I stumbled across this woman while walking in downtown Rockford on an extremely cold day in late November. She was approaching me from an angle when I noticed she had a very tough, gritty vibe about her. Not being one to shy away from strangers, I made my way toward her with my camera set to fire.
As soon as I got within ten feet of the woman she noticed me. Seeing as how it's easier to explain myself after the photo is made, I snapped this picture while she was removing her sunglasses to see what I was doing.
As it turns out, this woman from South Boston, who was extremely friendly, had recently been the victim of a hit and run. The bruise above her left, and the fact that she was in a wheelchair, were all the proof I needed that this woman was one tough cookie.
The Human Stain
This photograph was difficult for me to make because I watched people walk by this guy and look at him as if he were nothing more than a stain on the sidewalk. Some tourists even made it a point to yell at him for being in their way. What really upset me was the fact that, had any of those people taken the time to talk to this gentlemen, or look at what he was reading, they would have known he was extremely articulate, kind, and intelligent.
The Invisible Woman
It should be strongly noted that I'm very, very, VERY against photographing people in these situations. At best, it makes them look like caricatures, at worst, it dehumanizes them.
It was a cloudy and humid morning in downtown Chicago. Knowing it was about to rain, I grabbed my camera and headed out in search of... well, whatever.
As I was approaching the Lyric Opera, I noticed this woman. My internal dialogue said, "Dude, you're better than that, just keep on walking," by body slow-downed just enough for me to raise my camera. If the shot was there, I'd take it. If not, I'd keep walking. As soon as I raised my camera to my eyes, a strong gust of wind blew her hair in front of her face and I fired.
I tried to talk to her, but I could tell she wasn't in the mood. I understood, and moved on. When I got the photograph back into post-production and saw it, my heart sank. When I read what was on her sign, my heart fell right through my body.
Being a cynic, I remember all the times I'd run into people with fake signs on the streets of Chicago and thought, "Nobody would publicly admit to something that." Then I remembered how she ignored me and didn't want to talk. She didn't want attention... which tells me told me there was a pretty good chance her story was true.
It's my opinion that most people living on the streets are the cause their own suffering. However, there are rare instances in which good people, who've done everything right, fall through the cracks. Regardless of whichever category this woman falls into, I think she's someone who could go far in life if given the right opportunity. Why? She's got grit.
Lastly, this is a beautiful, honest, and compelling black and white image. If I felt it had the ability to do harm to this woman or her future, I would've made sure it never saw the light of day. That being said, I think it demonstrates a lot of wonderful qualities about her unique ability to persevere.
Le Ballon Bleu
This candid photograph was made on Michigan Avenue. Though not usually a fan of isolating colors, I felt it was the only way to produce a photograph that was representative of isolation, loneliness, and the ability to feel those things even when in a crowd of people.
(The title, Le Ballon Bleu, is French for The Blue Balloon. Because ennui is a very French trait, the title is meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek!)
Wagging the Dog
I made this photograph on an unusually warm and rainy November afternoon in downtown Chicago. Once the rain stopped, I began hunting for reflections in puddles, that is, until I noticed this woman a block away.
What was unusual about this woman was the fact she was wearing shorts on a rainy day in November. While wearing shorts in November isn't noteworthy in and of itself, it was the reaction I knew they were going to elicit from men.
As she started to approach me, I knew exactly what these men were going to do and quickly squeezed myself into the corner of a building in the hopes of getting the shot. Sure enough, everything happened just the way I thought it would.
Barefoot in the Park
This candid photograph features a young couple embracing in Millennium Park's Crown Fountain shortly before sunset.
I honestly don't remember much about this photograph except that I was using a rented 10-20mm lens on that particular day. And I hated it.
As for this photograph, I was cutting through Crown Fountain to get to Adler Planetarium when I saw this young couple staring at each other. I stopped, fired, and kept walking, never giving the photograph a second thought. In my mind, the image was so pedestrian that I didn't realize its potential until ten months after it was made.
