Unfairly silenced!

Last week I updated the site to MovableType 4; this went surprisingly smoothly. However, I didn’t check to see if comments worked… and guess what? Broken! So this has now been fixed, meaning that you can now spill all the things you’ve been holding in like a bursting water balloon. Or some other analogy of your choice.

But I also thought this a good time to remind you of the del.icio.us links I post at the bottom of every page. Scroll down and check it out; these get updated much more than my actual blog.

May I suggest a few illustrated Billy Collins poems? The animations by Julian Grey are my favorite.

Nearly a sad Saturday

Astonishing Smith. It’s the full name of a young lady that a fellow photographer met on assignment. I really could see the adjective + lastname movement taking off; just think of the stereotyping possibilities! I told the photographer that I could call him Disappointing Zalaznik. He may have declined.

Enter Barnes & Noble on Saturday night. I fully intend to sit in the café with other literati sipping on burned coffee, but settle for Peorians gabbing on cell phones with their enormous frappuccinos topped in several inches of whipped cream. Even the fiction aisles are a disappointment, empty of people except for the “summer reads” section. It’s all chick-lit and David Sedaris.

But there’s hope yet. A shady dive a few blocks from work, Te-J’s, is hosting a few bands with no cover and cheap drinks. Just look for the smiling shark on the side of the building. Good enough! I take my newly arrived Olympus rangefinder and enjoy a smokey, loud set of music that I would probably never listen to in my own home. But isn’t that the point of live music?

Photos soon… need to finish this roll.

Via helicopter and on fire

There is a weekly section in the paper called “Homes” that showcases area abodes that are particularly unique or opulent. It’s not a section we cheer about, but my assignment today was a great exception. When your story subject lands a helicopter in her backyard just to rush home to meet with a photographer and reporter, that’s something. A macabre scene of an airplane sticking out of her garage’s roof, with tail mangled and angled skyward, basically restored my faith in humanity. It takes a very special person to calmly accept such a prank from friends.

Tonight, a house fire in East Peoria pitted myself and fellow photog Ron Johnson in a high-stakes race as we threaded through winding roads en route from separate locations. Ron won, by a hair. Think “Amazing Race” meets “I’m late for an important meeting on global warming.” That exciting.

more photos…

Of controversy and manual labour

Yesterday, I was assigned to shoot photos of the Bradley kid who perished in last Sunday’s fireworks-related fire. From across the street of the church, I kept a respectable distance and a low profile. I did receive some hassle while doing so, because of a press release that the family issued stating that they did not want television cameras and reporters attending the vigil and funeral (notice no newspaper mention in the release.) I don’t have much I’d like to say about the situation beyond noting that it was awkward and that I feel our coverage was respectable and served a purpose. Not surprisingly, public reaction on our decision has been extremely mixed (comments at the end of the article):

Heart-wrenching goodbye by Scott Hilyard

Dahlquist funeral photos

If working a day shift wasn’t enough, I did some hard manual labour over at Dave and Clare’s place. Cleaning and stacking brick pavers… my back is complaining today.

August, cold and bitter

IMG_9389aWhen the word July drops into conversation, our bodies reflexively perspire and flush. But it’s August we should fear most of all, with its frosty afternoons and evenings that force you to don three or even four shirts just to stop shivering. And think of the poor souls outdoors! A blanket for them, please. But I digress.

My sister will be diving headfirst into the workforce and my brother is days away from his start at the University of Kansas. August also marks the end of my first 2 years in Peoria, a landmark not necessarily worth celebrating. Raise a plastic red cup in toast, will you?

The past few weeks have been exhilarating and my bedroom floor screams neglect. A freakish Sunday of three spot news stories, an assignment in Chicago for Lollapalooza, a Nickel Creek/Fiona Apple concert in Peoria, several days of assignments on a Bradley University student killed by his roommates shooting roman candles indoors, and even the daily grind that every photographer faces. I complain, but not too loudly; being busy means being alive.

EXTRA: Images from last weekend’s band extravaganza at Peoria Pizza Works.
My front page from Tuesday’s vigil remembering the deadly fire (PDF)

Developing emulsions

Experimenting with film again, with mixed results… I’m going to blame my roommate’s deficient flatbed-scanner on the relative softness of the photos. Because I’m tired of my screw-mount Ricoh SLR, I’m looking to buy either an Olympus Stylus Epic (a camera everyone’s mom may have had at one point, but with a fast 2.8 lens, spot meter and fantastic fill-flash), an Olympus XA (aperture-priority, rangefinder!) or a Yashica T4 (great lens, waist-level viewfinder). So many options, but I’m leaning toward the XA… I’m going to nab some lunch and then go visit every thrift store in Peoria. Point-and-shoots are where it’s at!

Scanned film

Off to Lollapaloo-what?

EggsI’m trying (unsuccessfully) to fall asleep before midnight at the moment, a feat as rare as finding an open coffee establishment at this very hour (11pm. And yes, Peoria is lame about that.) All of this pain and suffering so that I may drive to Chicago tomorrow morning to revel and relish in the sweaty, muggy Lollapalooza music festival. In addition to covering it for the Journal Star, I’m hoping to see the following:

The Polyphonic Spree, M.I.A., Blonde Redhead, Ben Harper and Daft Punk

It will either be a logistical nightmare (traffic, crowds, heat, expensive food/water, lugging laptop and cameras everywhere) or it will be a complete and utter joy. Pray for the latter.

Photo explanation: Those are not my egg boobs. It’s a Pavement shirt that shows off my mid-90s music cred.


It’s 12:22am, I’m working really late in the office trying to knock out a photo project on the Illinois Valley Yacht Club, but I did receive this text message from my roommate:

“You just missed quite an ordeal; big ****ing bat! Flying all over the house, it just left. I apparently hate bats… I didn’t know that; my heart is still racing a bit. Good times.”

I’ve missed such an amazing photo.

‘Cause knowledge is power!

IMPORTANT! Comments are now fixed. Proceed.

I look like a rag doll. My good friend Bo visited for a few days this week, and I awarded him with “Most Visits to Peoria.” Good work, Bo.

Big announcement to make, people. I’ve rediscovered the mechanical pencil.

An object that many leave in the bottom of their bookbags after ditching cursive and entering high school, I found one in the house yesterday. Smooth and precise, and less messy than a ball-point pen, you’ll have to pry it out of my slender and beautiful fingers if you want it back.

UPDATE: Pencils will smear? Blast!


Near Germantown Hills, Illinois early on my birthday, the 20th of July.

My 25th birthday has come and gone, leaving me a quarter-century old. I did nothing out of the ordinary in celebration; Italian food for lunch and a 2-10pm shift at work. Drinks and work friends were enjoyed afterwards.

I also made this, a video piece on the Heart of Illinois Fair’s demolition derby:


Continue reading