The Windy City’s artistic diversity and rich cultural heritage has remained a source of inspiration for artists of all types –– including fashion photographers. Whether they’re in the studio or on location, the city’s unique influences are evident throughout the work of its resident visual artists. Check out the most innovative Chicago fashion photographers who are redefining the craft.
1. Ayaka Sano
Ayaka Sano is known for exceeding her clients’ expectations. Her laid-back personality and professionalism helps to put her subjects at ease, resulting in relaxed body language and facial expressions. Her use of creamy tones and emphasis on natural movement give her photos a sophisticated and dreamy quality that pairs well with her compositions. Ayaka’s lightning fast turnaround and wealth of creative location ideas makes her one of the best fashion photographers in Chicago.
For Olivia Kohler, the best way to get to know someone is through her lens. The commercial beauty and fashion photographer draws inspiration from music, travel, and the people she meets along the way. Her bright and colorful style keeps things fresh, while her penchant for humor adds a friendly and accessible quality to her work. As one of the best Chicago fashion photographers, Olivia Kohler has worked with top talent from Ford Models, staying up to date on beauty trends through her other work as a product photographer.
With uncluttered backgrounds and soft, diffused lighting, Ravi Balineni creates images that capture the inner beauty of his subjects –– something the former New Yorker prides himself on. His ability to generate smooth and glowing skin tones without sacrificing sharpness and detail make him an ideal choice for fashion designers. His black-and-white images exude unassuming elegance that showcases the weight and texture of his subject’s wardrobe.
4. Hope Sayre
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in photography from Columbia College in Chicago, Hope Sayre is making waves with her futuristic and chic editorials. Sayre’s desire to communicate deeper stories within her fashion portraits stems from her appreciation of the subtle improvements that occur when a photographer and subject make a personal connection. Her velvety skin tones and smooth color gradients have appeared in magazines like ELEGANT, and continue to attract attention from makeup artists and designers.
5. Amy Aiello
With a background in broadcast journalism and videography, Amy Aiello made the leap to become an Emmy-winning photographer. Using rich earth tones and creamy highlights, Aiello creates romantic and moody images with elements of fantasy. Her unique brand of photography has graced the pages of The Chicago Tribune, Shutterbug Magazine, Modern Luxury Brides Magazine, and The Knot Chicago Magazine, to name a few. When Amy isn’t shooting, she keeps the creative juices flowing through her studies of classical piano, theater, and dance.
Meagan Shuptar is a rising star in the world of commercial fashion photography, having worked with clients like Walgreens, Budweiser, and Revlon. With an appreciation for the power of collaboration, Meagan creates effortless and fresh images that bring life to her client’s branding ads. Her natural and authentic photos benefit from her love of the city of Chicago –– with its big city pace and Midwestern sensibilities. In her spare time, Meagan finds inspiration through traveling, Danish design, and the occasional impromptu dance party.
Originally from Haiti, Martine Severin’s unique perspective and worldly travels give her photos a modern tone that exudes strength and wisdom. With introspective — sometimes somber — facial expressions, the Harvard graduate brings out the soulful sophistication in her subjects while showcasing the urban landscape of Chicago. Her ability to capture portraits that have a sense of regality but never seem stale or emotionless is what makes her one of Chicago’s best fashion photographers.
With vivid colors and free-spirited direction, Karolina Zelenekiene’s fashion photography gives a fresh nod to vintage pinups. Fun, loving poses and eye-catching backdrops pair well with Karolina’s use of bright, single source lighting. Her on-location shoots make use of natural lighting and have an inviting and nostalgic fee, creating a sense of desire for the products and styles she showcases throughout her body of work.
As a freelance content creator and artist with a background in digital advertising, Dennis Elliot specializes in cinematic portraits and editorials. His impressive Instagram following continues to grow as he actively produces unique and emotional pieces. Avant-garde exposure techniques, cinematic shadows, and unexpected positioning characterize the modern and unique editorials that his audience has come to expect.
10. Anna Komarov
One of Chicago’s best fashion photographers is Anna Komarov, a fun-loving travel enthusiast with a knack for creating crisp photos that stand out. Her use of stiff and imaginative poses adds a sense of modernity to her retro-inspired color palettes. With clean lines and inviting colors, Komarov creates eye-catching images that have garnered the attention of magazines like Vulkan and Lucy’s.
Jean Sweet Ehlinger’s portfolio is virtual buffet of striking imagery with hints of retro and steampunk influences. With over 30 years of experience as a fashion trade show producer and salon owner as well as a hair and makeup stylist –– Ehlinger uses her in-depth knowledge of the industry to produce captivating photos that pop. Her collaborative style and desire to capture the character and beauty of her subjects is reflected throughout her extensive collection of high-end, brooding portraits.
12. Baylee Thorburn
Baylee Thorburn’s passion for photography started at an early age –– leading her to Columbia College, Chicago, where she earned a photography and management degree and began her blossoming career. Her easygoing attitude and strong work ethic lets her put her skills to use as she crafts intriguing, cinematic images with a signature gritty edge.