Death Studios: a home for Glamorous Monsters and Cute Baby Kittens!

October 27, 2015 in Photography

A few months ago (when I was on the hunt for a Fluffy mask for my shoot with the dreamy David Cerda!), I had the pleasure of visiting Death Studios for the first time!  Jeff Death, the owner and master artist, is not just an incredible talent (all of these super detailed & creepy masks are hand painted!!) but also one of the nicest guys (he was surrounded by the the cutest baby kittens the first time we met!)!  I was excited to return with a few lights, a few extra hands, and some pretty colored paper to share some of his amazing artistry with you!

Assistant: Jacqueline Ayala 
Intern: Tom Michas 
Masks: Jeff Death, Death Studios
Portrait Retouching: Sarah Crump
Glamour Shot Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla


Ashley Aspiranti is moving….to the suburbs….of Virginia?!?!?!!!

September 30, 2015 in Photography

When my girlfriend Ashley told me she was going to be moving away from Chicago, she asked if I wanted to do a shoot before she (literally!) packed her bags-the answer, of course, YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!:)

I first met Ashley on the internet in 2005 when I was looking for a model for a Chicago Magazine photo shoot. At the time, she was fairly new to Chicago and her mom didn’t want her to come by my studio for a go-see fearing I might be a creepy photographer with ill intentions-LOL!!!!:)  Several years and several photo shoots later, I’m so happy to call this lovely lady a friend!  Wishing you the best in your next adventure girl-I know we will cross paths again soon!!!  XOXOXOX!!!!

Assistant: Jacqueline Ayala 
Intern: Tom Michas 
Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla


Goodbyn is GREAT!!!:)

September 22, 2015 in Photography

I wish it was every day when a client stops by the studio wanting to collaborate on concepting a photo shoot with a brief in hand containing words like “Creating fun”, “unexpected and imaginative”, “Picnic in Outer Space”, and “Offbeat is encouraged!”  Goodbyn I love you!!!!!:)  We had such a great time producing this super fun shoot for a truly awesome client and we are even more excited to share it with you!!:)  Goodbyn is an independently woman owned, local business (YES!!!!) that makes super cute, easy to use, lunch boxes and food containers for an on-the-go lifestyle.  They come in some of my favorite colors (I’m partial to the purple and pink!) and I love the different compartments to help eliminate the need for disposable bags.  Checkout their website to purchase and through 10/1 use the code ‘FALLSALE’ for 25% off!

special thanks to my amazing crew as well as our cast (and parents!!)-this was a true collaboration of so many incredible talents, I’m grateful to work with all of you!!:)  XOXO!!!:
Producer: Brian Gladkowski
Assistants: Lauren Butterfield & Jacqueline Ayala
Master Prop Fabricator: Emily Franklin
Hair & Makeup: Karen Brody
Stylist: Melanie Francis
Stylist Assistant: Joanna Patterson
Food Stylist: Misha Shebesta
Digital Tech & Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla
Intern: Tom Michas 

Chicago Magazine, September 2015: Dreamy David Cerda

September 17, 2015 in Photography

A special thank you to Martha Williams and Jacqueline Cantu from Chicago Magazine for creating a match made in heaven by asking me to photograph the INCREDIBLY talented David Cerda of Hell in a Handbag Productions!!!  I have been a fan of Cerda’s work for years; a playwright and actor, Cerda is co-founder and Artistic Director of HIAH Productions (and have you seen his band The Joans??????!!!!?!?!?)!  When we spoke on the phone the first time, I immediately felt like we were old friends, talking about our mutual admiration for each others work (!!!) and our mutual love of works from Hitchcock, Joan Crawford, and John Waters.  Part of my “homework” for this shoot was to watch Joan Crawford in Strait-Jacket (SO GOOD!!!!) as well as the inspiration for this shoot and Cerda’s newest tribute play, The Crate from the 1982 film Creepshow.  This led to a super fun trip to Death Studios in Indiana (on the back of a motorcycle!) to pick up a reproduction mask of Fluffy (The Cratebeast-originally created by Tom Savini) and hang out with master mask maker Jeff Death-thanks for the tip Scott Jenkins!!  Did I mention all of this is my job?!!!! :) :) :)  The day of the shoot Cerda brought with him another incredible talent, Lolly Extract, to help bring Fluffy to life-you can see them both in Scream, Queen, SCREAM! opening on Thursday September 24th-I seriously can’t wait!!!!!


Assistants: Jacqueline Ayala & Brian Gladkowski
Intern: Tom Michas 
The Cratebeast mask: Death Studios
Costume & severed heads: Chicago Costume Thanks Courtland!!:)
Inside the Cratebeast: Lolly Extract
Wig Stylist: Muffy Fishbasket
The Thor of Predko Studio (Lightning Bolt Creator): Dane Larsen
Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla

Chicago Magazine, August 2015: Chicago Human Rhythm Project

August 21, 2015 in Photography

It was an absolute pleasure working with artistic director & founder of Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Lane Alexander, and three of his INCREDIBLY talented dancers (Néstor Corona, Zada Cheeks, and Maggie Doyle) for our recent shoot for Chicago Magazine!!!  It was a special treat for us to spend the afternoon with them in the studio; check out a few of our pics below and see them perform live at the Chicago Dancing Festival August 25-29th!!


