Hang Time with an Indy Race Car Champion for ESPN Magazine


The “Hang Time with Sam Alipour” show on ESPN is always a fun segment as Sam hangs out with a superstar athlete trying something they always wanted to do. In this case, ESPN “Hang   Indy 500 race champion Josef Newgarden wanted to try his hand at improv comedy at The Second City Theater in Chicago. Actually, he’s a funny guy, and very telegenic. A great subject to work with and we had a lot of fun as I took pictures of their hijinks in and around the film crew that was making a segment for the show.

Tennis Coach Kamau Murray for ESPN’s The Undefeated

Tennis instructor Kamau Murray, who coached Sloane Stephens to victory at the US Open, is set to create a powerhouse for young African-American tennis players with a new facility on the south side of Chicago. The $16.9 million tennis village will officially launch this summer, but it’s already in use. It’s really amazing, awe-inspiring. His tenacity and vision will bring much pride to the city. My assignment was to make portraits and candids of him for ESPN’s The Undefeated. As he’s an extremely busy guy, much of my work was done in and around practice, where you could get whacked by balls or stray rackets by the exuberant kids. As with most of my assignments, I try to create a variety of looks so much came down to some previsualization and adaptation after arrival. Except for the last image in which I used three strobes in different locations, I used two lights for my set-ups.


Group Trading Firm Image Library

Before the trading markets converted to software and technology, the most reliably frenzied places for pictures in photojournalism were at the exchanges here in Chicago. It was crazy fun and the traders usually enjoyed the attention. The changeover happened after I left Chicago to work in Los Angeles. Everything went fast and silent on the floor, but the stakes were just as high. Returning to Chicago, I didn’t see up close all of the big changes until asked to produce an image library of (mostly) documentary images at a firm that had a website relaunch. As a firm with a presence on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and NYSE AMEX, they were looking to convey their success, their training culture and the fun time had by their people. Underneath it all, you could feel the hum of intensity among the traders and the money that was all at stake.

9 Powerful Archetypes in Super Bowl Ads (and One That Should Inspire Caution)

As some of you who have heard me speak or write on the topic, as a visual storyteller I have always been interested in archetypes –  universally transcendent types of people Carl Jung believes are found in our collective unconscious. They’re types of people we know without ever having met. Archetypes are shaped by our history, culture and personal context as they speak to us on an almost instinctual level. It’s always worth considering the relevancy of archetypes when poised for any type of mass communication, either in an editorial or commercial context.

Super Bowl commercials, massive opportunities for storytelling around a digital campfire, can be superb examples of how creative minds can tap archetypes to gather a community around a story. They also help to answer the riddle of our times: “How do you keep the human attention span when it’s shorter than that of a goldfish?”

Four years later, I am still inspired by a great example of an archetype at Super Bowl time – the “God Made a Farmer” ad for Ram Trucks, in style and approach similar to the prequel to the more controversial “Built to Serve”.  A transcendent voice in Paul Harvey intones our deeper selves to pause to grasp elemental truths about the Farmer archetype, a crucial figure of our food chain and the backbone of economies the world over. It helped the ad was based on the medium of documentary photography, a conduit for authentic truth and spellbinding attention.

Likewise, the “Built to Serve” by Ram Trucks had an equally outstanding message, built around the principle of serving others. It had the blessing of the Martin Luther King, Jr. estate. It had cinematic video of a high caliber. The ad was in part based on the Prophet archetype. What became painfully obvious, however, is that no estate owns holy archetypes – so such an archetype needs to be treated with caution. People the world over depend on the guidance of prophets for hope beyond our material world and things money can’t buy. Given the divided soul of a nation where many are crying out for peace and justice, having a prophetic figure guide us back to materialism in the form of a heavy-duty truck was too much for some.

When you look at serving others, as exemplified by the Caregiver archetype, no figure can perhaps lay greater claim to being the unselfish protector and compassionate giver than a first responder, which is probably why the Verizon ad was one of the few where I instantly started to tear up (nice going all). First responders are both Caregivers and Heroes wrapped in one. They also tap into the powerful Reciprocity Principle. Seeing news photos lifted up in context was also very inspiring to reinforce the “real people” reality of these stories.

