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May 1, 2021

2021 Sub Photo Series:
Photograph Food from Every Single Restaurant in La Grange!

While doing my revamped photo of the day project this year, which was originally intended to focus more on small businesses and local places this time, I added a couple sub series. The main and most tastiest one is dining at (or at least ordering carryout from) every single La Grange restaurant in 2021.Steak + Vine As places have opened back up as we approach post-pandemic life, I have been able to actually dine in many places again. I would prefer to "redo" photos that were takeout from earlier in the year, especially if the restaurant has a good ambiance, but we will see how it goes!

I guess this sub-project started with my thinking of, Which La Grange, Illinois restaurants have I never had food from? Or, which ones have I never actually dined in? Plus, there was also a lot of places I had not been to in a long while, the pandemic closures only increasing that time; so I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do with old "friends." As a small business owner myself, I wanted to do my part in supporting my favorite local eateries or new ones I have discovered along this delicious journey!

This being a part of my 2021 View Before Dawn Photo Project has given the goal an extra meaning. It's not just someone taking a food shot from all these restaurants; it's my miniature camera keychains in every shot, visiting each establishment right there with me. In a sense, the Cameras have become like a done in-camera watermark, indicating it is my photo project!

La Grange restaurants Milkstop Cafe and Wheelys
Cocktails or a coffee flight? The West End or Downtown La Grange?
Dinner at Milkstop Cafe or a Wakeup at Wheelys Coffee Lounge? Those and more will be featured in my La Grange Restaurant project this year.

So, what is considered an actual "restaurant?"

Although I am photographing retail and wellness small businesses at times, too, and may end up visiting places I am not considering to be part of my La Grange restaurant list anyhow, I did decide on a set of rules.

A "La Grange Restaurant" is defined as:

Prasino
  1. Patrons can dine in (aside from the pandemic) to eat food that is homemade or mostly prepared at the establishment. Or, if there is no dine-in at a takeout-only restaurant, the place must either serve:
    • A full meal (or at least a protein)
    • An "immediate consumable" made on site, such as a mixed juice drink or cold dessert
  2. The majority of the business model must be immediate food service, not retail sale of food packaged for later, nor bulk meal plans.
    • Thus, the food they serve is intended for individual, immediate consumption while still hot from cooking or before melting – whether dining in, picking up a carryout, or receiving a delivery.
  3. Aside from special instances which may require reservations, customers are able to walk in (or call) and order a food item on the spot, which will be prepped for them upon ordering.
  4. Lastly, and most important, the business must have an address in La Grange, Illinois and be considered part of La Grange in terms of village ordinances, business associations, etc. This includes restaurants in:
    • Downtown La Grange
    • The West End
    • The South La Grange Road district, before it crosses over into Countryside

I referenced the restaurant directory on both the village website and La Grange Events page, updating it with newer places through Google Maps, to make sure I didn't miss any place I wasn't familiar with that would fit the first three of these rules.

You can see me eating away at "All La Grange Restaurants At Dawn in 2021" on my Facebook page.


UPDATE — June 9th, 2021

Progress

Currently, I have 14 "official" restaurants left that I have not taken either a dine-in nor carryout picture of for my 2021 View Before Dawn photo of the day project featuring "Kwanon and Vollenda Camera," as well as two new places in town that have not yet opened. There is around 10 additional places I would like to redo with a better composed dine-in shot, if possible before year end.

I also am in the process now of creating a new separate Facebook album to hold only the La Grange Restaurant Photo-of-the-Day's. Follow my Facebook Moments Before Dawn to see when it posts, or check back here later for an updated link. Until then, check out the hashtag I just started using for new entries made in this sub photo-of-the-day series: #AllLaGrangeRestaurantsAtDawn2021.

MAKS House
MAK'S House is one of my most recent entries.

UPDATE — July 17th, 2021

Updating Categories

Today, I updated my categories in the project to reflect changes in the service type of a couple restaurants, as well as to better group local restaurants without full table service that I decided I still prefer to take a dine-in photo at, in order to make my ongoing count of re-shoots/re-eats easier to maintain the updates for.

