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Carpe Diem

It’s been nearly two months since I’ve blogged. It’s hard to believe how time can fly when you get busy. I’ve had RA training, move-ins, wedding planning is underway, and now school has started. Over the past few months I’ve gotten to feel as if I’m missing out on something. Like I’m not pushing myself as hard as I should be in this field. Tonight in my first Photojournalism I class with John White, a photojournalist at the Chicago Sun-Times, I came to the conclusion that it’s time now to start kicking myself into action. No more lazy days with the camera sitting on the shelf. No more memory cards and film stashed away being unused. No more lens caps. If I am going to be a great photographer, I need to be constantly shooting pictures.

New shot: All I shot today was during class, when my teacher was challenging us to be quick with our reflexes and with the shutter, we were required to shoot exactly when his hands clapped, which is quite difficult when you teacher fakes you out 9/10ths of the time. I caught him twice, out of 45 shots.

And for your viewing pleasure, here are some old pictures from late June, Holly’s senior shots:


It has been a ridiculously long time since my blog has seen any action. And I apologize for this fact. A 17 credit-hour semester is mostly to blame. Also procrastination during that 17 credit-hour semester. And sleepiness and fatigue due to the procrastination during that 17 credit-hour semester. I could go on…

Usually for me, the end of May means summer vacation’s beginning. And while my 17 credit-hour semester is over and I am surely rejoicing, this summer is a lot different than any summer I have ever encountered. This is my first full summer living in Chicago, and on top of still working at Segway (now as a certified tour captain), I am interning two days a week with photographer Stephen E Gross (Real Life Weddings), taking two photography classes at Columbia, getting an apartment for June and July in Wrigleyville (Go Cubs!) and…


Tuesday afternoon, Josiah and I headed to Iowa to spend five days with our families and friends, and he popped the question near the half-way point, in Galena, Illinois. Josiah was pretty fatigued from his new job at the school and mentioned he had wanted to make more than one pitstop on the way back so he would stay awake. Little did I know that when I suggested we pull off in Galena to explore the downtown area, that we would make our way up a walking bridge over a river and I would be proposed to! It was wonderful, and beautiful, and we both cried a little in happiness. On the way home, we plugged in Josiah’s iPod shuffle that he had filled with love songs… what a romantic guy. I am so blessed to have such a great fiance!

My Studio, aka The University Center

Today has been a busy busy day. I have taken a lot of pictures here in my building, some for assignments and some for fun. I will be forever grateful for the day that I have a real studio to work with and not my dinky light set, seams of cheap paper that need photoshop-ing, and the hassle of moving lounge furniture to set up my shoot. Though the situation may be less than ideal, however, I have gotten some really great shots today, and I am learning to make my little light set work some magic. Here are some of my shots from the day:

My beloved, half-heartedly posing for me (not really posing at all I guess you could say) as he watches the Avalanche beat the Redwings. Yay!

Tony, a resident on my floor who I randomly pulled from his room to sit for me. Ah, I love being an RA.

Ashley, a fellow RA, and a real sweetheart.

My wonderful roommate Hayley. We’ve concluded after today that she makes a good model, has good photo-viewing opinion/expertise, and a GREAT studio assistant.

Brentley = Happiness.

Chioma, who shall photographically stun the man that her mom is trying to set her up with with.

What else is new here in Chicago? Josiah and I went to the Colorado Avalanche game here at the United Center, and boy did we have a blast! We love going to hockey games, especially for $8.00 a piece. I think Josiah’s dream is to live in Colorado together with season tickets. I have many more photos to post from the game, but I picked one of my favorites. We are kinda silly sometimes.

I’ve been swamped with assignments this week, the teachers are really piling it on with midterms around the corner. I just keep telling myself that there are less than two weeks until I’m in Hawaii! *Excitement ensues.* This past weekend I had a photography workshop for two days, and on each day, I shot nudes for about 6-7 hours. It was a good experience to have under my belt, though not really my favored genre of photography. Needless to say, I won’t be posting any of those pictures online.

Well, that’s all, take care everyone! Tomorrow I’ll be up at the crack of dawn (actually before it!) to shoot pictures until around 10am. A full day ahead of me – wish me luck!

Catching Up

Now that the severe cold thing that I had has pretty much subsided, and after a last-minute trip home for my Aunt Mardella’s funeral, I’m back in Chicago and ready to get back to my life. I know for a fact that I will not have my assignments that are due tomorrow even close to finished, and my teachers are aware of that. It’s an overwhelming feeling, to be behind when more and more assignments are filling up the planner. But tonight, Thursday, and Friday will hopefully be very productive for me.

Oh, and one more thing, TAXES! I’m actually excited, I’m going to H&R Block on Thursday to have them help me with my taxes this year, since I’m not really sure how to handle the photography profit (the very small amount of it) vs. the purchases (camera, 2 new lenses, lights, etc.) that can be considered business expenses. Once I have my taxes complete, I can file my FAFSA, and once that’s done, I can apply for a couple scholarships that would shave a nice sum off my tuition bill for next year.

