With a career spanning more than 20 years, Balanced Exposure's owner, Russell Lowe, has worn many hats, including forensic photographer, wedding photographer, and commercial photographer. Russell has always had a passion for teaching, which is why he finally opened up his own studio space. He and his staff help novice photographers shake hands with their shutter button during introductory Photo Essentials classes for DSLR cameras, whereas DSLR Advanced classes lead intermediate students further into the world of flash lighting by exploring how to use external flashes, set up studio lighting, and sell paparazzi-style photos of local squirrels to National Geographic. Aspiring wedding and studio photographers hone their craft and practice postproduction techniques in the fully equipped studio, which also hosts professional portrait shoots.
Nearly a century old history, Oak Park Art League has colored the community by cultivating and sharing the work of local artists through instruction and exhibitions. During a glass-fusing class, students acquaint themselves with the included materials with deep, ritualistic curtsies before instructors launch into a technical demonstration. Students choose from projects including an ornament, sun catcher, or free-form picture frame, and proud craft parents are free to tote their polished progeny home upon completion.
After 6 years of award winning instruction in dance and the performing arts, VPA has launched its brand new Adult Program. This exciting new program offers an array of dance and fitness classes suitable for all levels, from the beginner to the seasoned veteran.
Taking an all-inclusive approach to music instruction, American Music Institute offers group and private lessons for all ages, experience levels, and styles of music. College-educated teachers lead lessons for voice as well as instruments ranging from guitar and percussion to violin, oboe, and flute. Group classes are available for popular instruments—such as beginning violin and guitar—as well as music theory. Private lessons, meanwhile, provide weekly one-on-one instruction at the institute or in students' homes.
A student of Native American, Peruvian, and Siberian shaman traditions, Rhonda Day-Kooy spreads her passion for medicinal plants through the green products, classes, and events offered at Blue Feather. Some of Day-Kooy's customers come to the botanical boutique for aromatherapy certification, and others stop in to purchase eco-friendly skincare products by Babo Botanicals and whimsically flammable wares from Flying Wish Paper. In the Healing Hut, Rhonda and her therapists lead spiritual therapies, including guided meditation, chakra balancing, and foot-based reflexology treatments.
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 the Associated Press—photos he took of Sammy Sosa in 2003 appeared in numerous media outlets, including MLB.com, after Sosa's broken bat was found to be filled with cork and Cracker Jack prizes. His wedding photography, meanwhile, has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, and garnered a 2012 Bride's Choice award on WeddingWire.com.