Exploring Chicago with a Camera in My Hand Ignited My Love for Photography

Exploring Chicago with a Camera in My Hand Ignited My Love for Photography

Joseph Altwies grew up in Lake Geneva WI, and started taking regular trips down to Chicago to shoot while in high school. He loves photography because it often takes him to places and puts him in situations he would never have otherwise experienced.


I first became interested in photography when I started following New York street photographers on Instagram prior to a family trip to New York City. I knew I wanted to get my hands on a camera but as a 16 year-old, I had no money to invest in one. When I finally got my hands on my Grandpa’s old Canon Rebel, I jumped on the commuter train and rode into downtown Chicago. I walked all around the city shooting buildings, people and anything that caught my eye. Exploring Chicago with a camera in my hand ignited my love for photography. Whenever I shoot the city I am reminded of that first photography adventure and reflect on how far my work has progressed in the years since then. 

I currently shoot on a Canon 6d, I am a firm believer that great photographs can be taken on any camera. A photographer's perspective, and creative use of manual settings, are what make an image stand out. The camera that the photograph was taken with is truly insignificant.      

When I started following photographers on Instagram, I was fascinated by the places they went and the moments they were able to capture. It made me want to explore and find moments that occur outside of a typical college student's life. I have been on rooftops, abandoned buildings, underground railways and made memories that I will never forget. Most of these adventures are made possible by friends I have made through Instagram. It has also allowed me to inspire others to begin taking photographs or pursue their creative interests. Being able to inspire others through my work is extremely humbling and an opportunity I most likely would not have experienced this early in my creative career had it not been for Instagram.    

A perfect photography assignment would be one that would allow me to make a difference in our world through my photographs. I would like to document and spread awareness of the status of Native American reservations in the U.S. or other pressing issues such as Arctic climate change. I don't know where photography will take me and, honestly, that's the most exciting part.