In The Company of Friends

Thursday, September 4, 2008

They don't call Chicago the Windy City for nothing. I arrived last Thursday and the flight was really rocky. I've never been in turbulence like that in my entire life. It was one of those flights when you say your prayers twice just in case. One time the flight attendant actually tried to walk down the aisle and he fell into a passenger's lap. I was so glad when we touched down that I was ready to kiss the ground! It was raining pretty hard and I just wanted to go to sleep. When I finally got to the hotel my room wasn't ready so I decided to take a nap in the lobby (hungry - stomach growling) with laptop in hand.

This post is really not for me to complain about the trip - I'd like to speak about a blessing through people and pictures. One thing I love about traveling is connecting with other people and seeing new places. From family to clients to friends to other people that have attended our workshops, I'm so lucky to know someone in just about every major U.S. city. After completing three workshops this year so many of the attendees have become personal friends of mine.

Twenty minutes into my nap at the hotel I got a call from Clo. I like to call her Clo from Chicago. She attended the July workshop and her story is very inspiring. She's a free spirit like myself so when we talk our ideas just start flying.

I took a cab over to the Luxe - have you ever called the complaint number?

Then I watched the cab driver stare at me taking pictures of things in the cab like I was crazy.

The cab driver dropped me off in front of a friendly puddle of water that I didn't see before stepping out of the car (squishy socks and shoes now).

I paid for the ride and heard my name being called. It was Clo! We entered the building and all of the waiters were looking at my photography equipment as we walked to our table. I never leave my equipment with anyone. Check out this hallway we walked down to get to our table.

We immersed ourselves in conversation and I was sitting looking like a proud father when Clo told me how much she has grown in her photography business. She even has a new name that I will keep secret until she is ready to reveal. We had my laptop on the table looking at editing programs when the waiter finally wanted to know who we were since we had like $25,000 worth of equipment in the chairs.

I gave him the camera (reluctantly) to take this shot of Clo and I.

I left the lunch feeling energized about helping someone out. What Clo didn't really realize was that she did more to help me than I did to help her. She confirmed that it is so rewarding to give and watch the seeds that you plant in the lives of others come back and give so much gratification when you see the growth.

I checked into the hotel and passed out for a few hours. When I woke up I peered out of one eye to check the time. I couldn't find the clock but as I fumbled around I did knock over the ice bucket and there was an interesting reflection. This is what I saw.

Then I turned and looked out the window.

Now I realized why Clo told me to ask for a room on the west side of the building. What a view!

The next day I met with David - another former workshop attendee (February class). David drove to Chicago from about two hours out and we spent some time catching up.

We had lunch right near the location of my photo shoot. I was in Chicago to shoot a book release by a relatively new author named Elle Bailey. The location of the signing was at Crystal Gardens. That place is amazing. There was this huge fan and the geometry of the building was really cool.

I haven't seen palm trees like that since growing up in Florida. Difference is the palm trees were inside.

If you have ever been to the World of Coke in Atlanta you know about the different drinks shooting across the room. At the Crystal Gardens they had fountains shooting water everywhere. It was like being a kid all over again.

Anyways, David stuck around to shoot with me at the event. I'm not going to mention what he forgot at home (hmmm...) but I will say that we had an enjoyable time shooting. He got to see me in action with my clients and I got to see his growth as a photographer. One of my favorite images that I shot during the evening had nothing to do with the actual book signing. Here is the shot but I will do another post soon that explains my thoughts behind it. Check out the little girl in the background getting down. She put the ladies dancing to shame!

So I said that in the beginning of the post that this entry was not about complaining. I feel really blessed to connect with people from all over the world. Sharing stories, pictures, insights, and just learning from one another. No matter where I travel and what I am shooting I feel like I am in the company of friends.

Leaving the hotel on the way back to the airport I started thinking about some of my old posts on this blog. Some of the entries are really similar when I talk about leaving your past behind (learning from it) and looking forward to better things in your future. Well I took a little truth serum this time. Here is the last image I captured while in the cab headed to the airport. It is a reflection shot. Using a mirror to look back at the city through my lens with one eye but looking forward with my other eye.

