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Photography Classes in Chicago

This post is sponsored by Bing.

Earlier this year, I wrote that I wanted to take a photography class, and that Bing was working with me to help ‘Bing it to Life.’ I searched for and found a few photography classes in Chicago, and then chose one with help in part from Bing’s social search functions, and also from the comments on this post.

The class I chose was Intermediate Digital Photography at Chicago Photography Center, taught by Arnold Klein (who took these fun photos of me). I enjoyed it, but when I had signed up, I waffled between choosing an intermediate or an advanced class. Turns out I probably should have gone for the advanced one. The intermediate lessons were a good review for what I’d already learned elsewhere, but I didn’t pick up a lot of new information. I want to stress that this had nothing to do with the teacher though! Arnold was great, but to give you a sense of the class level, many people were continuing from the Fundamentals class and had just picked up a camera two months prior.

I decided to take another class after the Intermediate one wrapped up. I could have gone into the advanced class the next time around, but instead chose Studio Portrait Lighting. It was at the same location, taught by Nolan Wells.

Studio Portrait Lighting Class

Studio Portrait Lighting Class

I learned so much! Rembrandt lighting, soft boxes, spots, grids, umbrellas, distance ratios, strobes, continuous lighting… the works. And while it was focused on traditional portrait lighting, the lessons have been applicable to my everyday photos too. If you’re interested in learning more about photography and light, I’d definitely recommend the class. It was 21 hours of instruction time, plus another 10 or so of in-studio assignments, but if you can commit for the seven weeks, it’s worth it.

I’d taken online photography classes. I’d taken two-hour workshops and an all-day video class. I’d read books and learned as much as I could on my own, but the in-person classes have been the most beneficial. Thanks, Bing, for helping make this happen.

Wood Doors, White Trim

I left the doors unpainted in the front entryway. (Thanks for your feedback.)

Front Entryway

The door between the living room and the stairway shows its age a little (it’s original to the house, so 100+ years old), but I think it has character. We, or a future owner, could paint or refinish it someday.

Wooden Door

And with that… hooray! All of the trim in the house has been painted — upstairs, downstairs, and in the basement! Happy dance time. I can finally cross that one off my list.

White Trim

The Exterior To-Do List

I didn’t do much to the backyard last year. Or to the front. Really, what I mean to say is that I didn’t do anything to the exterior of the house last year. This year, it shows. The garden needs tending, the grass needs seeding, and to top it all off, we should probably paint. The garage is starting to peel pretty badly, and the house could use some attention, too.

Jenny Lyons' Former Garden
(Not our yard! That’s Jenna Lyons’ former garden.)

I had a grand plan of things I wanted to do to the outside of our home that I put together back in 2009, two months before Eleanor was born. Allow me to quote myself: “Of course, the arrival of spring will also mean the arrival of our baby, so maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves!”

Nah, you think? Childless me was so naive.

So now, two kids and four years later, I’m reassessing. I’m copying and pasting my original exterior to-do list, below, with some clarification.

  • paint & repair the trim
    We still need to do this.

  • paint the front porch and the back deck
    I would miss the hand-painted rug that I did, but the porch needs to be refinished.

  • replace the railings for the front porch with a style more appropriate for the house
    I’d still love to do this, but at least our railings are functional.

  • cover the sides of the front stairs (lattice?)
    Yep. Actually, stucco would be a more seamless choice.

  • build a gate to hide the storage area under our back deck (lattice?)
    Still a good idea.

  • replace our ugly white screen doors with simple, unobtrusive ones
    I removed the front screen door entirely because I couldn’t stand it anymore, but I’ve yet to replace it.

  • install gutters with covers that supposedly don’t need to be cleaned
    We can skip this, and continue to have our gutters cleaned seasonally.

  • remove the aluminum siding on the addition and stucco it to match the rest of the house
    We had a couple of quotes and this is cost-prohibitive.

  • change the house color
    It would be nice.

  • paint the garage to match
    The garage needs to be painted either way, and of course it should match the house.

  • put up cute new house numbers

  • maybe change the mailbox?

  • add an outlet out front and in back (there are none outside)
    We did this! And never use them. Yay.

  • add another metal sculpture in front of the house (we already have one)
    Really? One is enough, Nicole.

  • put in some foundation plants/shrubs
    I sort of did this, but more is needed.

  • plant a small tree (pagoda dogwood?) out front
    Probably not the best idea to plant a tree too near the house.

I feel bad, looking at this list and realizing how much of this has yet to be done, but it’s expensive stuff. And the only new item I’d like to add to the list? Build a wooden fence. The neighbor’s yappy dogs used to be an annoyance. Now that we have kids and they have a more aggressive dog that wants to bite their hands off, a wooden fence would be nice.

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