Chicago Fitness Photographer – Behind the Scenes shooting on location

Hello there  I am Shawn Kinney a Chicago based Fitness/Lifestyle photographer and this was a shoot with Chicago based model Willow Star   for the fitness clothing line Avia. My home studio location is Tribalance Yoga Center. 

The first setup I wanted to do a fierce Black and white portrait to set the tone for shoot.

Chicago Fitness Photographer
Camera settings f/1.8 @1/200 ISO 100

With a slight change in camera angle you can see how the mood changes in your photograph. That is why I almost always shoot without a tripod. This gives my the freedom to explore the different qualities of light created simply be changing where you stand.

Chicago Fitness Photographer

Below is the behind the scenes photo illustrating the lighting set up.

Main/Key light was a Elinchrom Portalite 22″ Octa with translucent deflector. Rim light which was to camera right was a 40′ grid with a 1/4 stop cto warming gel and the fill was a golden bounce reflector.


Second setup

For this setup I took advantage of the available sun light(in this image it created the back light and both rim lights on the subject). When combining available light and artificial strobe lighting it is key to 1st meter the source you cant control. In this case it would be the sunlight. I then add one strobe at a time to get the results I am looking for. The 2 Elinchrom ELB 400 packs and heads were use for a controlled fill light on both front sides of the subject face and legs.


Chicago Fitness Photographer
Camera settings F/1.8 @ 1/250 & iso 200

For a slightly different look a separated the model from the bike and Changed the lighting setup slightly. Main/Key light was a 35″ Dynalite grand soft box with internal diffusion, fill light was a golden bounce reflector and the strobe head had a 1/4 stop cto warming gel directed towards the the stationary bike.


Chicago Fitness Photographer
Camera Settings F/1.8 @ 1/200 & ISO 100


Chicago Fitness Model


Chicago Fitness Photographer

For the last setup we moved into the yoga room where we created these. We were under a time restraint so no BTS photos for this setup. But I used two Elinchrom ELB 400 power packs with pro heads. Camera left had a 1/4 stop cto warming gel on it to add some warmth.

Chicago Fitness photographer
Camera settings F/1.8 @ 1/80 & ISO 100
Chicago Fitness Photographer
Camera settings F1/8 @ 1/80 & ISO 100

With the proper game plan and the right crew you can get 4 different looks with only 4 hours of shooting time. I am a Chicago Based Fitness photographer and My complete portfolio can be viewed here

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 / Chicago Fitness Photographer



 I am portrait/fitness photographer with a home base out of Chicago IL. and here are some of my favorite portraits I have shot over the years.
I tend to lean more towards shooting environmental portraits. Which in my opinion contributes to the story of the photo and the subject. You can tell a lot by someones environment. Who they are, what they do and what they are passionate about. However you have to be careful that the environment doesn’t overpower the subject in the photo.


Chicago Portrait Photographer

Chicago Portrait Photographer
Chicago Portrait photographer

Chicago Portrait Photographer
Chicago Portrait Photographer

Chicago Portrait Photographer

Chicago Portrait Photographer


Chicago Portrait Photographer
This is a portrait of Black Label Society prior to the drummer leaving the band.  It was shot in the alley in downtown Seattle


Chicago Portrait Photographer
Chicago Portrait Photographer



Chicago Fitness Photographer


More of my work can be viewed at Chicago Portrait Photographer

Chicago Portrait Photographer / Creating Portraits

Creating Portraits with what you have
 Often times we sit here wishing we had an amazing studio space, the newest camera body or the fanciest lens. Here is a prime example with a little creativity and a small amount of space you can create fun and captivating portraits. For these I used a 7′ x 7′ section of my one car garage and turned it into a make shift studio.


I used the very first lighting kit I ever bought. The Wescott Spiderlite TD5 window light kit bought back in 2007ish. It is a daylight balanced constant lighting that is great for shooting tight portraits. The next decision is what do  I use to capture these images? For this series I decide to use my Iphone 6s. To many times I have experienced that as soon as you pull out a commercial/professional grade camera the subject instantly gets nervous. But with Iphone it is a little less intimidating and allows them to relax. I mean how times have you had you picture taken with a Iphone? It really makes it seem as if it just a friend taking a picture of friend and here are the results.
Chicago Portrait Photographer

Chicago Portait Photographer

ChicagoPortait Photographer
And of course I brought them into photoshop and did my usual finishing touches to my portraits. So here is a prime example that the camera is just part of the process and your ability as a photographer is the true necessary piece of the puzzle. Now when someone ask you what camera you use or prefer. You can tell them the one that is available to me!
This is also the setup I use to do my 1972 Polaroid Land Camera portrait series . Which can be seen here Polaroid Portraits
Thanks for reading and my full portfolio can been seen here


Chicago Portrait Photographer

This was shoot for a Mens Vintage reseller Feather & Oar.


Chicago Portrait Photographer
Chicago Portrait Photographer


My full portfolio can be viewed @ 


Say hello to Ambler(facebook) as she explains her journey of transformation and how turning 40 was the happiest year of her life. 

