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AprilArtist Portrait24

Member Spotlight: April Graves, Owner & Portrait Artist, Light Drawn Studios


Lake/Forest Lake Bluff Chamber: Tell us a little bit about Light Drawn Studios what makes your business and photography style unique?

April Graves:  With our roots originally in Barrington, serving the community for over 20 years, we found we had an incredible following along the North Shore.  After multiple requests, we decided to open a studio in Market Square to better serve our clients on the shore.

In a world where we are overwhelmed by social media and by what the world says we should look and feel like, oftentimes warping our perception of how we view ourselves, at Light Drawn Studios, we are committed to shifting the narrative.  It is my intention and commitment that each of our subjects we photograph would feel BEAUTIFUL, MAGICAL and LOVED throughout their creative journey with me and my team, creating portrait art that reflects children and families in a way that empowers and inspires the human spirit.  At Light Drawn Studios, we specialize in crafting printed heirloom portrait art that is beautifully printed and finished to ensure it can be passed down from generation to generation.


LF/LB: What inspired you to pursue a career in photography?

AG:  When I was 13 years old, I incorporated my first business and began operations at 23 as a children's fashion designer.  I ran both a wholesale business as well as a small boutique in Lincoln Park.  While designing, I used to do my own advertising shoots to save money.  I had 20x30 portraits of children wearing my designs hung throughout my storefront and on multiple occasions had customers ask me to photograph their children.  I would always decline, saying "I am not a photographer."  Then one day, one of my favorite customers came in wearing a minister's collar...he was actually an attorney by trade but a minister at his church on Sundays.  My husband and I had just gotten engaged and were looking for someone to perform our wedding ceremony.  I asked Eddie (the minister) if he would consider being our officiant and his reply was "only if you will finally agree to photographing my kids for me!"  I said "YES"...and so you could say, he began 2 of the most important chapters in my marriage as well as my portrait photography business.


LF/LB: What is your vision or hope for the future of your business?

AG:  I am currently in the midst of creating my first coffee table book and art exhibition.  Once I have the foundation for the project clearly outlined, I will begin my model call and will be able to share more about the premise of this body of work.  As an artist, I have been mastering the art of mixed media, oil embellished portraits, a technique that combines photography and oil painting and provides the most beautiful level of artistry for my clients.  I am absolutely in love with this process and look forward to creating more of these pieces.


LF/LB: How does Light Drawn Studios give back to the community?

AG:  Built upon a foundation of charity, my team at Light Drawn Studios and I have been able to raise over 1 Million dollars for local charity since 2007.  Specializing in fairytale portrait work, we are perhaps best known for the Beautiful Things with Wings project which was our original philanthropic endeavor created to give back to The WINGS Program, a nonprofit that supports women and children who are victims of domestic violence.  For that particular project, I photograph children as fairies, angels and vintage pilots.  Since I began that project in 2007, I have continued to create various fairytale sessions to donate to different charities.  We also donate frequently to charitable auctions and galas.  If someone is interested in collaborating with us for their favorite charity, I am always happy to connect!


LF/LB: Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your business?

AG:  If you were to ask me what I do for a living, I would tell you that I stop time for people.  I truly take a moment in time and give it to you to hold onto for generations to come.  I am a storyteller.  I will tell your story, the story of the deep and profound love that you have for your family...the connection and bond that ties you together.  I will tell the story of your children's imaginations, their best dreams come true.  I am the seeker of your joy...the seer of your beauty.  I am the artist who will engrave the image of your children, your family, your everything on your your soul and on the walls of your home for a lifetime of forever.