(Culturally) Significant Other
If you're new to this website, you're probably wondering if I have some weird obsession with the Chicago Cultural Center. I don't, but it is my favorite place to take a rest after walking around. On this particular afternoon, I was heading up to the fourth floor when I noticed this couple locked in an intimate embrace.
This candid photograph was made in Streeterville on a sunny afternoon in mid-November. If you're wondering why it's a little bit blurry, it's because I barely got my camera up in time to catch this beautiful woman smiling at me. As soon as I checked the image on my LCD screen I noticed the flowers behind the woman and came up with the title. My only regret in regard to this photograph is not stopping to introduce myself.
This 35mm photograph is one of my personal favorite candid photographs. It was made on St. Patrick's Day with my trusty Minolta X-700 while visiting the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.
As for the title of this photograph, it's Orwellian in nature. You've got Big Brother smiling on the screen as the skateboarder does his thing, much to the displeasure of security guards and police officers in Millennium Park.
[Fuji Superia 400 Color Negative Film]
After hours of walking around the Loop, I decided to head back down Michigan Avenue one last time before the sun went down.
It was a chilly day in late winter, but I was probably the happiest man in the entire city. For whatever reason, I was seeing street scenes moments before they happened, and this one was no different.
These two men were shielding themselves from the fierce winds outside the famous Allsaints when I noticed how cool (and cold) they looked. one of them had a pack of Marlboros in their hand, which meant he was going to light up at any moment.
As soon as the guy in the black jacket lit his cigarette, I backtracked, aimed, and fired. As long as I didn't damage or lose the film on my way home, I knew this would be a keeper. And it was.
[Fuji Superia 400 Color Negative Film]
This candid photograph was the result of me having to find someplace to warm up while walking around the city on a blisteringly cold but sunny afternoon.
Someone had given me their Canon EOS Elan IIe 35mm camera because the camera back had a broken latch that wasn't worth fixing. The Elan IIe was an extremely high-tech, top-of-the-line prosumer camera when it was first released, but the coolest thing about it as that it's compatible with all Canon EF lenses. So, I attached a 50mm f/1.8 lens to this old camera and got to walking around.
It was mid-January and that meant I had to make hay with my camera while the sun was shining because it sets so early in winter. I decided to take shelter from the wind by heading into a bar that looked like it was straight out of a '70s film à la The French Connection or The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
First thing I noticed when I walked in was the man pulled up to the bar, three sheets to the wind at 3:45 in the afternoon. Next thing I noticed was the Marilyn Monroe posters behind him. I quickly raised my tank of a camera and fired. No one seemed to mind, so I made a few more photographs and then made my way back outside.
After developing the film, I realized this particular photograph was extraordinary in that it doesn't look like something that was made in this decade. As for the title of this image, well, I'm sure you can figure it out.
[Fuji Superia 400 Color Negative Film]
Afternoons at Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is a resort city that resides on Geneva Lake in Walworth County, Wisconsin. It's beyond beautiful, especially in the summer months.
On this particular afternoon, I was walking around the lake looking to photograph boats on the water, but when I saw these young women sitting on a dock, I felt as if I needed to photograph them.
These girls were obviously friends and, not wanting to ruin their moment, I quickly made the photograph and walked away. I'm not sure what else to say about this image except that it's a window into an authentic moment that serves to remind us how important friends are.
[If you like this photograph, you'll love Henri Cartier-Bresson's 1938 image, "Sunday on the Banks of the Marne.")
Tired of sitting indoors, I decided to go for a walk near the Rock River around 8:00 P.M. on a chilly evening in early November. Because I didn't have my tripod with me, my expectations of capturing anything significant were pretty low. As it turned out, I was right, or so I thought.
As I was heading back to my car, it started to drizzle. While trying to shield my camera from the rain, I noticed leaves falling from the trees. Though it was extremely dark, the light from the Rockford Public Library (which was directly behind me) helped illuminated the leaves just enough to catch a glimpse of them before they hit the ground. Knowing how flash photography freezes objects in motion, I opened up the pop-up flash on my camera and waited for another leaf to fall.
