Mike McCawley tends to get his best shots when he’s leaving. He’s not sure why.
Perhaps it’s because he’s warmed up by then, he said. Or perhaps it’s pure luck.
At any rate, his photo of children flying kites at a kite festival was taken as he was getting ready to head home.
So were plenty of others in the lively, wide-ranging portfolio of street photography he’s built up in the last several years.
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McCawley, a former Tri-Citian, is an award-winning street photographer in the Chicago area.
He documents everyday life, events, expressions — and he does it with a purpose.
“I really love capturing moments in time,” he said. “There are so many interesting things happening all the time around us that you don’t notice. I try to notice those things and do my best to capture them.”
McCawley, 43, grew up in the Tri-Cities, graduating from Pasco High in 1993.
Although he relocated to the Chicago area about 15 years ago, where he lives with his wife, Jo, and daughter, Madeleine, 11, he still has family here, including his mom, Christy Geyer, sister, Patricia Brewster, and brother Kevin Geyer.
His son, Cameron McCawley, 17, attends Hanford High School in Richland. McCawley’s father, David, lives in Seattle.
McCawley was in the Tri-Cities for the holidays and spoke to the Tri-Cities Photography Club about his path to street photography, which he shoots with a Fujifilm X100T camera.
Street photography is essentially candid photos of people in public places — on the street, in a park, at a festival and so on.
The famous Humans of New York project is similar, although those subjects generally pose for street portraits.
McCawley’s subjects are going about their lives, sometimes unaware he’s even there.
While his photographs are singular and specific, they’re also universal — saying something about the larger world.
And, often, they’re quirky and delightful.
Like his shot of a man in Chicago looking up in wonder at the solar eclipse. Everyone behind him is turned the other way — they’re looking at a reflection on a skyscraper. But he’s looking at the real thing.
Or his shot of a Chicago-area kite festival, with two young boys in the foreground, their kites aloft.
Or his shot of a palm tree and a hairdo that were perfectly in sync in New Orleans.
McCawley, who works in advertising by day, said he often shoots on his lunch hour or on the weekends.
He’s been a finalist in the Miami Street Photography Festival and StreetFoto San Francisco, and his work has appeared in multiple publications. He’s working on a new street photography project that evokes comic book-type characters off duty.
McCawley brought his camera with him to the Tri-Cities, and he already has a few shots up on Instagram.
More may still be to come. If his usual trend continues, he’ll make some photography gold on his way out of town.