July — A Year in Photographs / by Adrian Galli

The visual language of signs and symbols.

Dinkel's, Chicago, 7/12/2017

Dinkel's, Chicago, 7/12/2017

We walk by these items every day. Some may even determine how our day proceeds. Signs and Symbols are part a creation of humanity to communicate idea in a moment. Some are simple, some are obvious, while others are hidden or so obvious they hide in plain sight.

Bump, Chicago, 7/1/2017

Bump, Chicago, 7/1/2017

July was an experiment to notice the everyday things. While I could have explored everyday items, the first day of July snuck up on me. June had suddenly disappeared and I was walking to work when it dawned on me, "Architecture is over… what is my theme for July?" As if the Universe sent me a sign, the the sun reflecting off a building showed me the way. Bump.

I decided in the moment to make this the theme. With little planning, I had to maintain an awareness of everything that I likely had laid my eyes on hundreds of times before. The challenge wasn’t finding subject matter but to find interesting ways of sharing the mundane things these signs and symbols are.

It sounded like a simple month because signs and symbols are everywhere but most are not terribly exciting. And even exciting signs or symbols are sometimes not photogenic. Though, I would argue that is the challenge for any photographic subject. A slice of pizza isn’t really photogenic but by the right and skilled hand of a photographer, it turns into a beautiful piece in food photography.

Any photographer worth is salt knows the power and importance of light. More specifically, controlling, adding, and manipulating light. Really this month has been less about the signs and symbols and more about light and composition.

Chicago is known for a variety of great things: food, architecture, museums… blustery politics. It is an incredible city. One thing few share is the lighting. Chicago is nearly 42°N and while the midday summer sun is hot and high in the sky, the light tends to be a little more forgiving than in some other cities in the United States and world. As the sun sets, light washes down the streets like a Hollywood film set. Manhattanhendge happens only for a few days throughout the year but in Chicago (Chicagohenge?), it happens nearly all summer. Golden Hour in Chicago is second to none.

Casting this light, Chicago delivered many beautiful days of sunlight but with a few nights and some summer thunderstorms, a few had a darker appeal. Signs and Symbols was an engaging exercise in photography.

As with June, July passed by very quickly and August is upon us so onward to the next theme.

Up next: August – Night

Signs and Symbols of July