Annual Heartland Health Outreach Event

heartlandhealthoutreachevent event photography chicago

Last month, I was honored to shoot an event by Heartland Health Outreach, an organization I wholeheartedly support, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. I’ve been hired to work this annual event several times times in the past and always enjoy the evening.

heartlandhealthoutreachevent event photography chicago

Heartland Health Outreach was formerly known as Vital Bridges until a few years ago when they merged with Heartland Alliance, an umbrella organization for many social services agencies. Heartland Health Outreach itself is the healthcare arm of Heartland Alliance with services ranging from primary care to treatments for immigrant and homeless populations throughout Chicago.

Here are some of my favorite images from the evening.

Unique and Creative Ideas for Your Next Corporate Event

Sick of a boring corporate event, check out these creative corporate event ideas

Corporate events can be quite boring. Most of these events have the same concepts and elements, making it difficult to differentiate one event from another. To really give your corporate event an edge, you need to think out of the box.

Today, it’s all about creating an event that will wow your guests. With that in mind, we picked out some fun and unique ideas that will entertain the masses and make your event a memorable one. Hopefully, these ideas will drive attendance to your next event.

Sick of a boring corporate event, check out these creative corporate event ideas

Shadow performers

As seen on several talent shows on TV, shadow shows will definitely impress audiences. This unique and exciting form of entertainment is ideal for product launches and other events. Some shows can be tailor-made for clients to make it more relevant to your event or company. This creates a memorable experience attendees will remember for a long time.


Hire an aerial performer on your next event. It is one way of introducing fun to a rather formal event. Very seldom do people get a chance to watch some talented acrobats while sipping their wine. You can also hire some jugglers, clowns and tumblers to walk around the event and entertain guests sporadically. If you do it right, guests and employees will be raving about it for the weeks to come.

Around the world theme

Take a trip around the world by naming each table after a country. Do a little research and try to incorporate some elements of different countries into the decor around the venue. Then, create a series of food stations offer a variety of cuisines and beverages served across the globe.

Aroma DJ

Smell triggers memories, they say. By hiring an aroma DJ, you can ensure that your guests remember your event. It is a unique act that combines tasteful aromas and upbeat club music to create a unique atmosphere. A happy, uplifted and energetic crowd is guaranteed within a few seconds.

, ,

3 Tips for Creating an Eye-Catching Window Display

Eye Catching Window Display for retail store

Your window displays are like billboards for your store. It is the first things customers see when they pass by your store. A standout window display piques a shopper’s curiosity and lures them to enter your shop. However, most small businesses pay little to not attention to their window display due to limited resources. Others find it difficult to harness the creativity needed in creating an effective window display.

Eye Catching Window Display for retail store

If you want to capture attention and inspire prospective customers to step into your shop, then you need to make your storefront stand out. Here are some tips for creating a window display that turn heads and drive foot traffic.

1. Tell a story

Most people would start by creating a theme. But by doing so, you might be tempted to put together all your red and green merchandise and put them on display. That won’t make an impressive display. You want to create a story based on a theme. Instead of a Christmas-themed display, consider the Nut Cracker. Use your story-telling prowess to convey the message and then incorporate your products to the display.

2. Be bold

People’s attention spans are getting shorter these days. Add to that, they’re always in a hurry. Customers won’t even look at your shop as most of them are talking on the phone, texting someone or having a conversation with a friend as they pass by. Avoid the predictable if you want to get noticed. Use bold colors and shapes. Be bold in every way. You’ll want to pull all the stops just to make sure they notice your shop. When people stop to look at your window display, they will come inside your store.

3. Show off the wants

Most people respond to the things they want. If you’re running a shoe store, you wouldn’t want to display generic black-heeled shoes that women wear to work. Bring out those Jimmy Choo and Louboutin stilettos instead. Just because they are in need of black pumps, doesn’t mean they won’t treat themselves to those expensive shoes. Put your newest and most expensive shoes on the spotlight and you’ll definitely see an increase in foot traffic.


Capturing the Cartier Window Displays

Cartier Chicago window display

For the past 6 years I have shot for Cartier during the holiday season at 630 N. Michigan Ave. I wanted to share a few insights into the day of the shoot and the images we capture.

As there is only a limited window of opportunity to shoot where the outside light balances the inside light yet before the sidewalks get too busy with pedestrians and the street too busy with traffic, my team and I arrive at 6:30 in the morning the day before Thanksgiving to start cleaning the sidewalks and exterior glass.

The Regional Visual Merchandising Manager flies in from New York to arrange the windows and work with me on the shoot.  He and a security guard have to be there early to set up because merchandise is removed from the windows every night.

One of the most difficult challenges, besides inclement weather, is to eliminate the reflections in the windows. Many photographers who are new to the process may find themselves struggling to eliminate these reflections, but our team prides ourselves in nailing retail window shots.

The shoot is only half the job.  Post-production includes color correction for variation in color temperatures of multiple light sources, compositing of different images together, and retouching.  Surprisingly to many, post production work takes far longer than the shoot. Take a look at some of my favorites below and don’t hesitate to reach out for any retail or commercial work for your own business.


Things to Consider When Hiring a Corporate Event Photographer

what to look for in an event photographer chicagoIf you own or manage a business, there will come a time when you’ll need to hire a corporate event photographer to capture photos on your next conference or meeting. You may be tempted to ask a friend or your staff to do so, but you shouldn’t trust just anyone with this role. Professional photographers do more than take photos. They use their experience and training to capture the beauty and importance of each occasion.

Here are some things you should consider when hiring an event photographer.

Background and credentials

Event photography is a specialized field that requires its own set of skills. Just because a person owns an expensive camera, doesn’t mean he’s a professional. A camera is a tool, and does not guarantee that he’ll produce great photos.

Consider the photographer’s background and credentials. What kind of events do they cover? How many events like your do they shoot a year?


Believe it or not, some people would only look at the pricing and won’t even bother to look at the photos. Photographers put their best work on their website so feel free to check them out. Compare photographers by their portfolio, not their pricing. Make sure that their style is what you’re looking for.


Try to get price quotes from a number of photographers. Most photographers try to be flexible with their rates since they do understand that some clients are working on a tight budget. However, you also have to understand that the saying “you get what you pay for” usually applies when hiring an event photographer. Haggling may not get you the results you want.

Needs and expectations

Figure out what you want to get out of the event before talking to candidates. Communicate specific event details so as to give the photographer an understanding of what you want captured and where he needs to be at specific times.

With more than 20 years of experience G Thomas Ward Photography has been helping businesses in Chicago capture their business events and conferences. View our Event Photography gallery for samples of our work.


My years of experience include shooting for a wide variety of clients both corporate and personal, including Cartier, WTTW, The Chicago Reader, Northwestern University, Hartmarx, Music of the Baroque, Red Moon Theater, Theo Ubique, Third Coast Marketing and many, many more.

Recent Posts


Studio Location

1315 W. Albion Ave.
Chicago, IL 60626

PH: 773.271.6813