Terry Vitacco Photography

May 18, 2018

Exposed Photography Showcase Photo Album 2018

November 6, 2017

Congratulations to COD 2017 Easter Seals Photographers!

College of DuPage Celebrates 18-Year Collaboration with Easter Seals 2017 37


May 10, 2016

COD Photo Program Students Unveil Their Portfolios at the Exposed Photography Showcase 2016


College of DuPage Exposed Photography Showcase Winners were: Lauren Laws, Meghan Daly, Ethan Chivari and Susan Krpan.


Kelly Anderson of Canon USA awards 1st Prize High School Portfolio winner Claire Pikul of Downers Grove South High School a Powershot G7X digital camera.


Dr. Jean Kartje, Professor Glenn Hansen, Professor Terry Vitacco and Distinguished COD Photo Program Alumnus Jeffrey Ross at the Exposed Photography Showcase.

There was excitement and anticipation in the air at the Exposed Photography Showcase 2016 on Tuesday, May 3rd. College of DuPage Photography Program students unveiled their portfolios, websites and marketing materials at the event. We celebrated their visual communication skills as they presented their work to the business community, district residents, college and high school students, family and friends.

The COD Photography Program aims to launch our students’ professional careers and provide them with valuable real world experience at Exposed. Students share their portfolios and marketing materials, receive feedback from a diverse group of people, discuss their images, network, meet prospective clients, employers, and are offered internships.

High School students from 11 area schools also participated in the Exposed Photography Showcase. These included: Bartlett, Conant, Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, William Fremd, Glenbard North, Hinsdale South, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Willowbrook, and York High School.

We also had a presentation by Jeffrey Ross, our 2016 Exposed Distinguished Alumnus, who

Shared his journey from COD Photo student to international corporate and advertising photographer. www.jeffreyworks.com

COD College Portfolios were juried by:

Robin Tryloff, www.robintryloff.com

John Merkle, www.merklephoto.com

Stephen Serio, www.seriophotography.com

High School portfolios were juried by the Photo Program Faculty and Advisory Committee and were on display at the event. Certificates and prizes were given to four selected High School and College Portfolios.

The Exposed 2016 High School winners were:

1st Place, Clare Pikul of Downers Grove South HS

2nd Place, Caroline Stasica, York HS

3rd Place, Alessandra Lane, Downers Grove South HS

Honorable Mention, Madison Casey, Downers Grove South HS

The Exposed 2016 College of DuPage Winners were:

Best of Show

Lauren Laws

3 Jurors’ Selections

Ethan Chivari

Meghan Daly

Susan Krpan

Grand Prizes for best College portfolio included a Canon Cameras (EOS 70D body and lens, a Wacom Tablet and a one-year membership to the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). The Grand Prize for the High School Portfolio Winner was a Canon Powershot G7X camera.

All Exposed Photography Showcase winners received 1-Year Subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud Complete including all software and mobile apps, Equipment and supplies from Midwest Photo Exchange, Helix Camera, Gift Cards from PJ’s Camera, and Studio Sessions from Procam Camera.



March 7, 2016

Use Your Photography Skills to Illustrate Acts of Kindness – Enter the Envision Kindness Student Photography and Video Contest

Kindness 1

Kindness 2

Kindness 3

Kindness 4

February 22, 2016

Career Boot Camp Photo & MPTV Students Visit John Merkle’s Commercial Photography Studio


John_Merkle_Studio_1Photo 1821 and MPTV 1800 students enrolled in the Career Boot Camp class had the opportunity to visit John Merkle’s Commercial Photography Studio last Saturday, February 20th. There, they met with John Merkle (left) Larry Huene (center) and Fritz Geiger (right), all successful professionals who shared their knowledge and insights on the industry.
John_Merkle_Studio_2 Fritz Geiger, owner of Fritz Still and Motion Imaging, encouraged students to consistently be shooting to develop their personal style, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

John_Merkle_Studio_3C.O.D. student Julio Guerrero takes notes during the discussion as the three photographers gave advice to students about what it takes to be successful in the photo industry today.

John_Merkle_Studio_4C.O.D. student Uwe Gsedl had the opportunity to share his own work with John Merkle.

John_Merkle_Studio_5Larry Huene, owner of Larry Huene Photography, shares his portfolio of client work with C.O.D. student Auste Kuncas.

