Photographing People – Rory Coyne by Adrian Galli

Rory Coyne

Rory Coyne

March was a challenging month of photographing people as part of A Year in Photographs. Much of what I photographed had the air of street photography. While it was not my intention, nor a negative outcome, I felt I did not do my theme of 'people' justice; so strongly so, I am continuing photographing people indefinitely. 

Rory Coyne, an old friend and colleague, is a painter and leather craftsman. Working his craft in oil painting, his classic style of painting reminds me of many painting from the Renaissance, however, his choice of subject matter merging human and animal forms depicts mythological creatures.

On the other hand, Rory has a second talent for leather crafts. Collars, cuffs, belts, and some more BDSM inspired items, my observations of Rory's artwork belies my first observation of mythology, and my second, a symbiotic nature of humans and animals or even a criticism of human interactions with animal.

The intentions of his leather works and artworks shed light on my friend's psyche. While I'm not about to psychoanalyze Rory, spending the afternoon chatting, observing, and sipping on tea with him, only added intrigue to his personality.

With few of my friend having Rory's craft, I always am in awe of the skill needed for working with paint. And Rory's classic yet unique paintings are like nothing I can recall from walking through many art museums. It was only only a pleasure to watch him work but also to catch up with an old friend.

I encourage you to view his stellar artwork and perhaps add some one of a kind leather goods to your wardrobe.

I will no doubt want to revisit Rory's realm to see him work with leather but until then, please enjoy a few more photographs.


Rory Coyne

March — A Year in Photographs by Adrian Galli

Three Months in...

And thirty-one photographs of people.

Yellow Coat – Day 61, Chicago, 3/2/2017

Yellow Coat – Day 61, Chicago, 3/2/2017

This month has been one of the most challenging endeavors I've experienced. While I'm very comfortable photographing people, fashion, and anything staged, the theme of March was 'people' and quickly turned into a month of street photography and my awareness of my opportunity in this area became readily apparent to myself.

Never have I felt comfortable photographing people without their consent. And my ultimate goal of this month wasn't street photography, or portraits, or whatnot. The subject of 'people' just meant people would be involved in the photograph.

Part of me became lazy and I rested on street photography despite my being uncomfortable with it as a genre. I spent more time out photographing to get "the shot" for the day but interestingly shot fewer photos. Closer toward the end of the month, my photography became much more intentional and less random. My hope is this is a sign of growth both photographically and creatively.

I learned a lot about myself and really pushed myself to be so bold as to photograph someone who clearly knew I was photographing them and perhaps not too thrilled with the prospect. While on the train one day, I'm pretty certain I made a woman uncomfortable enough that she abandoned her seat to stand far away from me. 

In her defense, I can not say I wasn't paying a lot of attention to her. She looked back at me several times with a scowl. In my defense, I wasn't interested in her face; she had a pristine Gucci handbag but her nails, while painted, we chipped from a week or two of wear. It would have made a beautiful photograph.

I also did not have a guest photographer all of this month. While I had discussed with a few friends the prospect, I focused mostly on independent work. In the end, I think this was great for my street photography growth.

Cristian Zuniga, another portrait not found in March.

Cristian Zuniga, another portrait not found in March.

As I found I was turning March into a street photography month, I tried to expand into some more abstract and portrait forms. Cristian Zuniga, a friend of mine, became my first subject. He may not know it, but I think he missed his called. Without much direction he clearly knows he looks good on camera and works his suave appearance easily.

The month has very little shot on iPhone. The wide-angle of the lens made it too much a challenge but a few iPhone photographs made their way in. I have decided over the past few years not to go with an iPhone plus model, the iPhone 7 Plus's telephoto lens would have been great this month. I spent most of the month with my Olympus in hand; on it, a 25mm or 45mm lens.

Most of this is irrelevant in the end. A Year in Photographs isn't about getting 365 absolutely incredible shots. This project is about learning about myself, pushing my skills, becoming more aware of the surrounding, and finding new skills.

In 2011, I directed a film in France, Karate-do: The Peaceful Way. While the film discussed many social, political, and philosophical ideas, one of the prospects that really has influenced my view of focus, in the sense of vision, comes from "soft eyes."

We, so much of our time, focus our vision so acutely, we don't see around us. In the film, it is discussed in the method of how one can not afford to have pinpoint focus when confronted by an opponent. Our vision is both central, what our eyes are focused on, and peripheral, that which we see but not focused. Our central vision is extraordinarily important to our visual acuity but many times we ignore their peripheral vision.

This month, at least in the sense of street photography, has taught me using "soft eyes" to break the barrier between central and peripheral vision is massively important as to not miss the moment of a great photo. I would at times walk around without paying attention to my central vision and allow myself to become more aware of my surrounding; the advantage to street photography.

Having found this month extremely enlightening, March's theme of 'people' will not be ending. While April will be centralized around Minimalism, March has given me inspiration to continue 'people' as a subject in a special branch of this project.

