Meet You by the Lake In the summer, Chicago’s beaches and waterfront parks become the city’s melting pot, its great leveler, a 26-mile-long stage for thousands of intimate vignettes. Over a single weekend, photographer Lenny Gilmore immortalized 15 of them. May 23, 2018, 8:49 am Foster Beach 5200 north I ended up getting this great symmetry, but it was the pop of the yellow shirt that I was first attracted to. I also like the way he’s perched up there on the grass on his lonesome. He told me his name is Marcos Martinez, and he said he loves his job. Promontory Point 5400 south Getting this shot took a while. It was late in the day and becoming cooler, and there weren’t many other swimmers around. The older boy had gone in first, and I kept waiting for his brother to follow him so I could get a picture of him splashing into the water. Eventually, I figured the younger kid had lost his nerve, but then the older one came up to the rocks and let his brother get on his shoulders, and then they both charged forward into the waves. Promontory Point 5400 south The lakefront is about more than the beaches. Sometimes it’s enough just to be near the water. In fact, if it weren’t for its reflected luminosity in the sky in this photo, you might think this woman is trying to fly her kite at the edge of a woods. She and her husband, who’s holding the string just out of the frame, didn’t have much luck that day, since there was hardly any wind. The baby didn’t seem to mind. Belmont Harbor 3200 north I had my sister with me so she could help me lug around this 100-watt studio flash, and I’m glad we had it, because suddenly these clouds moved in and everything got dark. The flash flattens things out and lets you read the scene in a different way. This guy wasn’t catching a thing, but you can tell from his face that he’s having a great time. Belmont Harbor 3200 north I’m always looking for at least three things happening in a photo. Here, it’s the wedding couple, their photographer, and the scenery that the photographer is trying to capture. Maybe the photographer was looking for his three things, too. Belmont Harbor 3200 north I used a big 300-millimeter zoom lens for this one. At first I couldn’t figure out what this woman was doing. I thought maybe she was stretching. But then she started dancing, and I was like, This is just the best. I waited for the boats to line up in a satisfying way before getting the shot, and by then I think she may have noticed me. But she was so lost in her moment that she didn’t seem to care. Montrose Beach 4400 north I never set up my shots, though in this image it looks like I did. The girl just happened to be dressed up for her own family photo shoot. I caught her while she was taking an ice cream break, and she just looked right at me, like she was thinking, “OK, just another photo session.” Montrose Beach 4400 north This is at the Montrose dog beach, and I’d been fixated on getting photos of lots of dogs splashing around in a single frame. Then this wet little guy sauntered toward me, and I knew this would be way better. I got down on the sand so I could snap a shot at eye level while my sister hoisted the flash over us. Rainbow Beach 7500 south I like overhead shots like this one. They create this interesting flyover effect. I also love the girl at the bottom of the frame looking up at me like, “What do you think you’re doing?” They were having a classic American picnic: hot dogs, chips, fresh peaches. Too bad it started raining shortly after I took the picture. 31st Street Beach 3100 south Kids are easier to shoot than grownups. They’re so lost in whatever they’re doing that they barely notice you. I’d had my eye on these two as they ran up and down the beach together, goofing around, engaging in the kind of pure play that you forget how to do when you get older. When the girl spontaneously popped a handstand, I had to snap a picture. Taking photos is my way of getting into that same zone. The vibe flows both ways. Rogers Beach Park 7700 north I often have an internal debate when trying to capture intimate moments like this: Am I poaching something from a person’s private experience, or am I sharing in it? In this case, I’d been chatting with this couple and their friends beforehand, so it felt all right. Plus, it was such low-hanging fruit, in an almost literal sense. Rogers Beach Park 7700 north I’m always conscious of imposing on people, but these girls—all Loyola students—were just so comfortable with me, and with themselves. It’s that feeling of easy, unforced friendship that I tried to capture here. Rogers Beach Park 7700 north This stretch of beach is cut off from the busier areas nearby, and for all you can tell, this could be some remote shoreline on the Upper Peninsula. Rogers Beach Park 7700 north I basically don’t hear things when I’m photographing, but I do remember that this guy—his name is Darrell Montgomery, and he was playing a battery-powered electric piano—was really good.