When I was little my mom banned how often I would take photos. Film was expensive and I’d shoot an entire roll on one sunset. I’ve been in love with photography ever since.

I really began to get into photography in high school when I took several film classes and developed my own film. I would often lose track of time in the quiet retreat of the dark room, only to realize it was 2 or 3 a.m. I ended up getting my master’s in counseling, became a licensed counselor, and did art therapy and school counseling for ten years. I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of others how two things especially—laughter and creativity—bring healing and wholeness, and I love how photography combines these. I love to have FUN with you in your photoshoot.

Each person has a story to tell and I love storytelling. Whether it’s your wedding day, your kids playing in the park, an event your charity puts on . . . it’s a story worth celebrating and capturing. I also offer photography to those who have been through trauma or are going through trauma: a woman who has been through domestic abuse and is finding her feet again, a family who just found out their loved one has cancer, someone who is working through PTSD, etc. Documenting your story not only through the celebrations, but also the trials and hardships, can allow for healing, an honoring of the resilience inside of you, and a way to stop and be thankful. We often don’t take enough time to celebrate, to remember, or to just stop. Photography allows for that. It allows us to celebrate life and the people who live it.

what others say about charissa

  • When I was planning my wedding the most important priority to me was having a fantastic photographer. I had been a bridesmaid 9 times and I saw the difference a photographer can make not only in their skill and creativity but how they treat everyone involved. Sadly, some of my friends ended up with their most important day being poorly captured and poorly edited. So I was on a mission for the best photographer and am happy to say Charissa Johnson totally delivered! It’s been 3 years and I still can’t get over how amazingly my wedding was photographed. Not only is Charissa brilliant with her posing but is also the most patient, kind and attentive person. She made the whole process way less stressful even when our pre wedding photo shoot was rained out. If your top priority is also excellent photos I highly recommend hiring Charissa as your photographer. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

  • We weren’t sure about hiring a professional photographer for our wedding, but I am so glad that we decided to hire Charissa. Throughout the process, she was so professional and caring. She took the time before the wedding to talk to us and get to know us. She helped us think about what locations and groups of people we might want to get shots with. After the wedding, she presented us with a whole catalog of photos that we were able to share. Since we had a relatively small wedding of 25 people, having these photos let us share a piece of the day with a lot more people. The photos themselves were beautiful. I remember looking at them for the first time and being amazed at the framing and depth Charissa was able to capture from what felt like to me just a bunch of trees or a doorway. If you’re on the fence in any way, I highly, highly recommend hiring Charissa.

    Andrew + Sky
  • Charissa recently took some absolutely beautiful family photos for us. She was wonderful with our toddler, had the perfect poses ready for us, and picked a great spot out at Promontory Point. She had a very quick turn around on the pictures and they all came out absolutely wonderful! I couldn’t be happier!

  • When I was planning to do a surprise proposal in Chicago I needed a photographer on short notice who could execute exactly what I needed. Charissa was perfect! She not only beautifully captured every detail of the proposal (incognito!), she was also great to work with as we did an engagement shoot the next day. Fun, flexible, and fantastic photos!

  • My husband absolutely hates getting his picture taken. After our daughter was born I really wanted some pictures taken of her, but also our new family. The only person he will agree to take our pictures, is Charissa. Her photos are beautiful and she is also a joy to work with. She keeps things light and easy. I hope to have her document my family for years to come.

  • Charissa is the sweetest! She was very flexible and patient with me, I had her running around from location to location. The end result was fantastic and I received my photos relatively quick. Thank you so much for being so amazing!

    Charissa and her husband are such sweet wonderful people! She took our proposal pictures and we absolutely love them! Great work and such a great person!

  • Charissa is an amazing photographer and so much fun to do a shoot with. It was the first time my fiancé and I had ever done professional photos and she was great at suggesting poses, getting the best angle and making us feel super comfortable. She was able to capture genuine/candid moments that translated to stunning photos. Not only is she a great photographer, she is very responsive, helpful and extremely passionate. Truly a wonderful experience and we could not be happier!

  • Charissa is THE best photographer I ever met. She knew exactly how to capture my journey and to transpose it within beautiful, bright and shining photos!! She helped me to select the outfits and gave me some tips to feel more comfortable in front of the camera!! She is such a beautiful person. THANK YOU Charissa!!

