October 18, 2017

A Brave Choice - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

I just did a photoshoot with a beautiful young woman who is undergoing a voluntary full mastectomy tomorrow (and reconstruction soon after) because breast cancer has run rampant in her family and she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. I feel so honored that she chose me and trusted me, a total stranger, to do this, and to do a series of shoots in the coming months documenting her healing process. Please think good thoughts for her as she undergoes surgery tomorrow. http://www.elizabethmcquern.com/

September 28, 2017

Natasha Samreny - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

Natasha Samreny's photoshoot with me awhile back is a perfect example of why working from home can make things even easier than if I were working alone in a big studio.
Natasha needed photos for comedy promotion (and took my black leather jacket suggestion, with great results!), and, though that day was the first time we'd met, we were friends by the time she left.
I always let people know before they come to my home studio for work that there's a pretty good chance my son, and either my husband or a babysitter will be there, too.
There's a funny pattern with my son - if men clients come over for photos, he gives them a little side-eye, isn't interested in talking to them, and usually sticks to my husband's side like velcro. But if a woman shows up at the front door, he is suddenly very interested in Mommy's creative process.
With this shoot, he comfortably sat on Daddy's lap on a living room chair, with a snack and beverage close at hand. We laughed at his obvious crush on her, and all of this made everyone relax - most importantly my subject, who walked away with the photos she wanted, and I even gave her a few extras for good luck.

September 22, 2017

Jenni Grover, the Chronic Babe! - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

This is a special post for my friend and frequent client Jenni Grover, the superpower behind ChronicBabe, a truly remarkable resource for women who "want to live a kick-ass life in spite of illness." I'm excited to say that after years of toil, Jenni will be publishing her first book in just a few days! If you or anyone you know is dealing with the pain (no pun intended) of any kind of chronic health issue, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of her book - I've seen the love and care she's put into this book, and the talent she's enlisted to help with every little detail of this fantastic, multi-media project. (That group includes her awesome husband, Joe Germuska.) More about Jenni's book: http://www.chronicbabe.com/the-chronicbabe-101-book-is-almost-here/ ❤️ http://www.elizabethmcquern.com/

September 21, 2017

Impress These Apes! - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

I've blogged before about being the photographer for my husband Bryan Bowden's shows, including Blewt! LLC's Impress These Apes!, masterminded by superproducer Steve Gadlin.
Apes is such a complexly ridiculous show, I won't even try to explain it, except to say that it's spectacular and full of brilliant surprises.
In the spirit of "you had to be there," here are a few photos from various seasons of Apes (there have been 8 so far, with perhaps more in the future?):

September 20, 2017

Wedding Ambiance - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

Weddings are about celebrating the love of two people who want to be joined as one.
It's also about the ambiance - the setting, the flowers, the decorations, the music, the intangible thing we call "vibe."
At every wedding I always take a few minutes to grab images of the setting itself - it's part of the experience of the day, and surely part of the memories of the celebrants.


September 19, 2017

Libby Rudolph - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

Libby Rudolph is an opera singer and vivacious, gorgeous human being. The only sound nicer than her voice singing is the sound of her voice laughing.
I've worked with her several times, including photographing rehearsals, fittings, and performances of the The Floating Opera Company's "Quantum Mechanics," which just happened to be directed by my brother, Andrew Snyder.
We also did a super-fun boudoir shoot that resulted in the very first time I ever (accidentally) took a boudoir photo of a cocker spaniel. He didn't care that lights were set up just right and I was taking photo after photo, he just wanted to relax on his bed. Who can blame him?

September 18, 2017

The Maxwell Family - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

Comedian Mike Maxwell has come to me for both stand-up headshots and family photoshoots, along with his beautiful wife Amanda Maxwell.
Once, right before the had their second son, we did a combination family photoshoot and a headshot shoot!
I was pleased with our results and Mike and Amanda were pleased to welcome their second child into the world just a few weeks later.

September 15, 2017

The O'Shaughnessies - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

I enjoy everything about being a photographer - the technical and the creative, the interactions with others, getting to know new people and learn new things.
But some photoshoots are extra special. Like this one with my very good friend Kathleen O'Shaughnessy. I went to lunch with her on the day she found out she was going to be a mother, cheered her on throughout her pregnancy, and was very excited about her birth of her adorable son.
I was also pleased to take her first family Christmas portraits, experiment with colorful decorations, and celebrate the birth of a bright new star in the world.

September 14, 2017

Charlotte Hamilton - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

Getting the light right is so important for a good photo. One of my favorite tricks is to shoot during the golden hours, at sunrise and sunset.
In this photo, I was with the lovely Charlotte Hamilton, around sunset, once again at Loyola Park, perhaps my favorite spot for outdoor photography.
I wanted to get that lovely backlit look, hair aglow, wherein my subject looks practically angelic. It took a minute or two for us to get ourselves in just the right position to get this effect, but once we settled in, we nailed it.

September 13, 2017

The Captain Family - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

I do the majority of my work in my home studio, but I always enjoy the challenge of shooting in a new environment, especially one as beautiful as the home of my friend Katherine Schneider Captain.
These photos were taken awhile back (they are now a family of four!) and it was a super fun shoot, celebrating Katherine's second pregnancy and the love that clearly intertwined her family.

