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The Life of a City

“At some point every photographer of note has come through the city,” says photo editor Michael Williams, who co-authored a new book with over 200 images.

Chicago photo editors Richard Cahan and Michael Williams have spent more than half their lives combing through local photographs. Williams estimates they have buried themselves in so many archives that he and Cahan have eyed more than half a million images.

“Chicago is a great street photography city. There’s an amazing collection of images of daily life,” says Williams, a photographer himself, who has produced 13 anthologies with Cahan, a former Sun-Times photo editor. “At some point every photographer of note has come through the city.”

The two have compiled their favorite finds in their latest book, Chicago: Classic Photographs (February, CityFiles Press). “This project is like the culmination of our work over the last 30 years,” says Williams. “We’re finally using all these great pictures that we’ve seen along the way.”

The book features 226 images from famed photographers (Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Art Shay), newspaper staffers, and novices. “We didn’t want to make a book of tourist pictures,” says Williams, “but create a portrait of the city.”

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