This is a big photograph of a big street in a big city. La Salle in Chicago, looking towards the Chicago Board of Trade building, is an iconic American urban view. Sam Mendes used it in the mobster classic The Road to Perdition – and it has been glorified in many Batman iterations.
Chicago is urban beauty at its best and the presence of such a big building at the end of a street offers opportunities that Manhattan simply does not give. The eye is grabbed and then led deep into the vortex of Gotham.
I wanted a story that was cinematic and visceral and my founding principal was that we had to shoot at night. We could then wet the road to enhance reflections and deliver mood and use smoke machines to give the scene a gangster throwback feel. I spent a few hours in daylight on several intersections of La Salle pondering my lens selection and the right position. This aspect of the job was under my control and I had to get it right.
There was a riddle in that the Chicago Police Department was wonderful, but understandably would only close down the street after midnight, by which time the Board of Trade has switched off the flood lights on its iconic building. This was a problem and we had to move one of these variables in our favor. With some charm and a few dollars, the Board of Trade agreed to help us and the lights went back on until 4am.
I deliberately played with verticals in the composition because I felt that the retro Northern Trust sign was a useful vertical twin to the Board of Trade. There was a consistent play on height so why not supplement this with a tall gangster and then most implausibly a tall wolf?
Great photographs can be looked at for a long time. I will leave others to decide if this is a great image, but I do know that it can be looked at for a very long time.