The definition of what a restaurant is remains the same, but my new category breakdown for the 53 restaurants in La Grange is as follows :

  • 27 places have a dine-in option with waitstaff and "Table Service" (2 of which I photographed for the project are now permanently closed)
  • 11 places are "Casual Dining," which I am now defining as: small locally-owned businesses where you order at a counter (instead of with a waitstaff).
    • Most of these restaurants deliver the food to your table after ordering; they use real silverware and china plates, and the food may take longer to prepare.
    • There are a couple, however, more fast food style restaurants where you both order and pick up your food at the counter (see full definition next) – but I decided to regroup them with my Casual-defined local restaurants for simplicity of tracking places I prefer a dine-in photo for in my project.
  • 8 places are national "Chains"
    • 6 of these meet my "fast food" definition, where you both order and pick up your food at the counter. These places use throwaway wrappers, silverware, and cups. Food is either not made to order or prepped in a faster manner.
    • The other 2 Chains are more the "casual dining" concept, as defined above in regards to the model followed by most local businesses without full table service.
  • 5 local places are "Takeout-Only," pandemic rules aside:
    • 2 always were with no dine-in tables
    • + 1 former table service dine-in place AND 1 casual dining/fast food local restaurant have both maintained that model
    • + 1 local casual dining/fast food place that I ordered only carryout from is now permanently closed, allowing no-dine in option upgrade; thus, for simplicity, I am labeling it as Takeout-Only in my project
  • 2 known places have yet to open but are slated to this year.

As of July 17th: 43 of La Grange's Restaurants have been photographed as a part of my 2021 View Before Dawn Photo-of-the-Day Project, with either a carryout OR dine-in photo. Restaurants with dine-in and carryout photos are currently tied at 28, with 13 places that have had both.

Currently, there are 8 open-for-business restaurants in La Grange that have not had neither a carryout nor dine-in photo taken during my project this year (the count does NOT include the two new restaurants coming soon). Additionally, there is at least 4 places I would like to redo a dine-in photo at, since it is my goal to do dine-in photos for all local Table Service and Casual Dining restaurants.

Last month, I created a special album on my Facebook page to hold only the "All La Grange Restaurants at Dawn in 2021" sub series images. Click here to see all my current photos in the project.

Promo for All La Grange Restaurants At Dawn in 2021
Web promo for "All La Grange Restaurants At Dawn in 2021." Click here to view the photo on my Facebook page, and read the image caption for fun facts and my current stats as of July 17, 2021.
 

January 14, 2021

2021 View Before Dawn: a Photo-Every-Other-Day Project

In 2016, one of my photo of the day projects featured two miniature cameras. Eventually named "Kwanon" and "Vollenda," the adventurous pair captured scenes around La Grange and Chicagoland for 366 days straight without fail (it was leap year). I have often thought of doing something with these mini cameras again and decided 2021 was a good time to reintroduce the pair for a 5 year reunion.

Thus, I began a new photo-of-the-day project featuring the camera duo on New Year's Day. I am intending for this series to have a slightly different theme than the previous 2016 version, while also preserving the heart of that original project. There, of course, will still be a lot of local photos, especially of La Grange, with more emphasis on the location where they were taken.

I also decided to do more of a "photo every other day" project, since life just isn't as interesting these days given current events, and I don't want to be taking boring shots just to be dedicated to the project. We shall see how it frames out. I have already added an extra day when a photo opp was available, so the rules will be flexible.

Click here to see my Facebook album for this new photo-every-other-day project: 2021 View Before Dawn — The 5 Year Reunion of Kwanon & Vollenda Camera.

Read on if you would like more explanation about the original project and how these little cameras came to be my subjects for a whole year.

Happy New Year from Kwanon and Vollenda
Happy New Year! January 1st's photo, the first entry in my new photo project for 2021. Click the image to see all the 2021 View Before Dawn photos currently posted on Facebook.

