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.
From behind their lenses, the pro photographers at MWD Photography coax charming smiles out of children, take business-minded shots of professionals, or cement a beloved pooch’s place in the family with pet portraits. Families gather clans in beloved parks or favorite mall parking lots, and soon-to-be mothers preserve prebaby moments with pregnancy photos. In addition to making new memories, photographers are able to restore faded or torn pictures. An in-studio artist can also hand color custom fine-art prints with pastels to add mysticism to everyday life or commemorate the time dad slayed a basilisk.
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 and Led Zeppelin in a construction site in London.
Marc's style aims to capture subjects in their natural state?such as shooting family members while they're distracted and talking to each other. He often goes to great lengths to capture a unique photograph, such as speaking in funny voices to amuse kids, and barking to get dogs' attention. Above all else, he makes sure his clients feel comfortable so he can focus on getting the right shots, creating unique and striking images captured using simple parameters: shooting in black and white, with one light or natural light, around a table in his studio.
This approach to portraiture has earned Marc more than 100 awards, including Clios for advertising and a Grammy, and has landed him jobs with Rolling Stone, PepsiCo, Artista Records, and Microsoft, as well as acclaim for his images of well-known figures such as Aaron Copland, Mariel Hemingway, Michael Jordan, Dr. Timothy Leary, Sophia Loren, Patty Smith, Woody Allen, and John Waters.
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.
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.