Photo credit: Eric Allix Rogers

2019 Newhouse- Photography: Architectural Photo Essay

Create a photographic essay documenting a building that is permitted for demolition but has not yet been torn down

The Chicago streetscape is constantly under construction. In an already dense city, any redevelopment project, large or small, has the potential to subtly or dramatically transform the look and feel of a neighborhood. But just as a new building changes the character of a community, so too does the removal of an existing building.

Since 2010, the City of Chicago has issued more than 11,000 wrecking permits. While one demolition project might afford space for a much-needed neighborhood amenity, such as a new grocery store or multi-family housing, another project might erase an architecturally, historically, or culturally significant resource from existence. Photographs, along with our personal stories and memories, provide a powerful record of the buildings and places Chicago has lost over time.



Select a building in your neighborhood that is permitted for demolition but has not yet been torn down — you will generally find official signage displayed at the building site. You may also identify a vacant building that is still standing but is not currently occupied. You can use the City of Chicago Data PortalCity of Chicago Data Portal to locate demolition permits, or contact your local planning department if you reside outside the city.

Create a photographic essay documenting this building. Be sure to capture its siting, context, massing, condition and any relevant architectural details. In photographing the building, be intentional about lighting, time of day, depth of field, the scale of the building and its local context to give your essay visual interest and support your narrative.

Collect Info

Try this:

  • Identify a property on the Demolition Permit list that you can visit in person, then schedule time to go see it in the daylight. As you walk around a property, look to see what angles are most visible from the street and what perspectives might make for an interesting photograph. Take notes on anything else you notice about the block or immediate area, including any other buildings, properties, people, etc.
  • Using internet-based research, find out anything you can about how your selected building, including but not limited to when it was built, how it was used over time, and why it is now scheduled to be demolished.
  • Ask an older member of your community (or more than one) about a Chicago building he/she remembers that is no longer there. Where was this building located, and what is there now? What did it mean to the person you are interviewing? Do any photographs exist?

Explore these resources:

Brainstorm Ideas

Try this:

  • Make a table to organize different photographic methods to experiment with, including equipment and/or techniques to use, times of day you want to photograph, compositional ideas, color, etc.
  • Consider where your site is located. What are its context and surroundings? How might the removal of your building and/or redevelopment of the site change the nature of the block or neighborhood?

Develop Solutions

Try this:

  • Take LOTS of photos! In order to get one good photo, you might have to take 10. Don’t be afraid to take more photos than you need now and edit them down later.
  • Photograph the same site multiple times, in every possible angle.
  • Go back and photograph on different days, and at different times. How does it change?
  • As you select your final photos to submit, think about what unique perspective or story each photo tells. Why are you selecting that photo over another?

Get Feedback and Improve

  • Ask your teacher, friends, family, neighbors, what they think of your design.
  • Get professional feedback at CAC’s Teen Open Studios.

Final Design

Submission Requirements

Register for this division | by 4pm by Thursday, April 18, 2019

1 zip folder of 9 photographs uploaded digitally | on Slideroom by 4pm on Thursday, May 9, 2019 in order to qualify for jurying:

  • Save your 9 photographs and compress the folder into a .zip file
  • LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME_1.jpg, etc..
  • Caption each of your photos to explain what is being shown

Essay (150-200 words) uploaded digitally | on Slideroom by 4pm on Thursday, May 9, 2019 in order to qualify for jurying

  • In what ways will the demolition/repurpose of this property change the community?

The 9 photographs (4” x 6”) mounted on a single horizontal board | turned into your teacher or drop off location by 4pm on Monday, May 13, 2019 in order to qualify for jurying

  • The 9 photographs must be mounted on a 30” x 20” board. Each image MUST have a title, date, time, and camera model/type
  • The 4” x 6” photos can be either portrait or landscape
  • Print on photo paper. They must be full bleed or with a border on each photograph
  • DThis is NOT a photo editing contest. You may only use photo manipulating programs (in the whole image or specific parts) to accomplish the following tasks using any method: Convert to black and white or duotone, Sharpen, Remove noise, Adjust the exposure
  • Do NOT apply filters that alter your photo to resemble other media types or styles
  • The 4” x 6” images must be full bleed or with a border on each photograph
  • Fill out and apply competition entry labels with your unique participant ID number (Slideroom ID). Do NOT include your name or school anywhere visible on the model

Judging Criteria

  • Clear documentation of a building site set in context with its surroundings.
  • Effective use of framing showcases the photos and makes a compelling image.
  • Convey technical quality, composition, and originality in your work.

Submit the project on Slideroom

Projects must be sumbitted by Thursday, May 9, 2019

Submit on Slideroom