Our Story

Welcome to Out of Chicago!


Hi! I’m Chris Smith and this is Out of Chicago Photography. Out of Chicago brings together passionate photographers for amazing photo experiences! Learn from, be inspired by, and shoot alongside your photography heroes.

We have been running photography tours, workshops, and photowalks in the Chicago area since 2011. In 2014 we thought we’d try running a no-holds-barred photography conference in the heart or Chicago. It turned out to be super fun and everyone loved it! 2016 marked the third year of the summer conference and we expanded to host a winter and portrait conference. We also expanded to New York City, hosting the Out of New York Conference.And in 2017, we’re bringing the Out of Chicago experience to Acadia National Park, for Out of Acadia: An Out of Chicago  Trip!

  • In 2013, I wrote The Photographer’s Guide to Chicago. We know Chicago photo locations as well as anyone.
  • In 2016, we had 400 passionate photographers attend The Out of Chicago Photography Conference.
  • 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.

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About Our Founder

Chris Smith, Out of Chicago Founder

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 Our Team
Malinda Kavetschanky
Director of Marketing, Social Media and Strategy

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.

Michelle Kuhn
Exhibitions, Registration, Chicago Conference Coordinator

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.

Bryan Esler
Website Coordinator, Photowalk Co-Coordinator

Bryan oversees all Out of Chicago websites, handling the organization and editing of content. He also organizes the conference photowalks. Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Bryan is also a great photographer specializing in events and corporate promotional photos.

Anne Belmont
Presenter Liaison

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.

Lara Joy Brynildssen
Conference Room Coordinator
Tim Karas
Photowalk Co-Coordinator
Tony Reynes
Michael Novo
Portrait Conference Coordinator
Larry Chua
Technology Assistant
Margie Hurwich
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