Celebrity photographer hosts picture parties
At a photo party, Shay gives each guest a camera, puts on great music and strobe lights, and they get first hand instruction on what it’s like to do a photo shoot. | Jackie Pilossoph~for Sun-Times Media
Richard Shay’s Photo Emporium
660 Vernon Ave. Glencoe
Updated: March 15, 2013 11:33AM
GLENCOE — Richard Shay has been taking pictures since he was 5 years old. At 9, he was standing on the sidelines of Soldier Field taking photos of a Bears game for Sports Illustrated.
That’s because Shay’s father is Art Shay, the famous photojournalist who spent his life taking photos for magazines like Life, Time and Sports Illustrated, and who is the author of more than 80 books on photography.
Shay said he learned everything from his dad.
“My whole childhood, I watched my dad and I just knew what to do,” he said, “He taught me how to use the equipment and I learned how to shoot all kinds of events, sports, entertainment, we photographed one of Martin Luther King’s speeches.”
It’s not too surprising that Shay grew up to become a successful photographer who worked for The Oprah Winfrey Show, and who now covers private events and parties, non-profit functions and large corporate events.
Shay also takes portraits, and has photographed celebrities including Michael Jordan, Oprah, and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. In 2012, he photographed the cover of Corgan’s 2012 album, Oceania.
“I get energized by being with people and being friends with the who’s who of Chicago,” said Shay, who has two daughters and who lives in Highland Park. “But even more, I’m passionate about taking really good pictures and capturing moments. People don’t want the same old picture, they want me to capture what’s real.”
“Richard is so much more than a photographer,” said Sally Lou Loveman, of Winnetka, who worked with Shay at The Oprah Winfrey Show several years ago. “He gets the best pictures because he connects with you, and he inspires people to give their best selves.”
A year and a half ago, Shay opened up his Glencoe Studio, Richard Shay’s Photo Emporium, because he wanted to have a space to showcase his work. Moreover, Shay wanted a place to have photo parties, in which he teaches kids how to take pictures, while having a blast!
At the parties, Shay gives each guest a camera, puts on great music and strobe lights, and they get first hand instruction on what it’s like to do a photo shoot.
“It’s non-stop laughter and they have so much fun posing and jumping up and down,” said Shay. “All the pictures show up on the big screen so they can look at them.”
Sarah Alter of Glencoe had a party there last spring for her daughter Emma, who was turning 14, and graduating from junior high school. Fourteen kids attended.
“He had three or four people shooting at one time, and he was teaching them how to take actions shots, close ups, groups shots, candids, and all the mechanics of photography,” said Alter. “If you weren’t taking pictures, you were a model. He did individual shots of each girl jumping and flipping her hair, and goofy shots and serious shots and group shots. It was amazing!”
After a party, Shay prepares a disk of the best 150 photos and gives one to each guest.
“Richard was fantastic,” said Alter. “He intermingled, he explained things in simple terms, he had them up on ladders, played great music and they were dancing. He made it really fun for them.”
Shay recently photographed Alter’s son’s Bar Mitzvah, and Alter said the shots were “out of this world.”
“He captures every moment because he feels them,” said Loveman, “Richard doesn’t just take a picture, he takes 1,700 pictures and picks the best one because he wants you to have the joy that he is feeling. He takes it to a whole other ‘Richard Shay’ level.”