by Tom Valeo, Citytalk
February 1, 2002

When Steven Gross shot his first wedding more than 20 years ago, the bride cursed at him. Eventually he noticed that clients who preferred black-and-white prints were more fun, so even though he was struggling to establish himself as a Chicago freelance photographer, he decided to accept wedding assignments only from such people.

“That cut out about 95 percent of my potential clients,” says Gross, “but I didn’t care.”

Today at 46, Gross charges $5,600 to shoot a wedding plus expenses, plus $30 for each 8 by 10 print. Unlike most wedding photographers who choreograph group poses, Gross disappears into the crowd, jumping out unexpectedly to grab candid shots with his silent Leica and tiny hand-held strobe. “I look for interaction,” he says, “I see, I feel, I shoot,”

His easy smile helps him gain access to every aspect of the Big Event. He even shoots the bride and bridesmaids in their lacy undergarments as they dress.

At the opening of his exhibit at the City Gallery in the historic Water Tower at 806 N. Michigan, Gross was thronged by couples whose weddings he has documented. His upcoming book, Black and White: Defining Moments of Weddings and Marriage, will certainly cause many more couples to pursue him. They’ll have trouble finding him however – Gross doesn’t advertise. “People say to me, ‘Man, you’re hard to find,’ but that’s good,” says Gross, “That means they really want me.”

On Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7:30pm, see Steven Gross on WTTW11’s Artbeat Chicago and his work featured in Marriage – Just a Piece of Paper? At 9p.m.