Out of Chicago is where you connect to a friendly community that cares and shares in your common passion.

It began in 2011 as a blog by Chris Smith to share his photography adventures. Since then Out of Chicago has evolved from publishing a book to creating the first and largest annual midwest photography conference of its kind, bringing together hundreds of photography enthusiasts to one location. Some things have changed since then but the vision has not, which is to immerse you in the best possible photography learning experience.
Out of Chicago continues to grow and now creates multiple destination conferences each year, attracting dozens of world-class photographers in their field. Unlike traditional conferences, Out of Chicago travels to epic destinations and provides immersive, hands-on learning experiences where you can learn and shoot side-by-side with the pros.
We do this because we are all passionate photographers ourselves and know that traveling to an amazing place, eye opening experiences occur. By bringing together a diverse, leading line-up of instructors to each event, we keep each conference unique and creative for you to learn something new every time. And it is in-the-field, shooting side by side with the pros where your photography is transformed.
We travel. Teach it. Do it together. And share a common passion – photography. 
Bob Wojda
Anne Belmont
Malinda Kavetschanky
Chris Smith
Lesley Ames

Our team

Chris Smith, Founder
Out of Chicago started in 2011 when Chris began to photograph our beautiful city. Chris used his knowledge from the blog to write “The Photographer’s Guide to Chicago”. Chris’ vision has always been to connect passionate photographers with each other, which has lead him to creating destination oriented conferences each year. Chris loves photographing the city and using his 17+ years of teaching physics experience to teach others about his photography passion. When he’s not creating new content for Out of Chicago, you will find him hanging out with his wife and two kids or playing hockey. www.csmithchicago.com

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 specializes in flower photography and teaches classes and workshops with Out of Chicago and other conference venues. She also works in partnership with Lensbaby to spread the love of their creative lenses. See her work here, www.annebelmontphotography.com.

Malinda Kavetschanky,  Operations Director
As a team member of Out of Chicago, Malinda helps with everything from the big picture to the small details on new events. She is passionate about making Out of Chicago a strong community of photographers and loves meeting new friends. In addition to photographing Chicago, the Chicago Botanic Gardens, and travel, she enjoys portrait photography too. You can find her work at malindakavphoto.com.

Lesley Ames, Marketing Director
With over two decades in brand marketing, creative communication and traveling the world, it is natural for one of Lesley’s passions to be photography and telling stories. She helps Out of Chicago with everything from brand development to promoting yearly events, content creation and digital media. See her photography work here, www.lesleyames.com.

Bob Wojda, Video
Bob has been working in the video industry for thirty years.  He’s traveled the world as a producer and director and started his own full-service production company in 2008.  Bob’s interest in DSLR cinematography brought him to the Out of Chicago team where he both teaches and assists with the moving picture side of the organization. Besides shooting, Bob races sailboats in the summer and enjoys watching movies with his family.

Our promise

Live your best creative life

Out of Chicago brings together passionate enthusiasts with world-class photographers, all in one epic location, where you learn and shoot side-by-side with the pros. Since 2014, we have organized more than 15 hands-on photography conferences in Chicago, New York City, Moab and more. We are all photographers ourselves so we understand what it takes to be inspired, get to the right place at the right time and live our best creative life.


From iconic landscapes to dramatic outdoor spaces, we handpick each location for our conferences so you can get the most out of photographing a place. Inclusive of first-class conference facilities to stepping out your door for the first morning light, we promise you a perfect place to learn and play.


Each event brings together over a dozen world-class photographers from across the country that specialize in one niche of photography. Spend five days immersing yourself in classes and interactive sessions, learning side-by-side from the pros. This means you can learn, shoot and play in your passion with others just like you.


Get five full days of personal, hands-on instruction in the classroom and in the field. We teach it. Then you practice what you learn, with your favorite photographers at the top of their game. Pro-level photographers will lead you on daily excursions and assist you in getting the perfect shot.


Take your photography to the next level with some of the world’s most creative photographers in their field. We’ve gathered over a dozen leading photography instructors, each with their unique perspectives, to teach you what they know. This means we are all here with one purpose – to help you make great images.


Receive feedback from instructors during daily group critique sessions or get post-processing help during your session. Return home with gallery ready images you are proud of.


Be part of a community that is as passionate as you are about photography. Get to know attendees and instructors over several days. Stay in touch afterwards on Instagram or in our private Facebook group. Come back the following year to connect again but, in a new location.