Street Photography: Chicago in Black and White

I recently spent another night in Chicago visiting a couple of associations.  Rather than spending the evening at the hotel bar, I decided to walk around in the Theater District in Chicago and work on my street photography.  I went with my Canon T1i and my Canon 100mm 2.8 macro.  I know that a lot of street photography is done with 20-25mm, but I wanted to try something a little different.  It is simply amazing to me how much is going on within a 10 block area.  I was walking very quickly (using it as an excuse to exercise as well), and I snapped about 200 photos.  I would look at each photo, and if I had something that I liked, I took the time to recompose, think about what I was shooting, and reshoot.  I’m pretty happy with a few of the photos.  I’m very happy with the experience.

Sometimes street photography is extremely awkward.  Most people don’t like to have their photos taken, yet some really enjoy being photographed.  My favorite interaction was with Russell.  Russell saw me taking boring photos of a building.  He stood in front of the building and started posing, informing me that it wasn’t a great photo until I had some color in it!  The funniest part of that was that I was shooting everything for monochrome.  Thanks, Russell!

Of course, the other extreme was one of the ladies I took a photo of.  “What the F do you want?”  She screamed at me.  I apologized to her and told her I was just snapping photos of everyone.  She kept screaming at me and told me to get the hell away from her.  I did.

Early Tuesday morning I was walking around in a back alley where a city worker was driving a trash pickup truck.  He stopped and got out to talk to me about my photography.   He said that he sees people taking photos of these buildings all the time and wanted to know why I was doing that.  He said that he understood that it was a famous area, and the buildings are pretty neat, but he just didn’t get it.  I told him that in reality most people just pay too much for a camera and feel obligated to use it so they try to take the same photo that they’ve seen in a magazine.  We talked for a few minutes when I showed him a couple of the photos that I had been taking.  When he saw one of the photos with fire escapes, he actually paused for a minute.  “I see all of these fire escapes everyday and never once thought they were interesting.  That looks really neat.”  I think he got it.

Check out the best of the photos from this session on my Flickr page:

By John Stover

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