The 2016 Out of Chicago Photo Conference wrapped up a couple weeks ago and I can’t say enough about how amazing this event is. I look forward to this every year and am always a little sad when it’s all over. It really is so much fun and the people…from Chris Smith and the whole team that organizes this event to the instructors and the amazing participants, it just doesn’t get any better. To think I nearly turned down Chris’ offer to teach at the first conference 3 years ago…so glad I pushed myself WAY out of my comfort zone.
To see how it’s grown into this unbelievable 4 days of connecting with photographers from all over the world, both instructors and participants, along with presentations, photowalks, workshops, photocrawls and an amazing keynote by Rick Sammon this year…wow! Of course there’s so much to be learned, but the friendships that have developed over the years are the best part.
Things started off with a 2-day workshop led by Michael Muraz and me. We had 21 participants from all over the world, one coming from as far away as Australia! After a presentation covering commercial, cityscape and abstract architecture, as well as discussing working on series and forms of inspiration, we spent 2 days photographing this amazing city.
Our first stop was the South Pond Pavilion in Lincoln Park designed by Studio Gang Architects. One of my favorite locations to get both detailed/abstract shots as well as some interesting cityscapes.
Our time there started pretty gloomy and overcast, as you can see above, but after awhile the clouds cleared and we had a little sunshine and blue skies. You can see the difference in how this structure reacts with sunlight and the change in mood from the images above to the one below.
After a dinner break we headed to the River Walk for some blue hour cityscapes…not my usual way of shooting but it’s always fun to do something different from time to time.
Day 2 of our workshop started off at Buckingham Fountain…even at 8am the light was super harsh so black and white just works better, IMO. And because I tend to get bored shooting wide cityscapes I had to come up with a slightly less wide way to compose my shots.
One more morning stop before some classroom time – the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. This building is so interesting, it has this great geometric, angled facade which is very modern and stands next to a more architecturally historic building. A great location to play with the contrast between old and new and, of course, get some abstract shots.
After a post-processing overview and critique of the participants images from the day before we headed back out for some more shooting. The first afternoon stop was 235 Van Buren. This building has some great concrete cantilevered balconies on its southside that make for fun abstracts.
We walked over to the river for some cityscapes…not so cityscape for me but some great reflections.
Onto Union Station and my random attempt at Street Photography.
Our final stop of the workshop was Alexander Calder’s Flamingo in Federal Plaza. I’ve shot this so many times I’m beginning to find it difficult to come up with something new but with the harsher light, I thought playing around with sunbursts and black and white would be fun for a change.
That wrapped up day 2 and the final day of the architecture photography workshop with Michael and me, but there was still plenty in store for the conference. Rick Sammon gave a great inspirational keynote and then everyone headed out for a photocrawl, which was new this year! Instructors were stationed at various locations throughout the loop, riverwalk and lakefront; attendees chose where they wanted to photograph while still having an instructor on location for tips. My station was the Calder Flamingo…I joke that I basically live here since I had a photowalk the next day there as well. But here’s one okay-ish night shot.
After a fun night shooting and then hanging out with attendees and instructors at Bar Louie I started Saturday morning with a 1-on-1 session. Also new this year and one of my favorite parts of the conference! So fun to talk about very specific aspects of photography while wandering the city photographing. It’s such a great way to really learn how both I and the person who signed up for a 1-on-1 with me approaches photography.
I then had a group photowalk to the Pritzker Pavilion, BP Pedestrian Bridge, Blue Cross Blue Shield Building and Aqua.
Aqua is such a fun building to play around with creating abstracts.
Then incorporating part of the building in a more environmental shot.
The afternoon ended with another group photowalk to the Calder Flamingo…yep, again! Back to color with this and trying out some ways to frame the Sears Tower. We also stopped by Chase Tower and Hyatt Center.
The next morning I had another photowalk to the Pritzker Pavilion, BP Bridge, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aqua. We weren’t quite as lucky with the weather and decent light as we were the day before but at least we weren’t rained out. Plus, fog is always fun to inject some mood into your shots and when it’s gray and gloomy focusing on details is always an option.
My conference weekend ended with one more 1-on-1 session…by then I was a little burnt out on seeing creatively and didn’t get any shots I loved but it was a really fantastic session and look forward to seeing him in New York for the next conference!
I’ll leave you with a little video below previewing the NYC Conference. In case you missed this in June you’ll have the chance to be in New York City October 14-16 for an equally fun conference. Two days of presentations and photowalks followed by 1 day of on-the-street workshops. Once again Michael and I will lead an architecture photography workshop where we’ll be shooting from sunrise to sunset plus online meetings afterward for post-processing and critiques. It’ll be a super long day and we’ll cover a lot of ground, but it’s going to be so much fun…I really can’t wait! See you there!
If you feel compelled to see a whole lot more images from the weekend head over here!