No-Brand Nudo

‘Sam’s Hobby’: A Preview

One of my final literary journalism stories I wrote as I was finishing up graduate school in 2016 was on my brother-in-law Sam Logan. He had a photo project in mind, so I asked if I could feature him and he said yes.

His goal was to capture buildings in Champaign-Urbana in a side-by-side fashion to show how the current-day structure compared to the same building from the past. Sam did this with the help of past photographs he found online of each building.

As I tagged along that day, I was impressed with Sam’s concentration, his attention to details, and his overall photography knowledge. Here’s what I said in the story about him that was eventually written, “Sam’s Hobby”:

Of course, countless people take digital photos and never post them anywhere or print them out. What separates Sam from the multitude of photo takers worldwide is that he has learned about the technicalities of taking pictures—mostly via YouTube and podcasts—and is willing to do the work to make his photos special: conceiving photo projects; scouting out and researching locations; getting the necessary permissions to publish photos; organizing images on the computer; and editing images, processing them, and displaying them to the world. The keen eye needed to take good photographs seems almost secondary to all this before and after work.

Nudo, Sal. Far From Mars: Nine Creative Nonfiction Stories Featuring People and Places in Champaign-Urbana. Amazon Digital Services. 2021.

In the video below, Sam is comparing the look of a building on Green Street on campus in Champaign, Illinois, with an old photo of the building stored on his phone. As you watch Sam analyze his surroundings, you can see the importance he placed on aligning the photos he was taking so that they aligned well with the older photos of the buildings on his phone. There is a cool moment toward the end of the video when Sam recognizes how the same window is still in place in one structure after such a long period of time.

It was fun driving around with Sam on that beautiful June day to document his quest to meld images from widely separate eras of the twin cities. Though the results were spectacular, he told me years later that this project never amounted to much. The pictures he took and digitally formulated were not published or promoted anywhere, but it was far from a wasted afternoon, at least for me. I observed a savvy artist in motion, and I got a story out of it.

These days Sam is married and working as a nurse practitioner in Chicago. I’m pleased to say he is still taking pictures regularly for side projects and for paying gigs. This past fall he took incredible photos of my stepson for his senior high school pictures.

If I’ve piqued your interest in Sam’s photography, check out my book Far From Mars: Nine Creative Nonfiction Stories Featuring People and Places in Champaign-Urbana, where you can read the full article about Sam and other creative, hardworking individuals.

Also, be sure to check out Sam’s website to discover more about him.

Photo and video by Sal Nudo


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