Running Through My Mind: Feeling Semi-Star Struck

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This morning, I was asked to assist sports photographer Ali Engin at his photo shoot for our August/September Triathlon Issue cover.

Aside from the fact that I love any excuse to hangout and take pictures in Chicago, I was ecstatic when I first learned of the opportunity; I always value the time I get to spend learning about photography from my dad, and watching another photographer was only going to teach me more. And, I would get to meet my first professional triathlete.

The weather could not have been more perfect – arriving at outside Adler Planetarium at the “golden hour,” around 6:30 a.m., allowed me some time to take test shots on the lakefront before the crew arrived. Once Ali arrived with the model and triathlete, Silvia Ribiero, and her manager Jim Garfield, he instantly began giving directions.

While I was originally there to help hold Ali’s lights, the scarce winds made that job unnecessary; instead, I was able to observe Ali in his natural habitat while taking pictures with my own camera as well.


Ali came with several different poses and angles for his photos, all of which turned out beautiful. He lay on the ground, sprinted back and forth to change lenses and even chased after Silvia on her bike for one shot; his passion for his career is exceptionally admirable, and I could have watched him work all day long.

I also got to talk to Silvia quite a bit during the shoot, and she was sweeter than I could have imagined; the Brazilian model and professional athlete was not only clearly zealous about her career, but extremely personable. Rather than getting frustrated with frequent runners on the path pausing the photo shoot, Silvia would relax from her pose, and cheer for each person as they passed by. Her friendly and humble attitude was quite refreshing as someone who is used to constantly being in the limelight. Plus, hearing her shout, “You got this! Keep it up!” in her Brazilian accent was pretty entertaining.

Six poses and thousands of pictures later, the photo shoot ended, and I pulled Silvia aside to interview her quickly. While I had already learned about her current status – an injured triathlete living in Colorado who’s hoping to recover for the Chicago triathlon – I was fascinated to hear about her past. My takeaway? She is the epitome of a success story. Starting as a volleyball player, becoming a model and then exploring the world of triathlons, she was able to combine all of her favorite things into one job. As a journalist at a running magazine, I can completely relate, and can only hope I am as successful as she is one day.

Despite only being there for about two hours, I learned so much about being in the workforce from people in two different careers. I have been a college graduate for almost a month, so this whole “working full time” is a pretty new concept to me. Meeting Ali and Sylvia could not have come at a better time as I begin to dive into my job as Editor in Chief; each portray an commendable sense of passion within their fields, and if everyone could be that happy doing their day-to-day job, “work” would be called “fun.”

Ali may be a model photographer, and Silvia is a fitness and fashion model, but they are both more of role models than anything.

P.S. Look for the August edition of Chicago Athlete, where one of the fabulous photos taken today will be featured on the cover. I’ll also be writing a feature on her experience as a triathlete.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.