Nicholas James Photo

JeffJack Apartments West Loop Grand Opening

You might just recognize interiors of JeffJack Apartments from my earlier tour in March for Curbed Chicago. CS Magazine was covering their Grand Opening party, which gave me a little bit of time to get back in to photograph the modern spaces in the building, and of course the great food and revelry.

A night like this is one of the main reasons I love event photography. Staying on my toes and being prepared for anything from architecture and interior photography to portraiture is so exciting and rewarding. Though, with food from Formento's & Salero and music from Style Matters, you really can't do too much wrong.

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Bangers & Lace Evanston: Wicker Park Heads North

Where can you find delicate and ornate lace adorning the windows of a bar rated year-after-year as one of the Top 100 Beer Bars in America? Only in Wicker Park one might have said, but thanks to Bangers & Lace's northern expansion, this unique experience can now be had in Evanston as well. The new location may be significantly bigger, but Footman Hospitality has done a wonderful job filling it with elements that immerse you in a truly cozy and lodge-like atmosphere. I had the opportunity to spend some time photographing the new space just before the New Year, and even though I froze my butt off shooting the exterior, the icy-blue morning made for the most amazing light pouring in through the front facade. Thanks again to Darcy at The Door for giving me the tour!

Be sure to check out all the coverage at Eater Chicago.

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Oak + Char: Wood-Fired Restaurant in River North

Oak + Char may be simply named, but that is where the simplicity stops. I had the opportunity to tour and photograph the space for Eater Chicago prior to its opening, and whether you're rating the restaurant on its design/atmosphere or by the culinary output and experience of its staff, its most definitely a place to experience. I appreciated the detailed work that went into the construction, and the great organizational apparatus behind the restaurant in MBL Hospitality and Grapevine PR. Be sure to check out the entire article at Eater Chicago!

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The Kitchen Chicago: River North Restaurant With A Consciense

"Community Through Food". This is the mantra of The Kitchen, a Boulder-based restaurant group and charity focusing on community wellness through food. Just a few steps into The Kitchen's first midwest location in the historic Ried Murdoch building on the banks of the Chicago River, you can feel the mission-focused atmosphere. It certainly wouldn't be fair to reduce this feeling simply to strong branding, its much more a sense of purpose. Purpose in the creation of over 100 community learning gardens at schools across Chicago, and educational programs to encourage healthy eating and home cooking. I'm looking forward to trying some of the great dishes crafted by former Telegraph chef Johnny Anderes, especially their Monday night family-style community dinner benefitting The Kitchen Community. Be sure to check out all of Eater Chicago's coverage of The Kitchen Chicago here!

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Recognize that big blue glass beauty across the street? That's right, it's OneEleven, Related Midwest's luxury apartment development. Check out my tour of that building here!

Baker Miller: Lincoln Square Bakery & Millhouse

"We call it toast, because it is toast. You won't see us calling them tartines or anything like that." It may seem like semantics, but Dave Miller's simple distinction eloquently captures the new approach of the Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse in Lincoln Square. Dave & Megan Miller came to fame with the founding their Logan Square landmark, Bang Bang Pie. After 4 years of meteoric growth, the Millers found themselves looking to move back to the basics. Enter the Baker Miller concept. Dave and Megan will be hands-on throughout the entire baking process, from milling their own wheat to hand-rolling oats. In just the few menu items that I had the opportunity to speak with Millers about and photograph, one could tell that they were carefully crafted and more importantly created by someone having fun doing what they love. Baker Miller will be opening its doors to the public on September 22nd, and I will surely be making many trips over to Lincoln Square to get my baked good fix! Make sure to check out all the coverage on Eater as well!

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Roasted Capon Chicken Grain Bowl. Seasonal grains with pickled carrots and greens. The Millers searched extensively for a source for this particular type of heritage chicken while developing this dish.

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Three of the Miller's amazing toast offerings. At left: Nova Lox (pickled in beet juice) with House-Made Chevre. At right: Prosciutto & Poached Egg with House-Made Chevre and Dandelion Greens. Below: Radish & Poached Egg Toast with House-Made Chevre, Kale, and Blake Flake Salt.

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Popovers, Whole Wheat Cookies, and Hand Pies. Oh My!

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Vegans can definitely be happy about this next point. After careful experimentation, the Millers were able to re-formulate their pie crust recipe without lard! As you can see below in their classic apple pie, not a single bit of the golden-brown flaky goodness was lost either.

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Mulberry & Me, Division Street Boutique Clothing Store

In my mind, collaboration is one of the best things you can do both creatively and professionally. Working together with others can teach you so many different things. It can show you the way other people think and solve problems, as well as teach you how to let others use their strengths in tandem with your own in order to make the final product that much better. Easy to overlook (or ignore) is also the way in which collaboration can give you greater context on your thought process and methodology.

Even with the slightest understanding of these things I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Erica Bull, my beautifully talented girlfriend, by photographing some new styles for the Mulberry & Me blog. Normally my portraits are centered around stories and personalities with my wedding and editorial work, so it was fun to intertwine that approach while also highlighting the specific pieces the boutique is carrying (and how they fit together). We had a lot of fun on the small stretch of Division outside of the boutique, and I quite enjoyed seeing Erica's goofy personality peeking out during the shoot.

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Looking forward to continuing to expand my horizons stylistically, as well as examining and embracing collaboration as a way to create even bigger and better things!

Trunk Club Chicago HQ Tour

I'm sure many of you (or at least the guys) have seen Trunk Club's stylish clothing advertisements make their way onto your Facebook news feed. There may even be a few of you out there who are actual customers. I've got to admit, up until this week when I got a chance to tour and photograph Trunk Club's River North headquarters for Curbed Chicago, I didn't know much about the operation than what I'd gleaned from their ads.

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Despite the sheer square footage of the place (45k sq ft), the second you walk into the lobby from the elevator you can feel the hustle and bustle of stylists, tailors, clients, and countless other people. The day of the tour was beautifully sunny and mild (at 20 degrees that's relatively speaking) which allowed the interior's abundance of light brick and rich wood floors and ceilings to give off a nearly palpable warmth. The space, designed by Chicago native Kara Mann, does a spectacular job of creating a trendy high-end feel with just the right amount of hominess. This is a space that, at least in my opinion, exemplifies the importance of details in pulling off a larger feeling or style.

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Much like Trunk Club's mission statement, the space is designed to be very experience oriented. There are fitting rooms for each of their flagship brands that are tailored (pun intended) in their design to that particular brand. I found this to be a really effective approach because once you stepped into that particular brand's room you could immediately grasp the aesthetic/lifestyle they were going for, great for someone who may not know much about the many different brands out there.

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If having your own personal stylist and tailor looking after all of your sartorial needs is not enough, they've also got a full service bar that you can belly up to and get a drink! All in all a very cool place. With their subscriber numbers growing at fever pitch, I'd wager that we'll be seeing much more of their signature brown trunk boxes in the future.

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