As a photographer, few things compare to capturing emotion. Whether it’s a band sweating on stage, a painter focused on their canvas, or the hustle of a city at night, I think about emotion every time I release the shutter. I’m freezing a moment in time; distilling emotion from an otherwise chaotic day, hopefully causing the viewer to pause and consider what they see.

The Beginnings of Something Beautiful

After moving to Chicago in 2010, I routinely walked the streets of my neighborhood, attempting to absorb the city culture. My previous residences were Nashville, Tennessee, and small towns in northern Alabama, so this was my first experience in a thriving metropolis. The sheer size of our city, and the different cultural context of each neighborhood, stimulated my senses in ways I couldn’t express with words alone. At the time, my film contacts were few, so photography was the only option.

I began by observing local residents, to see what they favored or ignored. Most of the citizens seemed almost jaded, living for the next steak dinner, anxious for the new art gallery (full of abstract scenes), and thankful for repaved streets — treasuring their antique furniture, but acting as if our city’s rich historical background barely mattered at all. Buildings in even a minor state of disrepair were to be torn down, making way for new construction.

In contrast, I saw older buildings as blank canvases, ready for new ideas. The shell was rough, but surely a few were structurally sound. Opening them up, rather than allowing them to sit empty, could allow hundreds of new businessowners to find a creative space.

On my walks, I began to think. Lots that sat vacant for years were being purchased and developed, with newly dug earth still clinging to the backhoe. A bicycle that, despite tangled weeds in the spokes, was obviously ridden daily. A forgotten technological hub that powers modern communication, hidden in a back alley. Every eyeful was a testament to previous ingenuity, or the promise of new ideas to come.

Beauty Redefined

I was experiencing a creative renaissance unlike any other. While a majority of Chicagoans identify progress and prosperity with the bustling commercial centers and carefully manicured landscapes downtown, I found inspiration in the alleys of Andersonville and Rogers Park. I was moved, and yearned expose the beauty of my newfound home through fresh eyes. So I began to shoot.

UrbanScapes is my attempt to showcase unseen or often ignored portions of our city, and inspire each resident to look beyond the obvious. If you stick to usual routes and never wander, creative inspiration will pass you by. Don’t be afraid to detour down an unknown alley, or walk on a different side of your street. This is your home, so claim it. Soon, you’ll realize that even dirt and cracked asphalt can be beautiful.

A Unique Collaboration

I’m very excited to announce my upcoming photography series, Urbanscapes: Beauty in the Broken. Featuring images by yours truly and handmade frames by designer Lizzie Greco of Craftbelly Frames and Mirrors, I truly believe this is an exhibition you don’t want to miss.

One of my favorite north-side hangouts, Evanston’s Unicorn Cafe will be hosting our first exhibition during the month of May, so stop by for a cup of coffee while you peruse our work. You’ll be able to purchase prints online beginning May 1st. If you enjoy our work, please invest in independent art! Our first collection contains four prints, each wrapped with a custom frame, intended to enhance the image inside, rather than simply marking the edge. The print and frame exist together as a cohesive work, with one complimenting the other.

If the first series is successful, we plan on releasing other sets featuring different neighborhoods. Visit the site and sign up for our newsletter, where we’ll announce upcoming events and any new work.

Urbanscapes isn’t simply a collection of photographs. It’s a artistic statement encouraging you to step off your usual path, and explore with open eyes. If you find something new, please let me know.