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.