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Meet Clare Britt of Clare Britt Photo in Humboldt Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Clare Britt.

Clare, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started taking photographs when I was 13 years old in summer overnight camp in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. I learned about the camera, film, the darkroom and how powerful light can be. My first role was accidentally exposed and I had my first lesson in the reshoot. I come from a family of artists and art collectors. My grandfather was a sculptor, my grandmother was a quilter, my uncle is a sculptor, my aunts are architects and quilters, my mother is a very talented textile artist and my stepdad is a photographer. Growing up in a family that supported and created art, it was very natural for me to work in the Arts. Our walls are filled with art and our dinner conversations often turn into discussions about creating and looking.

My design class in high school, we were using Photoshop 1.0 or 2.0, something archaic, and that is where I started to learn the fundamentals of the application and that is how Photoshop became intuitive for me. I went on to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and earned a bachelor’s of Fine Art with a concentration in Sculpture and a Minor in Business. After driving cross-country upon graduation, I settled in Chicago because I wanted to live in a big city and I wanted to make art and I wanted to be around artists.

I started working in the Photography world as an assistant in studios. I worked many part-time jobs and cobbled together mini gigs here and there. I started working with Rick Aguilar Studios as an Associate photographer documenting society events, corporate jobs and weddings, but I always wanted to get my Master in Fine Arts and I went to the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned a Masters Degree in Studio Arts.

Before I went to graduate school, I founded a Non-Profit Public Arts Organization in Chicago named Fraction that existed in the Buck Town neighborhood from 2003-2007. After Graduate school in 2013, I co-founded another nonprofit arts organization in Brooklyn, NY that is still in operation called Ortega y Gasset Projects.

I started working at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Staff Photographer where I learned so much about how to sculpt light and I had the opportunity to photograph one of a kind precious objects. I photographed events, portraits of curators and art installations. While I was working at the museum, I was still photographing events for Rick and also building my own client list. I realized that although I enjoy being around art, I actually enjoy working with people more. My strengths are in connecting with people and telling their story through images, I left the museum to pursue my own freelance business.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Making a choice to be an artist is not an easy one. It is a tough road full of rejection along the way.

I interviewed three different museums before I got my job at the Art Institute of Chicago and I applied to graduate school for three years in a row and a year, I finally got accepted. I was waitlisted and then, got in at the last minute.

When I was young, I watched my uncle struggle as an artist and he would always give me the advice to study business and know how to manage, operate, market and handle all the administrative work and financial data entry. It is an obstacle to jump from the creative mind to the business mind multiple times a day.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Clare Britt Photo – what should we know?
I love photographing people. I love finding the inner beauty in a person and getting them to laugh so that I catch the smile in their eye. I love exploring nature in my images and working on location outside.

I photograph big events in people lives like weddings, anniversaries and reunions. I also create profession portraits for people to use for networking purposes. I help small businesses like musicians, jewelry makers, designers, fashion bloggers and professional trainers create social media content for online posting and branding. I have a babies first-year package where I photograph your baby multiple times and year and produce a photo album at the end and you can add some of your own photos.

I think the things that I am most proud of my company are also what sets me apart from others:
My ability to connect with people, my experience with my craft and the white glove service I provide.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My first photography mentor College Dan Smith and I worked with him while getting my undergrad in North Carolina. In my interview, he asked me if I had seen The Blues Brothers, was that an omen of my future in Chicago?

I had two mentors during my time at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago: Chris Gallagher and Bob Hashimoto. Both of these men have worked at the museum for over twenty years and taught me so much about how to sculpt light, handle precious objects in the studio and problem solve in any photographic situation.

Rick Aguilar is another mentor of mine. Rick hired me when I was in my early twenties and he saw right away my ability to capture emotion. This was a quality that I did not even know that I had, he saw the emotion in my photographs and knew he found some raw talent. He groomed me and taught me how to create a photographic business and how to network.

My professor Phyllis Bramson was my advisor in Graduate School at UIC and she taught me how to develop a thick skin and how to keep working even when you do not fit in with the crowd.

I would not be where I am today without the support of my family and friends.

My family and my friends are very supportive of my business and help me succeed every day.

When I hear stories from past clients who have a big canvas prints hanging on the walls of their homes, it always encourages me to keep doing what I am doing.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Clare Britt Photo, Brooke Amber Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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