I’m a professional wedding and portrait photographer. It’s what I love to do. When you’ve taken literally millions of photos in your career, you begin to realize what it is that draws people to certain imagery.
I was also born in Chicago, a city that now boasts one of the most most photographically iconic tourist hot spots in our country. Enter, The Bean.
Former mayor Rahm Emanuel once stated that The Bean is the most visited tourist attraction in the Midwest, playing host to 13 million visitors each year. It’s curvy chrome surface mirrors the backdrop of newer Chicago architecture to the North and older design to the West. The photographic effect differs in blue skies and on rainy days, times of day, times of the year… it is a stationary structure that provides limitless looks, feels, experiences and hundred other variables. The Bean was completed in 2004, and since then it has literally and figuratively become the visually iconic center of The Windy City.
Philadelphia’s “Love” sculpture has long been one of the most photographable spots in that city. Detroit’s “QLINE” streetcar sign, with the “I” missing, beckons visitors to fill in the missing letter in a sort of small scale, interactive photography experience.
These are just a few examples of how cities can capitalize on residents’ and visitors’ desire to photographically document their urban experiences. And while these examples are often seen as “trite” or contrived, there is no doubting their ability to attract millions of onlookers every year. Their “interactive,” photographable nature allows them to add a dimension, depth and most importantly, fun to the overall urban experience.
In a time when most Americans are perpetually armed with high quality cameras in the comfort of their own pockets, creating these fun, artistic, reflective and interactive structures are becoming more and more important to connecting people to their urban cores once again.
Cities have the power to visually inspire us. From a quaint Main Street to the towering skyscrapers that set the backdrop for The Bean in Chicago, or The High Line in New York, it is more important than ever for cities to understand the importance of creating attractive views, artistic nuance, beautiful greenspace and other visual possibilities. We have an evolving desire to photograph our surroundings, and an ever increasing ability to take amazing pictures with our smart phones and digital devices… with this is mind, the need to create these photographable spaces is greater than ever and, in part, the urban cores that embrace this priority will be the ones who will continue to draw great interest.