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Best Artistic Photographers In Chicago

By Magdalene Paniotte

When considering a well-qualified artistic photographer for your next wedding, architectural project, head shot or family portrait, these select few are among the best in Chicago.

(Credit: Jennifer Girard Photography)

Jennifer Girard Photography

1455 W. Roscoe St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 929-3730

As a seasoned professional with more than 40 years of exposure in the industry, Jennifer Girard has photographed a large number of celebrities and high-profile dignitaries both nationally and internationally. A warm and engaging personality, she exudes a charming enthusiasm for life and for all the imagery there is to experience and share in the world. Jennifer has always been excited and mesmerized by photography, having traveled to Europe at the age of 18 where she modeled in Paris for a while. Her love of the art form continued through the years, compelling her to explore photography as a career. Soon thereafter, she created a darkroom in her basement and started doing actor head shots before venturing to photograph at Second City for several years in the 1980s. Second City is where she developed expertise in theatrical scenes while perfecting her natural ability to "capture what was happening in the scene, in the frame." Eventually she transitioned into commercial photography, expanding her in-depth knowledge within the beauty and elegance of wedding events. Jennifer is a delightful, down-to-earth person who loves to photograph people in the best possible light.

(Credit: Jai Girard Photography)

Jai Girard Photography

1358 N. Campbell Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 342-1400

A twin daughter of renowned Chicago photographer Jennifer Girard, the imaginative Jai Girard had an early conceptualization of the photographic process before she really knew it would be her calling in life. Initially embarking on a career in journalism, Jai worked as a Fellow for the esteemed Charles Kuralt of CBS and was a Producer for WLS Talk Radio. A series of events led to an impromptu invitation from a friend to photograph a performance by the celebrated vocalist Dolly Parton. This unique opportunity sparked Jai's curiosity about the industry and her focus started to shift as she developed an interest in the business of photography. After shooting many Chicago Bulls games and free events, her perspective on the technical aspect of the craft began to take form and she found the idea of photographing weddings most appealing. Now an established wedding photographer with more than 15 years of experience, Jai has discovered her niche in this area of specialization, particularly with her amazing work through creative Photoshop enhancements to stylize these spectacular occasions. In her own words, "it's a whole new medium of being expressed -- very cool and real" in that it "takes the photographer to the next level, creating an almost surreal effect with certain clouds, elements, textures and overlays." It's all about "coming up with new ideas" she says, "everything in life can be interpreted as art."

(Credit: Brian McConkey Photography)

Brian McConkey Photography

312 N. May Ave., Suite 6J
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 563-1357

Brian has always been fascinated by the photographic process. He first learned to shoot with a completely manual camera and from that experience, developed his knowledge of shutter speeds and apertures. In reflecting upon his early exposure to the craft, he recalls browsing through Life Magazine and being amazed by the way in which people didn't seem to know the photographer was there. He was mostly absorbed with the black and white images and with the grain in those images. Today, Brian is regarded as one of Chicago's top artistic photographers specializing in actor head shots. He has an impressive celebrity portfolio and prefers the Nikon D7000 to photograph, commenting that his favorite lens is the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 "because it's very fast and great to work with." In his own words, "the creative shot, if you will... for me starts with how I am going to light my subject. Then I look through the camera and into their eyes to see where I need to go from there." Brian views himself as more of a storyteller in the medium of photography. He enjoys capturing images and showing people what he discovers. He muses, "it's about perceiving something and then wanting to capture and re-create it in a way that other people can see what you are projecting, what you want them to imagine."

(Credit: Furla Studios)

Furla Studios

1440 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL 60025
(847) 724-1200

Peter Furla is proud to be considered one of the best photographers in Chicago. He was the first to win Best Print of the Year three times and was inducted into the Presidential Circle. He initially learned about photography through his father who started Furla Studio in 1945, working alongside him for several years before he opened Furla Photography and Video in 1982. The studio specializes in weddings and photographs clients from third-generation families, with a multi-talented staff that has been flown all over the world to document this once-in-a-lifetime event. Furla's video division is run by long-time creative studio partner Chris Chibucos who recently added movie trailers to wedding celebrations, highlighting the best moments of the wedding in two- to three-minute trailer sequences. The studio is about high quality, imaginative photography and shoots in all styles from classic and traditional to photo journalistic, documentary, formal, casual portraits and corporate. Peter's work is natural yet edgy, blending natural light with 'off camera' lighting to capture infants and toddlers and families at the beach, at home or in his studio. He feels that "you have to have an eye for the camera; composition, timing and blending of the light is what creates the artistic shot." He believes in the importance of photography "to preserve cherished memories, history and special occasions in life."

(Credit: Papadakis Photography)

Papadakis Photography

17 Lexington Road
South Barrington, IL 60010
(847) 428-4400

George's interest in photography began as a hobby from watching his father who was an amateur photographer at the time. After years of perfecting his craft and technique, it became a passion that eventually led to a lucrative and successful career. A renowned Chicago photographer for more than 20 years, he has received numerous accolades as well as national and international acclaim for artistic excellence and versatility, producing fabulous work that is utilized and marketed world wide. Papadakis Photography is well known and maintains an extensive client list that continues to grow. George's style ranges from family and professional portraits to modeling and product photography to architectural and commercial work. He defines art in photography as "the ability to create with light and with vision" adding that "people come to us for our ability to capture natural emotion and realistic expressions, comfort and our ability to take a project from inception to completion." The studio boasts a specially trained staff to scout and cast talent, while providing make-up and hair artistry, retouching and graphic arts. When asked to comment on his favorite destination to photograph, "it would definitely be Santorini, Greece. Whether in Greece or in remote locales throughout the world, it has always been a desire to capture and preserve images of people and families during their special travels." Upon further reflection he notes, "it is during these trips that people are most at peace and relaxed. It is then that our true selves can emerge."

Magdalene Paniotte is from Chicago and very pleased to be a CBS Contributor. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre and has studied creative writing at the graduate level. Maggie enjoys composing articles and developing her voice as a freelance writer. Her work can be found at


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