Photo(s) of the Day: It’s a Wilde Life

"Stop, Sit & Smile" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Stop, Smile & Sit” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all” – Oscar Wilde

This quote sits in the back of my mind at all times. After spending almost sixteen years in a job which, by the end, practically suffocated me, I am very conscious about taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity, and talent, that I have been given to truly live and not simply exist. Admittedly, it isn’t always easy as, while being an independent has many advantages, in the end, it means less of your time is your own.

It’s been almost two years since I left the corporate world to pursue my photography business full time. I remember how scared I was when I made the decision to leave, fully prepared to eat ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner if need be. It’s not that I was betting against myself before I even cleared the gate but let’s face it, many small businesses fail within the first few years; I was being realistic.

There have been bumps and missteps along the way however I am happy to say that, overall, they have been few and far between and I haven’t had to go to Costco to stock up on the 50 packs of ramen and ten gallon jugs of Jif.

That said, this life isn’t at all easy. You don’t decide to become a full time artist because you want to make millions of dollars, or at least you shouldn’t. You do it because you love your craft and want to spend as much time doing it as possible. I could, with consequences, have kept the paychecks coming in for many more years and continued the photography as a side business or hobby.  What it came down to was the question of whether, at ninety, I want to look back and say, “I have a lot of money in the bank, I am tired, I am old, and don’t remember the last time I was happy. Oh yeah, I took some really nice photographs too.” That isn’t the legacy I want to leave behind. I want to be able to look back and say, “Tracey Capone Photography has been going strong for 50 years and counting, I took a chance on myself and my talent and have lived, and loved, my life.”

"Sixty" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Sixty” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Here’s the hitch. It’s really easy to give yourself over to your craft full time and devote every bit of energy you have, both mental and physical, to it, especially when you love what you do. When you are a full time artist, or independent business owner of any sort, time really isn’t your own; it slips away quickly and without notice. There have been many days where I have been working on editing photographs or mounting photo blocks, getting ready for festivals and shows or fulfilling orders and one minute it’s 2 pm, the next it’s 2 am. Where did the time go? (and, by the way, did I shower and when was the last time I ate, or for that matter spoke to another human?)

As TCP has grown and expanded, as it has become more successful, the “slow months” are fewer and farther between and the “busy months” are the majority of the year.  A wonderful problem to have, yes, but at what point do I run the risk of simply existing: doing what I need to in order to put food on the table, have a roof over my head, and to keep breathing? When do I start worrying that I’m not actually living? Not only loving what I do but taking time to enjoy the life that I wasn’t able to when I was chained to a cubicle? Isn’t that why I ultimately left the corporate life? Am I running the risk of ninety-year-old Tracey looking back and saying, “I have money in the bank, I am old, I am tired and I don’t remember the last time I was happy?”

"Tea Party" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Tea Party” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

This past weekend I visited Sauguatuck, Michigan with a friend of mine. If you haven’t been there, as you can probably see from the pictures I am posting, to say it is “quaint” is an understatement. It is a small art community with a lot of life; that’s the best way I can describe it. The natives there are quintessential Midwestern friendly and laid back and the town is “Main Street” picturesque to say the least.

When you’re there, you don’t feel a need to rush, in fact you actually find yourself wanting to stop and take it all in. As I sat on a bench along the water, watching the boats and ducks float by, I wasn’t thinking about the next order I had to get out, or the festival I have coming up in two weeks; I was thinking how lucky I am that I am still able to recognize a need to just stop and enjoy life, to breathe it in, and given the opportunity to do it. I was thinking about how, two years ago, even if I was sitting on that very bench, watching those same boats and ducks, I wouldn’t have truly enjoyed it because I would have been so mentally squashed that I wouldn’t know how to appreciate everything in front of me. Admittedly, I was also thinking that, if I allow myself to be so all-consumed by the success of my business: by the money I pull in, by how well I do at festivals, in my Galleria space, in my Etsy shop, that I don’t take the time to breathe, to live, I will end up resenting my craft and won’t grow as an artist the way I want to.

"Paddle" - © Tracey Capone Photography 2013

“Paddle” – © Tracey Capone Photography 2013

The point? Life is crazy and unpredictable, no matter what path you choose, and your time on this planet is finite. Don’t waste days, hours, minutes, even seconds, simply existing; life is too short to live it as a drone. Take the time, even if it’s just a few hours a week, to do something solely for yourself, simply because you want to, not because you have to. Get in your car, turn up the stereo and just drive, go out to lunch with a friend, watch a funny movie just for the benefit of the laugh or get on your bike and go for a ride. It won’t always be convenient and yes, you will have to make up the time in the end. That said, allowing yourself to live gives you a greater chance of being happy and in the end, to grow as a person and artist, and the return you will get for those all too brief periods of time will pay off a thousand-fold.

"Lucy" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Lucy” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Enjoy! (and “Stop, Smile and Sit”)


Photo of the Day: Under a Mulberry Sky

Mulberry Sky

One of the things I love the most about Chicago, aside from the amazing architecture, is that you don’t need to go far to surround yourself with tranquility. Just like yesterday’s Photo of the Day, “In the Quiet Moments,” this beautiful field of heather and wildflowers is just steps away from the city. Walk the path and you’ll spot any number of beautiful birds, hear the buzzing of the bees as they fly by and can listen to the stream of the water surrounding the garden. It makes me want to settle down with a picnic.