September 12, 2017

Baby Birthday Party! - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

One of my favorite kinds of photo gigs is a good old-fashioned little kiddo birthday party. What's not to love? Happy little kids excited to see each other, hyped on up sugar and the excitement of a guitar-led singalong, and I usually have a minute to sit down and snag a piece of birthday cake myself. When in Rome, right?
A recent client wanted to plan something "very Chicago" for her daughter's first birthday, and so booked the back room at the Vienna Beef Factory and Cafe!
As a photographer, I was thrilled with the choice, because the place was brightly lit and extremely colorful.
There were balloons and photos and treats and snacks and toys and gift bags and - yes - hot dogs! Lots and lot of hot dogs.
Well-wishers included approximately 15 one-year olds plus their parents. Many a pickle was munched, a smash cake was, well, smashed, and a good time was had by all.
The musical entertainment led us all in a rousing edition of "Wheels on the Bus" (are children born knowing this song? I've yet to meet a kid who doesn't know at least 15 verses of this tune).
The star of the party, little L, came in wearing the most awesome purple tutu I've ever seen, with a jean jacket on top to remind you she's also edgy when it comes to fashion choices.
She was quite cheerful the whole time, and I even managed to snap a few cute pictures of two of her friends who are birthday twins (birthday triplets?).
And later, when it was over, and I was reviewing the thousands of photos I'd taken that day, I came across one I didn't even remember snapping - an adorable rear-view that was just too cute not to include in the final collection.
Because when you're serious about partying, there's no amount of tulle or big fluffy diaper that's going to keep you from dancing with your friends and celebrating your special day.
Happy birthday, little L. Thanks for letting me share in your special day, and may you have many, many more happy birthdays to come.

The Lincoln Lodge! - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

As some of you may be lucky enough to already know, Chicago has a bustling stand-up comedy element in its city. Big fancy theaters, grimy little bars, and everything in between host Chicago's local stand-up talent every night of the week. And there is a LOT.

Chicago's longest-running independent comedy showcase is the legendary Lincoln Lodge, now entering its 17th year. If the show were a person it would be old enough to drive, and old enough to get a fake ID and make terrible personal choices! (Rumor has it yours truly enjoyed a brief stand-up career and herself performed once at the Lincoln Lodge - but that's a story for another day.)

The Lodge is a cast-based show that survived the sudden loss of their long-time venue, the Lincoln Restaurant, and landed triumphantly at the awesome Subterranean, where they continue to highlight the best of Chicago's stand-up and variety talent, as well as bringing in national names and Chicago-spawned comics who have found success in New York or Los Angeles.

I was flattered when the Lodge asked me to take their Season 17 cast photo. The visual gag was "everyone in prom dresses," generally pretending to be drunk, the day after prom, on a playground.

By some utter miracle, the show's longtime producer Mark Geary managed to schedule 8 comedians to show up at my house at 8 AM on a Sunday, and after some fidgeting and emergency clothes-pinning of dresses, we ambled up a few blocks to a playground where I take my kiddo a lot, and we struck 5 different poses in 5 different places, and got some really great shots.

Satisfied that we'd gotten the shot we wanted, we headed back to my house. Impulsively, the cast decided to jump up on a dumpster in my back alley for a few last photos, and - of course - THAT WAS THE PHOTO THEY WENT WITH. The one we hadn't even planned. Funny how things work out that way. The spontaneous, impulsive choice was the right one.


Mia McCullough in Triplicate! - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

I'm always experimenting with new photo and editing techniques.
One fun thing was when I learned to composite, combining multiple images into a single photo, a technique that lends itself to lots of fun trickery.
My friend Mia McCullough was kind enough to come over and be my guinea pig, posing in three separate places on my couch, with a different shirt, different pose, and slightly different hair in each photo.
The result was an eye-popping triplicate of herself that led to a fun conversation about how great it would be to actually have three of oneself - imagine how much more you could get done!

September 11, 2017

Art Imitates Art - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

I've mentioned before that my son (age 4) generally runs from the camera and is therefore not a great test subject when I'm trying out a new technique or piece of equipment. 

Luckily, my downstairs neighbor Elizabeth has three energetic boys under three years old who have more patience with me (and are ridiculously adorable). 

This kiddo is posing with "Wilson," the volleyball from the Tom Hanks film Castaway, because, well, his name is Wilson. And he's picture-perfect.


September 10, 2017

Comedian Adam Gulley - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

One fun thing about the fact that my studio is in my home is that sometimes household items prove themselves useful in an unexpected (and often funny) way.
Comedian Adam Gulley heeded my advice and brought his best suit, and after a few "serious" shots on him in it, we decided to go for a comment effect with my son's rocking bull (which was my husband's when he was a little boy).
The juxtaposition of the six foot something boy-next-door looking guy in a business suit rocking away on a tiny child's toy is one of my favorite silly photos ever.

September 9, 2017

Comedian Leonardo "Lucky" Luciano - - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

Some Chicago comedians are kids - fresh out of college (or still in college, in some cases), and some Chicago comedians are successful businesspeople who manage busy professional careers AND find success as comedians both in the city and on the road. 

Leonardo Luciano is one of the latter. He works in the world of fine fabrics (and, not coincidentally, is always impeccably dressed), has been happily married to his beautiful wife for decades, and has lovely children and grandchildren!

The awesome Monique Madrid did the makeup at this particular shoot (yes, sister ofBriette!).

Monique and her husband Corey Rittmasterare both in Los Angeles, both doing acting and comedy but I'll plug her makeup business anyway, since she does that and fabulous haircuts and styles as well - http://www.moniquemadridstyling.com/


September 8, 2017

Comedian Jeff Steinbrunner - Chicago Photographer and Filmmaker Elizabeth McQuern

Sometimes it's the actually smooth, self-assured, confident comics who are completely comfortable being ridiculous.

For example, my friend Jeff Steinbrunner, a onetime castmember at my former showChicago Underground Comedy who's now doing comedy in NYC, is handsome and also totally rubberfaced. And fearless. 

He showed up to my house with a bunch of props and a small squirty vial of fake blood,which is still on a shelf in my room by my camera gear.

Tell Brooklyn I said "hi," Jeff!