If you're interested in being a subject for photographing, I'd love to hear from you. I'm interested in all genres of photographing people. I think we could have some fun! Feel free to contact me.

Three months in and can't wait to see where the rest of the year takes me.

Up next: April – Minimalism

February — A Year in Photographs by Adrian Galli

The Second Month

The coldest month of the year for Chicago turned into the warmest in A Year in Photographs.

One Point – Day 59, Chicago, 2/28/2017

One Point – Day 59, Chicago, 2/28/2017

February can be an absolutely horrid month of weather for Chicago. In fact, I chose February's theme of Shapes and Patterns strategically in the event that it was too cold out to travel finding a photography for the day. I knew that I could find an image anywhere that would fit the build. 

However, Chicago was fortunate this year. February comes to an end and it has been an absolutely beautiful month.

One asks me, "What the temperature going to be?"

"Zero," I reply. 

"Celsius or Fahrenheit," they question.

"First one, then the other."

That was not the case this year and I was fortunate that I could spend so much time outside. Sunny, warm, not a millimeter of snow, and my Florida Excursion 2017, I enjoyed much time outside along with my time with Juan Galindo, my second Guest Photographer for this project.

More importantly than the weather, I've become aware of something surrounding photography. Fifty-nine days in and twenty-eight of Shapes and Patterns, I've developed what I would call a new sense. While I will always say to people many of my photographs are taken in a fleeting moment; a moment where I am not certain whether my conscious mind is actually the first to be aware of the image presented to me, that sense has become more conscious.

Walking down a street I've walked down a thousand times and I am hyper aware of my visual surrounding more than any other time in my cinematic or photographic careers. The world itself has change; photographs pull me to them rather than me seeking them out.

Ruby – Day 40, Chicago, 2/9/2017

Ruby – Day 40, Chicago, 2/9/2017

Two of my favorite photographs from this month were both recognized by VSCO and added to their curated collections; colorful and minimalistic, it is an honor to be added.

With Distinction – Ruby
With Distinction – Teal

Teal – Day 47, Panama City, 2/16.2017

Teal – Day 47, Panama City, 2/16.2017

Teal was one of these "impulses." While sitting in a car, waiting in a parking lot, from ten meters away I saw this image. At first I resisted getting out of the car but, even with many other images ready for my photograph of that day, I immediately knew Teal would be in. 

This month's photography experience had an ancillary reward, too. Every year, at Apple, we have a fitness challenge where my colleagues and I compete on teams against others to lose weight or eat healthier. Using Apple Watch, this year we had a "close the rings challenge" whereby we had a goal each day to close out move, exercise, and stand goal.

With three tiers, bronze, silver, and gold, one chose a specific league to achieve within the twenty-eight days of February. My team was awesome in our support for each other and we all achieved and exceeded our goals. I put myself in for silver but I could not have done it without A Year in Photographs.

Having to get up and out to find my photograph for each day pushed me not only creatively but also physically. Some days I walked four or five miles around Chicago or Mexico Beach to hit both my Close the Rings Challenge but also my photography goals.

By the skin of my teeth, I made gold! Both healthier and more creative, my iPhone, my team, cameras, and Apple Watch all made it possible. Go for the gold!

February's twenty-eight days of Shapes and Patterns coming to an end, I've collected some of my favorite photos. I also need to thanks Juan Galindo, my Guest Photographer, and my Close the Rings Challenge team, Ethan Kelly, Tonja Thigpen, and Andrew Halliday for being the best fitness challenge team! I hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment.

I am only fifty-nine days into A Year in Photographs and I can only wait to see how this "sense" develops.

Up next: MarchPeople.

The Twenty-eight Photographs of February

Guest Photographer: Juan Galindo by Adrian Galli

Guest Photographer: Juan Galindo

Guest Photographer: Juan Galindo

February is normally an absolutely miserable month of bad weather in Chicago. This February was absolutely beautiful; sunny, warm, not a millimeter of snow accumulation. As part of A Year in Photographs, I chose February's theme to be Shapes and Patterns and following up my friend Eric Dirksen as my first Guest Photographer for this project, Jaun Galindo joined me this month.

While Juan is a musician, however, his passion and talent for photography I could clearly see in his Instagram feed. I've worked with Juan for some times but did not know him all that well. The Guest Photography element of A Year in Photographs has given me some time to get to know people who I am around all the time.

I began doing photography out of boredom. It became an avenue to escape from the monotony of tired routines. It’s a perfect way for me to spend quality time with myself and slow down to appreciate the elusive here and now. Through it I’m able to italicize memories and choose how I’ll remember certain segments in life. It gives me a chance to filter out the noise.
— Juan Galindo

We set out in a dark underside of Chicago. While Chicago is a beautiful and friendly city with great food, architecture, museums and art, and great people, there are some grungier parts of the city and the term 'underside' is no metaphor.