  • I saw family photos that Charissa had taken of our friends and their little ones, and knew instantly that she was the perfect photographer for our anniversary visit to Chicago! From the moment I contacted her, through the day of the shoot, and then the delivery of our digital gallery, Charissa has been extremely communicative, kind, and professional—and her photos of my family make my heart melt! I recommend her for any photography project wholeheartedly.

    Sarah + Allie
    Family Session
  • We had Charissa take our son’s one-year photos. She was extremely patient and flexible with us and with him. Not only did she have wonderful ideas for locations, props, and poses, she was willing to listen to ideas we had as well. His pictures came out fantastic! I would recommend her photography for any occasion!

  • Charissa took absolutely gorgeous pictures of our newborn son and family. The photos came out even better than we had hoped! Charissa was kind, empathetic, fun, professional, and easy to work with. We will definitely go back to Charissa for our future family photos.

  • I know Charissa because we’ve worked as co-photographers on several jobs. Yep ! That makes her a photographers photographer!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Our son’s spirit captured perfectly by Charissa. We couldn’t be happier with our family pictures. So many to choose from. The family session made for a great birthday gift!!

  • The graduation photos are so incredible we are so glad that you came and helped us save these wonderful memories. I love the black and whites and they are all so much fun to look at. Thank you so much.

    Michael + Family
    Graduation Session
  • Charissa took our engagement photos AND our wedding photos. She has an incredible eye and made us both look good. I highly recommend her!


  • Outstanding in every category. Easy to set up, great with kids, lovely location, fantastic photography! I’ll definitely be coming back!

  • Charissa Johnson took such amazing photos for our engagement and wedding. Not only is the quality of her work extremely high, but her warm personality put us at ease throughout the entire process. Our wedding day was rainy, but Charissa stayed positive, came up with lots of creative ideas, and took beautiful photos. We would highly recommend Charissa to any of our friends and look forward to working with her again in the future!

    Caroline + Michael
  • Charissa’s photos of us are absolutely phenomenal! They are not only gorgeous, but they also capture genuine emotions. I am not experienced in being taken photos of, but Charissa was so easy-going and supportive that my partner and I instantly felt like ourselves. I thoroughly loved the whole process. Her knowledge of Hyde Park and Chicago was also really helpful, and we were able to hit several spots within a short time. I am so grateful!

    Feng + Alex
  • Charissa is an incredibly talented artist with an excellent eye for detail.  She is able to capture personality and relationship so well on camera. My girlfriends surprised me with a photo shoot for my 40th birthday.  Charissa spent so much time with us and was able to capture the candid moments that make our friendship so uniquely special. We did not want our pictures to be “staged” we wanted to see the natural way we relate and that came through completely.  She also came equipped with some suggested poses that ended up being some of our favorite shots.  They were not forced or “cheesy” (well maybe a little, but in the best way).  As a group the 3 of us had an incredibly trying year Charissa was adept at honoring our struggles and capturing our strengths.  She is very empathetic and intuitive.  Thank you for an amazing day and for photos that we will cherish for the rest of our lives!

  • Working with Charissa was such a joy for our family. She was so patient and wonderful with our children. The pictures she took were beautiful and truly captured our family’s spirit.

  • My fiance and I contacted Charissa fairly last minute about an engagement photo session. She was very accommodating about working us into her already packed schedule. The day of the shoot Charissa went above an beyond to make us feel as comfortable as possible in front of the camera and ensure we had great shots. We were blown away with the finished product (that was returned to us in less than a week!). We will definitely work with her for any future photography needs and we cannot recommend her enough!

  • Charissa took beautiful pictures of our new baby last week and we are so happy with how they came out. Charissa was wonderful to work with especially because she really knows babies. When our little girl was fussy during the shoot she was patient and knew exactly how to handle the situation and because of her efforts we ended up with beautiful photos. Can’t wait to work with her again.

  • Charissa did an amazing job on my son & new daughter-in-law’s wedding. She not only took beautiful photos that are real works of art, she also helped them find great settings around Hyde Park. And she was a pleasure to work with — super professional and cheerful, even in the middle of covid craziness. I can say enough about wonderful she was.

