Social media star Elise Swopes captures the wonder of winter in Chicago.
With a dash of whimsy (and an occasional giraffe), Instagrammer extraordinaire Elise Swopes captures the magic of Chicago’s snowy season.
Anyone can snap a snowflake pic these days, but no one documents winter in the Windy City quite like iPhone artist Elise Swopes (@swopes). “When it starts getting cold, I’m like Yes, I can finally be myself,” the 26-year-old South Loop resident says.
Thriving in the chill, Swopes loves walking through downtown mid-storm to immortalize the flurries. “There’s something so dramatic and cinematic [about] it,” the Gurnee native enthuses. A full-time freelance design artist, Swopes has garnered an Instagram following of more than 250,000 thanks to her whimsically manipulated skylines and colors, but she considers the snow so filmic that she often sets aside her fantasy-filled editing techniques for a more stripped-down realism. Her favorite icy pic—captioned “first snowfall in Chicago” and featuring snow-laden branches and slushy sidewalks in an eerily empty Millennium Park—has 11,300 likes and counting; the view from the top of the Adams and Wabash L stop is another must-snap frosted spot.
But for this photo phenom, most remarkable are the moments when “the snow is falling, no people around, and just these giant skyscrapers,” with the city seemingly at rest. “[There’s] this awesome kind of surrealistic emptiness,” says Swopes. “That’s what makes winter memorable.”