Our urban exploration for shapes and patterns began on Lower Wacker Drive; a street that runs below... wait for it... Upper Wacker Drive. Upper Wacker is known for its trek through a heavy business district of Chicago; tall building, bustling business people, etc. But Lower Wacker isn't something you'll find in the AAA Guide Book to Chicago. It is far from pretty; grungy, smelly, dark, many homeless people setting up shanties.

But where there is ugly, a photographer finds beauty.

We stumbled on an intriguing piece of hardware underground; a fan and airshaft. Taking our time to explore a bit further, we tried to find its location but Lower Wacker is a sort of maze at times and one can easily become disoriented. While we believe, we stumbled on the location, a grate on the street leading to what seemed to be the fan, we could not access it.

And getting a better vantage point, we found ourselves on top of a parking garage where Juan, in the best nature of Shapes and Patterns, shot found his photo.

Juan's Photograph of the Day

© 2017 Juan Galindo

© 2017 Juan Galindo

Explore everything. Go with your gut. Spend time understanding your tools, but rely on your eyes to create photographs and less on the camera. Light will make or break you.
— Juan Galindo

I couldn't agree more with this statement. We were out shooting with our iPhones. While some are scheming to get the next and newest camera, we were out actually photographing. Light is your best friend. One need not worry about equipment all the time. 

However, our tour did not end with Lower Wacker. In fact, there is still more for us to explore and I have no doubt we will complete our excursion soon.

We ended up in a strange island of Chicago. Near the Chicago River and some rather upscale shopping, living, and heavily trafficked areas, lays Goose Island. Home of Chicago famous beer, Goose Island, it is an industrial area where, like Lower Wacker, few would ever venture. But, again, where there is unattractive, photographers find attractive.

At this point, however, it was getting dark. We were shooting with only our iPhones and they do some impressive work but perhaps the ever dropping temperature also chased us. We ended out journey. 

Photography does not really have an end to its journey but perhaps just a rest. With February in A Year in Photographs coming to an end and March beginning, a new theme and more exploration is here already.

At the moment I don’t have a favorite subject although I do end up shooting a lot of architecture. Structures are like frozen performances and I’m drawn to them because of that. There seems to be an uncanny synergy between photography and music which often brings me to associate images with songs and musical arrangements. I also take photos of people - mostly strangers. There’s a lot to be learned about individuals just by observing their body language. People watching is amusing, it always has been.
— Juan Galindo

This is just a small sample of what Juan and I shot that day. I invite you to follow him on his Instagram @juanstagramm and enjoy more of his photography.

Guest Photographer is part of my project A Year in Photographs. I will undoubtedly invite many friends and colleagues but I hope to meet new photographers. If you are in Chicago or find yourself nearby me while I travel, I would love to go out photographing. Don't hesitate to reach out.


Florida Excursion 2017 by Adrian Galli

Fisherman at Sunset

Fisherman at Sunset

Too infrequently do I get to travel. If I could only spend a week every month at home, that would suffice, I think. But when I do, I make sure to take advantage of the atmosphere and the views locally.


Mexico Beach is a small town in Florida. There are about 1000 people in the city along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It is quiet, pleasant, and many times, one can spend the entire day on the beach and only see a few people. It is as close to a deserted coastline as one can get with out being detached from civilization.

February is a cool and sometime warm month. But the change is weather from day to day can make for amazing lighting with the sun making for amazing light at nearly all times, fog from cool fronts moving in, and impressive winds coming off the gulf.

With A Year in Photography into its second month, Mexico Beach did not disappoint on the photography opportunities. As one might expect, there is an abundance of wild life, beautiful colors not commonly found on building in the north, and great lighting almost any time of day.

Arbor, Mexico Beach, 2/17/2017

Arbor, Mexico Beach, 2/17/2017

While many photos on the beach call for color to bring the blues, greens, and warms tones out from the landscape, black and white is hard not to shoot. The classic of all photography, black and white lends itself well to Mexico Beach's lovely lighting and climate.

While I took my trip for mainly personal reasons for some rest and relaxation, a small event I've always wanted to attend took place: The Mexico Beach Annual Gumbo Cookoff.

Gumbo being probably my favorite soup, it is a Creole (sometimes Cajun) dish made with okra, a roux, tomatoes, seafood, and, as I always add, some andouille sausage. It is delicious and the gumbo at this festival was from across the spectrum. If one ever has a chance to make it to Mexico Beach, it is a fine time to visit in February and enjoy the local cuisine.

If you're just there for a vacation spot, the beaches are beautiful, the town super laid-back, and relaxing for those who seek tranquility.

While I could write plenty about a visit, my photographs and videos will tell a clearer story. Please enjoy and should you find yourself in Mexico Beach, I visit at least once a year; perhaps we can bump into each other and enjoy the weather and photography.