My Beach Essentials: Maria Ponce

A Chicago photographer unloads her colorful summer tote.

As a native of Chicago, commercial portrait and fashion photographer Maria Ponce knows every nook and cranny of the city. So it's with great conviction that she declares Montrose Beach her favorite sandy spot. "I'm drawn to its diversity," she says, "I love the mix of people and the smell of grilled corn and BBQ. It also has the best views and isn't as much of a scene as some of the beaches closer to downtown, so I can really relax there." Which is why, when she isn't shuttling between her Windy City studio and NYC for work, you'll find her enjoying simple pleasures — think bike-riding, kite-flying and cooling off with Mexican ice cream — at the shore. A few favorite things she brings with her: