Ohio’s second-largest city is home to a ton of talented photographers. As the Rust Belt metropolis continues to reinvent itself, we’ve been poring through portfolios and bios, looking for the best Cleveland has to offer. If you’re in need of a fine art take on a wedding, event, or holiday, or perhaps just looking for a photographer’s eye for a wall piece, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the most talented fine art photographers in Cleveland in 2019.
1. Steven Mastroianni of Silver Scuro Studio and Gallery
Fine art photographer Steven Mastroianni is one of the few creatives that have embraced both film and digital photography in their work. His digital work has a very true-to-life style color-wise. Mixing monochrome and color, his tones are bold yet realistic, often using a somber, moody lighting that we enjoy. Steven’s black-and-white film sessions are shot using medium or large format cameras in studio to reproduce the classic look of silver-based photography.
Each image is printed with a mechanical enlarger and hand-processed in the darkroom; Steven operates one of the few remaining professional B&W darkrooms in Cleveland today! His facility with both digital and film photography is a major reason why we’ve chosen Steven as one of the best fine art photographers in Cleveland.
2. Julianna Arendash of Cleveland Fine Art Boudoir
Boudoir photography is one of the most underappreciated and difficult forms of fine art to do well. Not only do many subjects come in with a jaded view, but the photographer’s attitude has an immense impact on each session. Julianna Arendash sums it up best in her own words: “Sadly, most women don’t believe in their beauty — yet… I’ve also found one thing every woman I’ve photographed has in common at the end of their photoshoot… Complete self-confidence.”
Looking through her portfolio, it’s clear just how much impact her fine art photography can have on her subjects. She captures angles that are tasteful yet seductive. Her clients’ smiles are genuine as they get into the art of uncovering their innate sexiness. And her color choices for boudoir are fantastic; Julianna uses subdued tonalities that flatter skin and emphasize textures in skin and fabrics while downplaying distracting color elements.
3. Barney Taxel
Taxel Image Group principal photographer Barney Taxel has a number of fine art images that caught our eye. His work covers a variety of themes, such as modern dance, the love of light, urban scenes focusing on details in the ordinary, and much more. We especially enjoyed his New York Times series of images: each image is a vignette of someone’s life; environmental and documentary portraiture in monochrome that has us wanting to know more about each subject.
All of Barney’s signed, limited edition prints are available in standard or custom sizes as required. Plus, they’re printed on Epson archival quality paper. Barney also covers food, portraits, and industrial art through Taxel Image Group.
Kate Mannella best sums up her style in her own words: “Intimate, organic, warm, refined, and elegant. I’m all about cozy sophistication.” Looking through her images, we absolutely agree with these terms. Each composition showcasing the venue or environment exudes an air of class and intimacy that keeps us coming back for more.
The airy, bright style she uses makes her subjects glow, and the pastel color tones bring out the warmth in cheeks, smiles, and blushes. Kate is also great at showcasing beautiful little aspects of each venue that might otherwise go unnoticed: a dessert tray perfectly arranged or a bouquet waiting for hands. She includes simple, minimalistic, yet intriguing additions to the story of your wedding. Kate’s undoubtedly one of the best fine art photographers in Cleveland working today.
5. Maddie Draffan of Heart in Hand Portraits
Conceptual and lifestyle photographer Maddie Draffan offers a fine art take on traditional portraiture. As Maddie describes it: “I specialize in conceptual and lifestyle portraiture, and I do my best to embody my work in a film-like, whimsical way, capturing any and all genuine & emotionally driven moments.” We enjoy her take on portraiture; many of her clients’ poses convey a playful or expressive mood.
Her outdoor boudoir is something we rarely see, with shoots available in meadows and even waterfalls as backdrops! Maddie’s art expresses the individuality of her clients as much as it does her signature style. Her color palette is a mildly subdued yet rich selection that favors shadows, blacks, and earth tones. This, combined with her love of getting up close and personal during her shoots, gives her work a signature style all her own!
Fine art photographer Emily Millay has a unique style that’s hard to pin down. She incorporates elements of editorial and documentary photography in her work, and her love of monochrome and grain gives her style an enjoyable vintage film quality. In addition, her documentary images come from non-traditional angles that truly help sell the story. We don’t always get to see a face turning towards the camera, for example, which gives the image a thoughtful, intimate flavor. Emily’s work has this way of transporting the viewer to the subject’s time and place, which few photographers have mastered.
Kolman Rosenberg sums up the documentarian approach best in his own words: “The camera serves as a portal for me to view common sites in an uncommon way. It enables me to see, and point out to others, the beauty, irony, interest, humor and sometimes the ugliness of the world we live in.” As a documentary, editorial, and fine art photographer, he aims to give a clear window into our world with a minimalistic take on editing to do so, which we enjoy.
He also tends to give a narrow slice of space, focusing our attention on a particular aspect that creates a clear subject rather than a busy image full of unnecessary detail. Images can be straightforward portraits or more abstract like the weave and weft of lines surrounding a whaleboat. Kolman’s creative eye takes us around the world as he travels, and his combination of diversity and experience marks him as one of the best Cleveland fine art photographers.