The first Ebert Studio opened almost 100 years ago on Chicago's west side. Since then, four successive generations have preserved memories for countless families in studios that now reside in Oak Park and Hinsdale. At the helm today is Jeff Ebert, the great-grandson of the studio's founder. Jeff makes a very small distinction to give you the big picture—"It's not so much that it's photography," he says, "but it's photographing people."
Making people feel comfortable and look better is just one part of his job. The next part is to create "a piece like a painting that can be hung above a mantle and somebody can be proud of for years and years to come." As the latest in a line of artists stretching back to 1915, Jeff does that well, harnessing the power of passed time and using it to build a portfolio that showcases families, weddings, animals, and individuals. Some of his notable subjects have included Cardinal Francis George, Walter Payton, and film director Christopher Columbus, known for his historical documentary of babysitting, Home Alone.
The shutterbugs at Doris Photography alternate between candid shots and casual poses of their subjects, drawing on skills they've honed for more than 20 years. Their flashbulbs flicker for weddings, headshots, and passport photos, and they capture images of newborns to adorn the book jackets of babies’ first novels. Far from a conventional photo studio, Doris Photography rents out its automatic photo booth, sends videographers to events, and creates custom slide shows and invitations.
Marc Hauser’s photographic expertise started as a 13-year-old freshman at New Trier High School, when the Wilmette native launched his boyhood hobby into adulthood with an apprenticeship under Playboy-contributing photographer Stan Malinowski. When one of the magazine's art directors visited Stan's studio, he noticed Marc's prints on the table and turned to Stan and asked, "Would your assistant like to go to California next week and shoot Carly Simon?" From there, notable assignments began to sprout, including John Mellencamp in a muddy field for his cover of Scarecrow, Led Zeppelin in a construction site in London, and the Doobie Brothers watching Amish people cross a field in front of McDonalds.
Marc's HauserTown studio now practices a style of portraiture called "Hauser-Style", in which subjects in their natural state—such as shooting family members while they're distracted and talking to each other. The photographers often go to extreme lengths to capture a unique photograph, such as speaking in funny voices to amuse kids, and barking to get dogs' attention. Subjects can dress up and use props from the collection, such as stuffed elephants or loaves of bread. Above all else, the studio makes sure their clients feel comfortable so they can focus on getting the right shots.
After forging this connection, the unique and striking images captured use simple parameters: shooting in black and white, with one light or natural light, or around a table in his studio. This approach to portraiture has earned Marc more than 100 awards, including Clios for advertising and a Grammy, as well as the public's fascination—a billboard of his portrait of Dennis Rodman stopped traffic on the Kennedy Expressway.
The winner of multiple Wedding Photojounalist Association awards and one of Brides UK's top 25 destination photographers, Genevieve Burruss captures candid shots and dramatic poses that brim with vintage appeal. When she isn't behaving as a fly on the wall at weddings—preserving close-up shots of the bride getting ready or joyous stills of dancing guests—she uses abandoned buildings and Chicago's iconic sites as backdrops for portraits and engagement photos. After sessions, she often retreats to her Photoshop lair to make skillful tweaks that heighten the drama or add a touch of muted sophistication, producing softly lit black-and-white shots and low-contrast color prints that have the timeless appeal of a little black dress dipped in ice cream.