Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Get Off Your Butt and Go Shoot" by Chris Smith

As photographers, we can't wait for the day that we can pack up the car or jump on a plane to take our next big photo adventure. But we live near one of the greatest cities in the world for photography! Chicago offers opportunities for street photography, architectural photography, and cityscape photography. You can decide at 3pm that you want to get out to shoot and you'll be shooting great stuff all evening. Here are some of my favorite places to shoot in Chicago.

The Best Interiors
Chicago's churches, museums, and universities in Chicago offer a wealth of amazing interiors.  My favorite churches are St. Mary of the Angels, Holy Name Cathedral, and Rockefeller Chapel.  The best museums to photograph are the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Chicago Art Institute. The staircase at the Museum of Contemporary Art is a destination on its own. You can also have a great day shooting at either the Shedd Aquarium or the Museum of Science and Industry. Head to the University of Chicago for a day of great interiors and architecture.

If you are a landscape photographer, have you tried shooting cityscapes? The techniques are the same. The equipment is the same. And you can get stunning results in Chicago. The Hancock Building and North Avenue Beach are my favorite places to shoot the city. Adler  Planetarium gives you the best view of the city, but it's not easy to get a unique shot.  Just like with landscape photography, you'll get your best shots at the edges of the day. Plan your trip to be there at dawn or dusk. I prefer to go for sunset because then I can keep shooting into the night.

This is where Chicago beats every other city in the world. Head down to the Loop to surround yourself with fantastic buildings. Wander the Riverwalk to shoot Marina Towers, Trump Tower, and others. If you've never shot architecture, this is the place to do it. When shooting architecture, avoid photographing the entire building. This is the view that everyone has of a building. Instead, concentrate on one part of the building. Look for an interesting pattern or shape, or unique point of view. By looking at the building in a different way, you make the image your art, not just the work of the architect.

Street photography
If you are looking to photograph people in the city, the best places are the Loop, Wicker Park, and Pilsen. My favorite is the Loop because you can also shoot the phenomenal architecture while you're there. Find the perfect background and wait for your subject to walk into it!

In my CAPS presentation, Photographing Chicago, I will go in-depth about my favorite places to shoot in Chicago and give tips for getting great shots. I am squeezing everything I know and love about photographing Chicago into one 90-minute session. I'll tell you where you can use your tripod and where security will chase you away as fast as possible. I'll also give some tips for shooting Chicago at night. I hope to see you there!

Chris Smith is the founder of Out of Chicago Photography and the Out of Chicago Photography Conference. He is the author of "The Photographer’s Guide to Chicago" and host of the Out of Chicago Podcast. Chris specializes in photographing Chicago at night. By day, Chris is a high school physics teacher and lives with his wife and two kids in the Chicago suburbs. Follow Out of Chicago at  Out of Chicago Photography | The Chicago Photo Experience (
Out of Chicago will be at the CAPS conference and is offering CAPS specials on upcoming Out of Chicago events.

To go to the CAPS website go to:  Home


  1. Thanks for these great suggestions dear. I was just searching for best Chicago venues for my party. Please advise several best planners as well who will provide best place for my event.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful! I've been looking for books of this nature for a way too long. I'm just glad that I found yours. Looking forward for your next post. Thanks :)
    Photo Editing Company