I turned 40 in May 2008. I had already lost 90 lbs at that point and had 10 lbs more to go. In June, on a Sunday, I ran my first triathlon. On Monday I had a colonoscopy and on Wednesday I stepped on the Ice for the first time in my life. Welcome to 40.

Chicago Portrait Photographer
My motto is never pass up an opportunity!! 


Where did you grow up? I grew up in a condo in a suburb on the South side of Toledo, Ohio. My dad was a Longshoreman. He left really early in the morning for work, would be home by 3 o’clock and then it was naptime. Dinner was on the table by 5 and the game shows went on the TV, so the typical middle class blue-collar family life.




As a kid what did you dream about becoming when you grew up? A Marine Biologist. From the time I was about 4 years and I saw my first whale. That continued until college when I flunked Biology and I realized that was not for me.  College wasn’t a total bust as it was my undergrad degree in writing that lead me into Hockey.   



Did your parents encourage you to be creative? My mom and dad were of the mindset of you go to school, you work hard, get married, buy your house and have your kids. They were pretty traditional. 

At this point in your life, are you happy where you are at? I can honestly say that the year I turned 40 by far was has been the happiest year of my life. It’s when I lost weight, started playing hockey and gained a ton of friends.


If there is one significant thing in your life right now you could change, what would it be? I wouldn’t change anything, because if I did, I wouldn’t be who I am today. 



Can you share one of your most vivid childhood memories? This was when I was in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade.  I was outside with my friends playing in the cornfield behind my house and lost track of time. I had no idea that my mom had been calling me for dinner. I finally realized it was getting dark, so I ran back home. I get in the house and my dad is there. He says, “You are in so much trouble right now. Go and wash your hands for dinner.” As I am washing my hands, I am shaking and I’m thinking to myself,  ‘I am in so much trouble right now.” As I walk out of the bathroom, I hear my dad say to my mom, “What are you talking about? She’s in the bathroom washing her hands.” I just realized my dad totally covered for me. When I got to the table for dinner, he looked at me and said, “Now you have to eat your mashed potatoes.” The thing is, he loved mashed potatoes. We had them with every meal and I wasn’t a real big fan. So that night, I ate my mashed potatoes. 


What accomplishment are you most proud of? I started playing hockey at the age of 40 and just a year later I was coaching. I met so many other adults in the same situation I’d been in when I first started I thought I had an opportunity to help people avoid what I’d experienced  – wanting to play, but not really have a place to go. So I started an instructional league with 11 people 5 years ago and now almost 500 people have been through my program. 


What has been the biggest obstacle you came across getting into hockey? The lack of coaching for adults with no hockey experience. When I joined my first hockey clinic, I was on the ice with about 40 people, all men. The entire time, all the coach says to me is “skate faster.” I don’t know how to stop. I don’t know how to turn or to do anything on skates and all he kept saying to me was skate faster. I kept running into the boards, or falling down, everyone laughing at me. It was humiliating. I spent the next week going to open skate in order to teach myself how to stop. All along I had this fantasy in my head of snowing the coach at the next clinic. So the next week, I get to the hockey clinic and there are about 10 people there and a new coach. The first thing he does is teaches us how to stop. That’s when I thought to myself this is ridiculous and in that moment I know what kind of hockey coach I’d want to be. Now that I have my instructional league, the very first thing I ask is who doesn’t know how to stop. We teach them to stop before going on to anything else. 


What has been the biggest change in your life after finding your happy place? Probably getting divorced. About 2 years after I started playing, I guess I changed too much. The ironic thing is our relationship was all about taking chances and growing together. We would always jump at new opportunities, but this time I jumped and he didn’t. That led to my husband and I growing apart. It was a very successful 23-year relationship, but it got to the point where he didn’t recognize the person he fell in love with anymore and he had to move on. We were ok with that. He needed to be where he was happy and I needed to be where I was happy and this is where I am happy. 


Do you have any advice for those people struggling with the dreaded 9 to 5? Well I don’t have a dreaded 9 to 5. I love to teach. I teach where other people don’t want to teach on the South Side of Chicago. I teach 7th grade science, social studies and reading. Don’t get me wrong, it has its bad days. There are days that I feel like I didn’t do anything meaningful, but those days are out-weighed by the good days. Hockey is a part time job for me, but is such a huge part of my life. Since it’s only a part time job, so many people ask me why I put so much time into it. Well the reason is, when I see the smiles on the faces of players that go through my program, it gives such a intrinsic satisfaction knowing that I had something to do with that. I have also met so many amazing people. Some have become my dearest friends and I would not have that if I didn’t start this program. It is a passion and if you do something that you are passionate about, the time is always worth it. 


If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? My motto is never pass up an opportunity!!  You’re going to do what you’re going to do and it will all work out in the end. If something comes your way, you figure out how to make it work. I read something recently that said something like “people like to say ‘I can’t.’ But its not that they can’t, its just that they don’t really want to.”  


