Chicago: A Personal Photo Essay

Photo Essays is a series on the Phoblographer where photographers get to candidly speak their mind about a specific subject or project of theirs. Want to submit? Send them to

All images and text by Ashlin Wang. Be sure to also follow him on Instagram.

Nikon F100, Sigma 28mm 1.8, Tamron 45mm 1.8,
Kentmere 100 and 400 B&W films, Kodak gold 200
Home processing for B&W and local lab for Kodak gold
Scanned on Pakon f-135+

A week before the trip I didn’t know I would be going. I had thought I asked for a day off and ended up with a week. So how do you fill that time when there are not any priorities? Make a trip to Chicago. I drove from KC to St. Louis for a concert,then stayed the night at a rest stop, (wrote about that here.) and finally ended up in Chicago with little clue of what I would be doing.

I had this vague perspective of this city from the time I visited with my family years ago, I had mostly forgotten what that had been like, what I had seen, and only remembered Chicago Pizza, the words, not what they implied. I had even forgot the existence of that popular bean. The only thing I really knew was two of my friends lived there and that that would be a starting point.

With little expectations and plans, I drove right into the heart of the city because my phone died and therefore had no GPS, I just basically followed the buildings until I was in the middle. I was in the most Chicago part of Chicago I could be, but I then had to figure out what I was doing. So I parked in a parking garage and charged my phone, when I left the garage fifty minutes later my wallet was $20 dollars lighter. But at least I had a destination, my friends house.

These photos are from my time exploring the city and meeting people. It is also my first time trying to incorporate recordings to the photography. The goal is to have a more understandable perspective on the visual content by marrying audio to it. However I did a terrible job making field recordings, it is a start and I am already learning what to do next time.


When I am walking around, I am always looking for light, layering, and individuals or groups interactions to the space they inhabit.

I’ve heard this phrase before, “I take photos because I’m curious what it will look like as a photograph,” that phrase definitely holds true to me. It is the ability to remove what you don’t find important and make sense of the spaces and subjects you see, and film allows you to forget what you took away because of the forced delay of time between photographing and seeing the results.

The world is chaotic and to pull things out and say or show something is a really fun thing to do. It can have power, even if the power is simple. Like hey, I find this aspect of humanity beautiful, or the opposite, this aspect of humanity is f***ed up. I love that everyone’s perspective does not have to be right, it just is.

I wanted to let the city speak to me, I didn’t want the places I had been to be a hinderance to what I would see and feel, I had even forgotten what people have told me of the city. These sounds will help.


The density of the city was beautiful to me. I loved the many layers that were stacked throughout, from the individuals to the skyscrapers and everything that filled that space; signs, cars, the train system, birds. It was prime opportunity to put the jigsaw puzzle together and make the pieces fit.

I love viewing people as stories and experiences, their clothes and expressions giving hints to what their stories could be. The best part is when you can spark up a conversation and see if those hints were helpful or just misleading, or leave the conversation aside and let my imagination run.


The contrast between Lake Michigan and the city was also intriguing. You would walk through the thick forest of buildings and finally break through the brush, the vastness of water was there to meet you.

I recently have been more conscious of the fact that sounds and smells often lead sight and I want to incorporate that to my photography. This set was the first time I have tried combining sounds to the sights and I am already working on being able to do that more effectively. Vinny Tullo’s photo set called The Finals was also an inspiration as I noticed the interaction between dogs and people more than I think I would have.

























Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.