Chicago, the Windy City, is one of the largest metropolises in the United States. Nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan, it offers all the delights of an international city as well as its own unique character. There are few better places for portraits and fine art photography. Naturally, there are hundreds of talented fine art photographers in the area, but which ones are the most noteworthy? We’ve cultivated a list of the top fine art photographers in Chicago who will give you an unforgettable creative experience.
1. Marian Kraus
Marian Kraus is all about photographing spaces. In his own words: “The visual capture of interiors, architecture, lifestyle, people, industrial settings, products and nature are my specialty. Whether for my clients or my own personal pleasure, I love to tell stories in pictures.” Looking through his portfolio, we see the truth of these words.
His images, often taken from a distance, include cloud-filled skies with tiny strips of land, distant mountains, trees soaring towards the heavens, and other expansive subjects. Marian has a similar fascination with the intimate world of closeups as well; leaves, ice, rock, and other textured surfaces also make appearances. He prefers natural colors — not too obviously saturated or desaturated — as well as good highlights to avoid washed out skies. Very true-to-life art work that could beautifully grace any studio, wall, or living room space.
2. Igor Menaker
Igor Menaker fully understands that photography isn’t necessarily about capturing a true-to-life snapshot of reality, but rather one’s own creative vision of what one sees while moving about in the world. His talent is photographing architecture worldwide. Portfolio locations include New York City, Chicago, Italy, and Houston. Igor photographs both iconic and lesser-known buildings entirely in monochrome, which brings out detail and lets the viewer concentrate on lines and patterns rather than being distracted by color.
Each work is a composite photo known as a multi-row panorama — compiled of nearly 100 photographs stitched together, which usually entails a full week of editing in the digital darkroom to create ultra-high resolution images for fine art use.
3. Rachel Mandel of Mandelette Photography
Rachel Mandel is a talented fine art wedding photographer in Chicago. Her style comprises natural light photography with tasteful tweaks in the digital darkroom. We love her bright, airy style; she employs a strong white light that envelops her subjects in a hazy glow. Her color choices range from natural to a muted color palette that’s used in wedding photography to create a timeless character.
Rachel’s personal photographer roots go back as far as her great-grandfather, an inventor in Chicago selling one-minute exposure shots downtown. To see someone carrying on a family business nearly a century later is impressive; Rachel gets our vote for being one of the most dedicated fine arts wedding photographers in Chicago.
Candice Cusic is a Chicago-based fine art photographer with a love of weddings, pets, families, and engagement images. She brings 20 years of photojournalism experience to her photography that truly comes across throughout her portfolio. Instead of typical poses where the subjects are looking straight at the camera in a formal position, she uses a documentary style.
Documentary weddings and events use background clues for context while subjects go about their lives. And despite the lack of imposed structure, the narrative still comes across and strong emotion gets captured for display. Her pet photography is especially striking as well; she works in-studio with animals using all kinds of props and toys to capture fur babies at their very best.
If you enjoy Chicago from every angle, waterfront to skyline, then Scott Fishman’s cityscape fine art is just right for you. His work, taken at all hours of the day, showcases not just panoramic views of the Windy City but also individual landmarks: the Chicago Theater Marquee, Buckingham Fountain, the World Series bleachers, and other familiar landmarks all make an appearance.
Scott even has a world travel series wherein he captures images in Cuba. His collection of images is complete in of itself, with plenty of options for enhancing any residential or commercial space. He also takes commissioned projects in order to best capture the fine art vision you have in mind.
With over 20 years of commercial and fine art photography experience, Morgan Anderson is one of the best fine art photographers in Chicago working today. He prefers to work with environmental portraits, lifestyle images, profile stories, and on-location work, shooting mostly in color and with backgrounds that carry as much weight as the subject. We see guitars in hand, tended gardens, and business attire helping tell the story of each of his subjects.
He’s also a fan of very natural colors and lighting that look almost untouched in post-processing. In Morgan’s own words: “I love photography and I feel a deep sense of commitment to the craft and creativity of it. My images are a very important expression of who I am and what I am capable of.”
Nicole Kilday is a talented fine art wedding and portrait photographer who has been handling cameras since she could walk. She loves to capture intimacy and emotion, and it absolutely shows in her work. We love the film-like quality of her images. She shoots monochrome as much as color and, unlike many photographers, Nicole isn’t afraid of shadows and underexposure. The deep shadows help create a sense of intimacy along with how nicely she fills the frame with her subjects.
Her style of posing ranges from classic and natural to candid and spontaneous, which is a delight because it shows a range of flexibility and expertise that’s rare in today’s wedding photography. Nicole’s subdued color palette also helps seal the timeless quality of her photography.
Stephanie Wood counts such great photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, and Annie Leibovitz as influences to her style. As a result, she prefers documentary and fine art styles of shooting that capture authentic moments over posed ones while also immortalizing intimacy and personality.
In her images, the happy couples are usually thoroughly engaged in whatever they’re doing: cuddling, laughing, dancing, and doing everything but looking at the camera. And given how fully Stephanie fills the frames with her subjects, it’s clear she has an incredible talent for being in the place in an unobtrusive manner! Earth tones, muted colors, and monochrome help keep color from being overly distracting. Consistent color grading and monochrome also ensures her work has not only a timeless quality but also a continuous style.