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Welcome to the Out of Chicago Photography Community!

We create photo experiences for passionate photographers to connect with and learn from their photography heroes.

We have been running photography tours, workshops, and photowalks in Chicago since 2011. We know Chicago photo locations better than anyone.

In 2014 we organized the first Out of Chicago Photography Conference in the heart of Chicago. Since the first conference we’ve added a winter conference and we’re bringing the Out of Chicago experience to some of our favorite photo locations outside of Chicago. In 2016 we held the first Out of New York Photography Conference and in October of 2017 we’re headed to Acadia National Park.

Since 2011, we have teamed up with some of our favorite photographers including Rick Sammon, Bryan Peterson, Art Wolfe, Matt Kloskowski, Frederick Van Johnson, Elia Locardi, Thomas Leuthard, Valerie Jardin, Bill Fortney, Tim Wallace, Julia Anna Gospodarou, Scott Bourne, Jimmy McIntyre, Lindsay Adler, Jen Rozenbaum and hundreds more.

Our favorite part of all of this is the community that has evolved from these events. To keep the community engaged between events, we are rolling out online courses taught by some of your favorite Out of Chicago instructors. These classes are different than other online photography classes. You’ll work directly with the instructors. You’ll get to know them. They will get to know you and your work. And you’ll learn in a small group. And you’ll have someone always there when you need help.

We also have ongoing guest lectures from some of the best photographers in the world. Sign up for our email list to be the first to know when we announce the next event, course or conference.

About our founder :: Chris Smith

When I’m not staying up all night figuring out the details of our next Out of Chicago Conference, you’ll find me at the park with our son and daughter, playing my guitar, out on the golf course, or following my favorite (Detroit) sports teams. I love Chicago, but I’ll always root for my Tigers, Red Wings, Lions, Michigan sports, and Pistons.

For the past 17 years, I have taught high school physics. It’s the most difficult job I’ve ever had!

I’m really proud of my first book, The Photographer’s Guide to Chicago. It has over 100 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.9 stars out of 5. It’s the highest rated photography book on Amazon.

If you really want to know, here are five fascinating fun facts about me.

  • FFF #1: I was in the marching band and men’s glee club at the University of Michigan. Go Blue!
  • FFF #2: I have coached girls JV, boys frosh/soph, and boys varsity golf.
  • FFF #3: I love my adopted town of Chicago, but I’m originally from the Detroit area. You’ve heard of 8-mile? I grew up on 13 ½ mile.
  • FFF #4: Over the years I’ve coached our school’s robotics team, lead the photography club, and started the unmanned aerial vehicle club.
  • FFF #5: My first ever photo sale was to Donald Trump.
Meet the Out of Chicago team
Director of Marketing, Social Media and Strategy

Malinda Kavetschanky

Malinda joined the team in 2014 and has transformed Out of Chicago from a big dream of mine into a successful company. Malinda is also an excellent family photographer.

Exhibitions, Registration, Chicago Conference Coordinator

Michelle Kuhn

If you have questions about registering for any event, this is who you need to talk to. She also oversees the logistics behind the Chicago conference and works directly with exhibitors and conference sponsors. Michelle is also a great newborn photographer.

Design and Photowalk Coordinator

Bryan Esler

Bryan oversees the Out of Chicago website, as well as all design materials. He also helps to organize the conference photowalks.

Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Bryan is a corporate photographer who has worked with CNBC, Citadel, Michigan State University, Steelcase, the State Bar of Michigan, ArtPrize and more. He is also an author for Photofocus.

Presenter Liaison

Anne Belmont

As Presenter Liaison, Anne gathers presenter information for the website and makes sure presenters are welcomed and have everything they need before and during our conferences. Anne is a nature photographer who specializes in macro flower photography and she is a presenter at our conferences.

Summer Conference Volunteer Coordinator

Lara Joy Brynildssen

Photowalk Co-Coordinator

Tim Karas


Tony Reynes

Technology Assistant

Larry Chua