As luck would have it, I was able to capture a leaf in mid-flight, as well as scare these two women who were having a cigarette. Combine flash photography at night with the fact there's a 6'6 guy staring at you in the rain and you can understand why these women weren't thrilled with me. However, I wasn't prepared for what happened next.
As soon as my flash popped, the woman on the right, in the glasses, started yelling. "Fooking hell, he took our picture!" Turns out, the woman was from across the pond. "You better delete that fooking picture" she shouted. I told her I was photographing the leaf, not her, but she kept yelling. The more I tried to explain myself, the more she kept screaming at me until I finally decided to walk away. That only infuriated her more.
As I'm walking back to my car, the woman and her friend started following me. Two more women started walking with them, taking pictures of me and yelling nasty stuff. I'm about 50-60 yards from my car when a guy in a hooded sweatshirt approaches me. He was white, mid-twenties, unshaven, had an eyebrow ring, and reeked of cigarette smoke. All he said was, "You bothering those women?" as he started reaching for my camera. I got in my car and tried to close the door but he prevented me from doing so. Things quickly escalated to him knocking off my hat and me saying, "Chill out, you don't want to do this." This guy wanted to fight, but I didn't.
Luckily, I had a broken memory card taped to the bottom of my camera and decided to give it to him to avoid having to do something we would both regret. "Here, take the damn memory card, I don't care," I said in a feigned, frustrated voice. It wasn't an Academy Award-worthy performance, but it was enough to convince the guy to leave me alone.
As for the picture itself, I cropped off a little bit on the left-hand side to even everything out. The title is based on the fact that the leaf appears to be falling slowly to the ground with the street lamps in the background providing beautiful streaks of light. From an interpretive point of view, there's a lot more to this photograph, but I'm going to let you use your imagination and powers of observation to draw your own conclusions.
The best places for street photography are areas of Chicago with heavy foot traffic. Though known for being a tourist trap, I decided Navy Pier would be my best bet in terms of making a high concentration of images in a small area. My choice would pay off. It was a visual smorgasbord of interesting scenes, however, the image featured above was probably the most memorable. At
At first glance,, these women seemed to be doing nothing out of the ordinary, that is, until I noticed one of them was barefoot, I knew I had to circle back around to get a shot. The afternoon sun was incredibly bright, which meant they had no way of noticing me as I got down on one knee to make this intimate photograph. Upon seeing the negative a few days later, I knew I'd captured a wonderfully authentic moment.
[Fuji Superia 400 Color Negative Film]
This is candid photograph features a woman retrieving her clothes from a drying machine in a laundromat late at night. Why was I in a laundromat at 11? Simple. Picking up women. Kidding! I was washing my clothes.
The photograph itself is pretty self-explanatory, but as for the technique behind it, I tried to take this as quickly as possible while keeping everything in line. It's just a simple, humorous, and memorable 35mm photograph. (Note: if you enjoy candid photographs like the one above, you'll probably enjoy the work of Martin Parr.)
[Fuji Superia 800 Color Negative Film]
State Street Surprise
It was a sunny afternoon in early April when I noticed this woman and her friend walking toward me on State Street. The reason the young woman on the left caught my attention from so far away was because of her million dollar smile. Check that - billion dollar smile. The closer she got, the more I thought to myself, "I've got to photograph her!"
After loading a new roll of film and setting my aperture to f/8, I started positioning myself in the middle of the sidewalk so as to wedge myself between the pair. My goal was to create enough separation to single out the girl on the left. Sure enough, as I started walking through these women, they parted a little bit, and that's when I spun around.
Obviously, me spinning around, crouching, and taking a photograph was enough to make the one girl laugh and the other flash a wtf-face. It was and still is one of my favorite moments on the streets of Chicago.
[Fuji Superia 400 Color Negative Film converted to B/W]
You're probably going to want to mentally dog-ear this candid photograph because it's one of only two in which a telephoto lens was used. (I stick with a 50mm lens when out making photographs in the streets.)
