In September of 2015, I walked into my boss' office at the secretarial job I had held for almost a decade. I had spent the previous year or so building not only my photography skills and portfolio, but also a lot of new motivation and confidence. I did this under the wing of my new and inspirational friend, Walfredo Reyes Jr. (percussionist with Chicago), with uplifting and motivating words from my other new friend, Tris Imboden (drummer for Chicago), and with full support and encouragement from my husband and family.
The previous year had been unbelievable sometimes. On the nights and weekends, my husband and I were gaining all-access to Chicago, we were eating BBQ and doing off-stage shoots with Wally, and we were hobnobbing with the band at catering before the shows. I was chatting with and exchanging photoshop tips with one of the founding members of Shenandoah, singing with Marty Raybon during Shenandoah's sound check, being escorted down to the catwalk of Bridgestone Arena to shoot Imagine Dragons, and much much more... during the day, I was being reprimanded for throwing tests in the wrong trash bin or not color coordinating the copies just right (you know who you are, LOL).
So, I did it. I walked into my boss' office and gave him my two week resignation. Did I second guess myself? Absolutely. Did I cry like a baby for 2 weeks at the thought of leaving my family and friends? I still do sometimes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. With my children moved out of the house and my husband working on the road, I was a lonely mess most nights. Packing up my camera gear, driving 2000 miles from home with anticipation of a new start, and, perhaps most importantly, knowing I was never going to have to go to bed alone again, was the best feeling in the world.
Dover exceeded all expectations. Being in a fresh new place was rejuvenating.
In February, I picked up my phone to discover I had missed several calls from Wally. He left one single message... "Hey Cindy, the new guy really likes your pictures." Honestly, I didn't really think much of it. The next day he messaged me... "Call me." He gave me the name and number of the new guy and said to call him.
I did. I was hired. I was hired to shoot 2 live performances in 2 nights, as well as the new press photo. Not to mention I was to use these photos to contribute and work with a creative team for their new commemorative booklet celebrating their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Stay tuned to the final installment of this 3 part blog post. I saved the best for last. Here are some teaser photos...
A little over a year ago, I quit my job, sold my house, gave my family big hugs and said toodles to my co-workers. I traveled 800 hundred miles from Richmond, Ky, the small college town I spent the last 35 years in and shacked up in Dover, NH to be with my husband (who works on the road) and to pursue my photography full-time, ultimately RV style if I play my cards right.
Now flashback to one evening in November 2013, over 3 years ago. I was 7 years into a steady desk job with good benefits, my kids were graduated from high school, my husband was away because of work, and I spent my free time photographing birds. It was what it was... bit lonely in a big house.
On this particular night, I was headed to see a Chicago concert at the University’s new fancy music venue. My dad a Professor there, had gotten several of us 4th row tickets and I snuck my camera in. My goal for the night was to get a great picture of the drummer to enter into a photo contest with the theme of "Words". Naturally, I knew the word Chicago would be on his bass drum.
It was a energizing experience. To this day, this band has always been my favorite to photograph. Such high intensity, masterful lighting, and amazing stage presence from all of the members.
Near the end of the show the drummer, Tris Imboden, stood up to wave. I focused on him and held down the shutter button for a series of shots. Through my lens finder I thought I saw him point directly at the lens of my camera and right away I scrolled back through them. My heart skipped a beat when I saw that I had captured this:
Tris Imboden has been playing for Chicago for the past 26 years. Other people he has played with include Neil Diamond, Steve Vai, Roger Daltrey, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the Kenny Loggins Band. He is a cancer survivor and an outspoken advocate against cigarette smoking and for heightening cancer research. He also has one of the brightest smiles and infectious laughs that I have ever heard. He's a good friend now and I look forward to hearing it again this year.
Now enter Wally.
Wally contacts me via Facebook. He is the percussionist in the band and I remembered him from that night. He was especially fun to watch as I also play the congas and other rhythm instruments.
Wally was born into a family drenched in artistic talent. He has played with Chicago for 5 years and has played previously with Santana, Steve Windwood, Jackson Browne, and Lindsey Buckingham. When he's not touring, he's playing and recording in a band aptly named Wallyworld. He also teaches drum clinics and I've noticed some people call him the Professor. I can only assume from experience that it is because he so easily shares his wisdom.
Wally sent me his e-mail so that I could send him some photos that I had taken of him that same night. We've been in contact ever since and he's been a beacon in my journey to not be so okay with settling for what comes and to be more of a believer in the future I can create.
Soon after this, I was shooting Kansas, Imagine Dragons, Willie Nelson, Shenandoah (a future entry), Earth/Wind/Fire, REO Speedwagon, Vince Gill, Josh Turner and many more! I was invited to shoot for the athletics program as well as for the Dance Theater. I was asked to be house photographer for several Broadway shows. Then in September of 2015, I left my job and moved to Dover to be with my husband and be a full-time photographer.
Stay tuned to this blog to hear how I was ultimately hired by Chicago to shoot for their commemorative book celebrating their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my adventures at Harvard University, my recent move to Memphis Tennessee, my fine art photography, and my recent wedding and portrait work.
© Cynthia Hurt