Shooting the Bean: A Photo Essay

The Bean (Cloud Gate), 201 E. Randolph Street


The Bean stood there in front of me and somehow she was unrecognizable, like a friend I hadn’t seen in years. I remembered her being polished and radiant, yet somehow over the years she had lost some of her luster. Nevertheless, she still demanded the attention of the people surrounding her, people who wanted to be photographed with her, people who traveled from long distances just to lay their hands upon her. She stole my attention and had me in awe as I admired the simplistic yet remarkable detail that had gone into her creation.

The light flew off of her body and shadows were cast upon the ground creating shade under the beating sun. People surrounded her from all angles: the rear, the front, the sides, and underneath. The reflection of the buildings across her face astonished me and I knew I wanted more.

I gripped my camera tightly as I captured every curve and I released my fingers momentarily as I searched for the perfect angle. I wanted to do it right the first time and put the photography skills I had learned at BlogHouse into practice. I settled upon a few frames which I felt fully capture her essence, and I put them here, in this photo essay.


The surrounding area is full of people waiting to capture her beauty


The reflection off of her body is unparalleled


By |2017-07-30T01:10:09+00:00June 29th, 2014|Illinois|48 Comments


  1. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey Jun 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Chanel you captured it so well! That last shot looks like a snow globe.. minus the snow 🙂 Welcome to #SundayTraveler

    • Chanel Jun 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      Hi SJ! Thank you and I look forward to participating more in the future 😀

  2. frankaboutcroatia Jun 30, 2014 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Well done, Chanel! Lovely shots, great reflections. Do they teach photography too at Blog House? Didn’t know that. Thanks for linking up with us for the #SundayTraveler.

    • Chanel Jun 30, 2014 at 8:11 am - Reply

      Thank you so much! We had a short photography session at the BlogHouse where we learned about composition and the rule of thirds, so I aimed to accomplish that in some of my photographs 🙂

  3. noel Jun 30, 2014 at 1:00 am - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to visit and play around with this landmark. I love how you did get low to capture everything around the bean, how fun was that!

    • Chanel Jun 30, 2014 at 8:11 am - Reply

      Hi Noel! It was a lot of fun to shoot; you should definitely visit 🙂

  4. Rhonda Albom Jun 30, 2014 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Wow, I love your great big photos of that bean. I grew up in Chicago and left in the mid 80s. It was about 20 years before I was back (nearly my entire family had moved away) and I was so surprised to see that bean. I tried to take a selfie. Your last photo really captures everything which is great about it. Well done.

    • Chanel Jun 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks a lot Rhonda! I appreciate the kind words. I couldn’t get a selfie unfortunately… I am pretty bad at them 😀

  5. Renuka Jun 30, 2014 at 1:58 am - Reply

    This looks fabulous, but I was expecting MORE pictures. 🙂

    • Chanel Jun 30, 2014 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks Renuka! I only put up the best ones from the day 😀

  6. Sarah E. Albom Jun 30, 2014 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Wow, that last photo is amazing! I love how clear the bean is.

    • Chanel Jun 30, 2014 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sarah! The Bean was a lot of fun to shoot 😀

  7. Dave Cole Jun 30, 2014 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Beautiful shots! This is the first I’ve heard of the Bean. It’s quite impressive and I love it when a city fills space in this manner, it really enhances the experience of being a pedestrian.

    • Chanel Jun 30, 2014 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks a lot Dave, it is quite impressive 🙂

  8. Patti Jun 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    The bean is such a fabulous piece of art, sculpture, structure?! I don’t know what the right word is, but I do know how much we enjoyed our visit to the bean, it’s really quite something! Thanks for stopping by One Road at a Time!

    • Chanel Jun 30, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      Let’s go with ‘Art Sculpture Structure’ haha 🙂 It is quite something to look at 🙂

  9. Nancie Lee Jun 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    I love the Bean! I’ve never heard of it until now, but it looks fascinating!! You did an awesome job capturing some unique perspectives!! Great essay!