I'd just bought my first telephoto lens and decided to take it for a spin in downtown Rockford. Unfortunately, my photographs of street scenes looked horrible with a telephoto lens because everything seemed so voyeuristic. Telephoto lenses allow you to view the action from afar, which is, in my opinion, a cowardly act. Once I realized how much I disliked my telephoto lens, I decided to head back to my car.
As luck would have it, this young couple was quickly approaching me and I had a feeling, based on how loud they were, that they'd make for a great shot.
As they walked past me I could hear them playfully fighting. I tried to photograph them, but my telephoto lens prevented me from getting a closeup so, I waited for them to get a little ways past me. As soon as they were a good twenty yards away, I fired a few shots, with this one being the most exceptional.
I went to Toad Hall (in Rockford) to buy some old records. While walking around, I noticed sunlight pouring through a dirty window in one of their back rooms. I couldn't resist photographing it, so I went and grabbed my camera from my car.
After photographing the patch of sunlight in the back room, I decided to leave. On my way out, I noticed the glam rock vinyl covers. I wanted to photograph them, but the problem was, people in the store were all side-eyeing me with a, "What the hell is that dude doing with that camera" look. Not wanting to point the camera at customers, I bent down so I was out of sight.
While I was bent down getting ready to photograph the album covers, this woman and her friend walk in the aisle, completely unaware of my presence. All I could think was, "They're gonna think I'm taking dirty pictures," so I quickly focused on the Poison album cover, fired, and walked out of the store. It was only when I loaded the image into the computer did I realize how awesome of an image it was.
It was an obscenely cold night in early January when I decided to walk around the loop with my 35mm camera and some rolls of film. Needless to say, there weren't many people out and about at 5 in the morning.
Shortly before sunrise, a guy walks up to me and asks for a cigarette. We quickly struck up a conversation in front of Trump Tower about the Bulls, Bears, and Cubs. The guy was really laid back, but he had this weathered appearance which I found to be relatable. In other words, he looked how I felt (at that time).
Toward the end of conversation, he stared off into the distance, almost as if he was deep in thought. Realizing it was a perfect opportunity, I looked down at my camera and got it ready to shoot.
Unfortunately, my 400 speed film wasn't fast enough to produce a sharp image in low light, so I pushed the film to ISO 1600, knowing I could save the image in the darkroom with Microphen.
I opened up the aperture as wide as it could go, to f/1.7, raised my camera, and manually focused on his left eye. Just as soon as I focused in on him, he turned and stared at me. I pressed the shutter release... *CLACK* ... I thought he was going to punch me.
Much to my surprise, the guy didn't seem to mind too much. (Maybe it was because we were both cold and shivering.)
[Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Black and White Film]
This candid street photograph features a young man appearing to fill a suit that sat in a window on Michigan Avenue.
The idea and execution of the photograph happened simultaneously. Though a 50mm lens is my favorite, I happened to have a 24-70mm lens attached to my camera on this particular day. Had I been using my normal 50mm lens, I wouldn't have been able to zoom in as close as I needed to in order to frame the scene properly.
As for the title of the photograph, it's pulled directly from the 2003 spy thriller film of the same name. You could conjure up a lot stories about this photograph (which I encourage), but my intention was simply to add a little bit of theatricality into my archive of candid images.
Man in Motion
This candid photograph features a man walking across South LaSalle Street on a busy Monday morning in early December.
With the CHicago Board of Trade 200 yards directly behind me, it's safe to say I had to be mindful of traffic while making this photograph. Though the traffic was tough, catching someone walking by at the right time was even more difficult. Luckily, I managed to capture the shot I wanted after about ten minutes of darting out into the cross and resting my camera on the pavement.
On a whim, I decided to start a photo series revolving around billiard players in the Chicago area. Because I like unusual characters, I decided to go to random pool halls late at night. Once I realized how much time it was going to take to create a fully realized series, I shelved the project. However, this photograph features the very first pool hall I went to. See that guy walking away? He was one of about 8 people who cleared the room as soon as I took out my camera.
[Note: If you know who Minnesota Fats is without using Google, this print is for you.]
