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.
"A great photograph has the power to forever remind us the beauty of our lives," photographer Argentina Leyva proclaims on her website. So it’s no surprise that her work centers on life’s more beautiful moments, with a focus on softly lit boudoir poses.
Leyva and her team of photographers switch effortlessly from the elegance of black-and-white studio shots to the full-color vividness of Chicago's streets. Never one to settle for boring poses or predictable lighting, Leyva's traditional and boudoir portfolios feature high- and low-angle shots complemented by a combination of studio lighting and natural light that catches the glint in her subjects' eyes while hiding the spinach in their teeth. Leyva takes appointments during the week and on weekends to accomodate clients' busy schedules.
For more than 40 years, Alvin Gates of Alvin Gates Photography has been snapping memorable shots and restoring damaged photographs to their original luster. Bringing his expertise and experience to each photo shoot, Gates effortlessly coaxes beaming smiles out of solo posers and groups playing statue during family-portrait, bridal, and graduation sitting sessions. He also specializes in photo restoration, returning discolored, torn, or leaky snapshots to like-new doppelgängers of their former selves.
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.
Jackson Junge Gallery dresses objets d'art in a wide-ranging wardrobe of mouldings and mounts. At the store, customers can touch and test frames or solicit expert advice on the aesthetically pleasing display of preschool-completion certificates. In the gallery section of the store, patrons can find canvas fillers for frames and admire artwork by proprietor and in-house artist Laura Lee Junge, as well as by other local artists. Though custom-framing costs can vary, a small frame with mat usually runs between $50 and $125, and a poster without a mat costs around $60. Framing for a sports jersey with your choice of background color or scene-stealing foreground color starts at $225.
Hanger 18 co-owners Tina and Mike Dixon stock shelves with brightly colored and quirky gifts, jewelry, and housewares. Punish a blazer with stinging pricks from hand-pressed buttons ($1.50 each), or hide shy nickels and agoraphobic dollar bills inside colorful handbags and wallets ($15–$26). Novelty items such as an inflatable moose head ($24) can add authenticity to a hunting-lodge-themed bouncy castle, and new moms and dads can gift their just-hatched offspring with bug-eyed plush Basheeshee Uglydolls ($20) and Rockabye Baby!’s lullaby renditions of U2 and Pink Floyd hits ($17).