Chicago - August 2018
Last November, I was in Chicago for all of 28 hours. That quick trip gave me a brief opportunity to explore the city, and I wasted no time. With my camera in hand, I hit the ground running without an itinerary in mind. In fact, I had decided that if I just saw the landmark Bean sculpture, then that was going to be good enough for me. Armed with an Uber app, I was able to move around the city quickly, and I managed to check off quite a few things from the basic tourist list beyond the Bean, including Cloud Gate, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an architecture tour via boat, and the Chicago Theatre. I loved every one of my 28 hours and knew I would return, but I just didn't know when. So when an opportunity to attend a photography workshop at the Chicago Botanic Garden and then spend a few extra days in Chicago presented itself, I jumped at it. And this time, I had enough time to do a bit of planning.
As a traveler, you quickly learn that the advice of locals is invaluable. Uber drivers, local Instagramers, servers at restaurants, and people sitting next to you on a metro all know the secrets to their city.
Fortunately, I've always had great luck chatting up strangers, and the morsels they share are great inside information. I'm especially grateful for any advice a local photographer is willing to offer and have found friends on Instagram a huge resource. In anticipation of this Chicago trip, I asked an Instagram friend for some location advice specifically for spots that would be good for night shots and safe for late-night solo exploration. Danny (@grandprismaticmedia) gave me a long list of his favorite photo spots and I was determined to check a few of them off my list.
Another invaluable resource was a free e-book, The Photographer’s Guide to Chicago, authored by Chris Smith (www.outofchicago.com). This little treasure is filled with lots of wonderful locations and ideal shooting conditions from an insider’s point of view, and it quickly became my go-to Chicago bible.
A gentleman I met at the workshop suggested that I contact a friend of his who leads photo tours. I took a chance and called Teresa Peek (www.tourthroughalens.com), a local photo tour guide. Luckily, Teresa was available and we spent an evening moving from one great location to another. If you're short on time, Teresa will work with you to customize a private photo tour to suit your shutterbug needs. Bonus prize: if you’re a fan of Batman, ask her to take you to this secret location. It's totally worth it.
From a photographer's point of view, Chicago offers plenty of opportunities to capture urban landscapes, street photography, and a variety of architectural gems. It's a city that buzzes with vitality and offers constant entertainment, or laid back moments of relaxation at one of its local beaches. Either way, you'll find beautiful views and enjoy a vibrant city that is full of art, architecture, fine dining, and loads of energy. Just remember to take time out to enjoy a deep-dish pizza or a famous Chicago hot dog without ketchup, of course.