A Dawn's Eye View: 2016 Photo of the Day Project

Flashback to Over 5 Years Ago

I had been wanting to do a photo of the day project where I put the same object in the picture each day, but I could never find anything I felt passionate enough about to photograph for 365 days straight that would also fit in a variety of scenes. Right before 2016, I received the black camera keychain as a gift (that's Kwanon), and it hit me: Why not put a camera in the photo, kind of like its mirroring my eye's view?

Using the Miniature Cameras

The mini cameras were small to take with everywhere for whenever I saw the shot I wanted to take for that day, not overly fragile if they fell while posing, and much easier than having to carry two cameras with in order to just photograph one of them.

I ordered the gray DSLR-looking camera because it had more detail in back (meet Vollenda), but she didn't arrive in time, so I started the project with just Kwanon. It didn't seem fair to cut him out then LOL so I alternated cameras based on which fit the scene of the day best.

Personifying the Cameras in Captions

That's probably what really contributed to our story that pursued in my daily captions, as I personified the cameras often in a humorous hyperbole of the life of photographers. I'm telling the story and taking the pictures; of course it ends up being partially my story!

The Meaning of Their Names

Having two cameras for subjects is also what inspired me to go back and name them. Kwanon was named first. Since I shoot Canon cameras, he honors the first Canon camera made. I wanted the second camera's name to mean something to me as well, but also wanted a name that sounded good like her partner's! I decided on Vollenda, a Kodak camera model. Although she does not at all resemble the real camera, the namesake pays tribute to my first digital camera, which was a Kodak brand, as well as my Kodak Advantix APS film camera I loved.

The Photos from this Original Project

If you would like to see 2016's 366 day project or refresh your memory, click here to view my Facebook album A Dawn's Eye View: 366 Days Focusing on my Cameras.

 

January 8, 2021

The Year in Review 2020 Photo Countdowns

Top Moments Before Dawn of 2020; La Grange Edition

For the second year in a row, I did a New Year's Eve photo countdown on my Facebook page of my Top La Grange Moments Before Dawn of 2020. Posting every half hour from 6pm to midnight, the second annual series featured new restaurants, local views, and noteworthy moments, including scenes only found in 2020. Some of the 12 posts contained images I never before posted.

Click here to see this La Grange Edition featuring 12 Top Moments Before Dawn of 2020, all from La Grange, Illinois.

Top Moments Before Dawn of 2020
Search the hashtags #TopLaGrangeMomentsBeforeDawn2020 and #TopMomentsBeforeDawn2020 on Facebook to see my countdown posts (Note: Facebook displays hashtag feeds in order of post popularity, not chronologically; so although all numbers should show here, unfortunately, the countdown does not appear in order).

Top 21 Moments Before Dawn of 2020

The first full week of the New Year, my main/complete countdown of the year in photo review was spread out from Tuesday to Friday, revealing five photo moments each day. The Top 21 Moments Before Dawn of 2020 featured my top moments from most shocking to most accomplishing, memorable eye-catching views, the best depictions of 2020 life, and my most favorite photographs I captured last year.

Click here to see the countdown posts on Facebook of my Top 20 + 1 Moments Before Dawn of 2020.

(Number 21 was a bonus post: an important moment that happened in 2020 but represented by old photographs not taken this year).

 

December 1, 2020

Designing La Grange-themed and Trending 2020 Gifts

As much as I am a photographer and photo retoucher, I am also a graphic designer. When I haven't done any one of my multimedia tasks in awhile, it is so enjoyable when I have a chance to! I loved returning to strictly graphic design for a few weeks and creating these La Grange 2020 gift items for Photohraphic Depot. I used all of my own photography and even some freehand designs of mine (I took the advertising photos below as well).

Items available for grab 'n go purchase include La Grange-themed ornaments, coin purses and cosmetic bags, bookmarks and pencil cups, and an assortment of beverage-ware from insulated mugs and wine tumblers to water bottles and standard coffee mugs. Additionally, I designed some mugs and tumblers with 2020 humor, as well as a Merry X-mask ornament. Most of those are also my own artwork and ideas for phrasing.

