Chicago Fitness / Lifestyle Photographer : Commercial Photography / You’re more than just a photographer!

What does that mean exactly? If you have been or are looking to start shooting for commercial clients. Its important to understand the who, what, where and why of your clients expectations. They are going into the shoot relying on you for certain things. The most obvious is the final product but some of them also rely on you to direct them through the process to achieve the final product. At some point, you are called on to be an art director (how to arrive at your final goal), stylist (knowing what looks good together),  location scout, and even a talent scout. If you don’t have the support crew to complete certain tasks, it’s up to you. The following is a real life example of how this can happen:

It’s Monday morning and a potential client from New York emailed me to ask if I can put together a yoga shoot by Thursday and have selected edits emailed out Friday morning. In addition, they wanted me to secure a location and have eight models for the shoot. They were looking for eleven different looks, setup in a yoga studio, and one outdoor location. I took a couple of minutes to digest the email and determine if it was feasible to pull this off. I said we can definitely pull off the looks indoors, but I was not sure we had enough time to go to an outdoor location. After agreeing to scrap the outdoor location, he promptly booked his flight to Chicago. He was bringing all the necessary yoga apparel and gear with him on the plane as there was not enough time to ship it to Chicago. In the meantime, I spent the next two days confirming talent and support crew while reviewing the mood board sent by the clients art department to determine what looks are best for what part of the studio.

Wednesday night arrived and that’s when my client was supposed to fly into Chicago from New York. Something occurred while he was going through security at the airport. All of his luggage containing the yoga gear and apparel made it on to the plane, but he did not. He called me and asked if I could go to baggage claim and get the bags while he caught the next available flight, which happened to be at midnight. I agreed without hesitation. Once you agree to take a job, it is necessary to do what ever it takes to deliver the finished product! After securing the product, I dropped it off at the yoga studio and headed home for the night knowing tomorrow was going to be a long day. 

Thursday morning came and the client informed me that he will be at our location late morning and to start without him. This was not the ideal experience for the first time working with someone, but I had the skill to deal with this kind of situation. I still needed input on setups and final image approval, but no one was on site to do this. In order to get the shoot started and headed in the right direction, I added a viewing gallery to my website and uploaded low-res images so the client in New York could approve the images as we go. This wasn’t the ideal structure since we were on a time crunch, but it worked pretty well.  I received approval on images before heading to the next setup and in order to make the most of our time, I had the models dressed and set to go when their setup was ready.

This setup actually worked out really well and only minimally slowed down the shooting pace. I was able to continue throughout the day. My client checked in on set around eleven and he was extremely happy with the results thus far so he only stayed for a couple of hours and then headed back to New York. In the end, the shoot was a huge success and they turned out to be a very happy repeat client. As you can see, as a commercial photographer, a lot rides on your ability to delegate responsibilities and preform multiple tasks. You have to do more than just take the photograph. You have to make sure everything gets accomplished and the final product gets delivered as agreed upon.

Here are some of the edits from the shoot.

Chicago Fitness Photographer

The day went so well I was able to complete the request for an outdoor location. This goes back to my favorite saying. “Under promise and over deliver!”


Chicago Fitness Photographer

How did I really complete such a daunting request from a potential client? I know what I don’t know! And that comes with years of experience. I knew that completing eleven plus looks and setups in one day is very difficult. I learned a lot from this experience. When my phone isn’t ringing from potential clients, I am working on my craft. I have shot at the yoga studio so much I knew every angle of every room.  I also would some time put time restraints on some of my shoots to see if I could still complete quality work under a time crunch. All of these previous shoots prepared my for this day.

Know your equipment and know your surroundings. With that you can accomplish any task  your client requests of you.

My full portfolio can be viewed here Chicago Fitness Photographer.

