Chicago 2012: Whatcha Goin’ Do?

I know this post is long overdue. There are countless excuses and legitimate reasons, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my experiences in Chicago at the annual ACP convention last November.

Without a doubt, this trip was the highlight of my semester.

Having let some time pass since the trip, now writing this blog post has given me a unique perspective on how going to Chicago has actually benefited me. Before I went on this trip, I had been a staff photographer for three semesters. I put some quality time in and covered an array of important stories. But regardless I still did not feel like I was a part of the staff. Before going on the trip I wanted to focus on becoming friends with everyone and feeling like I really belonged at The Pendulum.

Well, I can cross that one off my list.

I was extremely fortunate to go on this trip with my fellow staffers Andrew Wilson, Katie Blunt, Kyra Gemberling, and Rebecca Iannucci, along with our adviser Colin Donahue. Folks, I could not have picked a more lively and eager group.

During the day we all went to different sessions. Although I attended a number of photo talks, I did venture into a few other presentations. One of my favorites was Tim Harrower’s Fun with Design talk. I had never laughed so much while learning valuable design tricks. It was a packed and room and I was lucky to stand in the back and watch a presentation by someone that has so much fun while following their passion.

Hmm… who else does that remind me of? Oh, Bradley Wilson of course! Or should I say Dr. Wilson? As usual any major journalism convention isn’t complete without Bradley’s witty humor and spur of the moment adventures. I got a lot of of the talks, especially Jason Martini’s talk on Instagram and Steve Johnson‘s talk as well.

I enjoyed participating in the shoot-out because it gave me a chance to get outside and explore the city on my own. I went down to the docks on the waterfront and befriended an older gentlemen taking care of an old military boat. I shot a few photos of him before continuing on my adventure.

After sessions ended for the day the Elon crew met up and we would go out to dinner. We splurged on the food and sought out to get the true taste of Chicago. I would say we definitely succeeded in that aspect. Every meal we all tried each others meals because all of them were so delicious. At these meals the popular Al catchphrases were born, including “This is me” “Whatcha goin’ do?” “Locked and Loaded” and “Preachhhhhh.”

After dinner we would walk around the city a little and then head back to the hotel. We were able to see the famous Bean and even ran into the set of Chicago Fire, my new favorite show. The other four students I went with were all taking an infamous reporting class that required extensive homework and articles to be written. The girls would head back to their room and do their work and watch Sex and the CIty before heading to bed. Andrew also did his homework and then would write a sports article for The Pendulum. So that left me with one option-to make new friends!

Most people would say I’m not really a shy person at all and I tend to be really outgoing. This greatly benefited me as I immediately became close with students from the University of Oregon, among many other schools. They were awesome to hang out with and learn about what they are doing at their school. Oregon was the first school in the country to come out with an iPad-only publication. I took a lot of notes and am definitely hoping to use some of those techniques soon. After talking shop we would hit the streets and experience/enjoy the cities exciting nightlife. I made a lot of memories that I can only bring a smile when looked back upon.

Overall the trip was a complete success. I learned a lot of skills for myself, bonded with fellow classmates, and made new friends I still stay in contact. Side note, my friend Gracie Roberts, the publisher of U of Oregon’s Flux magazine actually came to Elon and visited The Pendulum in December!

Until next time Chicago!

-Al Drago

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