 
 

November 15, 2020

La Grange Fine Art Photography Calendars

La Grange calendars are available now

I am excited to announce my "Seasons of La Grange" Fine Art Photography Calendar for 2021 is now available for purchase at Photographic Depot! As shown in the La Grange Holiday Wish Book, it features all my own photography and artwork of iconic La Grange views in seasonally appropriate scenes.

I have been wanting to create a La Grange calendar for the past few years now. Most people may not know I have been creating photo calendars annually for well over 15 years, designing multiple editions each year. But, this is my first ever entirely La Grange calendar. Thus, it's special in that I didn't just decide a calendar would be something to "La Grangify," but photo calendars are my thing! I combined that seasonal tradition with my love of La Grange to create this one-of-a-kind fine art photography calendar.

The 12 Months of La Grange

You can have your choice of Chicago calendars to purchase or any other big city or vacation destination. But, a small town like La Grange doesn't have that luxury without local artists like myself looking out for it. And, our village is just as calendar-worthy as any travel destination!

It's very often my goal with my photography and artwork to create pieces like these that aren't mass-produced or readily available for our very own La Grange. Just as I strive to show people different perspectives of a familiar view in my local photography, I love to create multimedia and works of art that you've never seen of La Grange before.

And now, is your chance to see LaGrange, Illinois in calendar form! Some of the 12 month images are ones I have previously posted to social media (and hopefully your favorites), while I also added some new shots. The calendar is made special by the inclusion of various photographic techniques; such as a long exposure of our fountain, an HDR holiday scene, and the digital art cover; as well as my specialty Pixel Perfect Retouching of every single photograph.

Head over to Photographic Depot today to purchase your 2021 La Grange Calendar before they are gone (or to arrange shipping or curbside pick-up, contact the store directly).

 

UPDATE — January 4, 2021

Sold out!

The last two of my calendars were purchased today. Thank you, La Grange, for supporting a local artist and shopping at a local business this holiday season! I hope your calendars make 2021 that much brighter.

 

September 2, 2020

Goodbye, Millbrook Bridge

I posted a special "Lenscape Wednesday" feature on my social media in memory of the Millbrook Bridge. Built in 1897, the historic bridge located in Millbrook, Illinois was demolished on August 25th.

For my feature, I posted photographs I have taken of the bridge over the years, including similar compositions from different seasons. I also researched the bridge's history, as well as how it met its ultimate demise.

Click here to read my blog post and view more pictures of the Millbrook Bridge on my Facebook page.

Milbrook Bridge
Located in Kendall County, this truss bridge was originally built for horse and buggy traffic at the turn of the 20th century. When a modern bridge replaced and bypassed it for vehicular traffic in the early 1980s, the historic bridge was still used by pedestrians until deemed unsafe and ultimately closed in 2015.
 

August 10, 2020

Shooting for the Star Trails

With social distancing precautions in place due to COVID-19, and all events and festivals canceled for the summer, it was an opportunity to try some photographic techniques I've been wanting to do. This was the first time I ever photographed star trails to amount to anything.

Over a span of 3 hours, I photographed multiple long exposures ranging from 15 to 45 minutes each. I then compiled the images using Photoshop. The result is below.

Startrails
Framing the big dipper directly over the corner of the barn proved to be a wise decision, as the star trails appear to be curving into the building before they enter the spiral spin

UPDATE – January 8, 2021

I chose this as my number one favorite photograph of the year during my Top 21 Moments Before Dawn of 2020 countdown. Read the post explaining why on my Faceook page, which is the platform where I shared my year in photo review.

 

June 1, 2020

Friday Foodographs

After the popularity of Restaurant Week Before Dawn, as well as having more places I would have liked to feature in that two-week special, I decided to launch a subsequent weekly series. Debuting on the day Restaurant Week ended, Friday Foodograph highlighted a different restaurant in the Chicagoland area every week.