Chicago Portrait Photographer / What it takes to shoot Editorial work

What it takes to shoot Editorial Work
Hello there  I am Shawn Kinney a Portrait/Fitness photographer based out of Chicago Il. I am here to discuss briefly on what it takes to shoot editorial work on location. First and most important you must have a complete understanding of what the client is asking for.
Do they want just a headshot, or do they want a full body shot, how much the environment do they want incorporated and what feeling/mode are they looking for. In order to gather the information needed to create a successful photograph. I normally ask for the Who (who I am I shooting), What (what do they do), Why(why are the being photographed), Where (location and how much does the client want the location to influence the photo) and How (how much TIME do I have with the subject) which in my opinion is the most critical thing to understand. Often times the subject has a very busy schedule and feels they have much more important things to do then get their photo taken. I have had anywhere from 10 minutes to up to an hour so you must be prepared to get what you need in the allowed time.
Upon getting the assignment I typically google the subject. This normally will give you some insight on who you are dealing and in most cases will give the information needed to find some common ground or maybe some of their personal interest. Trust me when I say this they talk business all day every day and if you can find something they are interested outside of the office it will go a long way to getting a genuine photo.
Prior to arriving on location I ask the subject(or their point of contact) if they have a favorite location or an area of the building they are most proud. Then once I arrive I scout the location and look for 2 set-up possibilities. You can get 2 well done photos with just 10 minutes of subjects time if you prepare properly.  The images below were of Doug Dixon The General Manager of the Pacific Fisherman Shipyard.
Chicago Portrait Photographer


Chicago Portrait Photographer
Another thing I find usual is to use minimal equipment. The less lighting equipment you set-up the less intimidating it is to the subject.
Chicago Portrait Photographer


Chicago Portrait Photographer
The two photos above are of Kimberly Harris the President and CEO of Puget Sound Energy
The two photos below are of Jeff Roe The President and CEO of Premera Blue Cross
Chicago Portrait Photographer


Chicago Portrait Photographer
And last but not least the two photos below are of Ana Mari Cauce The interim President at the University of Washington. She preferred to be seated so I just gave the client two variations of her seated.
Chicago Portrait Photographer


Chicago Portrait Photographer
below are a couple of examples of test lighting and compositing so the set is ready for the subject to step in once they arrive. I generally get on location at least 30 minutes and up to an hour prior to shooting time.


All the photos were shot with the minimal equipment. Most with one strobe and never more then two strobes. The rest of my work can be viewed at Chicago Portrait Photographer.
Thanks for reading

Chicago Portrait Photographer on location with mobile studio.

This was  rebranding campion for Integrity Automotive(see the images on his website). The job was to bring a photography studio on location. Nate Bean the owner of Integrity Automotive wanted portraits of himself and his employee’s on a white seamless in order to blend into his already designed website. He also wanted me to capture his automotive shop and some of the crew at work. Here are the results..

They use Smart cars for there customer loaners


and some of the Portraits on a White Backdrop. My complete studio is mobile and ready to come to you. So if you are ready to show your clients who you really just give me a call. You wont be disappointed.
Chicago Portrait Photographer
Nate Bean Owner and Founder 
 and some of his crew

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I bring my studio to you!!! so we can photograph your work environment and also capture portraits on any colored backdrop. I look forward to bringing your brand alive.




The Geneva Foundation

I love it when I get a meaningful assignment like this. This is from my photo shoot with Board of Directors of The Geneva Foundation.

Chicago Portrait Photographer
Jane Taylor Founder & Chief with Elise Huszar President
The Geneva Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports and advances innovative medical research and excellence in education within the U.S. military. With over 450 employees worldwide, we build enduring partnerships dedicated to the health and well-being of U.S. service members, their families, and the global community. Through these partnerships, Geneva connects military researchers to research and educational opportunities in a variety of therapeutic areas. We strive to work hand-in-hand with our partners to shape the future of military medicine.
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The Board at Work 
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Board Members Head Shots
Chicago HeadShot Photographer Chicago HeadShot Photographer Chicago HeadShot Photographer Chicago HeadShot Photographer Chicago HeadShot Photographer It was a true delight to get the Opportunity to photograph and meet these amazing people and help spread the word on their Meaningful mission.


