When I heard I’d be writing an ACES@Illinois story on NRES professor Angela Kent’s work at Shedd Aquarium, I jumped at the chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the world-famous facility. I wouldn’t just be writing the article – I’d be taking the photos, too.
After I set up a date and time to meet Angela and her student at Shedd, a light bulb went off. “Maybe I should swing past my parents’ house on the way and borrow some lights from Dad.” My dad, a retired Chicago Tribune photographer, has pretty much every piece of photography equipment a girl could want. Minutes later, the next light bulb went off. “Maybe I could just borrow Dad!”
That’s how my dad became a part of the ACES family, at least temporarily.
I scooped him up, along with about 13 tons of photography equipment, and we made our way toward Lake Shore Drive. We had special parking instructions at Shedd, and entered through the fishy-briny-smelling loading dock. A staffer met us there and beeped us through several staff- only doors and through crowded public viewing areas toward the lab facilities where we met Angela and her student, Monique.
We sat down for my interview; then it was Dad’s turn. He got to work posing the two women in various parts of the aquarium – the lab, a small turtle tank, and the Oceanarium, with its smiley beluga whales. It can feel awkward posing for photos, especially in crowded public places, but he made the researchers comfortable. He’s an absolute pro, and it was a treat to watch him work. I’ve seen it before – I tagged along on his photo assignments occasionally as a kid – but being his partner on a story is new territory for us, and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to work with my dad.
You’ll have to wait for the fall issue of ACES@Illinois to see his photos and read the story, but I promise you it’ll be worth the wait.