Chicago may not be your first choice when looking for talented landscape photographers. While the iconic city provides stunning urban landscape opportunities, at first glance, one might think natural landscapes are lacking. However, as these photographers can prove, that’s far from the truth! If you want to see a new side to the Windy City, here are our favorite landscape photographers in Chicago for your consideration!
Irish-born, Chicago-based landscape photographer Barry Butler has over 20 years of experience in the field. Though he’s photographed breathtaking locations across the globe, Barry is best known for his iconic images of Chicago, earning him the nickname of “Chicago’s Picture Poet” by reporter Mike Lowe. Be it street level, puddle reflections, or a drone’s-eye view, Barry is constantly finding new presentations of the Windy City for our appreciation. One of the top-tier landscape photographers in Chicago, he uses a very neutral, true-to-life color cast rather than the overly saturated styles more typical in modern landscape photography. His urban images often provide new views on familiar local sights through this approach.
Kristen Ryan finds her inspiration while surrounded by nature; expansive skies, complex natural light, and the elements are her muse! Her work mixes both fine art and traditional documentary approaches to landscape photography. As such, her work can vary from a more artistic vision that uses the landscape as a canvas to a strong desire to showcase things exactly as they are.
While many photographers lead workshops on outdoor photography, Kristen is especially interested in collaborations that result from bringing photographers together. Her “Women Capture Magic” retreats are a prime example of how passion blooms through working together in the field. In her own words, “I believe we, as women, need to feed our desire to travel and create as well as connect with other like minded women.”
Mike MacDonald has established himself in the world of landscape and nature photography for 25 years and counting. While many people might think Chicago an odd base for a lover of nature, Mike believes he’s in precisely the right spot! As Mike himself explains, “The Chicago region is home to more protected areas than most of the natural parks, and more native plant species than any national park. Unfortunately most Chicagoans are unaware.” His images show a drastically different perspective of the region — one of misty meadows dotted by Echinacea flowers and stately egrets wading through still waters.
Self-described lifestyle photographer Paul Aparico has a fine eye for natural and urban landscape photography. His impressive body of work not only includes lifestyle approaches, such as candid human elements within the frame, but also abstract and minimalist themes, depending on the subject at hand. Paul’s portfolio of abandoned Chicago buildings offers a unique perspective on traditional urban landscapes.
Although iconic skylines and pulsing city lights are relatively easy to find, it takes patience and a skilled hand to show us the innate beauty of abandoned buildings and debris-strewn floors. Paul’s eye for textures and contrasts in form and color let him tell incredible visual stories regardless of what’s in front of his camera.
Photographer, musician, and artist Jean Renee is in love with all things creative. And when it comes to landscape photography, it’s clear she’s immensely talented at astrophotography, cityscapes, natural landscapes, and environmental portraits, all of which seek to include expansive backgrounds for our appreciation. Her astrophotography work is especially striking for someone normally limited by the light pollution of a major US city. Jean travels worldwide seeking out aurorae, eclipses, the Milky Way, and star trails for her photography. Her nuanced approach is why we’ve chosen her as one of the top landscape photographers in Chicago!
6. David Kogan
David Kogan is a landscape photographer focused mostly on urban landscapes, particularly empty urban landscapes — something that isn’t always easy to locate unless you enjoy being out at times and in weather conditions others tend to avoid! David’s work has a vibrancy that’s unmistakable; he loves finding the saturated colors in city lights, flaking paint, spray art, and sunsets, then highlighting them for viewers to take in a fresh perspective. David’s work is a great reminder that one need not travel around the world to create stunning urban landscape works.
One of the most noteworthy Chicago landscape photographers, Marian Kraus uses a variety of perspectives in his work. Wide-angle views, tight telephoto perspectives, and close-up macro shots all form a part of his portfolio. However, Marian’s natural and urban landscape drone photography is particularly masterful. Rather than finding horizontal views from elevated perspectives, he tends to shoot straight down from above. This gives us a new appreciation for the patterns trees make in stands, river channels, and even the interactions of the man-made world like roads and buildings in relation to nature.