This last year has been a mess for everyone so it’s exciting to have a few one-on-one in-person workshops picking back up again. Last week I spent a half-day with a mother and daughter exploring some of Chicago’s best downtown locations.

First up, the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ve photographed here many times, particularly the staircases. So, this time I focused my attention on other aspects of the building. We met in the Modern Wing and there are these colored glass panels hanging from the hallway there. Angling the lens to create some geometry, and using those panels as a foreground subject to the building’s ceiling, I made this shot.

I preferred the more graphic quality of the black and white over color + liked the contrast in the regular patterns of the buildings design with the irregular pattern in the glass panel.

Then, I focused my attention on a few of the arches as we wandered from one location to the next.

art institute of chicago, arches
art institute of chicago, arches
art institute of chicago, arches

Our next stop was supposed to be the back atrium/staircase at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra but it was closed due to Covid. Still making it hard to plan anything with any certainty. Luckily they were open to improvising.

We strolled along State Street to check out the Louis Sullivan designed facade at what is now a Target (formerly Carson Pierre Scott). Still, great ironwork and his typical design aesthetic of incorporating nature into his designs.

To me, the most interesting area to focus on photographically is the main, rounded entrance. There are openings in the ironwork for the windows which make for a good old/new contrast with the neighboring modern buildings reflecting in the windows surface.

carson pierre scott, louis sullivan

Interestingly, in all the years I’ve lived here I’ve never really photographed this building. I struggle with the older architecture and abstracting it or making something interesting of the space. Nice when students push me out of my comfort zone!

As we walked to our next location I spotted a couple of new additions for my Urban Quilt series.

Another location I’ve rarely shot in all my years here, the Chicago Theater. Just liked the combination of the marquee sign + Marina City in the background.

chicago theater, marina city

We then explored a bit of a hidden gem, the Hampton Inn off Michigan Avenue which used to be the Chicago Motor Club. Just one of the city’s Art Deco beauties.

A look-up at the ceiling light.

And, what we really came in here for, this tucked away spiral staircase.

chicago motor club, hampton inn michigan ave
chicago motor club, hampton inn michigan ave

Next, a couple of different parking garages for views of the ‘L’. Something I don’t photograph too much so, again, it’s always nice when participants want to explore something outside of my usual.

The first garage, Lake & Wells, for the busiest section of Chicago’s ‘L’. Of course, the iconic look-down shot of the tracks as the ‘L’ passes by.

cta, chicago L

But, the reflections to the west were too good to pass up.


Then, one of the participants noticed the great texture of the peeling paint on this curved wall of the garage. Couldn’t pass that up along with the shadows and blue sky & fluffy clouds contrasted with the wall.

Our final stop, the Kinzie & Wells garage for the iconic S-curve view of the ‘L’.

cta, chicago L

It was a really great day of shooting with this mother/daughter duo. Perfect weather, lots of great locations and great company! Looking forward to getting back to in-person workshops later this year.



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