Dogs of Valhalla Rescue “Cooper”

Adoption story #4 Dogs Renea and her bond with our dog Cooper
Have you ever had a dog before?
When I was little we had a dog for a brief time.  We moved to a house that did not allow pets so my mom had to get rid of him and after that the only pet we had growing up was a bird.
What made you want to get a dog now?

When I moved in with my boyfriend and his dog Maverick. I saw the bond he had with him and was amazed on how quickly I grew attached to Maverick. We were both deeply saddened when we had to put him down last August. After a few months passed we started talking about getting a dog together, but I wasn’t pushing it since I knew Shawn was still sad about Maverick. Once I started to look and Shawn became more interested, I then knew there was no turning back.
Why adoption instead of a breeder? 

When we decided to get a dog, we didn’t really have a preference. We had a bad experience with a breeder that was trying to sell puppies thorough Craigslist. He wouldn’t meet us at the place he kept and breed the dogs, as he keep tying to have us meet him in a parking lot somewhere. It seemed a little strange to us so when we came across Pet Finder on the internet we decided to adopt/rescue.
How has having a dog changed or effected your life?

In so many ways, First off I never knew that I could love a dog as much as I love Cooper. I moved to Washington from Chicago and it is really hard on me being away from my family and friends. The bond I formed with Cooper helped with this a lot. I love playing with him, taking him on hikes, the way he always comes and sits in my lap when I am on the floor and most of all I love how is waiting by the door for me when I get home from work. It is truly an unconditional love.

Funny Story or Instance with Cooper

The day we picked Cooper up from Laurie’s house (thats where he was being fostered) he was so little and only 8 weeks old. When we left, Laurie gave us a pee pad for the car ride home and suggested to lay the pad on my lap. But of course I didn’t take her advice. Shortly after leaving Cooper started whining and seemed very anxious. We stopped to let him out of the car to see if he had to go to the bathroom. We Walked around for a few minutes and nothing so we got back in the car and continued home. We were a block away from our house and he decided to poop while sitting on my lap and I did not have the pee pad on cover my lap so it went all over my pants. Shawn was laughing so hard, of course I wasn’t. After I cleaned Cooper and myself up I was laughed a little 

What is one of coopers favorite behavior traits?
He lays on his back when he is playing with a bone and holds it with his paws in his mouth.  Also when I put his favorite toy away he goes and gets it out even if he doesn’t want to play with it just so it is next to him.
Are you glad you decide to adopt? Would you do it again? 
Yes and Yes..

How did Valhalla help with the adoption experience?
They made it very easy for us. Cooper (Poe) was the dog I had seen on pet finder first and that adorable face just made me wanted him. We went to Laurie’s  and she brought out a few of the puppies but Cooper was the one that stood out for us (His markings and his energy) he was all over the place. Valhalla had us fill out an application then brought Cooper over to our house to check things out.  Shortly after they approved our house we got the call that we can adopt him and the rest is History.

Would you recommend Valhalla to others? 
Yes, I would Patti does so many wonderful things for dogs. I especially like how much she helps out special need dogs. The whole experience with Cooper was great and they really care about the animals.

Cooper’s 1st Birth Day
As Cooper turned one I cant help but to love how the relationship between Cooper and Renea has developed. I remember when we first got him, Renea didn’t quit feel the connection at first. This was partly do to the fact that Cooper and I spent so much time together and Cooper was trying to figure out were he stood in the family dynamic. I must say their relationship has gotten very strong and is only getting stronger. I am so looking for to the many years ahead of us as their excitement and love grow for each other. As it will only bring us closer together. Thanks again Patti and the Valhalla Rescue. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere without these two. This is from our camping trip on San Juan Island over Labor Day weekend.