Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu

If you would have told me that the Cubs would win the World Series (which I am totally for) or that Trump would win the election (something although I highly dislike, I can understand why it happened), I would believe you to varying degrees. This post, however, has nothing to do with sports or politics.

If you would have told me that I’d see 70 degrees Fahrenheit for a February forecast in Chicago, I would have laughed in your face. The city has been absolutely spoiled this last weekend. We’ve been seeing historic temperatures that have broken records dating all of the way back to the 1930’s. I’m all for a snowy Superbowl weekend and still walking around in layers (I LIVE for layers), but I am not going to take this for granted.

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I took full advantage of the weather, both for my film class and my personal portfolios, and it seems that Chicagoans did as well. Who are we to complain- we’ve seen snow in April! We’ll take unseasonably warm in February and run around in short-sleeved shirts.

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Enjoy the the ridiculously warm weather and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more daily photos!

 

People of Roma

I’ve recently entered a photo competition sponsored by World Nomads, a travel insurance website that provides international coverage and safety services around the world. They’re partnered with The Lonely Planet, which is probably one of the biggest travel guide book publishers in the world. Basically, both involve travel so if you know me, you know I’m automatically interested.

I like World Nomads for a variety of reasons. The founder is a man who quit his job, sold everything he owned and started to travel the world. Although I’m not brave enough (yet) to take the plunge and even consider doing something like that, I truly admire what he believes travel stands for. For him, it’s a sense of adventure that acts as a catalyst for our actions; it’s what drives us. Anyone who’s traveled, whether it be across an ocean, or across the street to a new neighborhood that they’ve never ventured into, they can agree with me that with travel, you learn about yourself, your limits, and you challenge them and your perceptions of the world. Travel connects you to the world and gets you involved and that’s exactly what World Nomads strives to do by giving back.

World Nomads organizes annual scholarship opportunities that involve the multimedia side of travel. My lovely roommate and friend Bea first applied for the film scholarship, but she also let me know about photography scholarship. The scholarship prize? Get this– an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan AND the chance to be mentored by a professional travel photographer. TRAVEL AND PHOTOS. GAINING MORE SKILLS ABOUT WHAT I LOVE TO DO. POTENTIALLY LEARNING HOW TO MAKE IT LUCRATIVE (hey, I’m a soon to be college-grad with looming debt, it’s a thought that often runs through my mind). WHAT MORE COULD I WANT IN MY LIFE?!

*composes self.*

Anyway, the rules were to craft a photo story which could be composed of up to five photos. The photos had to tell a story about a place that I had visited.To them, place could have been anywhere. It could have even been my own Rogers Park/Edgewater community or even the Loyola campus, but my heart knew automatically which place I’d try to describe in five photos.

There’s something stupidly romantic about Rome. No, I don’t mean the romantic in the “I want to fall in love with some Paolo and ride on the back of his vespa,” although that is a part of it, but more so in the sense that it is imaginative, yet also impractical. Rome is chaotic, loud, sometimes dirty and smelly, overcrowded with tourists, etc., and yet, I find poetry in that. I idealize the Eternal City regardless of its flaws. Truly loving Rome is a passionate affair and the people in it are what are part of that. I could love and hate them, but they breathe life into the city and so that is why I chose the People of Roma as the story of my place.

Enjoy my short photo essay. Check out my entry and some of the others if you get the chance; you cannot even imagine the variety of stories that can be and are told through this contest.

People of Roma

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Rome is a city that draws millions of tourists from all over the world to walk among the skeletons of history.dsc_0717It is a city one can lose themselves in, despite the throngs in the crowded streets.dsc_0735It is a city where one can spot more couples than cuppolas, despite its hundreds of churches and basilicas._dsc0325

It is a city where one can find magic in the torn pieces of paper that make up the confetti of Carnevale._dsc0106Where the Roman sprezzatura, or a certain carelessness, isn’t just a word; it’s a local lifestyle present in all of the piazzas.

And as always, check out more of my photos on my Instagram and follow my hashtag, #photowysocki to see my latest photographic endeavors!