This one isn’t quite finished. Just like yesterday’s photograph, this is one half of the collaboration I’m currently working on and I’m so excited for the final piece. Keep an eye out here over the next few weeks and share in the excitement. 🙂



Photo of the Day: In the Quiet Moments

Ai Serenity Pool Blur

“A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.” – Bertrand Russell

I have been missing in action again, for quite an extended period of time but it is for good cause. I previously mentioned a collaboration I am working on and I am happy to report we are working steadily towards being able to introduce the final product shortly.

Today’s Photo of the Day, “In the Quiet Moments,” is half of one piece in the collaboration and I thought I would stop and give you a sneak peek. I won’t go in to details as to what we’re working on… who doesn’t love a nice surprise… but I will say it’s had me very excited over the last few weeks.

Taken downtown in the quiet hours of the early morning, the photograph is one of my new favorites. When we walked through the courtyard next to the Art Institute, it was as if all the traffic of Michigan Avenue disappeared. There wasn’t a bus or cab to be heard, the quick footsteps of the 9 to 5’ers were silent. It was peaceful and serene.

I’m looking forward to sharing more over the next few weeks!



Photo(s) of the Day: Harbingers of Spring

© Tracey Capone Photography 2013

© Tracey Capone Photography 2013

The joke in Chicago is that there are two seasons: Winter and Traffic. Based on the last few years, where most of Spring has been cool and rainy, with a few, beautiful sunny days dropped in there for good measure, followed very quickly by a slam of Summer heat, I believe it. Thankfully, Spring seems to be trying to eek out a few more of those beautiful days a little earlier this year and, along with the spring blooms, it’s bringing out some of my favorite little creatures.

© Tracey Capone Photography 2013

© Tracey Capone Photography 2013

With the budding of the trees and flowering bushes, comes the Yellow Warblers, Thrushes and the like. I am very lucky to have some outdoor space right outside my apartment and, sitting on my deck get to witness any number of indigenous species, from birds to butterflies, busily preparing themselves for the Spring and Summer ahead. Today’s photos of the day, “Harbingers of Spring” were captured yesterday in various spots around my apartment.

© Tracey Capone Photography 2013

© Tracey Capone Photography 2013

I am looking forward to getting out to Chicago Botanical Gardens and Morton Arboretum for some of the wonderful blooms that are starting to grace us, in the meantime, I am very happily watching several female Yellow Warblers in the tree out in front gathering for their nests.


Photo of the Day: Reflections on a Bean

"Reflections on a Bean" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Reflections on a Bean” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Admittedly, I haven’t shot The Bean, in downtown Chicago, prior to this because, aside from having to deal with the large number of tourists I talked about in yesterday’s post, I have always tried to shy away from the blatantly touristy Chicago icons. That said, I wish I had shot it sooner, just for my own benefit because it was a lot of fun.

The shapes you see in this mirrored wonder are determined in part by where you stand. It ends up almost looking like Chicago in a fun house mirror in some spots but a beautiful reflection in a drop of water in others. There is an additional challenge of taking the shot while remaining inconspicuous because the last thing you want is a beautiful reflection of the city… and the photographer standing smack dab in the middle of the shot. While this can be corrected in post, I would much prefer keeping my photographs as close to the original, without a need for a lot of “blemish edits” as possible. So, I’m in the photograph, it’s just a matter of finding me. 🙂


Photo of the Day – Monolith

"Monolith" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Monolith” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

It is a rare occasion when you can get a clean shot of the sites in downtown Chicago without having to work around the throngs of tourists vying for the perfect shot. Yesterday, as I was in need of a number of shots for a collaboration I’m working on (details to come soon… you’re going to love this!) I made sure I was downtown by 5 am in hopes of not only getting the photographsI needed but taking advantage of the beautiful light the sunrise over Lake Michigan provides.

It was a perfect morning. The temperatures were crisp but not cold, the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon and, outside of a few runners, the promenades in the park were perfectly clear.

Over the next few days, I will share more shots from my early morning shoot. Today, we’ll start with the Neo Monoliths in Millennium Park. I remember when I first moved back up to Chicago, the first time I drove past the park I almost drove off the road when I saw a giant face blinking at me. In the summer, this spot becomes a hot spot for the kids (including the adult sized ones) to run around under the water that spouts from the sides and their mouths. Without the crowds, I was able to take advantage of the wonderful reflective puddles on the ground and the perfect line the buildings along Michigan Avenue create.

Worth every minute of sleep lost having to get up early to get downtown.



Photo of the Day: Beginnings

"Beginnings" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Beginnings” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

I have always viewed Spring as a “fresh start.” All of the city-soot blackened snow is finally melted away, the crocus start to bloom, the buds start popping out on trees. (I’ll choose to ignore the fact that this also brings the pollen that wreaks havoc on me… it’s still a fair trade off) Thanks to an exciting collaboration with a friend, and truly gifted artist (more to come on that down the road!), the creative juices have been swirling non-stop over the last several days and I can’t wait until Spring hits Chicago full force. I am excited to get out with the camera and capture the rapid fire changes that are going to happen over the next few months. More importantly, I can’t wait to share!

Today’s Photo of the Day, “Beginnings,” was shot a few years ago, in Nashville, and pays homage to that fresh start of Spring. It was the beginning of April and I was walking around the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. This one dogwood bud (if you recall, I am obsessed with them) was more advanced than the rest, standing out against the mid morning sun with it’s subtle touches of burgundy against the butter yellow.

If it was at all appropriate, I would camp out at the Chicago Botanical Gardens or Morton Arboretum so I can be there the second these little lovelies start blooming. Perhaps I would be able to capture another like [this one].