No! Don’t cut the dollar! I need that dollar for books!

Hope everyone’s staying healthy, drink that orange juice!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

I had my roommate Hayley take a picture of me before I went outside today to take pictures for an assignment. I had such a busy weekend, but I wish I would have done this assignment sooner so it wouldn’t have been quite this cold.

So that’s a long-sleeve T, two hooded sweatshirts, tights, leggings, jeans, two scarves, a bandanna covered by a hat, mittens, two pairs of socks and my shoes, and my roommate Hayley’s coat. She is tall so it was pretty long on me, but it kept me warm! I can’t believe how silly I looked. I’m having a pretty good laugh at myself, and I hope you are too. All I can say is that I had better become a better photographer because of this…

Girls’ Night and the Ten Ren Tea Company

Last night was the most fun night I have had in a long long time… I’m here in the University Center on duty for the weekend, meaning I really can’t leave the building at all except to go to Panera (which is in our building). A bunch of other girl RAs are also on duty, including my roommate, so we invited the other ladies over for a girls’ night. Before our duty meeting, I snuck out of the building and caught the train to Chinatown, which is only 5 minutes away by rail. I went to the Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Company, quickly picked up a 1/2 pound of loose leaf tea, then headed back immediately.

We rented the new Woody Allen film “Scoop” and began watching it – we never finished, it is absolutely awful. Two great actors, Scarlet Johannsen and Hugh Jackman, were awful in this movie. When the DVD skipped and stopped an hour into the film, we took it as an omen that we should just stop watching it. Instead, we put in one of my favorite movies, Two Weeks Notice, with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. So we got our fill of romantic comedy and an amazing British accent. Good stuff.

Meanwhile, we tried the new tea I got, Mango Black Tea, and let me tell you, it is AMAZING. It was $20 a pound, one of the cheaper teas at Ten Ren (They have one green tea that they sell at $130/lb.) but it was so good, perhaps the best tea I have ever had. It has real pieces of mango dried up in it. I used my new french press, which I am so excited about, and Hayley’s water boiler, and probably refilled it 6 times, thus about 30 cups off of 6 tablespoons of the loose leaf tea. I don’t think I will ever go back to regular tea – I’m going to Ten Ren again tomorrow, so that I can take my time and get acquainted with all they have to offer. Supposedly they have 200 varieties of tea there.

Following the movie, we sat around and gushed about boyfriends and dating and life until after midnight. It was so much fun. A few of us had to do late rounds in the building still, so we headed out and girls’ night was over. I believe we’ll be doing another on Monday. Priceless.

Another Semester of Perspective

This evening I had my last class of the semester, History of the Holocaust. What an amazing class it has been; I have learned so much.

For tonight’s class, we spoke on the topic of more recent genocide around the world. All semester, this class was sort of a downer for ending each week (though it was a valuable class regardless), but tonight I left the classroom very much saddened as I was reminded of the inadequacy of governments in our world.

As of December 31st, the UN will, I believe, have a new leader, as Kofi Annan will be stepping down after 10 years of service. I found a somewhat cynical but revealing article in the Tribune that I thought I would share, discussing the UN’s failure to take necessary actions during these past 10 years.

In class this evening I watched a very graphic documentary on the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and it was honestly so hard to stomach. In taking my African History & Culture class last fall, I gained a lot of perspective about Africa and why it is where it is today. This documentary had a lot of footage that I had never seen – scenes of rebels approaching people on the roads and hacking them with machetes, piles and piles of bodies lying alongside the road, hundreds of bodies flowing down the river into neighboring countries, lining the banks. Even writing now, thinking of these scenes brings tears to my eyes. I watched film from 1994 of a Clinton rep denying that genocide was occurring, struggling to save face amongst reporters. And then scenes of Clinton arriving at the airport in Kigali, apologizing for his country’s failure to act, and then getting back onto Air Force One, engines never having been turned off. Really, is an apology enough?

The discussion quickly turned to Darfur and the current situation there. President Bush has used the term “genocide” many times when referring to the situation, yet the UN is too afraid to use that term. Why? Calling a conflict “genocide” demands action. The UN is bound by an agreement written in 1951 stating that it is its duty to prevent and punish even conspiring genocide. Quite frankly, the UN has a history of not wanting to get involved in countries where its interests do not lie. The United States is not left out of that either – though Bush uses the term “genocide,” what have we as a country done that has made a dent in the conflict?

One of my very liberal classmates made a point that he thinks that the current administration would get support of the American people to send troops to Darfur if we would simpy educate the people. Several other students agreed with this statement. “You really think that the American public would be in support of that?” I asked, raising my eyebrows. These same students ramble about the “Bush regime” and the ‘pointless War on Terror’ that is ‘laden with corruption’… I’m not sure I completely support the war in Iraq but I’m definitely more supportive than most kids my age. Let’s get some perspective here… Hussein’s administration was not innocent of crimes against his people. Because of this war, we are giving these people a chance at democracy, a better way of life away from the tyranny of a dictator. The truth of the matter is, unfortunately, that Americans are often ignorant of the continent of Africa in general, and I can’t see many citizens wanting to send troops into a messy conflict like Darfur, with the current level of support for the Iraq war.

