CPC Abstract Architecture Workshop Recap, Spring(ish) 2019

angie mcmonigal photography, mca, museum of contemporary art chicago, johnston marklee
Last month I led the second session of my 2-day workshop through R.S. Chicago Photography Classes. The focus was on creating abstract architectural images. On day 1 we started with a presentation where I went over composition, followed by lunch and a few hours photographing in some of downtown Chicago’s best interior locations. First up, an atrium at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with this great staircase.
cso, chicago symphony orchestra, angie mcmonigal photography
Just across the street, we spent about an hour at the Art Institute of Chicago. I always feel a bit guilty not taking time to look at the art when I’m in here leading a workshop. However, one could argue the architecture is an art form just as much as what’s hanging on the walls. So, we’ll let that guilt go 😉 As is my obsession lately with this location, the arches around the grand staircase.
art institute of chicago, angie mcmonigal photography
And especially the arches in an area I can’t explain how to get to…I know, I know. I’ve been here countless times, I really need to pay attention to what area this is in. I even looked at a map and can’t seem to figure it out and when I’m there I’m always half guessing how to get there. I do know it’s on the southside of the building! Anyway, aren’t those arches beautiful?!
art institute of chicago, angie mcmonigal photography
Some nice shadowplay on these stairs from the museum lighting on the gloomy day we visited.  This is the curvy staircase I struggle to find every visit.
art institute of chicago, angie mcmonigal photography
Some detailed curves of said staircase…
art institute of chicago, angie mcmonigal photography
art institute of chicago, angie mcmonigal photography
Our next stop was the Palmer House Hilton. This time I’m sharing a shot of one of the staircases I don’t typically spend a lot of time with. For once preferring the color version here.
palmer house hilton, angie mcmonigal photography
Our final stop of the day was the Chicago Cultural Center. Given it was a Saturday the area just under this dome was closed off for a private event. In leaning against this column, and doing an Instagram story, I noticed the dome reflecting in the column. Super excited to come up with a new take on this space given the dozens of times I’ve visited. See, you can always find something new! You just have to look hard enough or be messing around with your phone, the first of two occurrences over the weekend that led to my favorite shots of the workshop.
chicago cultural center, angie mcmonigal photography
Onto day 2 of the workshop. We started our very chilly, gloomy day at Burberry. I liked the delicate branches of the tree reflecting in the bold geometry of the building in this first shot.
burberry, angie mcmonigal photography
On the south side of the building, just behind the window, is a crystal sculptural thing. Maybe a staircase, though I’m not entirely sure if it’s actually part of the staircase or just meant to be a sculpture. Whatever it is, it makes for some fun abstracts. I cooled down the white balance to give it these blue/purple tones.
burberry, angie mcmonigal photography
Happily heading inside to escape the brutal wind that day, we spent about an hour with the two fantastic staircases at the Museum of Contemporary Art. First, the original designed by Josef Paul Kleihues. Isolating just a portion of the underside of the staircase you see what resembles a bird’s wing…you see it, right?
angie mcmonigal photography, mca, museum of contemporary art chicago, josef paul kleihues
The second floor is my favorite to play with some wider shots of all those angular curves.
angie mcmonigal photography, mca, museum of contemporary art chicago, josef paul kleihues
On the east side of the building is the newly designed space by Johnston Marklee, which pays homage to the original staircase. Remember I mentioned my other favorite shot of the day which I discovered by messing around with another Instagram story??? Well, here it is! Another take of this area is at the top of this post.
angie mcmonigal photography, mca, museum of contemporary art chicago, johnston marklee
Our final photo stop of the day was the Sofitel Chicago. This buiding is very angular but at the entrance is this curvy wall which makes for some really amazing reflections. Just be sure to get super close to see the best of them.
sofitel chicago, angie mcmonigal photography
After lunch we headed back to the classroom where I shared some tips on post-processing, students edited a couple shots of their own and then we had a share/critique of those shots + they were able to print images from the weekend to end the day. I’m sure I’ll be back to teach more sessions later this year, but for now, be sure to check out all the other great classes offered at R.S. Chicago Photography Classes!
If you’d like to see everything I got from the weekend….here you go. And if you want to compare to the first session I taught of this, here they are. If you’re looking for other photo workshops check out Toronto and the Out of Chicago Photography Conference coming up this summer.



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