So You Think You Can Dance?

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

Auditions for the “So You Think You Can Dance?” show were held at the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago on Thursday. Hundreds of hopefuls lined up outside and down the block, since early in the morning. Around 7am, cameramen with the show started stirring up the crowd and filming people in line showing their dancework . At left was an associate producer, who brought a group of women into the street to flaunt their moves. A lot of energy, excitement, enthusiasm – and young people – were in the air. A fun morning… There’s an online gallery of some other images, including the show’s host.

The Story of T Bone Burnett

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

T Bone Burnett won his first Oscar last night, for Best Original Song from”Crazy Heart”.  Walking onstage, the gentlemanly Burnett was wearing his familiar sunglasses and signature dark suit. His dark outfit made for an interesting image in the alley of the Vic Theater in Chicago when I was assigned to take his portrait on one of his visits. I was grateful for the light in the alley that day. It was one of those moments when the sun was out, and the light was skimming the surface of the bricks. You hope your subject is available before the light changes, or clouds move in.  The lighting seemed appropriate. At the time, he was coming out with his first album in 14 years, so I offered the theme of “emerging from shadows” back at the office. Even with a portrait, you try to tell a story.

Kevin Smith’s Potty Brainstorm

kevin-smith©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

Actor-director-filmmaker Kevin Smith is back in the news with a new book, so I thought his fans might appreciate this portrait of him from a couple years ago that never made it into our family newspaper. If you know his work, you might say “That’s him alright”!:-)  When it was time for a photo after his hotel interview was completed, it was Smith who suggested sitting on the toilet with his pants down for a picture. I didn’t even know what to say except, “uh..great!” I was tickled at the chance to do something different, and laughed at his improvisations. As a photographer shooting visiting celebrities, it’s challenging to make a celebrity portrait look like it wasn’t taken in a hotel room with a 2 minute timer ticking.  In all my brainstorms, I can honestly say I hadn’t ever thought of asking a celebrity to “drop trou”. It was a veerrry unusual moment.

Meeting Rick Bayless…


©Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

Have you ever really looked forward to meeting someone, only to get off on the wrong foot immediately?  I was recently sent to shoot a special preview of Xoco, the new restaurant by Rick Bayless, with the understanding that I would photograph him and arrange a shoot at his house for a future Sunday story.  My wife and I have both enjoyed his show, so I was looking forward to this unique opportunity. I arrived and didn’t want to disturb him as he worked so I started photographing the scene above with the assumption that all was arranged. Once we made eye contact, however, it was as if I had crashed a party. He hadn’t gotten the message about exactly what I was doing, and was justifiably concerned that photos of his dishes would get passed around the internet before they had been finalized for the grand opening.  Very understandable, so after we came to an understanding everything went fine – although I still felt like a paparazzi... Unfortunately, or maybe it was all for the best, the later pictures at his home had to be reassigned to someone else because of a scheduling conflict…alas, these things happen…:-)

Peter Sagal


both images ©2009 Chicago Tribune

Peter Sagal is back on my radio dial. The game show host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” radio show lives in my Chicago suburb, and so with my portrait propensities, we often find ourselves in each other’s company. “Hey! You again!” I also noticed that The Buzz coffeehouse has put one of my pictures of him up on the wall (we are both customers) which makes for an interesting local connection to a national celebrity.  The photo at left was my first picture of him, enjoying his vintage bicycle for a story about “favorite things”.  At right was a photo at the actual coffeehouse.  I’ll post the current photo when the “Blue” paper publishes.