The Hero Archetype? Most clearly seen through the triumph of 8X Paralympic Gold Medalist Lauren Woolstencroft, who proves the power of the human will against the odds. We see the courage, strength and discipline to fight our own heroic battles as we are left in awe.  Heroes are the role models that transcend circumstance.


The Innovator was represented by Keanu in his ad for Squarespace. As a Creator, he has what could be seen as a burning-bush-in-the-desert experience in the fuller version of the ad online (Neo is the chosen one, after all). What does riding on the back of a motorcycle until launching into the sky have to do with building a website? Is walking on wheels like walking on water? Who knows? He’s too busy fulfilling the archetype of a creator in his vision to create lasting value. Critics will easily get lost in this desert but the message has already been sent, and more importantly, felt.

The Regular Guy’s struggle for respect was exquisitely and comically played by Chris Pratt as he seeks the elusive fame of being featured prominently in a beer commercial, only to find that he finds fame as elusive as the rest of us. How many everyman’s dreams end in a bar with friends?  If you know his backstory before stardom, he was homeless and working at a restaurant until he was offered an acting opportunity, giving special resonance to this archetype for those in the know.

If you represent an airline looking to boost travel, why not tap into the Explorer archetypethrough Dr. Oz’s enthralled recounting of all we are capable of seeing, hearing, feeling and experiencing through the human senses? You could live out another Hero’s Journey as described by Joseph Campbell.

I’m sure David Harbour has played stranger things than the Jester, as he romped through all the well-worn commercials to rip up storyboards everywhere he saw them. His running joke irreverence helped us see the commercial landscape through a newer and cleaner perspective, leaving us amused and grateful.


I will never forget making a portrait of natural talent Keegan-Michael Key on a train in Chicago as a comedian with the Second City troupe before he achieved greater fame.  I was delighted to see him assume the role of the Sage, a wise and truth-seeking figure, as he set people straight until finally showing them how to navigate the mortgage process for Quicken Loans.

To conclude, there are plenty more archetypes to consider, from Vikings to Knights, and other figures who have come to represent various versions of the Conquering Hero (this is the Super Bowl after all). What I found most interesting and amusing was how the Bud Light ad almost “flipped the script”, where the shining-hero-on-a-horse that expect to act in one way, acts in the opposite.

Good thing our knight had second thoughts. Perhaps we will see more examples of upside-down archetypes next year as we see new twists on the old.

Health, Happiness and Hope

Shortly before the holidays, Flashes of Hope invited me to participate in a photo shoot for pediatric patients with cancer and life-threatening illnesses at a hospital in the western suburbs of Chicago. It’s a wonderful charity that I had written about when I blogged for the Chicago Tribune many moons ago. The timing worked out and I was happy to volunteer. I felt a little out of place because my business is not family photography – I get some calls here and there and try to pass them on to others who specialize in it. But photographing the children and families made for a lovely time – even if you only get a few minutes with each family to make pictures. You couldn’t help but root for the families, hoping that this year, and every year, brings health, happiness and hope.

“Photographer to Video in Today’s Gig Economy”

I’m thrilled to announce that through the School of Visuals Arts and Kadenze online arts and technology courses, I’m co-teaching a program called Photographer to Video in Today’s Gig Economy. It’s for all those photographers who need focused and cohesive instruction (read: Kick in Butt:-)) as they add video to their skillsets, or reinvent themselves as video storytellers. This is a MUST DO, as I’ve told many photographers. My transition to being an independent freelancer was made possible with video as an option for my clients, and in many cases, the primary offering. I’m honored to be among distinguished faculty who are also co-teaching this course, including Eduardo Angel, Gail Mooney and Manuel Tejeda. The experience of teaching in front of a camera was new for me (reading a teleprompter to begin with!), but I got into the swing of it.

Why is this so important and why do I care? As I mentioned in my introductory video, I was once at a meeting with a room full of photographers when an agent asked how many photographers had transitioned to video. The room was packed. Maybe 5 hands went up in the room. I was stunned and sad, especially after seeing many photographers I know give up on their careers. Who could possibly miss the signs of the marketplace that point to video?  I could go on, but that’s why I lay out some of the reasons in the first class. Of course every photographer wants to be the photographer that doesn’t have to shoot video, who wants to be recognized for their vision at such an order of magnitude that video is unnecessary. I understand that thinking, but uh, good luck with that, since even the topmost photographers in the industry have embraced video in a powerful way.  It’s why I started my company Three Story Media.  It’s about not just about video, it’s about scaling up video productions in general. But you have to start somewhere.