I feel as if I’ve gone on a rant. I am very sensitive about Africa. Sometimes overly-sensitive. But I just can’t stand the world’s inactivity and failing to even care. I know there are good people doing great things to help resolve the conflict in Darfur. And I am not the kind of person who has no faith in our government. I love America and love living in this country. But considering Rwanda, we are following the same path to allowing genocide to occur.

How many times can we repeat the phrase “Never again” before it becomes meaningless?

*Lord, I pray that you can help us to make a difference not only in Darfur, but in places around the world where people are being savagely killed. Help me to remember not to place my trust in the government, but to place it in you.*

Preview of what’s about to come…

Just wanted to take a couple mins to post one picture from one of my finals…

I promise I will post more, and soon. Just let me try to get through this next week first!

Procrastination, Part 1

Lately my roommate Hayley and I seem to be able to find anything and everything to do but our homework. It’s as if we can’t face the reality of how much we need to do, so we mindlessly waste away precious hours doing absolutely nothing. Last night, when I had 150+ pages in a book to read, what did we do? Hayley cleaned and planned a trip to Europe, I arranged some flowers, talked with Hayley about Christmas gifts, browsed through pictures on my computer, went to Myspace and Facebook, edited a paper for Josiah, vacuumed… the list goes on. I got very little reading done before my eyes were starting to shut on their own. So, alas, today will be another packed day of homework, including a trip to the Holocaust exhibit here at the Spertus Institute for class.

All these horrible things about procrastination aside, I wanted to share this AMAZING website that my cousin Kris sent to me… if you have ever cut snowflakes out of paper you will LOVE this site. Have fun, time’s a-wasting!

Click here to enter a winter wonderland


So I’m wide awake at 1 in the morning, due to my sudden desire to work out every night. Hopefully my peppermint chai will calm me to sleep soon. But in the meantime, I thought I’d post 20 random things about me, seeing as how I am officially no longer a teenager.

1. The answer to my riddles from my last post: All of those things are on my wish list right now… those boots, that camera, hair extensions, and sunny beaches. Secondly, my family is vacationing in HAWAII over this coming spring break!!! Wooohoo!

2. I seem to be forever doomed to hang around a girl whose name also starts with an H, so that everyone and their mom mixes us up. Best friend from elementary to high school = Haleigh. Current roommate and co-18th floor RA = Hayley.

3. Even more than longing for boots, cameras, thick luscious hair and Hawaii, I long to go back to Kenya, and so I randomly find myself on sites like cheaptickets.com to search for cheap flights for trips there that I can’t afford regardless.

4. My current life’s goal is to make a photodocumentary on slumlife in Kenya, a book including pictures taken by me and by Kenyans that I teach photography to.

5. I am addicted to Photoshop CS2. Coming soon, lots of posts with recent photo work of mine.

6. I am now hannahepley.com. Don’t go there, I haven’t designed my site yet. It will be done by December 14th.

7. I have recently discovered the best way to multitask. I head down to the University Center fitness room, and after lifting some weights, plop down on a bike and read class textbooks while I bike. And I don’t even realize when my 30 or 45 minutes is up! Yess!!!

8. I am not moving back to Waverly this summer. Chicago will remain my home until summer 2008.

9. I skipped a year of college, (I’m a junior) thanks to CLEP testing. Angela, I owe you one for encouraging me to go for it!

10. For my birthday, I will celebrate by running errands, spending hours shooting pics in the studio, watching a movie with Josiah, and attending a mandatory staff meeting.

11. My definition of chai is not some severely-sweetened spicy drink that kindof tastes like eggnog. First off, I rarely put sugar in my tea. I like tea kinda bitter. But no, chai is 2/3 tea, 1/3 warm milk, and a little sugar. Kenya style chai.

12. I have the annoying tendency to over-adapt to the people around me. Not in a giving-in-to-peer-pressure sort of way, but by picking up accents, gestures, and tiny habits unconsciously until it becomes natural to me. You should have heard my English while I spent a month in Kenya, and you should see my gestures now that I live with a sign language major.

13. I spend an average of 3-1/2 hours setting up and shooting one still life for my studio class. (I have an A in my studio class as well. Coincidence? I think not.)

14. I cry almost nonstop during Extreme Home Makeover. Seriously. So touching. Every Sunday.

15. My desk is covered with an uncontrollable barrage of stickynotes and to-do lists.

16. I know almost exactly what I want in a wedding dress.

17. My brother Adam and I have been reading through the Bible together. Backwards. Meaning, we started at the beginning of Revelation and are now in the Old Testament.

18. I LOVE COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO. Distraught emo rebellious liberal kids aside, the photography department here ROCKS. I am so glad I did this and not a 2-year technical program.

19. Lately as I hand-write things, whether it be sticky notes or class notes or to-do lists, I find myself skipping letters and words, as if my brain is way too ahead of my hand. At least I always catch myself.

20. I’m 20 years old today!!!