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.
Starting a fitness routine can be intimidating, but the trainers at Evolution Fitness believe that it’s something everyone should do. That’s why they strive to make exercise easier for every one of their members by supplementing gym visits with their wealth of fitness knowledge. To guide guests on their own paths to health, they conduct one-on-one yoga, Pilates, and custom-training sessions. Group classes, meanwhile, add a social aspect to the mix with boot camps, step aerobics, and Zumba, which turns exercise sessions into freewheeling dance routines like a treadmill on a Broadway set.
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.
For more than two decades, American Mattress has promoted peaceful slumber in bedchambers throughout the Midwest with their vast selection of mattresses, headboards, and linens. The sleep experts strive to stay abreast of the latest bedding technology: their Serta mattresses are made with gel foam that supports curves, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses repel allergens, mites, and poltergeists looking to spoon. This devotion to a good night’s sleep has helped them earn the title of Best Mattress Store from suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald five years in a row. Additionally, American Mattress doubles down on each of its beds with a 30-day comfort guarantee and a 60-day best-price guarantee.
Owner Lindsay Rapp surrounds herself with a staff of canine-whisperers who employ both human and animal psychology to help owners and pets live long, happy lives together. Agility training equips dogs for high-intensity play or auditions for basketball movies, and other courses tailored to families with children keep the peace by preparing dogs for a new baby or preparing families for a new dog.
The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest makes history accessible with a museum, family research materials, and walking tours. At the museum, visitors can explore a range of costumes, photographs, and artifacts that have been donated by local families. Permanent fixtures include an exhibit on local writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man behind Tarzan, featuring dozens of photographs, movie stills, and Tarzan toys. Those who want to see history come to life around them can check out one of the walking tours, which explore sights such as breath-taking stained glass and religious imagery around the neighborhood or the elegant estates of Oak Park, built in the Prairie School of Architecture style.