February is normally an absolutely miserable month of bad weather in Chicago. This February was absolutely beautiful; sunny, warm, not a millimeter of snow accumulation. As part of A Year in Photographs, I chose February's theme to be Shapes and Patterns and following up my friend Eric Dirksen as my first Guest Photographer for this project, Jaun Galindo joined me this month.
While Juan is a musician, however, his passion and talent for photography I could clearly see in his Instagram feed. I've worked with Juan for some times but did not know him all that well. The Guest Photography element of A Year in Photographs has given me some time to get to know people who I am around all the time.
We set out in a dark underside of Chicago. While Chicago is a beautiful and friendly city with great food, architecture, museums and art, and great people, there are some grungier parts of the city and the term 'underside' is no metaphor.
Our urban exploration for shapes and patterns began on Lower Wacker Drive; a street that runs below... wait for it... Upper Wacker Drive. Upper Wacker is known for its trek through a heavy business district of Chicago; tall building, bustling business people, etc. But Lower Wacker isn't something you'll find in the AAA Guide Book to Chicago. It is far from pretty; grungy, smelly, dark, many homeless people setting up shanties.
But where there is ugly, a photographer finds beauty.
We stumbled on an intriguing piece of hardware underground; a fan and airshaft. Taking our time to explore a bit further, we tried to find its location but Lower Wacker is a sort of maze at times and one can easily become disoriented. While we believe, we stumbled on the location, a grate on the street leading to what seemed to be the fan, we could not access it.
And getting a better vantage point, we found ourselves on top of a parking garage where Juan, in the best nature of Shapes and Patterns, shot found his photo.
Juan's Photograph of the Day
I couldn't agree more with this statement. We were out shooting with our iPhones. While some are scheming to get the next and newest camera, we were out actually photographing. Light is your best friend. One need not worry about equipment all the time.
However, our tour did not end with Lower Wacker. In fact, there is still more for us to explore and I have no doubt we will complete our excursion soon.
We ended up in a strange island of Chicago. Near the Chicago River and some rather upscale shopping, living, and heavily trafficked areas, lays Goose Island. Home of Chicago famous beer, Goose Island, it is an industrial area where, like Lower Wacker, few would ever venture. But, again, where there is unattractive, photographers find attractive.
At this point, however, it was getting dark. We were shooting with only our iPhones and they do some impressive work but perhaps the ever dropping temperature also chased us. We ended out journey.
Photography does not really have an end to its journey but perhaps just a rest. With February in A Year in Photographs coming to an end and March beginning, a new theme and more exploration is here already.
This is just a small sample of what Juan and I shot that day. I invite you to follow him on his Instagram @juanstagramm and enjoy more of his photography.
Guest Photographer is part of my project A Year in Photographs. I will undoubtedly invite many friends and colleagues but I hope to meet new photographers. If you are in Chicago or find yourself nearby me while I travel, I would love to go out photographing. Don't hesitate to reach out.