2019 Chicago Workshop Recap | Photography Unfolded

2019 Chicago Workshop Recap

 In Workshop Recaps

In October, we led our third workshop in Chicago. It’s a great city for architecture and this workshop has been very popular with our community, so we’ll definitely be back next year. In the meantime, here’s a recap of the workshop, with some of our images. We didn’t get the best weather this year, but still managed to get some great shots!

We started with a Friday morning add-on. While the main workshop didn’t start until 4 pm, we offered the possibility to add a morning session with a sunrise shoot and some locations in the Loop.

After meeting at the hotel, we used Uber to get to our blue hour/sunrise location, the Adler Planetarium, where you get some great views of the Chicago skyline. A definite must-see location if you’ve never been!

After another Uber ride, we were at our first architectural stop of the day, the Spertus Institute (Krueck + Sexton Architects) on South Michigan Avenue. The angular glass facade is great for abstracts, even in gray weather.

After stopping for breakfast, we headed to Federal Plaza and Calder’s Flamingo. There are a thousand ways to shoot the sculpture, including using the contrast of the bright red with the monochrome buildings in the background.

Our next stop was a few blocks west with 235 Van Buren (Perkins + Will). The pattern of the building is perfect for detail shots. Angie even tried her hand at intentional camera movement (ICM).


We then walked to Union Station (Daniel Burnham) and its neoclassic architecture, recently restored by Goettsch Partners, which really allows the space to shine. You can shoot this location both with wide composition and detail shots.

A few blocks north is 540 W Madison (DeStefano and Partners) and it’s distinctive triangular structure. We got kicked out from the exterior plaza for the first time after multiple visits, but we still managed to capture some interesting shots!

We came back to the Loop for our last stop before lunch, the Thompson Center (Helmut Jahn). The building’s interiors can be overwhelming, but focusing on details and reflections can help create compelling compositions.

After the Thomson Center, we stopped for lunch and headed back to the hotel for an afternoon break before the rest of the workshop. We met everyone at the hotel and used Uber to head to Lincoln Park and our first architectural location of the “official” workshop.

The Lincoln Park pavilion (Studio Gang) is a great structure by the nature boardwalk. The shell structure has some great patterns to capture, and Angie, once again, used ICM to create an interesting composition.


We then walked to North Avenue Beach where the clouds cleared to offer us a gorgeous sunset.


We then headed back to the hotel where we had dinner in a pub nearby. The next day started with the MCA Museum and its two beautiful staircases. The original staircase (left) is by Josef Paul Kleihues and the new staircase (right) is by Johnston Marklee.


Just a block north was our next stop, the John Hancock Center (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill). One of the interesting features of the building is the parking ramp structure in the back of the building.

We managed to shoot our next stop, the Sofitel (Jean-Paul Viguier) before the rain. The curved facade offers great reflections.

We stopped for lunch and then switched our itinerary with Sunday afternoon’s locations because of the rain. We then took the train back to the Lopp and the Palmer House (Holabird & Roche). We spent a while photographing the three beautiful spiral staircases.

Our next stop was the  Washington-Wabash Station (exp). The modern design is great to photograph against the older architecture of the neighboring buildings, especially the canopy, which also provided shelter from the rain.

We then walked a couple of blocks to the Chicago Cultural Center (Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge). We spent quite some time exploring the various areas of the building, including the famous Tiffany dome, using the marble pillar as a reflective surface.

Unfortunately, by that time, the rain had only gotten worse and the group elected to skip the sunset location in favor of a warm pub.

The next morning, we met at the hotel very early and headed to the lakefront for our sunrise location. Lakeshore Drive Bridge was closed for construction, so we had to improvise and headed to Navy Pier, where we managed to catch a beautiful sunrise.


We also photographed Navy Pier (James Corner Field Operations and nArchitects) and its grand staircase. the glass railings provided some interesting shots with the raindrops and the reflections of the sunrise.

Right next to Navy Pier is Lake Point Tower (John Heinrich, George Schipporeit). The curved building is great for architectural details and has some interesting reflections.

Before heading back towards the city, we stopped by Milton Lee Olive Park. The park’s benches are great to find reflections of the Gold Coast skyline.

After a stop for breakfast and to warm up, we headed to Michigan Avenue and the Burberry Flagship (Callison Barteluce). We had fun with the geometric design and the many reflections of the facade.

Walking south on Michigan Avenue, we got to the Wrigley Building (Graham, Anderson, Probst & White). The white building looked great against blue skies, and we found some great details of the ornate architecture.

Just west along the river is the Trump Tower (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill). The most interesting part is the walkway on the riverside, where you can find great reflections.

Continuing along the river, we shot the parking garage behind AMA Plaza (Mies van der Rohe), which had some amazing light on it.

After lunch, we headed to Millennium Park, to photograph several modern structures. Our first stop was Cloud Gate (Anish Kapoor), also known as the Bean. It’s always really busy, so you need to get creative to avoid having many people in your shots.

The next stop was the Pritzker Pavilion (Frank Gehry). You can find some great abstract images, as well as some wider shots with the city in the background.


We continued our afternoon with the BP Bridge (Frank Gehry). It’s harder to shoot, but there are good compositions on the underside and it looks great with fall colors.


Just north of Millennium Park is the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower (Lohan Associates, Goettsch Partners). The glass facade has some interesting patterns and reflections.

Our last stop of the workshop was Aqua (Studio Gang) and its curvy facade. It looks very different if you’re far or close to it, and you can find some great abstracts with a telephoto.

It was a great workshop despite the sometimes less-than-ideal weather and we had a great group that stayed upbeat throughout the weekend. As we mentioned, we’ll be back for a workshop next year, so stay tuned!

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