Fitzgerald Photography has been taking pictures of Lake Forest families for almost 30 years. In 1982, Ray Fitzgerald and his wife, Lynn, took over the mantel of Lake Forest’s go-to family photo studio from Scotty’s Photo Studio, which had been in business since the ’50s. In fact, Scotty was helming the camera responsible for Ray’s own childhood portraits. Although Fitzgerald Photography also specializes in wonderful architectural photography, product shots, and executive portraiture, they’re really known for the high school sports team photos and the environmental family portraits that capture the local faces we know so well. “What we love the most are the family pictures,” Lynn confirms as we look through 30 years of Lake Forest family highlights, including the photo of the Ali girls that became the first cover of Forest & Bluff. With a track record of capturing the way Foresters and Bluffians see ourselves, it’s no wonder that as F&B founder John Conatser looked for a cover photographer back in 2001, there could only be one destination.
Forest & Bluff: What did you think when John first approached you about contributing to Forest & Bluff?
Ray Fitzgerald: Well, I got a call on my machine. This guy identifies himself as John Conatser and he says, “I’m starting a magazine exclusively for Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, and I’ve seen your work. I’d like to talk to you about doing the covers.” And I rolled my eyes thinking, yeah. Another guy is going to start a business in Lake Forest. Good luck. It just isn’t an easy thing to do. So he made an appointment and he came over. We started going through some of my studio samples, and he picked one he liked and turned it into a sample cover. He used that to go around to all the businesses and get advertisers interested. Well, God bless him, he did exactly what he said he was going to do, and he’s kept it going for 10 years.
I did the covers for a couple years, and it was a lot of fun. I thought it would be some good exposure for me. I met people on those shoots who I’m still friends with to this day.
F&B: What do you think have been the low points for the magazine?
RF: Well, some people used to have a problem with the fact that there were pretty women on the cover. They’re doing this, they’re doing that! But that kind of talk was probably even good for the magazine. Then people wanted to look at it to see what everybody was talking about.
But everyone’s going to have an opinion. What might be a terrible story to me, someone else will think it’s the best story they’ve ever done. That’s just an opinion. I’m old enough and wise enough to know that.
F&B: What do you think have been the high points of the magazine?
RF: Everybody looks at it. A lot of guys would talk about the social pictures like [makes a face of disapproval], but they’re looking at them! I do, too. You want to look in there and see, Who do I know?
And you absolutely cannot deny that it’s always been about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff; the articles, the people that are in there, they’re local people. I look forward to when the magazine comes, and there’s always that section about what’s going on in town [F&B Doings].
And John’s always been consistent with what he set out to do. He might be the best salesman I’ve ever met. That’s the success of Forest & Bluff.