Steven Sampang ‘s (@esteeveeen) City Perspectives series focuses on his unique experiences in his home city of Chicago.
Be sure to check back on Friday, November 7th for Part II of this series.
How long have you lived in your city and what is your profession?
I’m originally from southern California but I’ve lived in Chicago for seven years. I’m currently based in the Logan Square neighborhood and work as a freelance photographer. When I moved here, I had only planned on sticking around for school, but I fell in love with the city and never left.
If you could capture the essence of your city in one word, what would it be?
Diverse. From beautiful architecture to the lakefront view at Fullerton Ave to the small independent shops in each neighborhood; the city has so many interesting, unique places to explore. Moreover, there are so many cool, cultured people from every corner of the world to get to know and to explore those places with.
How do you think that the beat or style of the city has informed your style as a photographer?
When I first moved to Chicago, I would roam the city for hours, learning the layout, walking different routes every time, and shooting anything that caught my eye. When Instagram came into my life a couple of years ago, I started becoming more of a social photographer, meeting up and shooting with other like-minded artists. I tend to focus mostly on portraits and architecture, but I think my style evolves constantly as I become inspired by my friends, the best influences around.
Describe the first place you’d bring an out-of-town guest. Why would you take them there before anywhere else?
I always take my out of town friends to the Signature Lounge at the 96th. It’s a cocktail lounge in the John Hancock Building that overlooks the entire city. It’s by far one of my favorite views of Chicago. And who doesn’t like a drink and a good view?
What’s the best season to visit your city in?
If you ask anyone who’s lived through all four seasons in Chicago, there’s no doubt that they’d say summer. The city comes alive once the weather warms up: there are street festivals, movies in the park, and frequent bike rides to the beach. People set up barbeques and just hang out all day. Because of our long, frigid winters, we really try – and know how – to live it up in the summer.
What is one bus or train route that offers a unique glimpse or view of your city?
Any of the elevated trains that run through downtown are amazing. Riding around the loop and looking up at all the tall buildings reminds you how beautifully crafted this city’s architecture is.
Which coffee shop(s) are your favorite to spend an afternoon catching up on work or people watching?
This city is full off great roasters and beautiful cafes; it’s hard to pick just one favorite. I drop into Gaslight Coffee Roasters nearly everyday for a pour over and some great food. If I need to get work done, I usually make it into Buzz Killer Espresso. Both have amazing coffee and a great atmosphere.
What’s your favorite restaurant or place to eat? What is on the menu that shouldn’t be missed?
Big Star in the Wicker Park neighborhood never ceases to satisfy a taco or margarita craving. Their guacamole is one of my all time favorites and you can’t go wrong with the Pescado or Walking Taco. You’ve just made me hungry!
Where’s your favorite place for an outdoor run?
It would have to be wherever 3run2 is running – they’re a group of running creatives that manifest their passion for self-improvement, community and cultural awareness through running. They started as a small group in Humboldt Park and now they gather 50+ people on occasion. They meet up for runs every Thursday evening in Logan Square and are the nicest, most humble group of people that welcome runners of every level.
Where’s the best spot to see your city from above?
One of my favorite views of the city is definitely from the Hancock building. If you’re feeling risky, though, there are a number of photographers in town that get some unique perspectives by climbing some hard-to-reach rooftops around the town. I’d say those are the best views; only, they can’t be accessed legally, and are extremely dangerous.