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Chicago’s Rap Scene and Skyline, Daredevil-Style: Brooklyn Wheeler, Digging Through the Greats

My grandfather is a photographer. He was a professional–he's shot rapper and other famous people's weddings, and used to know Magic Johnson, but a lot of [his work] was nature photos and portraits. He gave me my first camera when I went out with him. I’m self-taught–not from school or books–just using a camera and feeling it out. Growing up, when I played
games or put stuff together, I didn’t really read the manuals. I’d just try to figure them out for myself.

I like photos that capture emotions or moments. I haven’t used flash a lot–that’s why I haven’t done a lot of studio photography. I normally don’t use it when I shoot concerts or portraits or inside events–I just use whatever light’s on my camera, and I think if it’s that dark the shot doesn’t need to be taken, because I feel like flash gives you a different feeling compared to a candid picture. I think candid photos are the best.

The most difficult photos are the ones that are life-threatening or you can get in big trouble for. I’ve jumped on the railroad tracks before to get a photo of a CTA [Chicago Transit Authority] cop. You can get arrested or banned from buildings if you get caught on a rooftop.

I do things no one else would do, but I try to be smarter about it.

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