Chicago is an incredible city to photograph. The city features timeless architecture, a skyline that runs for over a mile, endlessly-changing weather patterns, and two bodies of water known as Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Many recognize the gritty streets, train tracks, and tunnels from blockbuster movies like The Dark Knight.
As a photographer, I enjoy capturing the skyline from many different viewpoints -- spots photographers here visit over and over again. If you're new to the city or visiting, here are five well-known spots that you should venture to and capture.
1. Looking South from North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach, just east of Lake Shore Drive, offers a view across the water toward downtown Chicago. Prominently featuring the John Hancock Center, this spot offers awesome views as the sun comes up from the east and as the sun goes down in the west. This particular photo was taken on a fall day as the sun was setting. I was drawn to the heavy contrast of the sun hitting the skyscrapers across the city.
2. Looking West and North from Ohio Street Beach
Ohio Street Beach is located where Ohio Street hits Lake Michigan. This spot is one of my favorites to shoot in the evening or at night. Just a few steps past Lake Shore Drive, this viewpoint offers a few options as you frame the skyline. You can shoot wide close to the city or walk out along Olive Park to get views from further away.
3. Shooting Along the Chicago River
The Chicago River features a riverwalk that offers many amazing views of the city. My favorite? This frame from the Lake Shore Drive bridge looking west. This viewpoint can change dramatically depending on the time of day and weather, so I highly recommend looping through as you go north and south through the city.
4. The Chicago Skyline from Skydeck Chicago
Skydeck Chicago is well-known for a good reason: it gives photographers and visitors a full 360-degree view of the entire city. Even better, you might be able to cash in with Popular Pays and use their platform for a free visit. This photo was taken in the morning just as fog rolled into Chicago. If you search for this location on Instagram, you'll find no shortage of incredible photos taken throughout the day.
5. Looking North Toward Chicago from Roosevelt Road
In my mind, I saved the best vantage point for last. This view of the city captures Chicago's essence. Gritty train tracks, moody clouds, and plenty of skyline lights. I don't see enough shots from this spot since it is a little off the grid from public transit. At the same time, I think it is worth shooting regularly.
I hope this post helps you explore Chicago and add some new spots to your checklist next time you explore the city.
This list could easily go to ten, and I've already started listing the next five in my head. What spots would you add to the list? I want to hear them! Feel free to add them in the comments.