From the course description: “Today’s gig economy demands that creatives draw from a wide range of knowledge and frequently adapt to new tools and workflows. Having a strong foundation in photography is a good start, but having solid video production skills will expand the number and kind of jobs you can be hired for. Photographer to Video in Today’s Gig Economy provides five courses to give today’s digital photographer a working knowledge of video as well as projects to extend your portfolio. Starting with Camera Essentials, you will gain an understanding of the camera settings and gear that is used in professional DSLR and mirrorless video production. The second course, Working with Motion and Time is a deep dive from photography to videography and shows you how to think in motion, add motion where there is none, and control focus, light and sound. Sound Essentials is the third course and, as the name suggests, covers an entirely new dimension that can make or break your video work. Next, the Fundamentals of Video Production course will get you ready for your first shoot covering everything from storyboarding to managing the crew, location and lighting. Finally, in Fundamentals of Video Post-Production you will jump into the art of editing your work.”

This program starts with the basics, assuming you have a foundation of knowledge about and experience shooting digital photograph. So if you know little or have dabbled with video, or if you’ve learned video on your own and need some confirmation of what you’ve learned together with deeper insights by other faculty, I’m confident that this program is for you.

For those people who might want to take this class as evidence to a school or employer, the Kadenze program offers this: “Completion of a program or credit-eligible course appears on your Kadenze resume/portfolio, which can be valuable for presentation to potential employers, or schools to which you might apply.”

Here are the 5 courses that are part of my portion of the program. The first session is more of an essential overview, on the way to other meatier topics:

Session 1: From Still Photographer To Videographer 
Understand the importance for photographers to incorporate motion into their skillset, and the essential steps towards rethinking their creative process to create videos.
Session 2: Recording And Seeing In Motion 
Understand the basics of recording video and how the different types of motion, both of the camera and subject, create meaning, mood and purpose as it contributes to the story that a director wants the viewer to experience and understand.
Session 3: Motion Methods 
To deepen one’s knowledge about how to create the motion needed for a particular scene through an exposure to the different equipment and technologies that exist and the critical success factors needed to execute a director’s vision.
Session 4: Managing Focus, Light And Sound 
Grasp the special significance that audio, light and focus have in a motion environment, and how the success of a video project can literally depend on controlling for the variables posed by these elements.
Session 5: The Documentary Project 
Experience through hands-on practice how a very commonly done video with an interview and b-roll, combined with motion, sound, and lighting come together to create a unique experience for a viewer.

The program also offers a forum for students to interact with each other.

I’m hoping this program might be helpful for you, or someone you might know who would benefit. Please share as you might.

Thank you!



On the Advisory Board of Northwestern Magazine

People who know my background know that I bleed purple for Northwestern University. I studied there as an undergraduate and got my start in photography at the yearbook, Syllabus, and the Daily Northwestern newspaper. I  taught photojournalism to master’s degree students at the Medill School of Journalism. I was also married at Alice Millar Chapel and….well, you get the picture.

So it was with much delight that after photographing a few assignments for the magazine, I was asked to be on the alumni board of the magazine. It’s a great honor for this alum. We recently had an annual meeting where we reviewed back issues of the magazine and the great work that is done by the nimble and talented team of Executive Editor Stephanie Russell, Art Director Christina Senese and Senior Editor Sean Hargadon. We also looked forward with a strategic eye to meeting our readers in areas and channels that most interest them.

Overall I’m delighted to be a part of the magazine and look forward to giving my input on a school whose history I know very well.

Included here are some of my recent assignments from the last couple issues:

“I have never heard of you,” and the Realities of Getting Known

Keeping visible during a TEDx event presentation in Chicago.

“I’ve been working in this town for 30 years and I’ve never heard of you”, the head of production at a Chicago ad agency said, impressed by my work but mystified about my perceived invisibility. A well-known commercial and editorial photographer who works for the same editor as I did as a staff photojournalist at the Tribune for years, had no idea who I was at a mixer.

This was shortly after leaving the Tribune. I knew then that things were going to be a little more uphill than expected.