Facebook

The delicious series posted to my Facebook page every Friday through May (at which time it became more of a monthly topic). Posts include photos of food, drinks, and even decor, along with an occasional review of the restaurant. I feature a lot of eateries in the La Grange and Joliet areas, but to date, I have also featured places in:

  • Chicago
  • Countryside
  • Downers Grove
  • Minooka
  • New Lenox
  • Oswego
  • Riverside
  • Shorewood
  • Summit
  • Westmont
Search for the hashtag #FridayFoodograph on Facebook to see all the posts or click here to see the search page.

Friday Foodograph Web promo
Web promo for Friday Foodograph, featuring food or drinks from the first 14 restaurants and bars that I featured. Check out the hashtags #designsb4dawn and #photoshopb4dawn on Instagram to see more of my design work. (If you prefer Facebook, you can also search for or click the hashtag #photoshopb4dawn here.

Instagram

At least one selected picture from each featured restaurant is also shown in my Instagram story on the same Friday. If you visit my Instagram bio, there is a highlight called "FriFoodograph" with all these accumulated weekly stories. Click here to watch that highlight now, or simply tap the highlight circle named "FriFoodograph" when you are on my bio page.

When a photo is extra foodesque, I also post it to my Instagram feed with the caption a shortened summary of my main Facebook review. Search the #FridayFoodograph hashtag on Instagram as well to see the images that were pretty enough to be in my feed!




UPDATE — October 31, 2020:

Although I haven't had time to continue the series on a weekly basis, Friday Foodograph still makes an appearance occasionally, usually when I have had an incredibly tasty dish, taken an extra picturesque foodograph, or been to a special restaurant that I want to share. I also like to resume it when local restaurants need extra support, as with the mandated closures returning in October due to COVID-19 infections.

Watch for my Friday Foodograph feature to post on my Facebook page on Fridays!

If you have a suggestion of a place you would like to see featured or a recommendation of a restaurant you think I should eat at for this series, send me a message. I shoot to support other local businesses as much as possible!

 

May 4, 2020

My Photography Featured in the Newspaper

Some of my photographs taken during the "2020 La Grange Business Thank You Tour" were featured in the La Grange The Doings newspaper article about the parade.

La Grange Business Thank You Tour

On April 30th, local businesses in La Grange, Illinois decorated their vehicles with signs and balloons as they drove around the streets of La Grange honking and waving to thank the community for their support during COVID-19 closures.

Click here to read the online article on the Chicago Tribune website.

 

Note: The Chicago Tribune typically gives you a few free reads a month without a subscription. If you cannot access the article due to already reaching your limit, try again at the beginning of next month.

 

April 15, 2020

Vintage Photography-Themed Floral Centerpieces for Sale

Did you know I do so much more than just photography? In addition to digital art and multimedia, I also enjoy mixed media and creating art with found objects. These centerpieces, which are available to purchase, are an example of the non-digital artwork I create.

Photography-themed Floral Centerpieces for sale

My synthetic floral centerpieces with light-colored blue, purple, turquoise, and white flowers are perfect for a spring decoration or tablescape. They also make unique gifts for photographers or found object and vintage art lovers.

Features

  • Each piece is handmade and slightly unique in design with varying flower colors and arrangement.
  • The vases are real vintage cases from film camera lenses, recycled and given a new life instead of sending to the landfill! (One piece has a darkroom film processing drum as its vase)
  • Fabric Flowers include tulips, lilacs, and roses, as well as filler flowers and green foilage.
  • They come in various heights from 6 inches to 16 inches.
  • Priced at $20, $30, or $40 based on size.
  • More styles are available. Let me know if you would be interested in bulk purchasing at a discount rate!

I am working on product shots on white to show each side of each centerpiece and an aerial view, along with individual dimensions. In the meantime, if you are interested in a particular piece and would like to see more pictures of it, let me know the product number from the image below, and I will send some more images to you.