P.S. The contest results are announced January 12th, so keep your fingers crossed and I’ll keep you updated. Personally (and an attempt to be realistic), I want to try and make the short list, but hey, I’m going to dream big and hope that I’ll be on that flight to Tokyo in the near future 😉

 

A Year in Review; 2016 Photo Faves

2016 for me started out in an apartment in Krakow, Poland, with good food, new friends, and a game of Cards Against Humanity. It was full of promise, hopes and dreams. Doesn’t every new year? After some reflection, I always find it funny that it is New Year’s when we find that something new can be possible. Time is a construct, so why do we only wait until December 31st and January 1st to realize that we can make changes in our lives and see them differently?

A lot of friends in my inner circles have decided that 2016 was a … less-than-stellar year. It was a trying one, I won’t deny that. Personally, I’ve dealt with a lot and I know it was a roller coaster of a year for all, but I’ve experienced a lot of positive things as well. I’ve traveled more of Europe, fell in love with multiple cities, hiked Cinque Terre (still can’t believe I did that) finished up my internship and my year in Rome (where I sobbed like a baby afterwards). I got to show my best friend one of the biggest parts of who I am and where my family comes from- Augustow, Poland, a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid sitting in my grandma’s garden. I came back to my sweet home, Chicago. I pushed myself to go back onstage and sing notes that I thought I could only hit if I was being chased by an ax-wielding crazy (seriously, myself, an alto through and through, was hitting high Fs and Gs, which to me is a miracle). I worked two jobs on top of an already loaded academic semester and did well in all of my courses. I’ve lost friendships, but have gained a better understanding of what it means to be a true friend and a person for others, thanks to the support system made up of my family, friends and colleagues.

In the spirit of reflections and wrap-ups, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite photos from 2016! It was actually very difficult to narrow them down, because as some of you know, I’m quite the sentimental human, so I allowed myself to pick twenty-five. Whether it be the composition of the photo, the subject, or the stories behind them, presented in chronological order, here are my favorite photos from the thousands I took this year.

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_dsc0427I plan on ending 2016 in my own apartment, in Chicago, with some close friends and a lot of good food. There may or may not be sparklers, so I’m already gearing up for a photo shoot if that is the case. I’ve grown a lot, both emotionally and professionally throughout this year, although my height is still the same… 2016 may have humbled the world, but if anything, it’s motivated me. Forever the stubborn, ambitious little Polish babushka in me, I suppose 😉

 

Sunday On the Plantation with George

Despite the play on words (which is word play itself if you think about it) on the musical Sunday in the Park with George, there was surprisingly less singing of anything involving Washington from Hamilton on my part than I would have imagined.

Regardless, on my second full day of being in Washington D.C., the Hall family was kind enough to take me somewhere I probably wouldn’t have thought to drive out and visit- George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon. It’s not too far from Alexandria, Virginia, making it about what seemed to be a thirty-something minute drive from D.C.

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I have to admit, I truly didn’t know what to expect. I’ve traveled throughout Europe and have seen a handful of castles/manors that kings and lords and so on and so on have lived and stayed in throughout the ages, but I’ve never visited any cities in the States, and so my expectations of where important Americans come from/have lived are pretty much blank slates. Generally, I know very little about American history. My knowledge is comprised of the basics one learns in school, my recent obsession with the aforementioned Hamilton and my binge-watching of Liberty’s Kids as a youngin’ without cable television– and if you’re not sure what the heck I’m talking about, just Google it, it’s an animated kids show about the American Revolution and the opening song features Aaron Carter. Yup.

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So obviously, it wasn’t a palace like the ones I’ve seen in Europe, but it certainly was grand. Growing up in Chicago, I don’t think I’ve come close to seeing architecture like this in person. Buildings like this only existed in pictures and films for me. Fun fact, there is also a National Treasure tour that we happened to be a part of. It was an interesting tour of Mount Vernon and the grounds, but as you can imagine, the two minutes of the historical location that actually made it into the film wasn’t really enough to build a tour for it. By the end of the tour, I began to even question if they actually filmed anything with Nick Cage at the estate, given that each question asked (most of it by Pat’s brother Graeme because we asked him to) about the film resulted in something along the lines of “Oh, it was actually filmed on a sound stage” or “No, that actually has nothing to do with the film.” That being said, I’m in no way National Treasure‘s biggest fan, so I didn’t really mind, but it just struck me as something funny.