This photograph was accidental in that my original intention was to capture the old, faded neon signs at sunrise. While composing the scene, I noticed this woman slowly approaching. When she reached the outer edge of the frame, I pressed the shutter release, thinking nothing of it.
As soon as I got home and started editing photos, I immediately singled out this one for its wonderful composition. However, upon closer inspection, I realized the woman wasn't reading any 'ol book, she was reading the Bible.
The title, "Salvation," is derived from the fact that the woman is reading her bible while walking past a strip club, a Car Wash, and a Liquor Mart, as well as some other... uh... interesting businesses. Some people find what they're looking for at the bottom of a bottle, while others find it in the arms of an exotic dancer. Salvation means different things to different people, but in the case of this particular woman, she found hers in the Good Book.
[A more simplistic way to interpret this image would be to say, "This woman relied on religion to avoid temptation." The real meaning of this photograph, however, is completely up to you and your imagination.]
Untitled (South Rockford)
This candid photograph features a liquor store at sunrise in South Rockford, Illinois.
This looks like an unremarkable, crooked photograph, but in reality, the composition is extremely advanced. You've got two men outside a rundown liquor store at sunrise, a bird flying into the upper left-hand portion of the frame, and a bunch of other interesting tidbits that help paint a picture of what life in South Rockford looked like in 2014.
Not knowing much about Polish culture, I decided to head to Polish Fest at St. Stanislaus in Rockford, Illinois. After I got done at the Polish Fest, which was AWESOME, I started walking back to my car. It was parked on Buckbee Street. If you're not from Rockford, you're probably wondering, "What the hell is so special about Buckbee Street?" Well, let's find out.
Rockford, Illinois is one of the most dangerous cities in America, and Blackhawk Courts isits most dangerous housing project. As you may or may not have guessed by now, Blackhawk Courts is located right off Buckbee Street. For whatever reason, I decided to walk dead smack into the center of Blackhawk Courts instead of getting in my car and heading home after Polish Fest.
As soon as I stepped foot inside the invisible line that separates Blackhawk Courts from the rest of the world, I was greeted by the slow-moving red coupe featured above. The sunset reflecting off the car's paint job was too beautiful not to photograph. The driver must not have shared my enthusiasm because he started making loops around me, kinda like a lion stalking its prey. It was about this time I started to wonder if flipping pigeons was a real thing.
Right now, I need you to imagine a tall, skinny white guy in a backward Marquette hat walking into a housing project with his camera at his side. The residents of Blackhawk Courts were looking at me like I was nuts. I kept walking past the first set of apartments and into the middle of the projects where there were 10-11 people on a porch. I introduced myself and shook everyone's hand, asking if I could "hang out with them for a little while." I have no idea what these people were thinking, but they actually seemed pretty receptive towards me, so we got to talking.
The residents of Blackhawk Courts, or at least the ones I talked to, were warm, receptive, and obscenely funny. There were some hardcore-looking guys in their late-twenties and early-thirties who kept shouting at the people on the porch, telling them not to talk to me because I was bacon. (I'm not bacon, but I do enjoy a few pieces with breakfast.) Regardless, I was really enjoying my time with my new friends, but then the sun started to go down and one of the young girls said, "You don't want to be out here after dark."
Ultimately, I decided to shelve my images of Blackhawk Courts until I could find time to create an honest docu-series featuring its residents. I felt posting their pictures without honest interviews would have been an insult to their community. However, I felt the photograph above was strong on its own to warrant being exhibited on my website.
From a purely artistic standpoint, the colors in this image lend themselves well to Metallic photo paper. From an intellectual standpoint, this photograph is not meant to glamorize, stereotype, or appropriate, but rather to illustrate the protective instincts of a tight-knit community.
When I heard the rodeo was in town, I got super excited because, cowboys! I'm more a big-city kinda guy, but I love country folk (in a non-patronizing way). I always wished I could have a few beers with Johnny Cash, Levon Helm, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson, but that's neither here nor there.
As for the rodeo itself, I called ahead of time to ask if I could bring my camera and take photographs. They told me I could, so, that's what I did. As soon as I got through the gates I noticed these two cowboys in the sunlight and decided to photograph them.
