How 4 Photographers Explore Their Home Cities

How these photographers get outside in the biggest cities in the United States

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Photo: Chris Burkard

With the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop, Fort Point is one of the most scenic surf spots in the world. It can also be deceptively dangerous. “A lot of water moves out of San Francisco Bay as the tide switches,” Chris Burkard says. “If you’re sitting in the wrong spot, you can get swept straight out to sea.” Add in the frigid Pacific, an often gnarly entry over jagged wet boulders, and a lineup pockmarked with submerged rocks, and you get a spot tailor-made for experts.

Photo: Mike Killion

The list of famous Chicago attractions is long: Wrigley Field, the Willis Tower, Kanye. Less appreciated is the city’s impressive recreational space. Among the highlights is Lake Michigan, the fifth-largest lake in the world and a liquid playground for sailing, kayaking, diving, and surfing. “People who haven’t seen it think it’s just a little pond,” says Mike Killion, who has lived and surfed near Chicago since he was a teenager. “But you can’t see the other side. It might as well be an ocean.”

Photo: Rocco Ceselin

In part because of a frequent temperature inversion in the skies above Los Angeles, the city has the worst smog of any metropolis in the country. In winter, though, strong winds occasionally clear the air. So when ­Rocco Ceselin woke up to bluebird skies last January, he headed straight for Griffith Conservatory, a 1930s-era public planetarium, observatory, and exhibition space located 20 minutes from downtown. “I got to the top of a hill and had this amazing view that I almost never see,” Ceselin says. “It was magnificent.”

Photo: Daniel Cochran

“I was tired of running by myself,” Daniel Cochran says. So the New York City photographer got online and, after a little Googling, came across the Orchard Street Runners. Most events are alley-cat style: there’s a set start and an end point, but you make your own route in between. Cochran was drawn to the DIY ethos of the club. “It’s for a different crowd,” says the 36-year-old, who captured a runner finishing a 30-mile race last March. “Instead of being out at the bars with friends, you get to explore the city in a different way.”