John_Merkle_Studio_6C.O.D. photography students Chris Beach and Jess Callahan get a closer look of Fritz Geiger’s photography.

All Photos by Lauren Laws

March 3, 2013

Photogfind – “Not as Creepy as Craig’s List.”

Photogfind.com sticker

Photogfind.com sticker

Geraldine Teotico, came to speak to my final Creative Boot Camp class yesterday.

She is a COD Photo Program alum who is now a freelance photographer shooting weddings and family portraits since she left her corporate job.

Photogfind.com is her new website. “It’s a new lead generating tool for photographers,” said Teotico. “It’s much less creepy than Craig’s List,” she said. It’s a marketing company for people who love photography.”

Geraldine Teotico tells Creatvie Boot Camp students about Photogfind.

Geraldine Teotico tells Creatvie Boot Camp students about Photogfind.

How does it work?

“Clients Create an event, and photographers in the local area may sign up to do the shoot. It’s a very simplified way for an average person to find a photographer.”


Photographers can list themselves in Photogfind for free. “They put in a short profile like they do in Twitter and up to 20 photos representing their work. Since people online have a short attention span, we keep it brief.”

“Right now it’s free,” said Teotico, who is hoping to add more traffic to her site. In the future Photogfind may charge a transaction fee if you get a lead that becomes a job.

“We are trying to change people’s paradigm about when to hire a photographer. We want people to hire photographers in their neighborhood for things like kid’s birthday parties, tours, group outings, etc.”

Students/ those starting out would benefit from this service. It’s a way to make people in your local area know what you do, and you can link your website to Photogfind.

Another benefit would be for pro photographers looking for an assistant or a second shooter for a wedding or other event. She is also hoping that party planners and anyone hosting a social event will put Photogfind on their radar.

If you have any questions about Photogfind, you can contact Geraldine Teotico at: gteotico@photogfindcom.


February 16, 2013

Creative Boot Camp Class tours Tom Maday & Kristen Barker Studios

COD Photo Program Alum Jeffrey Ross and Commercial Photographer Tom Maday
look over marketing materials during the Creative Boot Camp studio tour as Photo student Courtney Penzato looks on .

The COD Creative Boot Camp class toured the studios of Tom Maday and Kristen Barker on Saturday, February 16.

Creative Boot Camp  is a new field studies course that focuses on meeting and networking with successful photographers/videographers, and other industry professionals. Next week the class will attend the Self-Employment in the Arts (SEA) Conference at the Lisle Hilton.

Students were given insights  into the photographers business practices as well as good information and advice on marketing, assisting, social networking, building a successful website, self-promotion, and collaborating with other artists.

Tom Maday showed students his website and stressed the importance of updating it with new work as often as possible.

Jeffrey Ross shows students the large format camera in Tom Maday’s studio.


Jeffrey Ross introduces Photographer Kristen Barker at the beginning of her studio tour as Producer/Sound Engineer Sean McConnell looks on.

Photographer Kristen Barker (left) talked to COD Boot Camp students about her work creating still photography, videos, and music for her commercial and wedding clients with Sean McConnell (middle) and Chris Barker, (right) her husband and partner.

Photographer and musician Chris Barker tells students about the new Valentine video the bytheBarkers Studio just produced.

Kristen Barker explained the collaboration that goes on in her studio. “We have to communicate well with clients and know their brand and demographic. Everyone here wears many hats. Our job is to make life easier for everyone. There is no room for ego.”

January 14, 2013

Paint it Black Shoot – Personality Portraits on Location in the SSC at COD

Marlon © Terry Vitacco Photography 2013

One of my favorite class projects is the Paint it Black shoot.

My last Photo 1101 class did a great job bringing unusual props and working with our models to produce some creative and edgy personality portraits last semester. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes to photograph Marlon, (above)  who has beautiful eyes and a soulful expression.

The next Paint it Black shoot will be held on Tuesday, March 5th in the College of DuPage SSC Building near the windows. Look for an animated group of students dressed in black with cameras and unusual props. Students will be bringing some models, but are always open to people who walk up wanting to join in the fun.

Courier Features Editor Courtney Clark wrote a story about the shoot from Fall Semester, and she gave me permission to reprint it below.

