Graham Chapman: It's Easy to Find Inspiration Around Every Corner

Graham Chapman grew up in the Chicago Western Suburbs before moving to Chicago in 2010 to pursue his career as a video editor. He soon took up photography and found his true passion. 

I feel extremely blessed that I’m able to live in Chicago. For me, it’s got everything a street photographer could ask for and it’s easy to find a new shot every time I pick up my camera. From waking up and down Lake Michigan to roaming the Loop as the sun sets – some of the views Chicago offers really makes it hard not to be inspired.

I’ve been doing photography since late 2014. Shooting still photos was not the original game plan. I’m a video editor and I had decided I wanted to buy a DSLR to have handy for any video projects that may pop up. I’d walk around the city trying to learning about the camera and would end up coming home with way more still images than videos. From there it turned into a hobby and would eventually lead to more than just that. I currently shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV- though for the first 2 years of my photography endeavors I used a Canon 60D. A lot of times I get asked what I shoot with, what lens do I use etc...to an extent the camera doesn’t matter. Obviously, some cameras have certain limits and functions but I think the most important thing is to visualize the shot- so using an iPhone, a DLSR or a point-and-shoot can all get the job done.

My style is based mostly in Street Photography. Going out in the morning or after work and catching people in the moment is what I truly love most about the art. There's something thrilling about catching a moment that will never, ever happen again. Living in Chicago, its easy to find inspiration around every corner.

I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Chicago and never really visited the city too often. In 2010, I moved out here with my best friend and went to school at Columbia College to pursue Film/Video Editing. My dad was in the industry so I'd been around it for a while and I decided it's what I wanted to make my career in. Since then I've been living in various neighborhoods of the city continuing my career as a video editor. But living in the city and working downtown has allowed my love and pursuit of photography to grow exponentially and it is the inspiration and the driving force behind most of my work. 

When it comes to editing my images I try to keep the shot true to its original look – however, I’ll enhance what I think are its most dominant features. For instance I may darken the shadows, bring out out some highlights or maybe make a certain color pop a little more than others. For most of these edits I use Lightroom and sometimes I'll make a few specific tweaks in Photoshop if necessary. I never use VSCO, Instagram or filters of any sort – that is pretty much having someone do your work for you. Plus I don't think they turn out that great most of the time. But that's just me.

Social media, specifically Instagram, has been a game-changer for me. I’ve met a few of my best friends though the app. That may have been the single most important thing Instagram thing I've gotten from Instagram. That aspect of the app is great but being able to connect to other photographers and artists around the world whose work you might never see is also inspiring. It pushes me to get better. It makes me want to try new things, explore other types of shots, and see new cities. It's really opened a lot of doors that may have otherwise stayed closed.

 My biggest inspirations is my friends – the photographer ones at least. I think we all inspire each other by continuing to work at what we do and by challenging each other to grow. There's also some photographers I see on Instagram that really ‘wow’ me with some of their work and there's a great deal of inspiration behind that.

I’m always looking to travel. I’ve been lucky enough to have photography take me places I wouldn't have otherwise gone, so anytime a new city or country is involved, I'm all-in!