Running to the Sun

A jogger runs over a pedestrian bridge towards Lake Michigan on an early morning. ©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

A jogger crosses the lens plane as I lay flat on cold concrete photographing a pedestrian bridge next to Lake Michigan. I was glad he wasn’t freaked out by a stranger, basically in a sniper position, laying down in the middle of his morning routine. Up until that point,  pedestrians, bicyclists and joggers would run close to the side of the bridge to get out of the picture or maybe to avoid my presence.  In preparation for the moment, I had been tweaking that sunburst at right – just too much either way would have created intense lens flare, or would have blocked it completely. This was one of those enjoyable mornings of beautiful sun, invigorating weather, and time to explore. Just lovely…

Street Accordion on State

An accordian player in Chicago next to Marshall Field sign©2010 Alex Garcia

Street musician Slobodan Markovich plays the accordion outside the former Marshall Field’s in State Street in Chicago. I was out after work and stopped briefly to photograph the scene. I’m not much of a street photographer who photographs strangers,  but every now and then a scene will evoke a sense of another time or era that makes me stop.  Now that Marshall Field’s is gone, replaced by Macy’s, the old signage provides hints of a past that has been eclipsed by much development in the last two decades. From a visual perspective, there is also something special about the accordion. They have more “old world” charm than overturned paint buckets and drumsticks used by other street musicians. In regards to the Cubs, well, let’s hope our accordionist isn’t playing their same old song!

Loving-and-Hating Lake Street

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

I’m having a love – hate relationship with Lake Street.  They say love is a verb. You choose to spend quality time with someone, or you don’t. Technically, then, we’re living life together. But oh, is this dysfunctional. With the insane amount of traffic on the Eisenhower – special sympathies to Elmhurstians, Hillsiders and my friends and family out west- I’m looking for shortcuts.  And I gravitate to Lake Street like a lovesick motorist. I love the long stretches of road with synchronized green lights. The swooning canopy of the elevated train and its cinematic streams of light. The sweet pathways into lower Wacker and the Tribune parking lot. It just feels right. But what’s not to love?  The white-knuckled driving as you whip past the train support structures only a few feet away,  knowing many motorists have died there. The unpredictable motorists who try to speed past everyone using the right lanes on the other side of the supports. The oncoming motorists who have an inordinate amount of power over your sense of safety in that gauntlet.  Motorists coming from the north and south who you pray have had plenty of sleep, since you have little foresight at several intersections. Floating pedestrians who glide into the street against the light and return your incredulous glance with an expression that says, “Just do me the favor”.  My head says one thing, my heart another. But for the sake of my kids, I need a better detour. I’m open to suggestions…

Update – Blackhawks Mural Painted Over

© Alex Garcia

Ouch. The controversial Blackhawks mural that was the center of a blogosphere firestorm has been painted over. The original image everyone referenced brought thousands of people to this blog, which shows you how quickly things can go viral when the Stanley Cup is at stake. Even Jonathan Toews was asked about it. He and the team were obviously not happy about it, and Blackhawks fans also, since they believed any kind of image of the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks could result in a jinx, or motivation for the team’s opponents. I don’t think the mural was actually even completed before it was gone…

So You Think You Can Dance?

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

Auditions for the “So You Think You Can Dance?” show were held at the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago on Thursday. Hundreds of hopefuls lined up outside and down the block, since early in the morning. Around 7am, cameramen with the show started stirring up the crowd and filming people in line showing their dancework . At left was an associate producer, who brought a group of women into the street to flaunt their moves. A lot of energy, excitement, enthusiasm – and young people – were in the air. A fun morning… There’s an online gallery of some other images, including the show’s host.

The Story of T Bone Burnett

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

T Bone Burnett won his first Oscar last night, for Best Original Song from”Crazy Heart”.  Walking onstage, the gentlemanly Burnett was wearing his familiar sunglasses and signature dark suit. His dark outfit made for an interesting image in the alley of the Vic Theater in Chicago when I was assigned to take his portrait on one of his visits. I was grateful for the light in the alley that day. It was one of those moments when the sun was out, and the light was skimming the surface of the bricks. You hope your subject is available before the light changes, or clouds move in.  The lighting seemed appropriate. At the time, he was coming out with his first album in 14 years, so I offered the theme of “emerging from shadows” back at the office. Even with a portrait, you try to tell a story.

A Policeman of Purpose

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

A door from the patrol car driven by Chicago Police Officer Alan Haymaker rests on the side of Lake Shore Drive after his vehicle slammed into the side of a tree. Haymaker did not survive the crash, which occurred while he was enroute to a burglary.  The exact cause of the crash is being investigated, but icy weather contributed to it. The Tribune had a full story about him on its breaking news website. After photographing the accident, I accompanied the reporter who interviewed the officer’s pastor at his northwest side church.  The picture of Haymaker that emerged from that interview and others was both humbling and inspiring – of someone who served the needs of those around him, as an officer, friend, neighbor, and father – at sometimes great risk, but always as a reflection of his Christian faith. I had just been talking with my wife about how much our society is owed by people who live and serve others in quiet, unassuming ways. This morning I heard one such description and it gave me pause. That seemed to be Haymaker’s mission and heart.