  10. Mindi @ 2foodtrippers Jul 1, 2014 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Great job with the rule of thirds. I’ve been working on that myself since Bloghouse.

    • Chanel Jul 1, 2014 at 12:52 am - Reply

      Thanks Mindi! It is something I constantly think about now when I am shooting 😀

  11. Amber Jul 1, 2014 at 1:46 am - Reply

    Ha! Every time I see any photos of the Bean, I have to take a look, and yep, there is my old office building in the background. I spend several years working at the Prudential building.

    • Chanel Jul 1, 2014 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Wow! You were very close to it, lucky you. You must have some great shots over there!

  12. A Taste for Travel Jul 1, 2014 at 9:28 am - Reply

    I’m going to check out the BlogHouse course you mention as it looks as though you learned some great photography skills that you have been able to put into practice! The perspective on the middle shot is really interesting…the reflection actually looks like a beach instead of pavement.

    • Chanel Jul 1, 2014 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Yes, you should definitely consider looking into BlogHouse; it helped me tremendously and I am still putting a lot of things into practice! 🙂

  13. Jenny @ A Thing For Wor(l)ds Jul 1, 2014 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos! I especially LOVE that last one 🙂

  14. Adelina | PackMeTo Jul 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Great shots! I haven’t been to Chicago yet, but I feel like it would be a lot of fun to take photos of the bean. It has such great potential for fantastic photos.

    • Chanel Jul 1, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Thank you! You can definitely do so much with that Bean! 😀

  15. Brad Bernard Jul 1, 2014 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Pretty crazy pics, Chanel. its so mesmerizing! Did you try to climb it or do something silly?

    • Chanel Jul 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Haha thanks Brad… unfortunately couldn’t climb it this time around. Maybe next time. 🙂

  16. Rachel@safari254 Jul 2, 2014 at 2:29 am - Reply

    A beautiful, simple and interesting piece of art. gorgeous reflections of the city outside. Must be a great spot to take a ‘selfie’. I would have loved to see some night shots of the bean. 🙂

    • Chanel Jul 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      Hi Rachel 🙂 I definitely have to go back and get some night shots on my next visit to Chicago!

  17. Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) Jul 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    As a lifelong Chicagoan, and therefore very critical of some of the City’s decisions, I was anti-Cloud Gate when it first was installed. And then I saw it in person for the first time and all that criticism dissipated. It really is a unique and mesmerizing structure.

    • Chanel Jul 2, 2014 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Yes I find it to be very unique as well!

  18. Nick (Nick's Travel Bug) Jul 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Great photos! The Bean is such a fun thing to shoot. I’ve been to Chicago dozens of times, but I still take photos of it every trip.

    • Chanel Jul 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Nick and I probably will end up doing that too haha 🙂

  19. Love this! I’m a huge fan of Chicago and “The Bean.” Great #SundayTraveler photo essay!

  20. Calli Jul 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Great photos! This is one landmark I’ve wanted to photograph for awhile now, the possibilities just feel endless. I love the way you wrote about The Bean as if it were an old friend 🙂

  21. Sarah Jul 22, 2014 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Great photos! I LOVE the Bean! I go to Chicago a few times a year, and EVERY time I go I have to stop to see it. It never loses it’s charm for me. My boyfriend is from Chicago and he doesn’t understand my obsession. I’m not sure how often they clean it, but I’ve been to it early in the morning and it was really shiny then(before thousands of people put their hands all over it) as opposed to later in the day.

    • Chanel Jul 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      Yeah, when I went unfortunately it was a little scratchy (and had clearly been touched a lot). I am going to have to return in the early morning!

  22. Agness Aug 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    I’ve seen this place on American movies and since I was a little girl, I wanted to go there. Stunning photography!

  23. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} Sep 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Great essay — both the words and the photos.

  24. Agness Sep 20, 2014 at 4:09 am - Reply

    Wonderful pictures Chanel! This place has been always on my bucket list. Hope to make it next year! :)x

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