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he art of photography involves literally seeing the world and then capturing it and bringing it home to share. Local photographer Robert Tolchin has been perfecting this process for over 20 years and wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love the amazing variety of experiences [photography] offers me. I have photographed presidents of corporations and presidents of the United States. I have documented the operations of chocolate factories and fertilizer factories. I have photographed open-heart surgery, professional sports and steel mills. I have met thousands of people from every conceivable walk of life. I can’t imagine any other job like this.” Tolchin, who resides in Deerfield, has run a photography studio in Highland Park for the last 12 years. Recently he’s delved into the realm of fine art. Man With Hat, the picture featured in this article won first place in the InView exhibit at The Art Center, Highland Park in 2007. His works are currently displayed in the Explorations and Unbound exhibits at The Art Center, Highland Park now through January 4. Tolchin will be displayed again in The Holiday SmART Show at the Flat Iron Arts Building in Chicago on Dec 11, 12, and 13. “I’ve been shooting fine art for my entire life but only started exhibiting about five years ago. Of course it is nice to see your work hanging in a gallery, but, to me, it is also about the feedback. In my opinion you can’t really consider yourself an artist without some sort of critical acceptance. And it is really fun to eavesdrop on people talking about your work at shows.” When eavesdropping is out of earshot, Tolchin turns to his wife. “My wife Linda is an amazing critic. I can’t sneak anything past her. I’ve tried. She knows what’s good instinctively. She’s the perfect combination of casual viewer and someone who knows exactly what she is looking at. Generally, if she doesn’t like an image, she is the last person to see it.”

Other influences include glamour photographer Irving Penn, street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, a collection of hundreds of photo books, and his late father, Arnold, who was an award-winning newspaper photographer in Chicago. A proud “student of photography,” Tolchin also enjoys part-times teaching at Harrington College of Design in Chicago and has this advice to offer amateurs photographers at home.

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“Look at the entire viewfinder. If something doesn’t add to your shot, get rid of it. That might be as simple as getting closer to the subject. Also, change your point of view. Get down on the ground and look up or climb up a tree and shoot down. Don’t shoot everything from eye level.” Or let Tolchin do the work himself. He takes onsite photos for corporations, shoots product pics for local retailers, and indulges in his passion: The fine art portrait. Tolchin’s studio is located at 3150 Skokie Valley Rd., Highland Park. Highland Park Art Center is located at 1957 Sheridan Rd., and Flat Iron Arts Building is at 1579 N Milwaukee, Chicago. To learn more, visit and

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Newspaper article about highland Park Chicago photographer Robert Tolchin.