Sunday, November 20, 2016

A NIGHTHAWKS for the 21st Century

Last week, my wife and I took our daughter, a high school senior, to Chicago to visit a couple of colleges.  We stayed in the historic Blackstone Hotel on Michigan Avenue, putting us within walking distance of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and literally hundreds of other attractions.

As our time was limited, we did a quick run-through of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, then crossed the street to head North on Michigan Avenue.  Almost immediately, my daughter pointed to the barber shop inside the old Congress Hotel and said, "That would make a good photo." Sure enough, the Headrest Barbershop was the perfect subject for an early evening photograph. Because of the glass windows and its corner location, you could see the activity of a typical big-city barbershop inside.  I took several images before we moved on.

The Headrest Barbershop is at 520 South Michigan Avenue. (You can click on images in this blog for a larger view.)

Later in the evening, we spent several hours at the Art Institute of Chicago.  One of the many impressive paintings we saw was Edward Hopper's Nighthawks (Click here to view the painting in another window) from 1942.  It's the nighttime scene of a diner at an intersection of two streets, with three patrons at a counter and an employee standing behind it.

Later, as I was looking at my photos on the computer, it occurred to me that my photograph of the barbershop, while very different from Hopper's Nighthawks, has much in common.  We're viewing ordinary people doing ordinary things through the very public glass window of a corner shop.  My photo certainly doesn't portray the loneliness of Hopper's image, but it does capture real people living their lives in 2016.  For me, that's what street photography is all about.

Despite the bright colors of the scene, I also decided to do a black and white image.

We also found time to visit Millennium Park, where my daughter got friendly with the famous "Bean" sculpture.

Cristina and the Bean.
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