Category Archives: Chicago Photojournalism

Plumbing Installation in Plainfield and Chicago

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I was recently hired to document the pre-installation and then the final installation of water heaters and boilers at a Co-op development in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago.  The client was replacing 50-year-old equipment and the entire project required the installation in more than 60 separate buildings over a three month period.  I first went to the company’s facility in Plainfield and photographed the partial assembly of the pipes, then the final installation on-site.  Even though we were in the heart of the Polar Vortex with temperatures in the single digits, the crew was able to first remove the old boiler and water heater and then install the new units in just a couple hours–my fingers needed that much time just to defrost.

National Shakespeare Competition

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In November, the Chicago chapter of the English Speaking Union held its annual National Shakespeare Competition.  Students from the Chicago area received training in theater and performance and competed by performing a brief snippet of Shakespeare. The program begins in classrooms nationwide, culminating in school-wide competitions where students perform a monologue from one of Shakespeare’s plays.  Regional winners will eventually compete in New York City, and the overall winner will receive a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s Young Actors Summer School in London. These photos were from the day-long conference and competition in Ganz Hall at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Jim Beam Drinks

Over the course of three days in June, I had the pleasure of photographing 98 Jim Beam drinks for the Jim Beam web site.  Some of these drink recipes were pretty incredible–drinks for every occasion, mood and season.  All photos were taken at the Barrelhouse Flat bar in Lincoln Park. Cheers.

Chicago Urban Farms

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Urban farm, it almost sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me, it isn’t. These farms are sprouting up (no pun intended) all over Chicago and other urban areas, and represent an efficient way to re-purpose under-utilized warehouse space in the city, often in economically distressed areas. Plus, they offer a tremendous opportunity for small-scale organic farmers to ply their trade in a supportive and mega-green environment.

I recently had the occasion to photograph two such urban farms: The Plant and Iron Street Farm. The former calls itself “a net-zero energy vertical farm and food business operation” whose purpose is to “promote closed-loop food production and sustainable economic development through education and research.” Now that’s a mouthful (no pun intended). And the later is a “seven-acre site on Chicago’s south side that produces local, healthy, and sustainable food year-round with a focus on serving, training, and engaging vulnerable populations.” Urban farms produce a wide range of products including cheese, vegetables, mushrooms, honey, beer, compost, and even fish. I suspect when we sang “Old McDonald had a farm” this wasn’t exactly the type of farm we were referring to.

 

Dancers Promote Non-Violence

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Alumni from the Kids Can Dance group in Evanston performed a series of dances yesterday at Evanston Township High School. The theme was non-violence, an appropriate message considering the rash of violence plaguing teens locally and around the country. The program is being done in conjunction with “Ten Thousand Ripples”, an art project featuring ten Buddha sculptures being installed around the city, much like the cow exhibit of several years ago.

Chicago Auto Show

Earlier this month, more than one million people came to McCormick Place to visit the world’s largest indoor parking lot, often referred to as the Chicago Auto Show.  For the auto aficionado, this was a once-a-year opportunity to touch the cars you only dream about: Ford, Chevy, Honda, Kia, and even Hyundai.  And those lucky few willing to wait in long lines had the heart-stirring experience of sitting in the front seat and looking out the same windshield that people who actually own these cars will look through.  This is heady stuff.  But the show appealed to the mind and not just the passions of the attendees–vital information could be gleaned from the knowledgeable staff at the show: Does the F-150 come in diesel?  How many cup holders in a Mini-Cooper?  Are floor mats here to stay?  With hundreds of cars buffed to a blinding patina, and the entire convention floor reeking of that “new car smell”, this was the ultimate in Auto Erotica. For me, the highlight was seeing a 1969 black GTO, that sexy muscle car that Gregg and I took across country in the ultimate road trip which became the basis of my book “On the Road”.

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University of Chicago

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I am fortunate to live just a few blocks from one of the world’s great universities.  Students lovingly describe this institution of higher learning as the place where “fun comes to die”.  Personally, I think they make this proclamation to mislead their parents so they can justify the $40,000 per year expense. Nestled in the leafy neighborhood of Hyde Park–home of Barack Obama and the first A-Bomb–the university is a mix of Gothic and modern architecture. There are more Nobel Prize winners here than neighborhood bars–how many large universities can make that claim?  In fact U of C has the most Nobel winners of any school in the world.  The university offers a never-ending subject for my photography as new buildings appear on a regular basis, and each season brings new discoveries.

Chicago Neighborhood Murals

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Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, each with it’s own ethnic identity.  It’s no surprise  that public art appears on walls throughout the city representing the local culture.  Here is just a sampling of murals (or you may call it graffiti) in some of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

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Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras has been offering music education for more than 60 years. The CYSO consists of five orchestras and a chamber music program, plus it offers classes and international touring. Since I’m not between 7 and 18, I can’t enroll, but I did have an opportunity to photograph the orchestra during a rehearsal before a performance at Symphony Hall. It was inspirational to see so much talent and dedication in people so young, though it did cause me to wonder: Don’t kids spend their teen years perfecting their Frisbee skills anymore?

Chicago Christkindlmarket, a Holiday Tradition

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For those who rarely venture into the Loop during the holiday season, these photos are for you.  Since 1997, the city has been sponsoring Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza.  This outdoor market which features German crafts, jewelry, clothing, toys and lots of food attracts over a half million people from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.  Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Chicago version stays true to its European roots.  In fact, most of the vendors actually travel from Germany to work the booths, or at least are German-speaking.  Appropriate winter food is also available, including wurst, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, lots of pastries, and German beer and traditional “Glühwein”, a hot spiced wine that is served around the holidays.  The market closes on Christmas eve, so there is still time to investigate this Chicago and European tradition.