, but it makes me happy to be able to have shared in that experience with him, one photographer to another.

I’ve often reflected on what my legacy will be, and for any photographer, while the rest of the stuff may disappear or be boxed up, the moments we’ve seen and captured through the viewfinder will always stay. So, in honor of my friend, I wanted to share some of the amazing moments that Larry was able to share with the world before his curtain call.


Here are a few of my favorites from Larry’s Flickr photostream.

"Towers" by Larry Troy


"Peeling Wall & Boxing Glove" by Larry Troy

“Peeling Wall & Boxing Glove”

"EEEEEEEEEE" by Larry Troy


"Three Trees" by Larry Troy

“Three Trees”

"Nick" by Larry Troy


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