October 16, 2017

A Photographer's Guide to Chicago by @garethpon

Words + Photos : Gareth Pon

South African born Gareth Pon has been calling Chicago home for over a year now, and home it has become. When he's not traveling the world taking photos for clients, he's exploring new corners of the Windy City. 

We asked Gareth to take show us around some of his favorite spots to photograph. Take a look at how he captures some iconic locations with fresh perspective and learn a few new spots to visit. 

Chicago Theatre


Still one of the best places to shoot, I love coming to the theatre at night. During the day it’s still beautiful but at night the street and surroundings light up and become very magical. Try shooting the theatre from all different angles. The lights under the theatre entrance are great for portraits!

Garethpon Chicago Theatre
Garethpon Chicago Theatre 3
Garethpon Chicago Theatre 4

Cloud Gate


Cloud Gate, aka The Bean is best photographed during sunrise when no one is around. If you’re lucky you’ll only get a handful of tourists wandering about. If you so happen to be in Chicago during the winter, Cloud Gate will get a beautiful cover after every snowfall.

Garethpon Cloud Gate
Garethpon Cloud Gate 1

Flamingo Sculpture


Surrounded by straight lines and rigid structures, the Flamingo Sculpture is one of my favorites and stands out like a sore thumb. It’s beautifully bright red and of you capture it at the right angle it’ll fall beautifully within the lines of the surrounding buildings. Try shooting it with a fisheye. This is only one of the many sculptures all over Chicago.

Garethpon Flamingo Sculpture
Garethpon Flamingo Sculpture 1

Navy Pier


Best captured at night, Navy Pier has an awesome ferris wheel surrounded by great details. My preference is to always put my camera down on a tripod and do some long exposures. You’ll also get a great easterly view of the city.

Garethpon Navy Pier
Garethpon Navy Pier 2
Garethpon Navy Pier 1

On The Trains

Chicago’s trains are loud, some above ground and really beautiful to ride because you pass through the city’s buildings as if you were flying through the city. Be sure to catch the last cabin on each train and you’ll get a unique vantage point with some beautiful perspective. While you’re at it do some portraiture with a long lens.

Garethpon On The Trains 2
Garethpon On The Trains 5
Garethpon On The Trains 3
Garethpon On The Trains 4

Robey Hotel

In the Wicker Park Neighborhood, go grab a drink at the Robey Hotel. It’s got one of the best views of Wicker Park with Chicago’s Skyline in the background. While you’re in Wicker be sure to walk around the surrounding streets to do some shopping and eat some great food! My favorite is Kizuki Ramen.

Garethpon Robey Hotel 1
Garethpon Robey Hotel
Garethpon Robey Hotel 2

Trains Shadow Play


One of the things I love capturing in Chicago are the shadows that fall really beautifully from the raised train tracks. During different times of the day you can capture repeated patterns and harsh contrasts. Hop on to a map and see where the trains run in the loop and just walk alongside the trains during different times of the day.

Garethpon Trains Shadowplay
Garethpon Trains Shadowplay 1
Garethpon Trains Shadowplay 3
Garethpon Trains Shadowplay 2

Union Station

Union Station is an awesome place to photograph, whether you’re into casual street photography, beautiful architecture or receding perspective from the trains. You’ll find a plethora of subjects to photograph inside and outside of Union Station. Be sure to take a wide angle lens to capture the full beauty of the ceilings.

Garethpon Union Station
Garethpon Union Station 4
Garethpon Union Station 3
Garethpon Union Station 1
Garethpon Union Station 5

Gareth is helping in our City Blitz Giveaway with giving an even more exclusive guide to Chicago to one lucky winner. If you're interested in winning a Pixel 2, a weekend in Chicago, and more gear for your trip enter now. Giveaway closes October 17th.


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