Private Workshop – South Loop, The Loop, Lakeshore East

Last week I had a private workshop with a wonderful woman who has done a couple of these 1on1’s with me. It’s always so nice to catch up, explore the city, and see how her shooting has evolved.

After seeing a post of mine on Instagram, she requested we visit the Paragon. An apartment building in the South Loop designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (​SCB). The beveled edges and geometric cut-outs are the standout feature of this building. This first image is my favorite from the visit. It’s the south-facing side of the building; I just liked how intense the blue of the sky was reflecting in the buiding.

Moving along to the east side of the building, a mix of old & new with its neighboring building. The light quality and how it interacts with the building is so different. So interesting how different the same building can look!

It happened to be window washing day…

The comparison between color and B&W of the insets.

One final shot of the beveled edge.

Next, we headed over to Lakeshore East and checked out the St Regis Chicago designed by Studio Gang. Given the time of day, the light was on the south facing side of the building, so we focused on the details there and the underpass connecting Upper Wacker to East Waterside Drive.

Another building covered in window washers, it took quite a bit of editing to remove the wires from the first shot. But I love the curvy shadow of the middle tower on the west tower.

As we walked to our next scheduled stop we couldn’t resist getting a few shots of the great reflections and layers in the nearby towers.

Then, onto the next Studio Gang building, Aqua, and originally the tallest building designed by a woman in the world. The St Regis now takes that honor. Pretty interesting the two tallest buildings designed by a woman are here in Chicago and designed by the same woman, Jeanne Gang.

Both beautiful and unique in their own way. Aqua’s facade and curvy balconies have this vertical topography that resembles ripples in the sand and pools of water. The design of the balconies was also meant to allow neighbors to have visual access to each other to create a community in the sky.

Here is a color and B&W perspective of those balconies.

From the west side, and with a long lens, you can zoom into the top portion of the building removing any visual cue of the balconies and the railings, rendering the building as a series of ripples. Here I went really high-key and low-key to show how different the building can feel just from a post-processing choice.

Up next, the staircase in the previous Motor Club of America. Now, the Hampton Inn Michigan Ave. A really great piece of art deco design.

After lunch we hit up a few more spots. First, Chase Tower designed by Perkins + Will. The massive concrete building with its sweeping base make it an interesting one to photograph and utilize leading lines. Or, in this first example the foreground layer of buildings in this area of the Loop.

The plaza of this tower is sunken below street level, which makes the building feel even more massive. Here, an individual to give you a sense of scale + the upper curves of the buidling.

Just behind us, this great reflection. A good reminder to always check what’s behind you!

Then we stopped by the Picasso sculpture in Daly Plaza. My favorite perspective is from the backside, at an angle. No one knows exactly what this sculpture is supposed to be but from this angle, it resembles the profile of a woman. Picasso’s grandson speculates it’s French woman, Lydia Corbett, who modeled for him regularly.

I prefer the view looking west. And, on this day, the light was creating these great shadows on the background building. I like both the color and B&W renditions.

I also shot it from the west, looking east and a detailed portion of the base of the sculpture with the upper section casting a shadow below.

Our final stop of the day was the Calder Flamingo. I just can’t seem to go to the Loop without stopping by here! There’s a ton of construction surrounding the sculpture but it doesn’t affect the way I shoot so much given I tend to not include the ground.

I liked this sliver of light in the first shot below. To emphasize this, I positioned myself to align this vertical section of the sculpture with that section of light and right between the two Mies buildings in the background.

Always looking for reflections, the post office in the plaza makes for a great way to mirror a section of the sculpture. And the black Mies buildings create a great backdrop and negative space to let the sculpture shine.

Throughout the day, I made a few shots for my Urban Quilt series…

And, that’s a wrap for the day! Private workshops are always their own kind of fun because we can really customize what you want out of the day and go at your pace. So, if this is something you’re interested in just send me an email (, whether for yourself or a small group.



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