This was literally the first image I made at the rodeo, and I even managed to include the American flag! My excitement would quickly come to an end once an older woman in a cowboy hat grabbed my wrist and said, "Where's your press pass?!" Things were about to turn ugly.
The woman who stopped me was, I presume, the owner of the rodeo. As soon as she discovered I was just an amateur with a camera, she told me I had to leave. I was beyond, BEYOND stunned at her knee-jerk reaction to eject me. I tried to explain that I was a good photographer who was trying to build a portfolio so I could get hired as a photojournalist. She didn't care. When I told her I was given permission over the phone to photograph the rodeo, she replied, "Not by me, you weren't!" I even offered to help clean up after the rodeo if I could stay and take pictures. Her response, "We already got people for that, now get the hell out!" Once I realized that reason and rationality weren't in this woman's vocabulary, I figured it'd be best to cut my losses. When I told the woman I'd leave as soon as I got a refund, she decided to take things up a notch.
The woman called for security over her walkie-talkie and two teenage guys in cowboy hats are quickly standing on both sides of me. "Wouldn't it just be easier to give me a refund and let me be on my way?" I asked the woman. She ignored me and told the two guys to escort me to my car. From a mathematical standpoint, I was going to be the loser in this situation regardless of what happened next, so I thought in terms of minimizing my losses.
"You're in charge of the rodeo, but the Rockford Park District owns this park and I'd like to speak to the representative responsible for bringing the rodeo here." At long last, the woman showed some semblance of intelligence and radioed to someone. Twenty seconds later, an attractive middle-aged woman with a big smile shakes my hand and asks how she can help. (Gotta love PR people.)
The woman from the Rockford Park District was obviously a magician, because she knew exactly what to say in order to defuse the situation without making anyone look bad. I went from being ejected to being awarded the booby prize of photographing the event from far away, in the stands. Even if I had professional camera equipment at that time, there was no way to make any good photographs of the rodeo from that vantage point, especially at night. I sat in the stands for a few minutes then decided to head home. Was I disappointed? Of course, but the fact that I had the photograph above helped soften me up.
As for the photograph itself, it could be looked at in a myriad of different ways. Some people may see these cowboys in the shadow of the American flag and think about what happened to Native Americans during that period of time when cowboys roamed the plains. Or maybe people will think, "Cowboys are beacons of chauvinism, testosterone, and false bravado!" How you interpret this photograph is your business, but as for me? I choose to view it as a simple photograph that reminds me of where I was born and raised.
This candid street photograph of skateboarders crossing Wacker Driver at sunset came about because... well... I was trying not to stare at a woman's legs.
This gorgeous woman in a navy blue skirt (with white polka dots) was walking down Wacker Drive as if she owned the entire street. Seeing as how it's rude to oogle women, I turned my back in order to pretend I didn't notice her.
As soon as I turned, these tattooed skateboarders caught my attention. They were getting ready to cross the street when I snapped this portrait-oriented shot of them.
A Little Reflection Time
While sitting on a bench in front of Crown Fountain, I noticed this cutie patootie staring at her own reflection in the water. Once I noticed the ripples of water near her feet, the word "ephemeral" immediately sprang to mind.
Though we were in the middle of Millennium Park, I found the girl's mom right after I made the photograph to ask if she was okay with it. (I'm not real comfortable making pictures of kids without their parents' permission.) After I showed the mom the picture, she fell in love with it and kept telling me how clever it was. Hopefully people who buy this print will enjoy looking at it as much as the little girl's mother did.
L Oh L
This photograph features CTA train conductor confused by my presence on the tracks. Was I actually standing on the tracks? Of course not. I was trying to insert a memory card into my camera when it popped out and onto the tracks. I got on my stomach, leaned over and grabbed it... and decided to make a photograph while doing so. There were no trains coming in the opposite direction and I wasn't in any danger, but the CTA still kicked me off the platform. I actually agreed with and respected their decision, but I was still pleased as punch to make such a fun photograph!
