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 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 / 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 Photographer / Are you a Small Business looking for personal Branding?

Don’t waste you time and money on stock images. I can’t emphasis enough the importance of separating yourself from your competitors. These days everyone wants to shop and meet via the internet. So why not take advantage of it. Show everyone what your brand really is all about with custom imagery.
This is a marketing campaign for a message therapist, showing off some of her advanced massage techniques.

Chicago Portrait Photographer
Massaging techniques to sooth a headache and neck pain

Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer

Working out the calf tightness
Chicago Portrait Photographer
Working on the lower back
and below is a advance technique called cupping. It works by creating suction and negative pressure, massage cupping is used to drain excess fluids and toxins; stimulate the peripheral nervous system; bring blood flow to stagnant muscles and skin; and loosen adhesions, connective tissue and stubborn knots in soft tissues.

Chicago Portrait Photographer Chicago Portrait Photographer

By creating your own custom images you will show your potential clients you in action. So lets work together and get you message out to the masses. Contact me @ or cell 702-232-0882

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 @ 

Chicago Fitness Photographer / Highlighting Tribalance a Schaumburg full fitness/wellness center

Tribalance  is located on the Northwest corner of S. Roselle & Wise Road in Schaumburg. To maintain their Yoga persona the interior build out was constructed of 60% of recycled material. They provide both in group and private sessions and offer Meditation, Yoga, Yoga Teacher training, Barre classes, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Condition, Kickboxing, Tri-fit (bootcamp style training), Thai Bodywork and Acupuncture.


Welcoming desk


Hall Way leading to their 4 separate class rooms 


Inspiration Board


Mindful inspirations throughout 


Studio “Mind”


Studio “Spirt”


Studio “Body” lower space has padded kickboxing ring


Studio “Body”  upper level for Cross-Fit and body shaping classes

Below are Yoga class in the main studio “Soul”

Chicago Fitness Photographer
 studio “Soul”
studio “Soul”


studio “Soul”


studio “Soul”

Below is Tribalance Owner & Lululemon Ambassador Shawnda Falvo

Chicago Fitness Photographer

Chicago Fitness Photographer

Chicago Fitness Photographer


Chicago Fitness Photographer


Chicago Fitness Photographer
Lululemon ambassador and teacher Melina Milcarek


Chicago Fitness Photographer

my full portfolio can be view @ 


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 Fitness Photographer Specializing in YOU!!

Are you a fitness professional and or model? Do you own a gym or design/produce fitness clothing?
Lets collaborate and get your message out there. You are Your brand! Show them who you are!

This is a recent shoot I did for TV Personality/Fitness model Chyna Bardason. She is currently represented by Sports & Lifestyle Unlimited .

Chicago Fitness Photographer


Location was at TriBalance Yoga Studio in Schaumburg Il.
Chicago Fitness Photographer
With an emphasis on kickboxing and highlighting her physique.

Chicago Fitness PhotographerNo brand is to big or to small. Yesterday is to late and tomorrow may never come. Call today to get your message out there. P.S your competition is already doing it!! and you are behind!! 

Instagram shawnkinneyphoto 
Cell 702-232-0882

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.





Meet Art Nunez an old high school friend. He is a constant creator, that is best know for his sense of humor and his talent on the guitar.  You can find him making people chuckle with his continuous Facebook humor @ Cinful Art.   

Chicago Portrait Photographer
“Do what you are going to do. Along the way you just trouble shooting.”

This is the home you grew up in. How old were you when you moved out? 

I moved out when I was seventeen. I rented a apartment, I wanted to work, I wanted to do what I wanted do without someone telling me what to do, when to do it, or when I can’t do it! I never moved back home. Eventually, my mom moved in with me. I just starting working and never stopped.
As a kid what did you dream about becoming when you grew up? 
That depends on how far back we go. Originally, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I always love to draw and I had an over active imagination. I loved making people laugh by doing goofy drawings. Cartooning was my first realization that I loved to create. Then, when I was twelve I started playing music and from there I always wanted to be a rock star. I got my first guitar when  I was ten, but didn’t start really playing until I was twelve. That is when I got my first amp. After that, I fell off the face of the earth. All I wanted to do was jam on the guitar while day dreaming of playing giant arenas with those little tiny speakers. I would be jamming on the guitar while jumping off my bed and going crazy. I am still doing that to this day. The only difference is that I do it live!
Did your parents encourage you to be creative? 

