Barry Butler Photography: Bird's Eye View

Posted on April 08, 2019

Barry Butler's cityscape and landscape photography is loved and revered by proud Chicagoans everywhere. We worked with Barry to capture our vessels cruising along the Chicago River and lakefront from the birds eye perspective of a drone. Learn more about Barry below and enjoy a glimpse of his beautiful work! Plus, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram for stunning Chicago sunrises, sunsets, skyline views and more!

1. How did you get into photography and why do you love it? I broke my collarbone over 20 years ago playing hockey. I was told I couldn’t do sports for eight months. Out of boredom, I taught myself photography by reading and by trial and error. I love it because photography brings me a lot of peace and I am able to capture a moment that will never be duplicated and share for others to enjoy.  

2. Tell us your favorite aspect of drone photography and video and what you find challenging. When I was in my late teens/early 20s, I had a job where I was in a helicopter often. I loved seeing Chicago from that perspective. Drone photography gives me that thrill again. I’ve crashed two drones into Lake Michigan so I guess you can say that “thrill” changed to horror quickly a couple of times. 

3. What is your favorite place to photograph in Chicago? I truly love being anywhere along or in the river/lake to view the city. The water is such a calm place to view the city...away from noise.  

4. Where did you grow up? I was born in Ireland. We came to Chicago when I was a little guy and moved to the north side. I’ve been in Chicago ever since.  

5. What is the most memorable place you have traveled? I’ll take Ireland out of the equation since that’s not fair. Iceland is pretty spectacular. I’ve been there now three times. You feel like you’re on another planet.  

6. What is your best tip or "hidden gem" for those visiting Chicago? Outside of taking a boat tour, which I love (and I mean that), I feel like you see the world on Michigan Avenue. Loads of people speaking different languages is pretty common, especially in the summer. I also believe that the most authentic part of Chicago is now on the South Side of the city. A lot hasn’t changed, whereas the north side along the lake doesn’t have as much character anymore.

7. What are people surprised to learn about you?    

I never used to photograph Chicago up until about 10 years ago. I only shot in Ireland and the National Parks in the U.S. I love wide landscapes, mountains, waterfalls, etc. One doesn’t find those in Chicago. I used to shoot around Chicago as a warm-up before going somewhere scenic. After awhile, I started to fall in love with the city photographically and the rest is history.  

8. Who is Ajax? I get recognized often when Ajax is with me or if people see me photographing without him, they’ll ask “where’s Ajax”. Ajax is an 11 1/2 year old Labradoodle that goes with me just about everywhere and in any weather when I’m shooting. As much as he’s friendly, he’s my security guard to let me know someone is approaching. He loves belly rubs!