The problem with working at one of the largest circulation news organizations in the country is that you assume people in your backyard creative community might know your name.

I didn’t think it unreasonable. I was one of the more public photographers at the paper before leaving three years ago. I had a Sunday column for years sharing photo tips. I was interviewed on radio and television numerous times, and presented work before thousands at events such as TEDx Midwest, Chicago Ideas Week and Chicago Lit Fest.

I had even worked large commercial jobs while freelancing during my free time from the Tribune, of course under the watchful eyes of that friendly person in Human Resources who would call me on Christmas Eve to make sure my freelance gig was approved by my supervisor.

So to any photojournalist looking to transition to the commercial world, that should be something to think about. You certainly shouldn’t wait until your buyout money starts to fade to get yourself going, because it can take a year of getting to know people before work starts coming your way. The one mistake I regret was not marketing right away after leaving, mostly because I was busy with a big client who helped make the leap possible.

One experienced commercial photographer seeing that I had prepared myself for freelance remarked, “It takes photographers normally 5 years to really get things going. It might take you 3.” I’m at 3 years now and finally things are jelling. I’m very grateful for the projects that come my way through relationships, many of them friends and colleagues who know and trust my work. It’s a lot of fun. It’s been a continuation of our relationships, in different stages of our lives.

So it doesn’t matter if you were a star in your industry. You might have a Pulitzer, put your life on the line in combat and worked in awful and dangerous conditions that would make a studio photographer crumble in fear and stress. You might have won awards in World Press Photo and been asked to mentor the next generation at some of the most prestigious workshops and universities in the world.

But once you leap into commercial or advertising worlds where you may not have as many contacts, prepare to prove yourself all over again to each and every new client. They may have heard of you. They likely haven’t. Either way, they assume you have set patterns and might not understand the sensibilities of project or client management or how to be guided by a creative brief, or more importantly, how to get along in their culture. I’ve written about the similarities of production between news and commercial work, but really, that’s all logic. In the end, we all make decisions based on gut and emotion.

The good news is that, if you ever learned to accept the editor phrase, “what you have done for me lately?” you’re well-prepared for future humility and the constant need for self-promotion.

There is another silver lining – proof you can have a career in photography without being known whatsoever. It’s not uncommon for me to stumble upon a commercial photographer or director I’ve never heard about, happily and successfully working for years in the city, oblivious to his need for a big reputation. He just knows the right dozen people to make a great career.

So I hope this is a great kick-in-the-pants about getting known before you hang out your shingle. One person’s “superstar”, which I was once called at a photo conference (true story), is another person’s unknown character lingering at an APA networking event (also true).

In the end what I’m discovering is a truism:

Being known helps create a relationship. Having a relationship brings trust. Trust brings work. And that process takes time.

Many photographers feel that social media fame is the way of the future. You see twenty-somethings getting offers of work from brands eager to connect to their audiences. Indeed, on assignment, I was impressed by the kitchen that McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook had devoted entirely to Instagram influencers. But I know a lot of very busy commercial photographers whose Instagram followings are abysmally low by superstar standards. It’s because they are proven talent – experienced, reliable and dependable. Your real life social network can be just as valuable as your online social network.

It all reminds me of a surprising conversation I had after a talk about storytelling I gave at the SoHo House here in Chicago. I was sitting with a group of photographers, talking about self-promotion. After I finished saying something about what it took to find new clients, a complete stranger across the table said to me, “You really disappoint me.” I stared at him, mystified.

Then he says, “If you, with all your experience and reputation, still have to work hard to find clients, how am I ever possibly going to make it? ”

I felt bad for him and didn’t know what to say. Honestly, I imagine it would be hard to start from scratch in today’s competitive photo world.

The first thought that occurred to me, sitting at an exclusive club of creatives from various industries, reflects a reality any self-employed person can relate to:

“Welcome to the club.”

What Makes for Compelling Images? Reflections from the Pictures of the Year Contest

This past week I was a judge for the Pictures of the Year International contest at the University of Missouri, where we sat in a room for 12 hours a day, for four days, viewing over 18,000 images from thousands of photographers across the globe. Per contest coordinator Rick Shaw’s guidelines for judging, we viewed each image three times, in order to give every image the benefit of the doubt. (So it was more like 54,000 viewings). At one point it felt like I was in the “Star Gate” sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey as we hurtled through images from all over time and space, inundated with light, color and scenes of intensity from around the globe, filled with awe.

