There’s nothing like the vertigo-inducing views you get from looking straight down from a helicopter. This was taken during the winter in Chicago, which as you know, is cold. Now multiply that by ten from from this height with no doors or windows. I couldn’t feel my fingers, but it was worth it.
MIKE SZPOT: #StreetsofChrome Photographer
Since we launched #streetsofchrome, it’s taken on a life of it’s own. Street photographers from around the world use the tag to share shots and inspiration and push each other to new heights, sometimes literally. We’re excited to feature some of their inspiring work here. Every photographer we feature was found via #streetsofchrome.
We believe great street photography captures something essential about the city and the people who live in it. The city is full of possibility and inspiration, and our Featured Photographers each see the city in a different way. We’re proud to share their vision with you.
Who are you?
Mike Szpot – @illkoncept
Where do you live?
This shot was just too lucky. What are the chances a guy rides a matching bike with no-hands through your frame? I mean c’mon.
When did you start shooting, and what got you into it?
I started shooting in Fall 2014. I was heavy into skateboarding and stumbled across a local photographer killing Milwaukee. I couldn’t believe some of his shots were taken in the city, they looked so surreal. I already had a DSLR for filming skate videos, so I just started to take photos with it instead. I became obsessed.
What are your go-to subjects for photos?
Lately, I’ve been on a portrait binge. It’s great to hit the city with some friends and just make something out of nothing. However, if possible, I’m usually chasing moodier, darker subjects. I love grimy spots, and showing the grittier side of the city.
What gear won’t you leave the house without?
Progression. Exploring. Traveling. Friends and other photographers, of course.
I’ll never forget this trip. It was my first time being in NYC, and I wanted to go big. I booked a helicopter, and my flight was cancelled two days in a row. They finally squeezed me into a custom early-morning flight my last day there, and I’m so glad they did. The light was incredible, and the views were unforgettable.
What do you love about shooting the city?
I love aimlessly wondering around and seeing what catches my eye. Most of my favorite shots come naturally, not hitting some secret spot. When you explore a big city, photo opportunities are around every corner, and you never know what you’re going to get that day.
What else do we need to know?
I guess just some wise words like…shoot for yourself. Don’t try to be a crowd-pleaser and be limited by other people’s perceptions. It feels like many people have forgotten that photography is an art, not a competition. Don’t copy a photo because you saw it somewhere and thought it was cool. Let it inspire you, and try to create something new with that scene.
This shot is sentimental to me. My roots are in skateboarding. This shot came completely organic. I was discretely shooting this guy sitting on a park bench, when he confronted me. He asked me if I could use his iPhone to shoot a video of him doing a kickflip, I told him I could do him one better. This was first try, he landed it, I got the shot, and we both rolled away happy.
This one was taken in my hometown, Milwaukee, WI. This is our art museum, designed by famous architect Santiago Calatrava. The wings can open or close in 3.5 minutes, I secretly think it’s a spaceship.
One of my favorite things to do (when I can actually get up for it), is to grab a friend and hit Chicago before the sun comes up. Experiencing the first light and empty streets of the windy city is mesmerizing.
I love working with reflections and making people’s brains hurt. This shot does just that. I used the reflection of a pedway and flipped it.
I’ve always wanted to photograph Chicago in a snowstorm. However, living around 2 hours away, it seemed unreasonable to head there in a blizzard. One day, I saw a storm approaching and got there just before it started. This is my favorite shot from that day.
Most of my work tends to be moody. I’m attracted to darker things and I’m not sure why. This was taken while exploring Chicago all day in the rain. Shooting in the rain can have it’s benefits. I like working with the increased contrast of wet roads, overcast skies, and umbrellas in the streets.
This was shot against a window to create a reflection of Chicago’s elevated train system. I’ve always loved this location, the tracks look like a circuit board to me.
Find more of Mike’s work at @IllKoncept on IG
Check the rest of the dope shots on #StreetsofChrome