Students Paint it Black

The Photo 1101, Intro to Digital Photography class, held their “Paint It Black” workshop in the SSC. This included black backdrops with models dressed in black posing for the cameras. This is an assignment the students in Photo 1101 do every semester.

Terry Vitacco, Photography Professor, said the assignment is about “wanting to get the most details out of highlights and shadows.” It is a challenge with the black background and subjects dressed in black. The name comes from the famous Rolling Stones’ song “Paint It Black.”

Photo 1101 is an introductory course in digital photography. The prerequisite is Photo 1100, but if students took a photography class in high school, they may be able to place out.  In this project, Vitacco said, “Not only do they have to get the right tones, but they also have to convert to black and white, print, and submit the assignment. They learn to meter properly with their cameras in Manual Mode and bring out tones in the photographs.”

Students mostly asked their friends to model but “as people saw us working they wanted to be a part of it,” said Vitacco. About ten students volunteered to model. In years past, this event was held in the MAC lobby but because of the construction, it was held in the SSC.

Vitacco says that this kind of activity means, “They have to learn to work with a group and catch things spontaneously. It’s a fun way to learn a technical skill in photography.” Her rule for Photoshop, which is used in the class, is that the changes “should make the image look better, but be subtle and seamless.” Another thing they do when critiquing the work is “look objectively at what they shot and analyze the improvements,” said Vitacco.

Kelly Ellam, Photography student, said “I liked that we did it where there were a lot of people. There aren’t that many people in the MAC due to construction.”

Vitacco really enjoys this project and said its “interesting to see how everyone interprets the same situation [because] everyone in the group has the same problems and opportunities. Everyone has their own style.”

Soon the final print from the photo-shoot will be put up in the MAC hallways for students to view. Vitacco says she “encourages collaboration [and] it was fun to have volunteer models participate because a lot of the photography students don’t want to be in the photos, they just want to take the photos.”

They are giving copies of all the pictures to each of the models as payment. Vitacco said she always tells students to put their names and copyrights in the corner so that even once pictures go on Facebook and other social networking sites, they can protect their copyright.

Vitacco encourages everyone to take photo classes. “If you’re interested in getting started, students can take Photo 1100. It’s a Contemporary Life Skills class that can be used for General Elective credits. Photograhy is a great thing to learn because it’ll help you in your life, even if you’re not a Photo Major.”


Story by Courtney Clark, Courier Features Editor

Photo by Kelly Ellam, Photo Student



October 28, 2012

Advice from the Pros – Making it in the Arts Panel – Oct. 24, 2012

On Wednesday, October 24th, Amy Rogers of Self-Employment in the Arts, my colleague Jennifer Piehl, Motion Picture TV Professor, and I organized a panel discussion for our students and the community last week. This free event was put together for my Professional Practices in Photography classes, MPTV students, as well as other art students and community members.

Area photographers, videographers, editors and a graphic designer/web designer discussed what it takes to make a living as an artist in today’s economy.  This was a free event open to all area college students as well as members of the community.

©Terry Vitacco 2012


Panelists included:

Tom Maday – Photographer

Tom is a Chicago-based photographer whose editorial clients include ESPN, Newsweek, Forbes, and Chicago Magazine.  His commercial clients include CBOE, GE, Hewitt, Motorola, P&G, and Tellabs.  He is also co-author of “Great Chicago Stories” and “After the Fall.”


Lynn Anderson – Graphic Artist

Lynn is a graphic artist and owner of ColorDance Design.  The company specializes in web site design and development as well as identity creation, advertising, and marketing.


Jeffrey Ross – Commercial Photographer

He focuses on corporate and advertising projects for a variety of magazines, advertisements and the Internet.  He spent last summer traveling all over the United States documenting farm life and agricultural subjects for one of his clients.  He also spent 16 months documenting the end of the Space Shuttle era for the Smithsonian.


Kim d’Escoto and Kayla d’Escoto – Photographers

This mother/daughter portrait team is the artistic eye behind Kimberlee Kay Photography.  They provide studio and outdoor location photography for families, babies, children, and high school seniors.


