Yesterday the kids were getting antsy after lunch so I made a split second decision to take them on a train ride for a adventure in the city. They love a good adventure, and I love to spend an afternoon downtown with no place to go and all day to get there. I am a Children and Family Photographer in Chicago yet I rarely get a chance to photograph Chicago just for my own personal enjoyment- without an agenda.
I told them to wear their swimsuits in case we ended at a splash pad. I know the looks my kids would give me if we went somewhere that had a fountain/splash pad, and I told them they weren’t allowed to get wet. I receive that backlash every time we go to the Lincoln Park Zoo and my kids watch the other kids run through the water outside of the children’s indoor play maze.
I made each of my kids carry their own lunch/snacks and activity books for the train. They did great with their backpacks and liked the feeling of independence it gave them. I did have to remind them every 15 minutes on the train that they didn’t need to pull everything out at once, but they did great overall.
We boarded the Metra and all squished our way to the top deck seating. It was the first time we sat up top because it is usually pretty full, and I don’t feel like knocking everyone with my bags full of mommy crap. The kids loved it because we got to spy on the people sitting below…and I loved it because I got to photograph the people sitting below.
We got off at Olgilvie Transportation Center and did a little exploring there…after we hit up the busy subpar public bathrooms.
The kids let me take a couple photographs of them in our downtown Chicago adventure but I made sure to not monopolize them. Mommy photographers have a habit of doing that.
I decided to take them across the street to Union Station because it had been many years since I had been inside. Boy, was I glad we added that stop to our journey. I forgot how stunning the architecture is and there are so many wonderful opportunities to capture interesting people against a beautiful backdrop. The kids took a snack and rest break on the long wood pew-like benches eating their goldfish crackers while I snapped a few pics.
I absolutely had to photograph the large Amish family with young children. As many of you know, we have a summer home in a very Amish area of Michigan. The kids have a book called The Journey by Sara Stewart and the main character is a young Amish girl named Hannah that travels from her farm to Chicago via train. This family reminded me so much of the beautiful illustrations in that kids book. I snapped this pic from the second floor and did my best to be sly and unobtrusive.
We left union station and started our walk down Van Buren by the old Chicago Post Office that has been vacant for years.
We walked up Wacker Drive and looked up at the Willis Tower. I had wanted to take the kids to the glass ledge walk out but I figured we would save some money and just visit the free sites. We than walked down Madison to check out Millennium Park. The kids have been there a few times before but never on a warm day with their swimsuits on. I snapped a photograph of this adorable couple that were so into each other while the busy streets of Chicago just kept on moving around them. This was a moment of pure joy because I actually had my camera with me to quickly capture a great totally candid moment.
We had a leisurely stroll and stopped to check out some of the musicians and artists along the way.
We got to Millennium Park and the kids couldn’t tear their clothes off fast enough. They splashed and danced and played around in the water surrounded by hundreds of other kids.
We really enjoyed being tourists in our own city for the day. I was even asked by a store cashier what state I was from. I laughed because we probably did look like tourists- me with my large camera around my neck and the kids with their backpacks. I love to photograph people on the street and interesting moments that happen among people in our bustling city. I can appreciate artists who photograph architecture and landscapes but I get a thrill out of photographing people. The kids had a blast navigating through the city and making decisions on where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see. We plan on having adventures like this all throughout the summer.