_dsc0493_dsc0495Regardless, it was a lovely day and if you’re into American history and architecture, it’s a cool place to visit. We toured the inside of the home (no photos allowed in there), walked around the grounds before being told to run away “because of a deluge” approaching, which seemed dramatic at the moment as there were gale-force winds and rain turning our umbrellas every which way, but it calmed down the moment we got to the visitor’s center and museum.

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I will say though, like any history, despite its goal of objectivity, Mount Vernon’s history is super subjective. The whole museum felt like a shrine to Washington, which again, I don’t doubt his importance and contributions to America, but at times it felt a little creepy and propaganda-esque, especially in a room with a 360-degree screen surrounding me as a choir of children singing God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner. I feel like as a Western society, we tend to giggle or laugh about the fact that some cultures regard their leaders as God-like and we roll our eyes at the idea of having an origin myth– but hey, the cherry tree legend isn’t 100% factual is it? It’s just to push the idea that he was an honest man who couldn’t tell a lie. Also, who gives a six-year old a hatchet for their birthday? But I digress…img_9975

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I think it’s definitely worth a visit if you don’t know too much about Washington. There’s no doubt that he is a pivotal figure in American history, so it never hurts to know a little more about the man he was and just how critical his decisions were in relation to how America is today.

Check out more of my photos here on my WordPress blog or follow me on Instagram (@olawysocki)!

P.S. Enjoy this photo of a painting in the museum which basically claims little Georgie was never actually a child. We got a good laugh out of it.

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Beneath the Winter Super Moon

The biggest super moon in over forty years…and it actually happened last month…

Alas, I was not ready- but when I heard I had one more shot at a moon that was less super than last month’s super moon and  more super than your average moon, I tagged along with my two supervisors and mentors from UMC to capture it on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.

Memo to self, no matter how warm I think my old Polish blood is… always wear a pair of gloves…. but the photos and the experience of following around Natalie and learning more about photography are reasons definitely worth risking potential frost bite in my eyes 😉

Enjoy!

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Be sure to follow my Facebook and my Insta for more photos!

MonochRomatic; la citta eterna senza colori

I’m missing la mia citta eterna, so I figured I’d share with you my favorite black & white photos of an amazing city. I chose to make them monochromatic for a variety of reasons. Not only do I love a good pun (because I’m a nerdy human being) but colors in these photos aren’t necessary. I’m also a sucker for high contrast and dark shadows. And these all conveniently happen to be some of the photos I’ve considered for a contest, but didn’t choose in the end…, but that’s another post in the making.

Rome is a vibrant city. The maroon and orange colors of A.S. Roma fans, the temperate haze of the sun, the painted piazzas with old yellow apartment buildings, the glowing candles in its hundreds of basilicas and chapels and the sauce on its perfect pizzas; it’s a naturally colorful mosaic of warm tones. In a strange sense, I feel that taking that away from these photos ironically adds something else to them.

Or maybe I’m just crazy. You tell me.

Regardless- enjoy!

 

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Open House Chicago 2016; aka Pretending to Be on House Hunters

The distinction of “pretending” needs to be in the title because let’s be real; unless I’m going to be making bank in the near future, I’m perfectly content in my three-floor walk-up in Rogers Park, janky stove and creaky floors included…, but I digress.

If you are not aware of the Chicago Architectural Foundation, I highly recommend you look them up because every October, they sponsor and organize an awesome festival that gives behind-the-scenes access to members of the foundation, along with the plebeian non-members such as myself, to over 200 locations in the Chicagoland area. I’ve only been to Open House Chicago once, two years ago, but it was an amazing time- for both architecture aficionados, Chicago history-lovers and photographers alike!

And plus, as aforementioned, it gives you the great opportunity to pretend you’re some bougie person on House Hunters who can actually afford some of these lavish lifestyles, so much so that you simply cannot choose a home because the three bathrooms is three too few.

A special shout out to Donny, who was kind enough to accompany me on my quest and deal with me for an extended period of time. He’s the best. After we visited the penthouse and rooftop patio of the MILA Luxury Apartments (goals), the Marquee apartments and common spaces at Block37 (honestly, such cool rooms), and the ballroom of the School of the Art Institute (why doesn’t Loyola have a ballroom?); we had dinner at Shake Shack and I’ll give it to Donny, despite being a Portillo’s fan myself, they make some pretty good cheese fries.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos!

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Check out more of my photos on my Instagram and follow my new hashtag, #photowysocki to see my latest photographic endeavors!  🙂