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Art Shay plays racquetball four times a week. This would not be unusual if he were a 35-yr. old retail manager. He’s not. He’s a 77-year old active assignment photographer and has been since he took his first paying job at LIFE Magazine as a staff writer back in 1947. He made the changeover to photography in 1949, and within three years became the photographer of choice in the Chicago\Midwest area for Time, Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, Forbes, Business Week, Parade and This Week.
Art has been called "the best photo-journalist Chicago ever produced." His memorable photos bring handsome prices at galleries nationwide.
In 1951 Art began freelancing. Since then, he has produced more than 25,000 photos and a thousand book and magazine covers. He also has done books or annual reports for Ford Motor Company, 3M, Baxter Labs, Motorola, Zenith, National Can and The New York Stock Exchange.
As a writer-photographer, he is the author of 78 children's and sports books. His 79th book, “Nelson Algren’s Chicago,” has been hailed by Chicago’s newspapers as “a masterpiece” and “a Chicago treasure, like its author.” Art's current big project is his 80th book, "Album of Our Age" (Ivan R. Dee, Publisher) -- mostly text, with 65 pictures -- reminiscences of shoots on Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Marlon Brando, JFK, and others.
Art is also a playwright. His play, "Nelson, Simone and Sartre" - based on the famous love affair between French philosopher and Sartre intimate, Simone de Beauvoir, and Chicago novelist Nelson Algren, had its first stage reading in Chicago by a professional company recently, and will be staged later this year.
Art’s interest in the fruits of the pen is shared by his wife, Florence, a renowned rare books dealer who founded "Titles," a rare bookshop in Highland Park, IL.
Three of Art’s children – two sons, Richard and Steve, live in the Chicago area, and daughter Lauren lives in Washington D.C. – are all photographers. Lauren is married to Carl Lavin, the New York Times' News Bureau Chief in Washington, DC.
Shay's other daughter, Jane, a Los Angeles lawyer and married to movie writer Eliot Wald, was the first law student in US history to have won a case in the US Supreme Court.
Art’s name recently hit the news when Chicago police held him at gunpoint when he was attempting to photograph the first airplane to land at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport at midnight on December 31st.
“The policemen thought my tripod was a weapon,” said Art. “ When I told them my name, one of the police officers put down his gun and said, ‘I know you. I’ve seen your pictures of Chicago. In fact, my wife bought one of them!’”
It pays to be famous.
What’s the secret to Art’s long success? “Persistence," says Art, "along with a love of photography, a reverence for the idea, and a lifelong desire to work for myself." -RE
(Art Shay, 618 Indian Hill Rd, Deerfield, IL 60015; (847) 945-4636; Fax (847) 945-4644; Email:

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