Grit Street – Downtown Chicago

I took a step back from photography before the Holidays.  We all get busy, but I was also getting bored.  I felt like I had hit a wall and I needed to step back and look at where I wanted to go next.  Luckily my trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving provided the swift kick in the ass I needed to move forward; back to film.

I had shot and developed film for class in college and I enjoyed it, but at that point, I hadn’t yet connected to what I now love about photography.  It was more of an art for art sake as I made my way through film school.  I admit, I had those moments…and probably still do.  I signed up for a private street photography workshop with Chuck Jines, www.chuckjines.com.  He let me use a Minolta 202 and I was hooked again.

I bought one on eBay the second I returned to LA.  Since then film has forced me to slow down.  All the lessons come back.  Even though I usually run my 5D on M, I notice how I still let the camera do a lot of the work for me.  The fact that I have an unlimited amount of exposures and instant access to them makes it easy to brush past composition and exposure rules and just take a second shot.  Film focuses me and has forced me to relearn the rules and go deeper into the science and I couldn’t be more motivated.  I take at least 60% less shots on my digital now too.

Below is my review of the workshop and a few shots I took in Chicago.

I was only in Chicago for a few days and I wanted to see the city. That’s exactly what I got with Chuck Jines.  I had contacted several photo tours/walks and received delayed responses, notices that they were out of town for the Thanksgiving week, etc.  Chuck got back to me immediately and asked if I wanted a private.  I was on board.

Street photography has always been an interest of mine, but getting comfortable taking photos of strangers has been difficult.  I got more out of watching Chuck work and interact with people on the street than I’d received from any photography workshop.  He explains the process and gets you out of your comfort zone, which was a mandatory step for me.

You don’t just get the tips and tricks of street photography with Chuck, you get an all out photography lesson.  He covers framing, balance, metering, content; all things I felt I was quite confident with, but he would go deeper into the psychology behind photography and what makes a good photo, innately.  His knowledge of the subject in general is mind blowing.  I could pick his brain for hours and will definitely contact him again when I’m in town, as his prices are VERY reasonable, and he could easily charge 3x as much.

Chuck knows the city very well.  He has intertwined himself with photography and philanthropy to create a wonderful way to give back to his art and the homeless in Chicago.  Please go to his website and read some of his blogs on his projects and the people he follows.  They’re not your everyday photo projects.  He literally brings light to some of the darkest parts of our society, and does his best to help those who are willing to be helped.

He’s quick and unapologetic when it comes to people who judge him.  A gentleman approached us after he had taken a photo of a homeless man, who Chuck knew and had photographed before, and began to berate Chuck for taking advantage of the homeless.  After an attempt to have a civil conversation with our nosy, new friend, and was denied by unintelligible banter, Chuck just rose his camera to his face and snapped a photo of the guy.  He stomped off in an irate stupor.  It was quite wonderful.  There would be no way to appease that man, or any way to explain to him that Chuck does more for this community than probably anyone in the city.

Most importantly he reinvigorated my interest in film.  I bought a Minolta 202 on Ebay the second I got home.  It has forced me to slow down and concentrate on everything that goes into a photo.  I’m learning more about light and exposures.  I won’t put my DSLR away, not even close, but I focus now on what’s out in front, not what’s on the little screen on the back of my camera.

I recommend Chuck’s workshop to anyone who wants to move forward in their photography, not just in street, but as an artist.  In this day and age it seems so many professionals are hesitant to share their thoughts and techniques.  This is your advantage to take to the streets with one of the best.  Take advantage of it.  You won’t be disappointed.

Cross Alley

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Sammich Shop

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