Assistant & Master Flower Creator: Jacqueline Ayala
Interns: Tom Michas & Rachel Nurmi
Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla

5th Annual Slow & Low: Chicago Community Lowrider Festival

August 11, 2015 in Fun, Photography, Video

From the moment I heard about the 5th Annual Slow & Low: Chicago Community Lowrider Festival, I was literally counting the days until I could visit this little piece of “Lisa Heaven”!!!!!!!  I’m in LOVE with the artistry, attention to detail(!!!), but most of all the engineering-I saw an El Camino FLY on Sunday (check out the video at the end of this post!)!!!  Seriously, how is this even possible?!?!?!?!?!  So many cool vintage & custom cars-my heart was exploding with joy!!!:) With 2 of my favorite ladies on my arms I got to take SOOOOO many photos!!!!  Check out some of my favorites, below.  :) :) :)

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The 606!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 5, 2015 in Photography

THE 606 OPENS THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 6, 2015!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

I’ve literally been counting the days until Chicago’s first elevated park opens on the old Bloomingdale train line-I am SO excited!!!!!!  

This is definitely one of those “pinch myself because I must be dreaming” jobs-my heart is exploding with love for this incredible campaign!!!!!!!  Amazing project, awesome talent, the coolest clients, and THE BEST crew!!!!!!!!!  

I didn’t think it was possible, but summer in Chicago just got even better!!!  Keep your eyes peeled around town for our awesome pics-they are literally going to be everywhere!!!!  And of course, keep an eye out for me when you go visit The 606!!!!!!  





Chicago Magazine, March 2015: Angelica Ross

March 11, 2015 in Photography

There aren’t a lot of people excited about being photographed at 7:00AM, but Angelica Ross (who is usually already working at that time!) greeted me with the most dazzling smile and the warmest hug-I immediately knew we would be friends!:)  Thank you to Chicago Magazine for asking me to photograph the incredibly lovely and talented, Angelica Ross, CEO & founder of TransTech Social! TTS specializes in graphic design, web development, and multimedia production; the company trains, employs, and empowers people in the transgender community.  A special thanks to Aubry & Leslie for working in the back office (in the perfectly photogenic positions!!), as well as Ashley Aspiranti for being so helpful at our location, NextSpace in River North, where TTS currently calls home!:)


Assistant: Brian Gladkowski
Hair & Makeup Artist: Lia Stokes
Location: NextSpace in River North
Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla

Our Lives Magazine, January 2015: Brian Firkus, the creator of Trixie Mattel

February 26, 2015 in Photography

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)  Trixie is going to be on TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)  This Monday, March 2nd on Logo TV you can watch Trixie compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 7)!!!!!!:)

Patrick Farabaugh, of Our Lives Magazine, literally made my day when he sent the email asking if I was interested in photographing the fabulous, Trixie Mattel!!!  Brian Firkus is the creator of Trixie and a photographer’s dream: model, hair & makeup artist, and costume designer all in one!  We talked about incorporating Brian’s hair & makeup talents into our concept which made me think about the Barbie Stylin’ Head I always wanted as a kid-my parents never bought me one because they knew I would have immediately chopped the hair off and cried!  The Doll Collector image was inspired by my Great Aunt Alda who used to display her collection of dolls in her bedroom, just out of my reach from me and my scissors!:)


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Assistants: Brian Gladkowski, Angela Mata Moriarity
Stylist: Sasha Hodges
Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla

Love for Trixie Mattel!!!♥♥♥♥♥

February 13, 2015 in Photography

I LOVE Trixie Mattel!!!

The moment I saw the first pic of Trixie, it was truly love at first sight!  Special thanks to our matchmaker, Patrick Farabaugh from Our Lives Magazine who set us up on our first date (keep an eye out for a TBT post soon!)!  During our first phone conversation my love just grew stronger; we talked about the color pink, Barbies, the 60’s, Jayne Mansfield, Miss Yvonne, dressing up, and having fun!  Talk about making my heart beat faster!!!:)

For Valentine’s Day, there was nothing I wanted more than to shower my lovely muse with handmade gifts of love which now I can share with you!  A VERY special thank you to my Valentine’s Day collaborators, most notably our amazing box artist, Emily Franklin, and the man of too many talents to list, Brian Gladkowski!

Starting on March 2nd, you can watch (and cheer on!!!) Trixie competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 7)-be sure to watch!!!!!!!!!:)




Man who does it all!: Brian Gladkowski
Handmade Box Artist: Emily Franklin
Retouching: Sami (with a ♥ over the i) Hylla
Special thanks to: Sarah Crump, Jacqueline Ayala, Grace Allen, Angela Mata, Gonzalo Guzman & Bob Paulson