Sometimes I come up with excuses not to shoot, like I don’t have time or I’m not feeling inspired, and sometimes a great shooting opportunity is right under my nose but my mind is somewhere else. This is a story of how I almost missed a unique shooting opportunity. And why I’m happy I didn’t.
The Back Story
I was traveling recently and had some unusually bad flight delays. I was exhausted and really wanted to get home but when I landed in Chicago it was 1 a.m. and my connecting flight was long gone. In fact it was so late the airport was dark, quiet, and empty. Flights would be starting up again in a few hours so it didn’t make sense to get a hotel room. I really needed some rest so I curled up in a chair by the gate. Then it hit me.
We were are Chicago O’Hare, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. I’d been there many time before – me and thousands of other people running through the crowds and chaos to catch a flight. But tonight I had the entire place almost to myself. I was tired and all I had was my cell phone camera, which I’d only used for snapshots, but this was a unique opportunity. How many photographers get a chance to shoot this place when it’s empty? And I always loved to explore. Hmm.
Seizing the Opportunity
I grabbed my bags and went for a walk. The entire airport – gates, connectors, security checkpoints, and food courts – were eerily empty and quite. With no crowds in the way I could take my time. The architecture and lighting were beautiful. But would I get some decent shots with my phone camera (an android LG G5)? After the first few shots I was pretty excited with the results.
I kept walking and came across some other stranded travelers and a few repair men.
Otherwise it was deserted. There were no crowds, no lines, and no sound.
There are three main terminals and I walked through all of them. It took several hours. I kept thinking this is an experience not many people have had. And as a photographer I’m sure I enjoyed it more than most.
After I got back it was a few days before I took a good look at the images. I was thrilled with the results and happy I’d made the effort to explore the airport. The experience also showed that in a pinch I can get pretty good results with my phone’s camera. This will open up a lot of new opportunities when my trusty Fuji X-T1 isn’t by my side. Most importantly I was energized by the realization that sometimes the best photo opportunities are right under our noses. We just have to be ready and willing to take a chance. We might be pleasantly surprised by the result.