Chicago-native Victor Powell was on the path to becoming an electronics engineer when his life changed course. John Tweedle, one of the first African American photographers to work for the Chicago Daily News, became Powell's mentor, allowing Powell to learn at the feet of a man who once photographed Martin Luther King Jr. Years later, Powell has lived up to Tweedle's legacy. His impressive portfolio includes the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama, the CBS News team, and many of Chicago's high-powered male and female executives—in addition to his more personal and intimate family portraits.
Betty Stuart always had a talent for documentation. After graduating from Northwestern University's prestigious Medill School of Journalism in 1940, Stuart applied her shrewd journalistic eye to the field of photography. As she took on more professional jobs, she honed her skills behind the lens and learned how to blend into the background of weddings and other events so as not to interfere with candid moments.
Before long, Stuart joined forces with her husband, John Boyd Rodgers, to found Stuart-Rodgers Photography. The nascent company soon added corporate, commercial, and school photography to its list of services and, due to high demand for the couple’s innovative journalistic approach, expanded to three locations throughout Chicagoland. Today, Stuart-Rodgers's team of professional photographers maintains elements of Stuart’s original photographic vision in every shot, including her knack for capturing angles that draw attention away from subjects’ unflattering tentacles.
Boutique studio Bum Bul Bee Photography captures families, babies, expectant mothers, and even pets in easygoing photo sessions that take place within 10 miles of Chicago or in Bum Bul Bee's Old Town studio. During one- to two-hour camera-powered escapades, image crafters shoot subjects in mostly natural environments to take advantage of nature's luminescence and avoid the unflattering glare of strobe lights.
Marc Hauser’s photographic expertise comes from years of experience. As a 13-year-old freshman at New Trier High School, 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?"
Throughout the next few decades, Marc shot 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. He even spent a year's worth of weekends hanging out in dive bars with the Hells Angels, earning their trust so he could take their portraits.
"I'm just capturing these little moments where I leave them alone," Marc says about his approach to taking portraits. He photographs subjects in their natural state—often shooting family members while they're distracted and talking to each other—and he'll go to extreme lengths to capture a unique photograph. He speaks in funny voices to amuse kids and barks to get dogs' attention. He lets subjects dress up and hands them props from his collection, such as stuffed elephants or loaves of bread. Above all else, Marc makes sure his clients feel comfortable so he can focus on getting the right shots with his Canon 5D Mark II.
By forging this connection, Marc captures unique and striking images using 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.