I was absolutely delighted to fulfill a professional milestone, alongside Elizabeth Krist, Bruce Strong, and Moe Doiron. Our job was to evaluate the Reportage multiple pictures categories on our way to choosing the Photographer of the Year. I had been to a POY judging – but only as a participant. This time, I was out of the armchair and into the hot seat – especially because our comments were at times recorded on Facebook Live.

As someone who has written about, taught and presented on effective visual communication, it was also a great opportunity for me to gain further insights into the urgent question that I often think about as a visual creator helping clients reach audiences.

What makes for compelling images?  

What images not only win contests, but also break through the visual noise and clutter to make a viewer stop, linger and look?

So as our group propelled ourselves through the images, I tried to answer this question. I paid attention to what was going through my mind (and gut) as I experienced the multitude of amazing images. It was not easy. We made split-second decisions that were often visceral.

I concluded that it came down to four criteria. They reflect image perception from the eye, to the mind and ultimately and most importantly, to the heart.


1. Beautiful

When your eyes are inundated with images, beauty always makes you stop and fill with awe – an underlying character of many viral images. So in this case, it became a bare minimum to move forward with an image.

Images had to combine light, mood, emotion and composition in a visual coherence that were just plain beautiful. If it was color, it had to be beautiful color – not necessarily bright and beautiful, as it could be high key and muted, or even dark and brooding. It just had to be done skillfully to heighten an aesthetic.

We had long discussions about post-production and color treatments, etc. As a photojournalism contest, it’s generally frowned upon for ethics reasons. If it supported the content, I was all in favor of it. If it became a look for the sake of a look, then I would argue against it. The winning portfolio had a series of images with a post-produced look that I felt was completely unnecessary. But I voted for it anyway on the strength of the content.

I will say that post-produced images are more likely to be given a second look, as you first experience the style and what it has to say, and then dig deeper into the image itself. In that pause, there is likely an opportunity.


2. Storytelling

Storytelling creates motion between images – a narrative thread that engages a viewer. We started with overviews of essays, where we could experience their overall context. This is where editing really became key.

Visual variety, identifiable faces or characters to put a face on an issue – all of these things help when viewing a body of images. Photographs shot at a distance were not quick reads and were a bit of a challenge to appreciate when viewed as a grid. Nonetheless, we lingered on them to give every entry its due.

When there is a push-and-pull between images shot at different distances and focal lengths, it produces a narrative motion that propels a viewer forward through a set of images. You can see the flow and it enhances a story. (This translates to sequencing for videos as well)

So it was very easy to quickly scan a grid of 12 or 40 images to tell whether there was a breakdown in the story in the form of repetitive or weak images.  The flow was also interrupted when a photographer put together two images that were just too similar to each other, but were likely separate in his/her own mind.

Because we all have short attention spans as humans, you don’t want any of these things to distract from the motion or sequencing of a narrative.

If images are all photographed in a similar manner that can work too, as long as the viewer is brought to an unexpected place by the repetition and uniformity. But it’s a delicate dance to make sure images are not redundant to the point that you lose interest.


3. Engaging

Images had to engage the mind. For this, a cognitive reaction of, “What’s this?” had to happen. New and fresh always get more attention in visual communication.

If an image makes you ask questions, all the better, but not to the extent that you walk away without enough information to understand what you just saw.  Then it’s just an irritation to your cognitive curiosity and the image gets dropped like a rock.

Rodeos or boot camps or any number of clichés got passed over quickly, unless they were exceptionally and uniquely presented. We’ve seen it. No surprise.

Engaging stories are ones that usually relevant to the cultural conversation at large – images that speak to ideas, thoughts and emotions that are swirling in our world.

For example, we all admitted to leaning forward in our chairs looking for picture stories that spoke to some of the bigger news stories from last year, such as Standing Rock or the Fidel Castro funeral.

For the stories about drug violence in the Philippines, we saw many photographers’ work. Which won? The story with contextual scenes that showed how the deaths intruded on daily life. Those were more engaging. We wondered what it would be like to have to deal with that on a day-to-day basis.

