Rick Aguilar started in photography in high school, taking photos for the yearbook and newspaperand he shot his first wedding while still a high school student, using a camera he borrowed from his yearbook advisor.
He now has more than 20 cameras of his own ( mostly Canon ) and he's been a professional photographer for 10 years.
"It's remarkable to think that the time has gone so fast, and the studio has evolved from simple portraits to million-dollar weddings featured on reality television, to photographing Mayor Daley's daughter's wedding," Aguilar said. "I also was one of the first photographers to photograph gay weddings in the 1990s, back when we called them commitment ceremonies."
Aguilar said his 10-year memory bank includes thousands, probably tens of thousands, of people he has photographed, "and how I have made a difference to them, either by making them look beautiful or creating memories they'll treasure for years to come."
Aguilar received two awards in 2013: Photographer of the Year from the Catering Executive Club of America and the Shining Star Award from Wish Upon a Wedding.
Aguilar said the biggest change over the past 10 years has been on the technology front. He was still doing half his shooting with film, not digitally, 10 years ago. "There are so many more options with digital, but it also means many more hours editing in front of the computer," he said.
So what makes a good photograph?
"One that makes you think of the beauty of something whether it be a person, wonderful nature … or [one that] just makes you think," he said.
Aguilar has volunteered his photography services for the LGBT community quite often, be it photographing the March on Springfield last fall or donating gift certificates to gay charities.
"Most people are shocked to hear I am totally self-taught, but it was easy to learn, because photography was my passion and I love it," he said.
Relationship status: "I'm married to my partner of 22 years, George Lynch. We were the first [same-sex] couple to get married at the Palmer House [Hilton Hotel]."
Job title: President of Rick Aguilar Studios
Hobbies: Travel and "finding crazy new restaurants in Chicago."
Favorite TV show: Modern Family
Favorite TV policeman: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Favorite pizza topping: Sausage
Preferred drink at a bar: "I love a great bourbon drink; we do have some wonderful mixologists in the city."
Little-known fact: "I love anything pumpkin, especially pumpkin butter."