Walk for Kidneys 2019

A kidney recipient poses during the Walk for Kidneys 2019 event at Solider Field - Event Photography by Michael Courier
A kidney recipient poses during the Walk for Kidneys 2019 fundraising event at Soldier Field.

The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI) contracted me to photograph a variety of events throughout 2019, with one of the first events being the Walk for Kidneys fundraiser at Soldier Field.

If you’re unfamiliar with the National Kidney Foundation, or its Illinois chapter, the organizations help all people affected by kidney disease — through community education, government advocacy, public health initiatives, and funding scientific research.

Kidney disease can be a life-threatening condition that often requires intensive management. If the kidney fails, a transplant is required. Due to the seriousness of the disease, patients are often immunosuppressed — meaning their immune system is weakened. A weakened immune system is not able to fight off and recover from infections as it normally would when healthy.

With this in mind, NKFI has canceled or postponed many of their spring events. Where possible, they have moved their community events online. Though Covid-19 poses a serious threat to any individual, it is especially dangerous to an individual who has a compromised immune system.

If you, or someone you know, is currently battling kidney disease, the National Kidney Foundation has compiled a Covid-19 resource guide to help you better manage this situation.

Waving to the camera during a fundraising walk in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
Children pose during the Walk for Kidneys event at Solider Field in Chicago, Illinois - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
A group poses for a photo during a fundraising event in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
Posing for a photo during a fundraising event in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
Walk for Kidneys Event Photography by Michael Courier
Walk for Kidneys Event Photography by Michael Courier
Walk for Kidneys Event Photography by Michael Courier
Walk for Kidneys Event Photography by Michael Courier
Walk for Kidneys Event Photography by Michael Courier
Walk for Kidneys Event Photography by Michael Courier

EdgeFest 2019

Funkadesi performs at the South Stage during EdgeFest 2019 - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
Funkadesi performs at EdgeFest 2019. Their sound blends “Indian music — bhangra, Bollywood, Indian folk — with reggae, funk, and Afro-Caribbean grooves.” You can learn more about them on their website.

This is Not Ideal

It’s difficult to talk about event photography without first acknowledging Covid-19 and the chaos it has brought — upending families and the structure of modern society.

As an artist and self-employed small business owner, who works within the events and hospitality industry, it is an especially unnerving time as my calendar has been cleared for the foreseeable future.

However, while my situation is not ideal, I am fortunate to have a loving partner with a steady income. We have our health and each other. While this situation continues to develop, it is apparent that others are not as fortunate.

If you’re feeling helpless during this time, please know that little actions can have a big impact. Isolating yourself during this pandemic will help slow the spread of the coronavirus, allowing our healthcare systems time to recover. Where possible, buy what you need without hoarding, allowing others to have access to much-needed items as well. And please — wash your hands.

For artists in financial need, others have compiled resources to help ease your situation. Lawyers for the Creative Arts has a list of local resources available to our community. Additionally, another group of artists has compiled an exhaustive list of freelancer resources and income opportunities available across the nation.

If you’re among the fortunate, whose income is unabated during this crisis, please consider donating to local organizations working in your community. In this time of uncertainty, we all must be good friends and neighbors — checking in on those we love, and offering help where we can. Please do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

The front of the Pet Parade during EdgeFest 2019 - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
The head of the Pet Parade during EdgeFest 2019.

Another Perspective

It’s been months since I’ve posted new images to my site. It makes sense to do it now, as a way to pass time and to make sure certain creative muscles do not atrophy — though it’s difficult to not look at these images through the context of our current situation.

These people aren’t social distancing! Did they wash their hands!? They are outside! I want to be outside…

I say this, tongue firmly in cheek, but as I look back through my work and career, and examine the industry in which I work, I’m left with emotions and thoughts that I cannot entirely pinpoint at the moment. Some leave me a tad uneasy, while others leave me hopeful and optimistic.

Over the coming days, and unfortunately — months, I’ll attempt to work through these thoughts. For now, I’m excited to share a few images from August 2019!

Edgewater Pet Mayor, Pax the Goat, at EdgeFest 2019 - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
Edgewater Pet Mayor, Pax the Goat, enjoying a celebratory grazing outside of a local business.

EdgeFest 2019

Each year, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce hosts EdgeFest, a two-day festival located in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. As a chamber member, and neighborhood resident, I’m fond of this event for many reasons, but for one reason in particular — it’s a block from my apartment! It’s the easiest commute imaginable.

EdgeFest includes a variety of activities, including live music, food, and activities for all ages. The festival also held its inaugural Pet Mayor election, where Pax the Goat obtained the majority of the vote.

Due to the current coronavirus situation, all events are tentatively scheduled, but the festival should be returning later this summer — and if you’re curious, you can view my photos from the 2018 festival.

Live music EdgeFest 2019 - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
Fun with friends at EdgeFest 2019 - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
Having fun at EdgeFest 2019 - Event Photography by Michael Courier.
A pet enjoying EdgeFest 2019 - Event Photography by Michael Courier.

Six-Year Anniversary

The James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera House - Event Photography by Michael Courier

The stage at the James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera House.

The James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera House - Event Photography by Michael Courier

The audience at the James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera House.

The James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera House - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Jesse Tyler Ferguson hosted the James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera House; I also had behind-the-scenes access and got to see how the award ceremony was produced!

In May, I celebrated six rewarding, stressful, and exciting years of operating a photography business.

Instead of condensing a year of projects into a single post, I wanted to share a two-week span of work that I completed around the time I was celebrating my anniversary.

From May 6th to May 19th, I worked on 14 projects. These projects included award shows, performances, discussion panels, and fundraising events.

Though this does not encompass everything that I do, these projects highlight the variety of work that I photograph — and the type of work that means the most to me.

I love helping organizations that are mission-driven with educational components — sparking dialogue and action. Most of my work is event photography, but I love the performing arts. A sweet spot for me are performance events, events that have a performing arts component, but are engage with the public through a variety of avenues.

Thankfully, during my anniversary, I was able to combine all of my favorite types of projects and celebrate with a lot of fun work.

Panel discussion at the Chicago Architecture Center - Event Photography by Michael Courier

A panel discussion at the Chicago Architecture Center.

Fundraising Gala at The Palmer House Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

In front of a step-and-repeat for Envision Unlimited, and their annual fundraising gala at The Palmer House Chicago.

Marcela Salinas performs Estado Vegetal by Manuela Infante at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago - Performing Arts Photography by Michael Courier

Marcela Salinas performs Estado Vegetal by Manuela Infante at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

The Mushroom Cure performed by Adam Strauss at the Greehouse Theater Center - Performing Arts Photography by Michael Courier

The Mushroom Cure performed by Adam Strauss at the Greehouse Theater Center.

Bloomsday by Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at Theater Wit - Performing Arts Photography by Michael Courier

Bloomsday by Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at Theater Wit.

Panel and round-table discussions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

A panel and a round-table discussion at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, in partnership with Free Write, working through the experience of storytelling, visualizing community, and culture-making.

Fundraising and awareness walk for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Fundraising and awareness walk for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.