8 Chicago Photographers Show Us What it Means to Rise Above


“It used to be if you wanted to ‘make it’ as an artist, you’d move to either New York or Los Angeles,” says Feature Studio’s founder, Ryan McMahill. But according to Ryan, there’s a growing shift happening in Chicago which he’s calling an “artist renaissance” of sorts. That’s why like so many Chicago creatives, he’s decided to call the Windy City home. 

We saw just how powerful this movement has become when we invited eight Chicago-based photographers to be a part of our latest installment of Peerspace Rising. With the help of Peerspace host, Alina Tsvor, we asked each photographer to create something dedicated to the theme of Rising.

Fast forward one month later, we debuted their work to the public at Feature Studios. For those who couldn’t make it in person, scroll through to see how each photographer interpreted “rising” for this photo exhbit. 


Alina Tsvor @alinatsvor

Rising to me means growth, to spring up as plants do, to be restored to life. I wanted to create fashion photos that capture a feeling of growing and all the uncertainty that might come with it.

Model/Stylist: Lexi Kingery; Makeup Artist: Mollie Gloss


 Explore Alina’s location: Artist Loft with Skyline View


Dennis Elliott  @ddesigns_

We take a look through a melancholy lens into an world of grit and color. The auras of 3 primary vibrant beings extend out and brighten and fill the space around them. Their energy rising, building, twisting into patterns truly unique to themselves and living in real space and time. They shine brilliant in an abandoned space known for shadow.

Models: JadaAzeez, Chufue; Makeup Artist: Mollie Gloss, Assistants: Karsten, Alexandra, Cristóbal


 Explore Dennis’ location: Industrial and Raw Urban Warehouse


Jac Robertson @madamejac

In Greek Mythology and across many cultures, the Phoenix is the bird of renewal – in connection with the sun, it gains new life by rising from the ashes of its preceding life. This series is about the rediscovery of oneself and re-igniting of the flame inside that gives you inspiration, creativity, and the freedom to start over again.

Model: Lyric Mariah; Stylist: Sal So Groovy; Makeup Artist: Chantelle Zuniga; Assistant: Nate Cruz


Explore Jac’s location: Creative Shag Room 


Michael Salisbury @msalisbu  

When asked to photograph with the theme Rising, I immediately focused my attention of this project on the rising talent among Chicago creatives. Spanning across several different mediums, I have chosen to feature a few of some of the most talented creatives who are carving out their names in Chicago’s rising creative community.

Emma McKee of StitchGawd

Letesha Renee of Eugene Taylor Brand

Rich Jones, MC and Life Enthusiast

Phero of Cold Chillen

Nikko Washington, Artist and Designer

Explore Michael’s location: Industrial and Raw Urban Warehouse


Evan Sheehan @evantsheehan

The series depicts dealing with winter boredom and conquering the indoors when outside is less than tolerable. The subjects are making the space their own and seeing it in new ways, rising above the doldrums of the season.

Models: Tayler NashClaire Finnegan; Stylist: Nikki Kunnen; Makeup Artist: Asia Tomeny; Hair: Jade Tomeny


Explore Evan’s location: Tropical Themed Space in Wicker Park


Max Schreier @maxschreier

I featured an up-and coming-model in a Peerspace location. I wanted to keep the photos simple and clean, using the architecture and features of the location along with natural light to create unique images that highlight the model and use the space in a unique way.

Model: Morgan Katz, Stylist: Natalie Courtright

 Explore Max’s location: Historic Brick and Timber Industrial Loft


Ryan McMahill @ryanmcmahill

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Nelson Mandela

Model/Styling:  DJ Smedley; Assistant: Shahrnaz Javid


Explore Ryan’s location: Fulton Market Studio


Vince DeSantiago @vincedesantiago

Every space has a history, a story for people to learn. Factories, schools, businesses; it’s internal organs may change, but the skeleton always stays the same.


Explore Vince’s location: Industrial and Raw Urban Warehouse


Alongside these photographs, we featured designers Eugene Taylor Brand x OG  who showcased their newest collection Work With Your Friends and Emma McKee a.k.a. Stitch Gawd , who displayed her custom embroidered jackets. Also, a big thank you to Chanté Linwood for providing tunes for this photo exhibit turned dance party. See more event photos here.



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