Thanks for sharing Ambler and I hope this shows everyone that its never to late to live the life you deserve. More of my work can be view  at

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

Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer
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.
 Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer
The Board at Work 
Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer
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.


Being a Seattle Portrait Photographer and overcoming Gear LUST!!!!

Early in my career of being a Portrait Photographer I found myself having gear lust. Often I would catch myself saying only if I had this light, this lens or this camera…. I could do so much more. So one day I decided to stop limiting myself by thinking if I had this piece of equipment I could be more creative and learn to truly use all the gear I already have. So instead acquiring mounds of debt which often accompanies gear lust I excepted a self imposed challenge to find new and creative ways if using my equipment.

Here are four examples of what I learned from experimenting and challenging myself.

My first quest was to be able to shoot with shallow depth of field in studio while using strobes. My studio space was limited in size (12′ wide x 17′ deep with a 10′ ceiling) and my studio strobe kit only having 5 stops of adjustment levels. So I had to come up with a creative way I could control my depth of field. I decided to try using a 2-8 stop adjustable Genus Eclipse ND Circular Filter  in studio. The ND filter is what I usually useed outdoors to help balance the sunlight with my portable strobes. By using the ND filter in studio it allowed me to capture my subject @ f-1.8,  1/125 and ISO 50.  Prior to using the filter my typical settings for my 3 light studio set-up with out the ND filter would be f-3.5, 1/125 and ISO 50.  The ND filter allowed my to open up to f-1.8 which gave me the shallow depth of field that I desired as illustrated below. 

The next challenge I gave myself was to use my the light modifiers in different ways. 

Quality of light is influenced by two factors: the size of the the light source in relation to your subject and the distance from the light source and your subject. 

In the image above I wanted to light multiple subjects with one light source. The key light (6′ octa) was on camera right and slightly overhead. A strobe head with grid to camera left and behind the subjects was used for a rim light, which helped to add depth and separation from the back background as seen by highlighting their hair. Typically this is how the Elinchrome 6′ Octa bank is used, as a key or main light.

To changes things up a little I placed the 6′ Octa directly behind the subject which wrapped her in light (light is a little harsher due to the subject’s closeness to the light source) and complimented her fair skin color. Then I added a 4′ softbox on camera left  just below the subject to soften any shadows created by using the one light source.  

The 3rd and final set up was inspired by my recent move into a studio with 15′ ceilings. This allowed me to use the the 6′ Octa as a overhead light sourceIn this image I sandwiched my camera with the 6′ Octa overhead and a 4′ softbox just below the lens of the camera. The overhead large light source gave it a soft even light and due to its closeness to the subject it add a little pop (harshness). The 4′ softbox below the lens softened any shadows created by to the angle of the over head light. 

So there you have it 3 light set-ups using the same light source which allowed me to created 3 different feeling of images. Just by being a little creative and moving your light sources around along with adding a ND filter you can give yourself endless possibilities without having a endless supply of gear. 

The and most important thing I learned from this experiment.  Is that you don’t have to have plies of gear to be creative.  Now I can take that money that I saved on gear and spend were it is truly needed MARKETING!!!!!  As we all know you can be the worlds greatest photographer but no one will ever know about it into you get out there and tell them. 

Seattle Portrait Photographer & Die Hard Cub Fan

Being a Cubs fans has not been an easy life, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It goes a lot deeper then just wins and loses and I have some of the most meaningful memories at Wrigley Field.

Self Portrait 
As a Chicagoan you have to choose North or South Side and the is no in the Middle!!!! Go CUBS!!!!

  1. When did I become a fan? I became a Cubs fan as soon as I could walk.
  2. Why am I a fan? It has always been more then wins and losses for me. I grew up going to Wrigley Field. My childhood friend Grant Miller and I would take the bus to L train (we had a secret spot were there was a hole in the chain link fence sounding the train platform so we could ride for free) and get to the ball park 3 to 4 hours early so we can watch them warm up. We would stay an hour after the game let out to got autographs outside the players parking lot.
  3. When did I attend your first game? I was probably around 9 or 10 and back then it was safe to let you children ride the bus and train unsupervised. 
  4. Most memorable monument as a fan.  I have three. Spending my 21st birthday in the bleachers, seeing Perl Jam play there in July of 2013 and my first date with my now girlfriend Renea Falvo.
    Steve Mendoza 
    World Series Baby!!!!!

    1. When did you become a fan? I became a fan of the Giants when I was 9 when they were in the 89 World Series.
    2. Why are you a fan? I’m a fan because I love baseball. Lots of ups and downs with them the past 25 years but I stick with them.
    3. When did you attend your first game? I think I was about 11 or 12. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so it was expensive for us to go.
    4. Most memorable monument as a fan.  54 hour whirlwind to drive down to SF for Game 1 of the 2012 WS then drive back. Sandoval hits three home runs, crowd hugging/high fiving and Steve Perry singing “Lights” on the jumbotron with the crowd.