Though Donzell Gordon's darkroom is stocked with all the traditional photo-retouching tools, he'd rather not use them. In his 15 years as a professional photographer, he has always worked to capture naturally flattering pictures directly from his camera, instead of relying on editing tools to clean up an image. This means he must remain flexible during shoots, alternating between studio and natural lighting when appropriate. Though he finds this technique yields more realistic impressions of his subject, he will also enhance photos when necessary to lighten dark corners or eliminate photo-bombing Pac-Man ghosts.
Professional photographer LaDonna Raeh Robinson aims her camera at anything that can attractively flatten into a photo—and has done so since she was 8 years old. After a diversion led Robinson into the field of computer science, she rediscovered her natural talent for capturing unique and memorable images by taking photos for her company, which snowballed into bigger projects and eventually her own business. Today Robinson poses her subjects in the studio for professional portraits, wedding photos, or kids' shoots.
Jake Miller, the photographer behind Photo by Jake, documents subjects that range from fashion shoots to Vegas trade shows to weddings from behind his lens. He draws from an advanced knowledge of studio lighting to capture flattering shots in his studio, and also works with natural light during on-location shoots. As a student of the fine arts at City College in Chicago, Miller imbues his work with a creative touch.
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.
Winner of several contest awards from the Wedding Photojournalist Association including photographer of the year in 2012, Steve Matteo still remembers his early days as a news photographer for a small suburban weekly, rushing back to the newsroom to watch the film slowly develop and a sliver of history take shape. Though he went on to tackle more exciting assignments and career changes—working at the Daily Herald, compiling images for UIC's yearlong City 2000 photo project, and photographing Princess Diana's visit to Chicago in 1996—one thing hasn't changed: the thrill of knowing that his camera has memorialized a story forever.
Today, Steve is equally at home shooting for Fortune 500 companies and clients such as Northwestern University as he is creating individual portraits. When he photographs a wedding, he uses the same ingenuity and photojournalistic eye that he honed while working as a sports photographer for HBO Sports and as a news photographer for the Associated Press. His wedding photography, meanwhile, has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, garnered a 2012 Bride's Choice award on WeddingWire.com, and won the 2012 WPJA Photographer of the Year.