I know you may be thinking that the image looks like a bunch of little boxes. But that's exactly what I was going for. When the Dr. Mrs. and I first starting dating we read a book - Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. The waffles part has to do with how men can compartmentalize their feelings and different parts of their lives. We can go into boxes and everything else in the world doesn't matter at that time. Think Monday Night Football or washing the car or working out. Men (and women too) can go into a state of mind when they are not connecting all of the pieces of life together because we may not be thinking about multi-tasking or how everything and everyone connect. I really thought about this photo a lot because I know how I can get into these situations and I am just glad I have a wonderful wife who understands me. Which reminds me - check the next posts of today!!!



Xiomara said...

LOVE IT!! I am definitely looking forward to taking one of your workshops in the near future! Blessing!

nicolelennox said...

LOVED this post. It was like walking through a diary of your trip and the pictures gave us just enough context to re-live your experiences. The ice bucket picture...fantastic

Anonymous said...

What a great post Ross! It's awesome that you were able to hook up with Clo & David! I hope someday you can make your way down to BRLA and hook up with another one of your former workshoppers! You have inspired us all! Best - Sharon :)

Anonymous said...

Ross, you're always inspiring. Now that you've started visiting with some of your students, you'll have to visit us all! Don't make me get engaged and hire you to do my engagement shoot, just to get you to Philly. I'll do it you know. Seriously though, thanks for investing in us!

David N. Beasley Jr. said...

Hey Ross, it was great seeing you again and obviously shooting with you. Since you put me out there, I will admit that I forgot my flashes. I was so embarrassed and I am so glad you had extras. I went into the shoot not really knowing how to use my flash but came out much better equipped and knowledgeable. You are always teaching and I am blessed to be a recipient of your knowledge.

Mac said...

i love the way you can put things into perspective and relate them back to life ,things that happen in everyday life . You have a crazy perspective ( when i say crazy i mean that it is far beyond of how some people would look at things,i like that cause i think like that ).

clo said...

Hey Ross I had a great time. The ice bucket??? PRICELESS!!!!!


See you when you come back...

Natarsha said...

Amazing shots. Love the ice bucket and your reflective thoughts they always help me to put things into perspective.

Anonymous said...

ross, it's like getting the word at church and feeling like pastor has had a recorder following me around during each step of my journey. just fitting your perspectives are...those shared through your lens and those from your mind to the clicks of the mouse are so right on and a blessing each time....the first time i read them and the third or fourth. thankful for who you are and all those that contribute.

props where due on your eye & that ice bucket and the waffle too. continued congrats to you and the dr. mrs., and what fun and love baby boy will bring!


Teka-Ann Haynes said...

Hiiiiiiiiii. Im back! Passed my Oral Proposal Exam today so I am officially a PhD Candidate. Oh what a feeling!!!!! LOL! God does make dreams into realities.

So, Im here on your blogspot when I made a committment to write in mine daily, only Ive been writing, but just not on my blogspot. LOL. Anyways, I am most pleased with what I found here. This post is true photojournalism. I love the way u walked us thru ur trip with this these pics. U have a gift. God bless and you the Dr. Mrs.

Anonymous said...

i am new to inspired me to do well my job....gr8...thanx....

Anonymous said...

Hi Ross,

I love your posts; I always come out better because they contain little gold nuggets on this journey of life.

I have a quick question, how do I go about getting permission to post your pictures up (not the ones of couples; rather something like the picture last picture you have in this post)?

KNIGHT said...


Give Anna Beth a call in the office: 404.691.5930 and she will discuss.

Or send us an email at

Thanks for asking!


Anonymous said...

I follow your photo updates regularly and think that are great. I live in Chicago and WOW they way you saw places that I take for granted everyday is amazing. Thank you for helping me see the city in a beautiful new way.