No. They thought I was a dreamer and I wouldn’t amount to anything. I really didn’t get any support from them for anything I wanted to do. Their idea was work hard! Basically, their advice was to go to a job, work hard and be the best you can be at that job. You are not too good for any job. That is what I did. I settled for any job and became the best I could be at that job, but I was miserable.
At this point in your life are you happy where you are at? 
I am happier than I have ever been. Granted, my rock and roll dreams have come and gone.  However, I am still playing live and I have a creative outlet.

If there is one significant thing in your life right now you could change, what would it be? 

Right now? I think I changed everything to be who I am now. I don’t think I could or need to change anything right now in my life. Everything to this point in my life has had its purpose. It has molded my into the person I am today. I am very happy!!
Can you share one of your most vivid childhood memories? 
Going back into my childhood is a little dark. I had a very depressing  childhood. Very few people know most of this stuff. The most vivid moment was one afternoon about noon. I was six years old and I got called into the office at school and officer friendly was waiting for me. I walked in the office and he said he needed to drive me to my Uncle’s house. I got really scared. When I got to my uncles house he told me there had been an accident.  He said my house burnt down and everybody was in the hospital. The first person I saw when we got to the hospital was my mom. My mom had third degree burns on parts of her face and body. They wouldn’t let me see my other two brothers or my father. My two year old brother was dead on arrival and my three old brother was in critical condition. I just shut down, I was in total sock. When we got home that night to my Uncle’s house we were watching the news. The story of our house fire came on and that’s how I found out that my three year old brother that was in intensive care had passed away.  That is my most vivid memory. It completely changed my life because everything completely fell apart after that. That experience shaped my into who I am today and why I do what I do on the community.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
My kids, of course. I am most proud of them. A father is something I never thought I would be. It’s something you cannot prepare for. They are growing up to be amazing people.
What has been the biggest obstacle over the years of staying creative? 
Work!! Having to work a day job to earn enough money.  It’s just something you have to do. Fortunately, I finally have a day job that allows me to still be creative.
How do you balance the 9 to 5 and family life while still being creative? 
My wife is super supportive, but there are some obstacles there. I want to be part of the kids growing up and the wife and I love each others company.  Most of the time, she will come to my gigs and we get to experience it together, which is pretty awesome.  Our thirteen wedding anniversary is coming up. She is so amazing and supports me all the way!
Do you have any advice for those people struggling with the dreaded 9 to 5? 
I firmly believe where your mind wanders is here you heart is. You just have to figure out how to get to that place you mind keeps wandering to. There is a reason your mind goes were it goes.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? 
Do what you are going to do. Be who you want to be. Follow your dreams. As long as you believe in them you can achieve them!! That is the most friction I got from my teachers and my family members. They said I was wasting my time. It could be so hard to become a musician. Ok sure, absolutely, at least I wanted them to give me a chance to try it. If I fell on my face so be it. I could have gone to follow the rest of the herd and do my 9 to 5 job. I didn’t want them to influence me to not pursue it!!!!
“Do what you are going to do. Along the way you are just trouble shooting.”

Here is an image that has stuck with me from my childhood. I went back to visit my grandparents in Chihuahua Mexico shortly after the accident. I remember going to work with my uncle who was a brick maker. They did it old school back then, they would gather adobe and bake it in a huge oven. One day, we walked across this railroad track with nothing on the sides. I was so terrified. My little feet fit perfectly between the wooden tracks which had to be 70-80 feet high. That railroad bridge has stuck with over the years, just because of how it made my feel that day. When I came across this image below on the internet it moved me and made me relive that walk.

Thank you for sharing, Art. It was great to get to know you a little better.
With every story I take a little bit of the conversation with me. It helps me understand, even though life is often not fair, we can still make of it what we want. We are in charge of our destiny despite the road we must travel to get there. I will leave you with one of my favorite sayings…or my variation of a popular saying:
Things happen for a reason. Yes they do and that reason is you!