Mike Thoroe – Editor

Mike is a Chicago-based editor whose clients include SPIKE TV and Comcast

TV. As an editor for GTTV (a video game television show) airing on SPIKE

TV and previously worked for MTV Networks. Mike is responsibilities include creating the overall feel for the packages edited for the show.

www.mikethoroe.com http://www.mikethoroe.com

Chris Rud – Videographer

Chris works for Jimi Allen Productions in Aurora and provides wedding photography and commercial video.


© Terry Vitacco 2012

Following are some of the questions that were posed to the panel:



“I don’t know who would hire me. I like flexible time.

I am beholden to a series of bosses that have specific deadlines – designers, art

directors, etc. Customer service is very important, I have to be ready when they want me.”


“Being an entrepreneur allows me go with my creative flow.

If I was in a corporate environment I couldn’t be as creative.”


“I’m no good in a cubicle. I have to be my own business.

It seems to be the only way to be if I want to do what I want to do.”


“I was a stay at home mom. I have 6 kids. I home schooled my kids, so I

wanted to manage my own schedule. I book when I want to book.”

There is a sense of satisfaction that you built something from scratch.”


“I loved photography and started as a Junior in high school. I like to work independently and specialize in Senior photography.”


“I want to be the boss. I realize that I wanted to work for something I built. I wanted to control my schedule and end up spending more time on work than a 9 to 5 job.

I started by shooting training videos for a restaurant – how to make a calzone. I had to tell the story of calzone. It paid well. I was editing nine videos for them.  While editing them I knew I had no desire to do this again and started to look for stories to tell.

Jimi Allen is all about the new photojournalism. He wants us to ask ‘What are the new stories? What stories do corporations want to tell?’”


“I didn’t sign up to be freelance. I used to do construction and wanted something laid back and fun.  My first 2 months in Chicago I didn’t work.

Now I work at Comcast and I get work from LA. I don’t want to turn them down.

I check websites 3 to 6 times per day to look for work.

I’m up all night sometimes to make it work. It can be stressful, but it’s nice to know you can take a break when you want to. It’s fun and I like it.”



“I encourage you guys to establish exactly what you want to do. I love

shooting weddings. Every single time I shoot 14 hours. I try to find the story

of that couple. That makes doing it so much easier. I can’t edit it myself. Now I hire Kayla (D’Escoto) who “gets” the kind of story I want to tell.”


“You may not know what you want to do yet. Try a lot of things first to find out

what you love to do.  I love newborns and little kids. Pour energy and time into it. Find someone you admire and watch lots of videos. There are many blogs and resources to show you how professionals work. I believe in mentorship. If you have an opportunity to work with someone who is ahead of you, that’s great.”


“At first I was just trying to build my portfolio. The first thing I shot was a wedding.

But later I found I loved doing senior portraits.”


“I hate to do weddings. I realized early on I didn’t want to do weddings.

I like big projects with big companies and to work with art directors.”

Join a young professionals group. If you join a group with lots of lawyers you will be the only photographer. I once got a 25-day job from an early networking contact.

If you start by assisting – you will see how a photo business works.

I started assisting Tom Maday in 2004. Find out who is the best and intern or assist for them.”


“If you do something 50 times for 14 hours per day you will get good at it. Right now you have more time than you ever will later in life.

Get a mentor – they can change the arc or your career. Assisting another photographer made me understand how to do it and how I did not want to do it. Networking is the key to the whole thing. It’s best to have a network early on.”


“If I could go back in time I would work on student films. Networking is how you are going to get your work. Being an editor I should learn more to be more diverse. I do Final Cut, but now I wish I knew Avid and Premiere Pro. Now I’m catching up.

Mentoring is huge – everything I learned I had to learn on my own.

I would have gotten out and met people sooner if I could do it all over again.  Go to networking events in the industry. Go to where producers or directors are. Don’t go where your competition is. Do free things – it could lead to paid stuff later.

Do stuff for your portfolio.”


“In my 20’s I went to a college where we had to get an equal number of work hours and academic credits. It was natural for me to go to get real world training.

Early on I knew I wanted to do a non-profit work. I worked with other photographers and designers. It built my confidence.

Find a non-profit that has same mission and goals as yours and you will build your skills.

I work for Midwest Soaring Foundation.

Whenever I had a classroom project I tried to turn it into a real world assignment.

This (COD) is a wonderful school with lots of opportunities.”



