Chicago Focal points Photography

Last minute holiday shopping? Hit the Christkindlmarket!


One of my favorite Chicago traditions is the annual German Christmas market that is that is set up in Daley Plaza every year. Every year the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings together crowds of tourists, local immigrants and those looking to just get into the holiday spirit with amazing ethnic foods and hand crafted goods.

Literally translated from “The Christ Child Market,” Christkindlmarket runs annually from Nov 24th to December 24th. Founded in 1996 the market was originally set up in Pioneer Court however the following year the office of Mayor Daley invited the event to relocated to Daley plaza where it has run every year since. The market is the largest open air Christmas market in Chicago as well as the largest German Christmas market in the United States. The market draws it’s inspiration from Nuremberg, Germany’s own Christkindlesmarkt which began in 1545 and still runs to this day.

Over the weekend my friend Bradley and I met up to take some photographs and finish up my last minute shopping. I also managed to buy some amazing strudel and hot chocolate.

If you need a last minute gift the market is open through Christmas eve and promises not to disappoint.

If not, sit back, relax and take in some pictures of what is my favorite local holiday tradition.

Focal points Photography

A friendly walk through Ravenswood

I’ve mentioned before that although I am typically a Canon shooter, I love my Panasonic GF1. I first learned about the camera from my friend James. Since that purchase, almost all my photos on this site have been using this camera and its fixed focal lens.

Recently I was introduced to James’ friend Bradley, a passionate Leica shooter. The three of us swapped ideas and opinions on our respective cameras. We decided it would be fun to spend a day wandering a neighborhood together and shooting to get three different perspectives on the area.

We met at noon right after James got off air from CHIRP radio and started walking right from the CHIRP offices in Ravenswood, an area most of us were not very familiar with.

For me, this was a good opportunity to learn. Although I consider myself a very experienced street shooter and technical photographer, I always love taking the opportunity to pick the brains of others. Walking with my two friends was something I found challenging at first as very often the three of us would wind up shooting the same thing, and it was important to me to have some originality. However, as I walked I noticed I was taking significantly fewer photos than the two of them. The question I then began to ask myself was, why?

The problem with street photography is that, over time, there are only so many stop signs you can shoot before you bore your audience and yourself. I suspect that my shooting was more conservative because I’ve developed more of an eye for what interests me. Ultimately this means there is less I am attracted to, but the photos that come out, as a result, are stronger because I’m not wasting shots on things I don’t love.

Selectiveness is a discipline and a skill that is not to be taken lightly and one that it has taken me years to develop. In the age of digital cameras and nearly functionally unlimited storage, I believe we’ve lost the selective process in the craft. In the days of film we would be limited to 24-36 exposures, and that would be it. As a whole we were forced to be much more selective with our shots and it taught us to be better photographers. Now we can simply throw away bad shots. I like to limit myself to a number of exposures as if we are limited to a single roll of film. This is something I will explore more in the future.

As we ventured through Ravenswood, we found a good mix of parks, restaurants, and industrial spaces. This diverse mix caught our eyes and intrigued me. What follows are my photos from that day—all shot on my GF1. I will try and get Bradley and James to share their shots as well, as I find it particularly interesting that we often shot very similar subjects with very similar cameras and wound up with very different results.