Growing up, David Royko, son of the legendary newspaper columnist Mike Royko and editor of Royko in Love, learned the family mythology about how his father wooed his mother through letters. “Until I actually had them physically, I had a hard time imagining they did exist,” David Royko says. “It feels like a Hollywood movie to me, but it’s very real and it’s what happened with my parents: boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy sees a chance to get girl back and does it through letters.” A freelance writer and clinical psychologist, Royko directs the Cook County Circuit Court’s Marriage and Family Counseling Service.

“Most of these people, it’s their first photo shoot,” says Joe C. Moreno, who shot the amateur models for Who Makes What. As a portrait specialist, he knows well the challenge of getting the subject’s guard down to get a shot with authenticity. “Once the camera comes up, it changes the energy of anything,” he says. A fourth-generation photographer, Moreno took the leap from Four Farthings waiter to full-time professional photog about a year and a half ago.

In journalism classes he teaches at Northwestern University and Columbia College, Noah Isackson assigns students to cover a meeting of CAPS, the community-policing group. “It’s a great way for people—especially if they’re not from Chicago—to get to know a neighborhood right away,” says Isackson, a Chicago contributing editor. For Can Cameras Replace Cops? he attended CAPS meetings himself to research the dynamics of the program in the larger police department. “There was a lot of agreement as to what was good about [CAPS], what was bad about it,” Isackson says. One sentiment was universal: “Police do need the community in order to fight crime,” he says.

Laura Caldwell, a lawyer and writer, was representing a pro bono client when she first met Anna Davlantes, the host of the new TV talk show Rewind and the subject of “Talk of the Town,” in Arena. “What struck me was not [just] that she’s very tall and very good-looking, but that she’s such a good listener,” Caldwell says. Inspired by her pro bono work, Caldwell has founded the Life After Innocence Project, a program at Loyola University that helps the exonerated adjust to life outside prison. Also, this summer, Caldwell releases a trilogy of mysteries with a heroine who bears a striking resemblance to Caldwell herself. “But she’s younger than me and cooler than me,” she says.

The research for Wedded Bliss’s “Do It Yourself,” Brittney Blair’s article giving tips for saving money on weddings, didn’t seem like research at the time. The pointers were culled from the planning for Blair’s own July nuptials with her beau, Robb. The couple’s budget, which in the article Blair facetiously calls “meager,” had to go a long way to accommodate the 200 guests they wanted to invite. “It costs a lot of money to throw a party like we wanted,” says Blair, Chicago’s photo editor. “We wanted to have our cake and eat it too.”

Photography: (Moreno) Joe C. Moreno, (Blair) West Loop Studio Photography