(After being asked about the impressive NFL promos in the Motion section of his website:)

“ESPN worked with a photographer I knew who needed to recommend other photographers to shoot 4 different NFL teams.

This job came from a long-standing network connection.  I don’t shoot sports, but they know I could shoot sports. It’s helpful to be a generalist to market yourself now.”


“Get to know people in your classes and stay in touch with them.

A fellow COD photo student, Cathy Brinkworth and I were talking one day.

She said ‘I’m working on a space shuttle thing. Do you want to help?’

I grew up in Florida where the Space Shuttle is and we worked together on the project for a couple of years. Kennedy Space Center just bought all our stuff.”

“People like working with whom they know. Starting out I wanted to be the one the

‘Players’ knew. Don’t just leech after them. Also volunteer – solve problems for people. That’s how they remember you and how the relationship starts. Keep yourself open to

opportunities that come up when you volunteer for charities. Most charities have a Board of Directors that may hire you for events.”

“Join Young Professionals organizations in Downers Grove and Naperville.

You can also join the Jaycees or the Chamber of Commerce. I was named small business of the year last year.”


“We get a lot of client referrals. Clients share our photos on Facebook and Pinterest.

Our clients do referrals for us. If you develop good client relationships your business will grow exponentially. Make sure you end every session on a great note. We develop great relationships. I have seven friendships that came from good sessions. Clients have a voice and will talk about you. That’s how we grow. Ninety percent of our work is from referrals.”


“We are always working on relationships.  With weddings it’s Facebook.

We also get referrals from advertising and marketing agencies.”



“It’s important to balance and guard your time. My wife and I take weekdays off.  Weekends don’t exist. When I ‘m not working I go on Lynda.com and learn new software that’s not in my comfort zone.

Students should use Lynda.com.  Pros use it every day. It’s free for students with a COD Library Card. (www.Lynda.com)

You can also go to www.Mandy.com to find jobs.

Be careful what ads you answer. You don’t want porno jobs.

Tvjobs.com is $20 a year subscription for TV news jobs.”


“I reach out and go after clients. I make leave behinds. I did that with a local yoga studio.

I believe in ‘ask and you shall receive.’”



“I use the images I create for pro bono clients to market myself on my own website.

Work for a non-profit and market for them and yourself.

You should also tell everyone you know what you do. My hairdresser gave me a good referral a few days after I saw her.”



“We use electronic contracts from Simply Studio. All terms and conditions are on our contract – every detail.

It’s good if a client is afraid of your contract. We don’t do paper anymore. We get model releases from everyone. Our clients share our images on Facebook.”


“I work on a handshake. I do use paperwork – I send an estimate for the job.

If they say it looks great I do the job. I know the people I work with and have never had a problem.”



“Some clients crop out our copyright notice. You have to educate clients that you own copyrights to all your images. You work hard and try to promote your business. You don’t want people downloading your images. Register your copyright.

Go to the U.S. Copyright Office website.”


“You need to know when to give away images or when not to.

The State of Illinois wanted thumbnails of 30,000 of my images. I gave them lo-res thumbnails and they bought the rights to use many of those images.  I made $15,000 in stock sales. Protect your images.”


“If you do video or editing, make sure you sign contracts. If you send high-resolution review copies the client may steal it. I give them watermarked low-res videos until they pay. Now I burn in watermark and time code. Be careful on Vimeo.”



“Three to four years ago video was a mystery. Now there is a fusion of still and video. Lots of still photographers are dragged kicking and screaming into video. You should welcome collaborators. My brother does video and has helped me out a lot.

Many still photographers work alone. For video you need to work with a crew to make it all come together. We’ve had clients hire us to do both. Doing both at once is an additional challenge We use strobes for still and can’t do that for video.”


“Jimi Allen was a still photographer and is now rebranding.

Seven people work for him and four are video editors.

We shoot images and we are content creators. It doesn’t matter if it’s film or video.

Yesterday I did audio all day. I shot stills on Saturday. Learn a little bit of everything.”


“It’s just like the advent of digital. It’s tough to teach yourself enough video skills to get by. Kids from college can do it in 10 seconds with headphones on. Still photographers need to learn video. Hybrid is the way it’s going. You need to get into video for website creation.”

Jeffrey Ross has also written a piece about the Making it in the Arts Panel in his blog: