'Familiar Faces': Chicago photographer unveils project that salutes CTA workers

A local photographer has unveiled a passion project that took him months to complete and is dedicated to a group of Chicagoans many of us interact with every single day.

"Familiar Faces" took Chicago photographer Andrew Michaels to every single L stop on the CTA system and serves as a salute to the men and women who've kept the trains running during the pandemic.

"During the pandemic, everyone needed them even more and they showed up," Michaels said.

It's a stunning collage featuring the portraits of hundreds of masked-up CTA ‘L’ operators at each of the system's 194 stops. They are men and women Michaels calls "an underappreciated part of our city."

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Chicago photographer Andrew Michaels

"Particularly during COVID, I spoke to one lady who said that seven days a week, she was working on the train 16 hours," said Michaels. "I feel like we owe it to them as a city to show some appreciation for that."


The effort took nine months.

"These people almost go unnoticed at times and when I posted this, a few of the operators tracked me down on Instagram to message me and say thank you...it's very much a salute to them during COVID," he said.

As of right now, "Familiar Faces" lives digitally, but Michaels says his goal is to one day see it blown up and professionally printed, "so that 10 years from now, we still remember that this happened. And they were there for us," he said.

You can find the "Familiar Faces" project on Instagram at @StateStreetPhotoStudio. 

Michaels says his dream is to find a sponsor to help him physically print it and present it as a gift to the CTA.