Chicago: Photographing My Favorite City

If you know me, you know that I love Chicago. I love the amazing miles of lights, the clanking of the ‘L’ as it races across the city, and even the brutal winter wind that causes you walk at a 45 degree angle as you head East. Chicago is my favorite place to be.

Over this past week I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago for a few days to photograph some editorial lifestyle images. I was given a list of 12 neighborhoods that provided me with a starting point and I had to fill in the gaps with images that told the story of Chicagoland.

I have to preface by saying that it wasn't easy. I made it to my hotel in the Loop Friday night, suited up, and hit the streets for some exploring. I usually stay closer to Lincoln Park when I travel to Chicago, so when my boss told me I was staying in the Loop, I was excited to more fully explore downtown Chicago. Although the scenes from the ground were pretty awesome, it was the view from the hotel room that really set me back. My room overlooked Lake Shore East Park, but more iconically, it looked directly at Aqua and Lake Michigan. Needless to say I have shots of this view from sunrise to sunset, from every angle my camera would allow.

Aqua and Lake Shore East Park

With a few hours of sleep, Saturday morning rolled around quickly, as my alarm danced its way off my nightstand. After spending a few minutes expressing my disdain for the idea of getting out of a warm bed, I got ready and hit the road. I was very fortunate that my wife was willing to tag along on this adventure. She played the role of navigator and time keeper. She had everything mapped out, knew when we had to get moving, and wasn’t afraid to tell me to move along. We started out heading south to Hyde Park, moved west to Garfield Park, and north to Edgewater, all to return back to the Loop around 7:00pm. Throughout the day I had jumped from a warm car into the chilled air and strong winds and it took quite a toll on me. We made it back to the hotel ordered some pizza and relaxed until we passed out from exhaustion, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Heritage Coffee's Bike Shop

There were a number of memorable places that we visited in Chicago. We had breakfast at Toast in Lincoln Park, lunch at Stax Cafe in University Village, and coffee at Intelligentsia (my favorite coffee) in the Loop, as well as at Heritage Bicycles (my personal favorite coffee shop) in Lakeview. But what stood out to me most is the time we spent at Stony Island Arts Bank. For those who don’t know about this fantastic building’s history, take a moment to watch this TedTalk by Theaster Gates to learn more about his passion for Chicago and the Arts.

Gate’s mission is incredible and I’ve wanted to see his work firsthand for sometime. To say that Stony Island Arts Bank is beautiful is to put things lightly. Located just south of Hyde Park, where a division of wealth grabs your attention and makes you understand the Gate’s mission even more fully, the building stands as a beautiful piece of art that doesn’t dilute American history. Stony Island Arts Bank is a gem for Chicago, but more than that, it’s a gem for the United States; if you have time to visit, please do so.

Stony Island Arts Bank's Johnson Publishing Company Library

All in all, I have to say that my trip to Chicago was an incredible success. I was able to see much of Chicago firsthand and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I took hundreds of photographs, all of which now need to be edited, but I’m excited to relive the trip through the images I captured and I’m again counting down the days until the next time I can visit Chicago.