Candid street photograph of two women, one of them barefoot, waiting at the corner of Wacker and Franklin in downtown Chicago..
I love this photograph because i can feel the 90 degree weather through the photo, as well as the woman's sore feet from walking around in heels. (I've never worn heels, but I would imagine they're not too comfortable.)
Somewhere in Time
This candid photograph was made while I went for a walk along Lake Shore Drive. It was a warm March afternoon and I didn't have anything better do. There were tons of people out and about, but as soon as I saw this couple on Oak Street Beach I raised my camera and fired. These two were looking at each other with such intensity that they didn't notice me, or the rest of the world for that matter.
As for the title of the photograph, well, that's a little hard to explain. There's a good chance the majority of my photographs will be lost to history. And, there's a good chance that somebody will stumble upon this particular image 50-60 years from now and wonder when it was made. Truth is, it doesn't matter. Love itself is both universal and eternal, and that's why the title, location, and date of this photograph reads, "Somewhere in Time."
I remember this photograph very, very well because it was made on an extremely warm afternoon in early September. I was walking near Madison and Wells when I noticed this woman who looked awfully beautiful, and awfully tired. Always worried women are going to yell at me on the streets of Chicago, I had second thoughts about attempting to photograph her. Obviously, I decided to just go for it.
I tried to be stealthy, but she caught me dead to rights. Oddly enough, she didn't seem to mind. I ended up getting her contact information and sending a copy of this photograph because I felt it was one the strongest photographs I'd made (at that time).
This black and white photograph was made late at night on the Jefferson Street Bridge in Rockford, Illinois. As for the story behind it, I could hear someone walking down the bridge, but then they stopped. I couldn't figure out why the footsteps stopped, so I called out, "Hello?!" No answer. Finally, I opened the flash on my camera and fired off a shot. I looked at the LCD screen and noticed a small outline of a person, hence the title, "Scintilla."
King of Level 7
As you can see from the background, this photograph was made at sunrise on a chilly Autumn morning. My intention was to make cityscape shots from the very top of a parking garage, but when I exited the elevator, I was presented with a unique photo opportunity.
When I stepped out of the elevator and onto the 7th level, this man was there smoking a cigarette. Without thinking, I bent down and pretended to tie my shoelace. Because I was using my LCD screen as a viewfinder, I was able to compose the photograph quite well before taking the actual picture. It happened so fast, I'm sure the guy didn't know what to really think.
There's a lot to process in this monochromatic image, but the one thing most people overlook is the spiderwebs on damn near every inch of this hallway. I'm cool with spiders, but spiderwebs? Yuck.
As for the title of the photograph, it's pretty simple: this guy looked like he owned the seventh level of this parking garage. (Also, he bared a striking resemblance to Donald Pleasence.)
Queen of Michigan Avenue
This candid 35mm photograph features a cleaning lady looking staring out of a top floor window inside the Chicago Cultural Center.
The photograph featured directly above this is King of Level 7, and no, it's not a coincidence. Photographing working class people and placing them in positions of power, however fictional, is something that appeals to me.
In regard to the technical aspects of making this photograph, I was using a Nikon FE with a wide-angle lens on this particular day. I needed a break from the cold and decided to head into the Cultural Center to rest and load a new roll of film into the camera. While sitting on the radiator, I noticed this cleaning lady had stopped vacuuming and started staring out the window. She looked very... regal.
[Fuji Superia 400 Color Negative Film converted to B/W]
Brickbats & Fire Escapes
Making 35mm street photographs in Chicago is what I do best. On this particular day, however, I managed to get five exceptional shots on the same roll of Fuji Superia 400 film. This one might have been the most difficult because the scene was almost impossible to meter. Bright sunlight on the far end of the alley and heavy shadows in the front. Luckily, I knew the settings for this kind of shot by heart - f/5.6, 1/60 sec, ISO 400 film pushed to 800.
After dialing in the settings, I waited for the man to walk into the right part of the frame. When he did, I held my hands steady and fired.
[Fuji Superia 400 Color Negative film pushed to 800 and converted to B/W]