Another takeaway was that it’s important to relate any story back to shared human experience, to stir a connection (see below).


4. Emotional

Perhaps most obviously, emotion was the rule. It was the ultimate arbiter, how images made us feel, after all was said and done.

As a photojournalist at my news organizations, I always keyed on the emotion of a story in the limited time I had. You have to find the heart of a story.

But there’s a very important caveat that I think eludes a lot of people.

Emotions are only valuable to the extent that it makes the viewer care.

The images had to spur compassion, fun, anger, injustice, inspiration etc. Yes, it’s great if the subjects are emotional in the frame, but capturing emotion was not enough. As viewers we had to care about the subject to care about their emotion. Otherwise there is a disconnect. We have to know enough about the story and the context to be able to relate

Foreign ceremonies, unusual events, strange traditions, fetishes, or ethnic group profiles can all be interesting, visual and even emotional. But does it really matter to a viewer except in an anthropological – external observer kind of way?


As busy humans with short attention spans, we need to feel the urgency of caring, now.

That’s the challenge of any contest – to thread a narrative through beautiful and engaging images that make jurors care.

But that goes for just about all visual communication, and the everyday jurors who make split-second decisions that can determine your future.




La La Land, the Creative Dream and a Little Bit of Madness

Waiting, watching, wondering on the California coast.

(All lyrics in italics from the original motion picture soundtrack of  “La La Land”)

I still remember the exact moment a quarter century ago, thousands of miles from my family in Chicago, sitting on the edge of my bed in my socks in a studio apartment in Long Beach, CA. I had just woken up to the reality of my life choices. I wanted to be a photojournalist and had taken a job on the edge of the country. I had given up most everything I knew. The question presented itself:  “What the heck am I doing?”

“Without a nickel to my name
Hopped a bus, here I came
Could be brave or just insane
We’ll have to see.”

I left my family and comforts in Chicago for a part-time job at a newspaper in California, desperate to get my start. I knew no one. I hadn’t seen my newspaper in Long Beach, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, before coming out. The paper was well-regarded. That’s as much as I knew.

“Still I did what I had to do
‘Cause I just knew.”

Like many creatives who take risks and sacrifices for their art, in this case I was socially isolated. I was at the whims of circumstances beyond my control. The area had just suffered through riots. Was it all going to be worth it? How would this all end?

“City of stars, there’s so much I can’t see.
Who knows, is this the start of something wonderful and new?
Or one more dream that I can not make true?”

Ira Glass of “This American Life” made a brilliant observation about storytelling and the creative life – about “The Gap” that exists between where you want to be, “your taste” and where your creative vision aspires, “your work.”  It’s a conceptual state, but it’s a very real one. Bridging that gap can be slow. In that time, our emotional, financial and spiritual lives have to survive the messiness. And it’s not pretty. “The Gap” has very real consequences in the daily lives of ourselves and the people we care about.

“Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make”

It’s a time of waiting, wondering, and watching. Doubts, questions and feelings manifest. So many things can sour. Will destiny favor my future?

“Somewhere there’s a place where I find who I’m gonna be
A somewhere that’s just waiting to be found”

Ambition and creative frustration can be convulsed by feelings of insecurity – of being an imposter as you pretend to a higher state of achievement.

“I’m reaching for the heights
And chasing all the lights that shine
And when they let you down
You’ll get up off the ground
‘Cause morning rolls around
And it’s another day of sun”

At some point, in the darkness of frustration, all can be for naught. Your life revolves around work, and when work is bad, everything is bad.

Should I just give up, or am I on the verge of success and don’t realize it?

“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?”

And then sometimes imperceptibly, you catch yourself experiencing a renewal, and improbable rebirth.

One day, out of the blue, I got a call from the Director of Photography of the Los Angeles Times. He had seen my work in the paper, liked it and offered me a job. Up until that point, I was just another face in the crowd. I had never met him.

My career took another leap.

“Someone in the crowd could
Take you where you wanna go
If you’re the someone ready to be found.
Do what you need to do
‘Til they discover you”

More doors were opened, and the wanderings led to more opportunities. A job offer brought me back to my home in Chicago.  It seemed like divine providence.

I met my wife on the first day of work.

Her nickname was Lala.

“City of stars
Are you shining just for me?
City of stars
You never shined so brightly”