I’m Tracey Capone and I am a photographer and artist in Chicago, Illinois.
I have been putting off writing my first post, struggling to figure out what it should be about. Do I dive right in, writing a hard hitting piece on the best lens to photograph your cat? Do I keep it simple and just show you a photo of a cat and leave it at that? Decisions. In the end, I decided that, since this isn’t a blog about cats, but rather my
photography illustrations and photography, to kick things off, I would give you a little introduction to me.
Here we go…
- I am a self-taught photographer and I have been around cameras since I was a kid. My dad, a dentist by trade, but a photography hobbyist off hours, let me play around with his Nikon when I was but a wee one and it seems it stuck. My very first camera, of my own, was a Vivitar 110 (oh how I loved those funny little film cartridges) that I used mainly to photograph my little brother and our pets.
- While I got my start in photography, I have been creating digital illustrations for the last several years. Most of what I have learned has come from just throwing the illustrative spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, especially when it comes to more complicated creative apps like Affinity Designer. I love illustration because it means I can create whenever I want; no worrying about the weather or timing.
- I am originally from a town called Havertown, just outside of Philadelphia. (Go Fords!) My family now resides in upstate, eastern PA (for those of you from Pennsylvania, you know, it’s always PA) where my mother is originally from. When I visit, I get to photograph some of the most beautiful birds, and scenery.
- As I mentioned, I am the daughter of a former dentist (my father passed away in 2005) and my mom is a retired nurse. I grew up hearing a mix of truly horrifying stories about teeth, bodily functions and ailments, and, while you would think I would have developed an iron clad stomach, I will never get over being squeamish.
- I moved to Chicago in 1999, however there was a brief, and admittedly ill advised, three year period when I lived in Tennessee. I spent a year in Chattanooga and two in Nashville, and, while I met a lot of wonderful people, and it is a truly beautiful state, my heart was in Chicago, and I was never able to get over being homesick. In 2010, I moved back, which was the best move for me, and, as I would come to find out, for many reasons beyond my career.
- I really got hooked on photography during a 2004 trip to Germany. I purchased a 2.0 megapixel point and shoot, specifically for the trip and, despite it being a truly horrible camera, I ended up with a series of photographs that I absolutely loved. Not long after I returned, I traded in that point and shoot for an SLR and the rest is history. I branched out in to nature photography, shooting Chicago, and added more to my travel portfolio as time went on.
- I started my photography business in 2009, honestly, because I was bored. I had a full time job that didn’t require any creativity and I needed an outlet. This little website called Etsy, perhaps you’ve heard of it, gave me the opportunity to get my work out there without a lot of start up cost. About two weeks after opening, I sold my first print, and with a lot of hard work, the shop took off, especially after moving back to Chicago. I still sell on Etsy but I also participate in a number of art festivals and shows throughout the year, sell at my own retail space and also have my own website.
- Speaking of that full time job, I spent 17 years working for one of the big four group health insurance companies (thrilling stuff) and, in 2011, I decided to leave that behind. I haven’t looked back…
- Admittedly, there was nothing planned about the change of career. I decided on a Friday, while standing on the floor at the One of a Kind Show and Sale Chicago, my very first show, that I was done with the corporate world, and that I would quit Monday, and I did. A favorite quote of mine…
Sometimes the only transportation is a leap of faith.” – Margaret Shepard
- I live in south suburbs of Chicago with my painter husband, Joe Smigielski, and our three weird but wildly entertaining cats, Jack, LuLu and Sadie. (Hence the cat reference) We met at the Andersonville Galleria, on the city’s north side, where, for the last several years, we have both maintained retail spaces. (remember I said moving back to Chicago was a great move for me?)
- Before I started my photography business, I started a catering company. While I love to cook, I wanted to do it on my own terms and not on command, so I left that behind. My husband and I love to cook together… he is honestly the best sous chef anyone could ask for.
- In 2010, when I moved back to Chicago, I started a book club in order to meet new people. Eight years later, we are 300+ members strong and still meet once a month. It has given me the opportunity not only to meet some wonderful people but read books I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.
- I love music and have extremely eclectic taste, truly, I love just about everything. (despite living in Nashville, I never grew to love country music, but I do appreciate it.)
- I love to travel and that I get to do so for my career makes me truly lucky. You can find my travel photography here on my website. (Check back next month as we will be heading to Paris and I will be adding a ton of new photographs to that collection.) My favorite country to travel to was Scotland and I can’t wait to go back and show my husband the beautiful scenery.
- I am left handed but only when it comes to writing; everything else I do with my right hand. I think this is why I am both analytical and creative which has helped me greatly in running my business. (as a side note – I am a firm believer that art students should be made to take business courses as a part of their core curriculum to help them in their future endeavors.)
- In 2020, when all hell broke loose and art festivals got canceled, I needed to pivot quickly. I started teaching classes on Skillshare. You can find my ever growing channel of courses here. I have also started creating video tutorials on my YouTube channel, which you can find here.
I will leave it at that, but you will get to know more about me as time goes on. I am truly looking forward to sharing my work, tips on running an art business, some digital illustration and photography pointers, my travel and much more. Thank you for stopping by and see you again soon!