Prices of lens case centerpieces

Send me an email or Facebook message to purchase one of these centerpieces. They will be available for pick up at a store in downtown La Grange, Illinois. Currently, I am not shipping them due to the high cost of packaging and shipping.


UPDATE — December 1, 2020

Centerpieces are now currently on display and available for immediate purchase at Photographic Depot in downtown La Grange. They may be viewed and purchased anytime during business hours.

Please refer to Photographic Depot's website for hours and directions.

 

April 12, 2020

COVID-19 Memes

Easter-in-Place

Like many photographers and artists, the coronavirus outbreak inspired me to make memes for a dose of humor. With the Stay-At-Home order extended until the end of April in Illinois, we were to continue social distancing and only spend Easter with our household. So, I celebrated Easter-in-Place by setting up the studio and taking photos for Easter memes!

COVID Easter Peeps
Inspired by the closing of the Just Born factory, where the Peeps candy is manufactured.

Toliet Paper Crisis

With the supposed hoarding and shortages, toliet paper became a common theme of memes. I made my own photographer's version.

Film Photographer's Survival Guide to COVID-19
Yes, I really do have a toliet paper holder that looks like a giant roll of 35mm film! Just part of my photo-themed life.

These images were posted to Instagram on a Monday for my new Moodivational Mondays series.

Search the hashtag or click #MoodivationalMondays to view more inspirational and humorous posts.
 

March 31, 2020

The Best Nature Moments Before Dawn; Illinois Hiking Edition


A Facebook feature during the Illinois shelter-in-place mandate of COVID-19, this series ran from March 20th through March 31st. Highlighting my favorite state parks, forest preserves, and wilderness areas in the state of Illinois, it was intended to provide ideas for close trips after the Coronavirus, as well as offer relaxing nature photos to look forward to everyday.

Click the image to view my Facebook album containing all the photos in the series.

Illinois Hiking Week Before Dawn

This series also ran on Instagram, featuring a few different images.
Click here to view my #IllinoisHikingWeekBeforeDawn hashtag on Instagram.

 

February 14, 2020

Restaurant Week Before Dawn


The Most Delicious & Picturesque of my New Restaurant Moments from the Past Year

Running on Facebook (with highlights on Instagram) from January 31st to February 14th, 2020, "Restaurant Week Before Dawn" featured a daily post of a Chicagoland restaurant that I ate at for the first time in 2019.

Click the image to view a Facebook search of my hashtag #RestaurantWeekBeforeDawn, which will show you all the posts in the series.

Restaurant Week Before Dawn

Read my note about the making of the series by clicking here

 

December 31, 2019

Top 20 Moments Before Dawn of 2019: La Grange Edition


Click the image to view the album on Facebook with images from my New Year's Eve countdown

Top 20 La Grange Moments Before Dawn of 2019

Click here to view the Facebook post with the runners up images that didn't make my top 20

 

July 6, 2019

Commercial Photography and Product Photography Video Promos

 
 

March 25, 2019

The Dawn of a New Site

New business card

My current project has surprisingly not been new photography, but organizing my existing photos! I have set down my camera the past few weeks and am refreshing my memory on HTML and coding.

Being Mrs. Multimedia, of course I have to design my own website! Just like with my photography not following current trends but doing my own thing, those popular and trendy, non-coding design sites are not for me. ;-) It may not be the best of code, but I pride myself in knowing it is my own work.

This Website has already undergone major changes in design and will continue to be updated. I am also working on making my site more mobile friendly for cellphone and tablet users.

Additionally, I will finally be adding more samples of my work, including portraits, weddings, and product photography. I also plan to give further information about my focus as a photographer and what I strive to accomplish in my images for all my clients.

I am really excited about my Website's redesign, as well as the rebranding of my photography business. I can't wait to share more of my photographs with the world! I look forward to working with both past and new clients, as I shoot to capture the images you envision.

If you have any questions or have time to report any website issues you may encounter during the rebuild, please send me an email.