Happy 2024!

2024 Calendars are still available at lotsasmilesphoto.etsy.com!

I love observing the world around me.  Over the years, I have found there’s so much to take in, to appreciate, to love.  I enjoy photographing the everyday wonders – sunrises, vistas, waterfalls – and I get excited for the less-common opportunities: events, travel, candids.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

But when I come across a surprise that catches me completely unaware.. well, then.  I lose all sense of rational adulthood as I devolve in the presence of sheer joy.  The object of my delight becomes my sole focus, and I’m as giddy as a kid in a toy shop.

You think I’m exaggerating, but I assure you, I’m quite serious.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

I experienced this when I was fortunate enough to catch a rare misty morning on a lake; it hit me in Yosemite; I chased after it for three days before finally catching it in a spectacular sunrise in Arches National Park.

And it completely surprised me in Chicago.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

I’ve previously regaled the story of how we wound up on an all-expenses-paid weekend excursion to the Windy City, and as a dutiful photographer, I was sure my trusty camera was by my side through all the pizza and to the tops of the skyscrapers.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

We were staying in a hotel near the building that was to be the new headquarters of Aaron’s company, and this, in turn, was right on the edge of Millennium Park.  So it’s no wonder that in short order, we found ourselves wandering this park, where I was serendipitously acquainted with…

The Bean.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

An artist’s sculpture officially named “Cloud Gate,” this reflective marvel is a photographer’s perfect subject.  Reflections are all sorts of fun.  They’re even more intriguing when they’re specters borne of a lima-bean-shaped mirror the size of your living room.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

I was immediately drawn to this wonder, as though the material were a magnet instead of a mirror.  And it was photographic love at first sight.  My mind instantly danced with a thousand possibilities, and my finger itched for the shutter.

I explored every inch of that sculpture, taking pictures from the side, up close, far away, and underneath.  It reflected buildings; it reflected the adjacent ice rink; it reflected our silly selves.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

I took pictures until Aaron dragged me away, and I mourned the separation from my new best friend.

But my photographic obsession was not yet sated.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

We returned the next day as soon as we were able.  Being mid-afternoon, the park was much more crowded, but this gave me something new to play with: people interacting with The Bean.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

But it still wasn’t enough.

I wanted to catch some magical light on this giant lima bean, so we set our alarms for the next day, and we were basking in its reflective glory well before the sun came up.  While I captured some contrasty images in the low light, the sun rose grey behind a fresh blanket of February clouds, and the Cloud Gate was closed to me.  The grey didn’t deter me, but I was disappointed the weather wasn’t cooperating as it had the previous couple of days.  It signaled the end of our encounter.

As our trip drew to a close, and rain began spilling from the sky, my inspiration was suddenly renewed.  What would The Bean look like with thousands of tiny drops and rivulets spidering across its surface?  I was anxious to find out…

…but Aaron wouldn’t let me.  Alas, we couldn’t spare the detour this time.  Without knowing, I had danced my last dance with my polished friend.  And I didn’t even have a proper chance to say goodbye.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

Now, I have only the 129 photos I took of it over those three days – a full quarter of all the pictures I took that weekend.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

But the parting is bittersweet, as I know it’s still there waiting for me, with all the as yet unexplored photographic opportunities and varying settings.  Perhaps next time, I’ll see it nestled in a blanket of pristine snow.  Perhaps it’ll reflect a perfect blue sky.  Or maybe the gate will be open, revealing a stunning array of vibrant clouds of a fiery palette, slightly warped in a surreal display of immaculate beauty.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

I will dream of the possibilities that await.

Want behind-the-scenes content and exclusive photo tips?
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!


Follow LotsaSmiles Photography

Recommended Articles


  1. Wonderful shots Brianna. I would have been as equally captivated as you, and was – in Vancouver! There are three beans in a park in Vancouver, one red, one yellow, one black, but all just as reflective as Chicago’s. So much fun.

    1. Thank you, Alison! I didn’t know there were beans in Vancouver! Where?? We visited there a few years ago, and while I certainly found plenty to photograph, I don’t recall any beans. Probably just as well.. I don’t think I ever would have left!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
error: I\'m glad you like my content! Please don\'t steal it :)