Caution at the Train Stop


©2009 Chicago Tribune

It is a sad reality of big cities that terrible crimes are often a fact of life. Following overnight news that a woman was sexually assaulted shortly after leaving this CTA train stop, I was sent to make a quick picture of the location. As the story grew throughout the day, my editor felt a more interesting picture was necessary to highlight its news value, so I went back out.  Photographing intangibles are normally not easy, so I was glad to find compelling light and this woman looking over her shoulder.  If it seemed too easy, it was.  As my editors pointed out, a newspaper can’t run a picture with the subjects faces clearly visible.  Viewers would be left with the impression that she’s a victim, even if the caption stated otherwise. That might sound too cautious, but if you were a commuter who was surprised to see your face plastered on the story, you’d probably appreciate it. So we went with another photo. It’s the kind of invisible decision that photo editors make several times a day on issues of taste, fairness, and news value – which are often taken for granted in the grand scheme of things…

Mystery Trains


©2009 Alex Garcia

I’m in Lee County, west of Chicago, and am summoned by the age-old allure of train tracks.  My father-in-law, John Husar, a long-time outdoors columnist at the Trib, was enamored with them. Like many, he knew train schedules in the area.  He could tell you when, where…and what-is-all-that-stuff anyway?  He’d sit on a park bench near the tracks, beam a giant smile and light a cigar while giving you an impassioned history lesson about Chicago. Of course, this is what I’ve been told. He passed away before we could have this rite of passage. As I write this from the getaway location he frequented, I hear the echoes of train whistles in the distance and their gentle reminders of a region and a family.  I photograph these lines at dusk, hoping to follow their pathways to understand my shared history.