Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Magic comes to Chicago each winter in the form of the animated displays in the State Street retail store windows. Children and adults pass from window to window to view an unfolding story whose theme changes from year to year.

For 2007 the theme of "The Nutcracker" is displayed in nine windows of Macy's State Street store in celebration of the Joffrey Ballet's 20th anniversary production. Fortunately Macy's is keeping alive this Marshall Fields tradition ensuring fond memories for another generation of children.

Be sure to bundle up!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Getting Away from it All

Chicago's lakefront sets it apart from so many other large cities in the world and gives it an openness and sense of spaciousness. Time spent gazing at the quasi ocean expanse of Lake Michigan proves relaxing, and a perch on the concrete wall north of the city provides a great view of the downtown melange of skyscrapers and Oak Street Beach.

Head south from the North Avenue Beach along the lakefront path to find your get-away spot.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

West Randolph Street

On Chicago's near west side, just west of the Kennedy Expressway, red brick buildings along Randolph Street that were formerly home only to wholesale food vendors now contain trendy restaurants with sidewalk dining mixed in with the butcher shops and wholesale produce sellers.

On warm summer and fall evenings, red coated valets hustle to find parking spots for diners at Red Light, Dragonfly, Vivo and Marche. Only blocks away from Harpo Studios, home of the "Oprah Winfrey Show", West Randolph Street offers an array of dining options with views of the Sears Tower along with a neighborhood feel.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Where's Waldo?

Chicago's Wacker Drive exhibits a split personality. One section paralleling the Chicago River runs east/west past the Marina Towers, Seventeenth Church of Christ Scientist, Trump's construction project, the Merchandise Mart, along with several hotels and restaurants. The street then curves into a second section which runs north/south past the Sears Tower, the Lyric Opera, the Merc and numerous skyscrapers housing corporations and businesses.

The east/west section pictured above provides a great location for afternoon photography as the open space and lack of skyscrapers to the west permits the sun to shine brilliantly.

Afternoon rush hour on a weekday can be a madhouse on any Chicago street. Place a few taxis, an el train, a city bus, several pedestrians, a double-decker tour bus, numerous cars and a motorcycle on the same street and voila!, "Where's Waldo?".

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Chicago Cubs in First Place!!! - well, for a little while

Hey, Hey, Hey! The Cubbies are in first place! Well, they were. For a little while...

Aaah, summer in Chicago. How better to spend it than a night game at Wrigley with the Cubs winning.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Store Windows

A male security guard stands and waits at the door of an exclusive Chicago boutique while a headless mannequin sits patiently in the store window.

Store windows can be fascinating photographic studies. From reflections to window shoppers to displayed items to passers-by completely ignoring them, shop windows frequently intrigue me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Humor - A Dollar Store for Sale

Photographs that portray something quirky, ironic, misspelled or humorous are some of my favorite shots. So when out and about, I keep on the lookout for images that will illustrate one of these concepts. Well, at least they make me think of one of these concepts.

While passing by a strip mall in the Albany Park neighborhood on Chicago's north side, the "Dollar Store for Sale" sign caught my eye and pushed the "humor" button for me.

Dare I guess the sales price? ;-)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Ups and Downs of Construction

Recently an out-of-state client contacted me requesting an updated photograph of the Chicago River looking west from the Michigan Avenue bridge. She supplied an example of the image they had used previously and asked if I had a more recent image.

I proceeded to explain that an updated photo from that particular vantage point would show the construction progress of the Trump International Hotel and Tower building (shown above). The Chicago Sun Times building next to the Tribune Towers which featured prominently in her sample image had been torn down a few years ago and was now replaced with construction cranes and the first floors of the Trump Tower construction project.

Such construction projects are a mixed bag for a photographer. Shots of the skyline and the general vicinity must be carefully composed and construction can render certain shots impossible as the updating of the Chicago River scene example above. Who hasn't traveled and found the landmark buildings they planned on shooting covered by scaffolding and plastic tarps?

But prominent new buildings mean skyline pictures and photographs of the new skyscraper or museum or whatever need to be updated.

As a photographer based near Chicago and Milwaukee, I seek to keep abreast of proposed and under construction building projects so that I can provide my clients with up-to-date images. For example, the 2,000 foot high Fordham Spire that would dwarf the Sears Tower has been proposed for a location along the Chicago lakefront. Such a building would immediately transform the city's skyline and become a tourist draw and icon for Chicago -- and photographs of the changed skyline would be needed.

I am able to provide clients with current and up-to-date photographs and to also explain why a particular vantage point is impossible at this time. On a few occasions my familiarity with Chicago has saved a client from embarrassment. Recently a client was viewing several images I had submitted for consideration for a book project. As they reviewed my photographs, they realized that a photograph from a prominent stock agency they had planned on using was outdated and the sculpture that was prominently featured was no longer in the same location.

I was pleased to be able to assist the client and to make two additional stock sales!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Millennium Park Bean at Night

In 1997 construction began on a new park to be known as the Millennium Park. Planned for the north end of Grant Park along Michigan Avenu, the blueprints included plans for a pavilion, garden, fountains and a kidney bean shaped sculpture officially named, "Cloud Gate".

While originally skeptical of the giant stainless steel sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor, I have since changed my mind and find the shiny structure to be mesmerizing. Visitors to Chicago throng to Millennium Park to see what has since been nicknamed the "Bean".
Though I have photographed the Bean from dawn to dusk, the evening hours remain my favorite. And from the many sales of my night photographs of Millennium Park and the Bean at night, I can see that others agree with me.

Polishing the seams on the Bean kept the sculpture under wraps for much of 2005 and frustrated many visitors who had hoped to catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirrored surface of the sculpture. In May of2006, the Bean was completed for a total cost of nearly $23 million in private funds.

With the surrounding highrises along Michigan Avenue and Randolph Streets and the open space of the plaza area, the Bean is a fabulous photographic subject.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Pilsen Neighborhood

For the past several years, I have been studying Spanish in adult night classes. As any student of a foreign language realizes, the only way to improve is to practice speaking and listening and preferably with native speakers.

The Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago's near south side is an enclave rich with Mexican people, food and culture. The highlights of the annual celebrations of Cinco de Mayo and Independence Day are the parades down Cermak and 18th Street respectively.

Without having to purchase an airline ticket, I can quickly be transported to a Mexican street complete with Spanish language signs, vendors selling paletas, friendly people and Mexican flags. Friendly people curious as to why a gringo photographer is visiting their neighborhood are quick to strike up conversations and humor me as I attempt to carry on a conversation in Spanish.