  • Charissa’s work continues to astound and delight me. Over the few sessions she’s done with me, I’ve noticed a few things. The first is her ability to catch the light and character of the people she photographs; she sees their beauty and shows it to the rest of the world. She is also incredibly insightful about what will make a striking photo–she has an uncanny knack for picking the right place for her subjects and snapping at the right time. She makes space for creative adaptation, too, even when things take a different course than expected. She uses what’s around her and what’s important to the people she photographs to fit the pictures perfectly to the vibe. And she’s just fun! She’s fun to be around, and she’s fun to take pictures with. My last session with her included smoke bombs (colored smoke out at Promontory Point), and it’s one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in Chicago. I would highly recommend Charissa’s work, and Charissa herself, to anyone who would ask me.

  • Charissa is an amazing photographer, and an absolute pleasure to work with. She was able to capture the most amazing photos of our family. The variety of shots were incredible, and Charissa’s creativity around composition, backdrop, lighting, etc., really made for some memories that will last a lifetime.

    Eric + Family
    Family Session
  • Charissa made us feel natural and beautiful. Our photos look amazing!

  • I couldn’t recommend Charissa enough. I contacted her very short notice for a Halloween themed shoot, and she was able to fit us into her schedule. She accommodated an outfit change, brought props, and we did the whole shoot socially distanced. And the photos turned out so beautifully!

  • My wife and I had a great time working with Charissa for a newborn shoot with our twin girls. Charissa took a fun and casual (though certainly prepared!) approach that put everyone at ease and captured lots of great candid and posed shots. Juggling two babies and a sometimes cooperative dog is no small feat, but Charissa handled it with grace and patience. We never felt rushed or “on the clock.” Charissa was happy to talk through different locations and poses that we were interested in—and improved our ideas with her eye and experience! We would have no hesitation hiring Charissa again and will cherish these photos for the rest of our lives.

  • Charissa Johnson is a wonderful photographer, beautiful dancer, and an absolutely incredible individual! She and I met through the University of Chicago’s Ballet Company and reconnected this fall during a Zumba class. Since we both share a passion for dance, I asked if she would be willing to do a ballet photoshoot with me. To my delight, she enthusiastically agreed and we began to plan. Charissa not only found the perfect place for the photoshoot but also came prepared with ideas for poses! We laughed the entire time and talked about college, life, and everything in between. It was an amazing experience and I loved every minute that I spent with her! I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Charissa and I feel even luckier to call her a friend. This was without a doubt the opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you so much for the beautiful photos!

  • Oh, my, what a talent! Charissa is AMAZING, and I don’t use that word too often. I felt empowered, energized, and simply invigorated during my portrait shoot, and the final pictures came out so lovely. Charissa has an eye for bringing out the beauty of the subject. And, she was extremely organized from beginning to end, had the right lighting equipment to truly bring the pictures to life, super easy to work with, and very collaborative in her approach. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Charissa — she certainly far exceeded my expectations and anyone would be lucky to have her!

  • Charissa was a pleasure to work with! She formed a quick bond with our 1 year old son and made our photo shoot fun and enjoyable. We were only supposed to get 30 photos but we received over 150 beautiful photos. She was able to capture our family dynamic and also our individual personalities. We will definitely use Charissa again and highly recommend her to others.

  • We are forever grateful to Charissa for taking the most beautiful proposal pictures! She went above and beyond helping my fiancé choose the perfect location, getting in all the shots we could possibly want, and coming up with great poses and backgrounds. We felt so comfortable and at ease under her guidance. All we had to do was have fun and be ourselves, and she expertly took care of everything else. Charissa has a talent for capturing authentic moments, full of life and movement, while still maintaining exquisite composition and lighting in each photograph. Our finished gallery brings us so much joy. Charissa is simply an amazing photographer and a lovely person. We cannot recommend her highly enough.

    Kim + John
  • Charissa is a delight to work with. The whole experience was a dream. She contacted me quickly after my initial inquiry. Her explanation of the contract and our arrangement was straightforward, and she answered all questions including make-up suggestions. Charissa was waiting for us at the shot location, and made me, my husband, and our two spirited children feel happy and at ease. She accommodated our requests for photos even our kids’ funny ones — I cannot overstate what a fun and easy time we had. And the photos? Simply GORGEOUS. Have no doubts at all about booking Charissa for your photography needs! You will have a fantastic experience from A to Z.