Artist Biography – Photographer Mike MacDonald

Mike MacDonald sets up a landscape photograph of rough blazing star at Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins, Illinois. Photo by David Jagodzinski.

Mike MacDonald sets up a landscape composition of rough blazing star at Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins, Illinois. Photo by David Jagodzinski.

Mike MacDonald is an internationally published photographer, a nationally acclaimed author, a professional comedian and public speaker, and a conservationist.

For over twenty-five years, Mike has been photographing Chicago’s natural wonders. His images have been nationally and internationally featured in many publications, including Outdoor Photographer, Petersen’s Photographic, Boy’s Life, and BBC’s Gardens Illustrated magazine. And his landscapes of Chicago’s nature were part of the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Sierra Club Wilderness Wall Calendar.

His literary coffee-table book, My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago: A Celebration of Chicagoland’s Startling Natural Wonders, earned national acclaim when Publishers Weekly described the photography as “glorious” and the writing as “celebratory, soulful, and poetic.” (Read full review.) Building upon the book, Mike then created ChicagoNatureNOW!—a free website that helps Chicagoans discover the natural beauty that surrounds them.

There are many words that describe Mike’s unique background. But only one word is needed to describe the man: passionate. And Mike is passionate about Chicago nature. After all, the Chicago region is home to more protected natural area than most of the national parks, and more native plant species than any national park. Unfortunately, most Chicagoans are unaware. But Mike is on a mission to change that. Through passionate public speaking, inspirational writing, and breathtaking photography, Mike conveys the marvels and magnificence of a wild Chicago that rivals any place on Earth. Playing the role of “nature matchmaker,” he introduces Chicago’s natural beauty and biodiversity to people in the hope of sparking thousands of love affairs.

To properly convey the grandeur of the flat prairie vista, Mike created The Prairie Style or The Chicago Style, a visceral system of landscape photography that communicates the essence and emotion of the panorama while immersing the viewer in the scene.

Read Mike’s Artist Statement.


Watch story about Mike’s photographic style on WTTW Chicago Tonight.
Watch Mike’s interview about his book on WTTW Chicago Tonight.
Watch Mike talk about Chicago nature photography on ABC 7 Eyewitness News Sunday Morning.
Watch Mike give photography tips on FOX 32 Chicago’s Good Day Saturday.
Watch Mike share his love of nature on WGN-TV Midday News.
Watch Mike’ talk about Chicago nature on CBS 2 Chicago’s Sunday Morning News.

Listen to Mike’s interview about winter magic in Chicago nature on WBEZ’s Morning Shift – Jan. 7, 2019.
Listen to Mike’s interview about his book on WBEZ’s WorldView – Feb. 8, 2016.
Listen to Mike’s interview about ChicagoNatureNOW! on WBEZ’s Worldview – Apr. 18, 2017.
Listen to Mike talking about Chicago nature on WBEZ’s Morning Shift – Oct. 17, 2016.
Listen to Mike talking about photography on WCGO-Radio – Dec. 2, 2018.

Daily Herald – Jan. 17, 2019
The Herald News – Dec. 6, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times – Mar. 26, 2016
Chicago Tribune – Jan. 17, 2016

View some of Mike’s published work:
Outdoor Photographer – March 1997
Petersen’s Photographic – October 1999
UIC Alumni Magazine – July/August 2000
Chicago Wilderness – Fall 2005
Chicago Wilderness – Winter 2006
Garden’s Illustrated cover photo – January 2009
Outdoor Photographer – November 2011