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John specializes in photographing women's health issues and lifestyles. He has a unique ability to make his subjects feel at ease and comfortable in front of the camera. He says that his gift (of making a friend really quick) is useful when a client needs him to be in a city on one side of the country then photographing the next day on the other.


"Time is money, so let's do it right the first time" is his motto. Another favorite "just be yourself". He knows the delicacy of photographing real people, thus responding far better, which means a better image will be produced.

I'm not saving lives...just documenting
people whose lives have been saved.
Info@Brennan.us


OK above is the generic about me, yet it is true.  The real story of why I became a photographer is quite lengthy.  So if you have the patience of a millennial with three Red Bulls in them and an X-Box in front ready to play…I suggest you pass this one up.

No warm and fuzzies about a camera being given to me for my birthday and falling in love with the “creating something from nothing” and wanting to save the world with a mysterious black box that collects and documents light.  Read that one on some other photographers website -sap is for keeping trees alive and making syrup for your hot cakes.  The real story has more to do with real life heart break, anger, sympathy, understanding, sadness, happiness, faith, hope and love.

With an entire story in itself and details to spare, my brother (Terry) was killed on his bicycle at the age of fifteen when I was sixteen.  My father was a flooring contractor and had a job for my brother, it was Terry's very first job.  Dad told him to bring a utility knife over to the local funeral home in town and to pull up the green astro turf on the porch.  Dad stressed to Terry to NOT go on Grand Avenue or he would die and that he should take the back road since it was much safer on bike.  Terry didn't listen, he wanted to make money quick and be done so he can get back to friends, he took the highway route.
Terry was in the hospital for three days on life support until he was pronounced brain dead.  My parents made a decision together (a miracle in itself since they were divorced -truly was amazing to witness), to donate his body for those in need.  Unfortunately, for my dad, Terry was pronounced dead on Fathers Day.  Dad's guilt and Irish temper was funneled over to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times.  Like wild fire our story went viral.  With more hair on my head and better looks, I was getting sympathizing letters from girls that had similar experiences with siblings who were as far away as Australia and Japan!!!  My then girlfriend didn't like that!
Heart transplants from children to adults can sell lots and lots of newspapers!  Wow!  Our family was followed by the media like the paparazzi follows the next trashy story in Hollywood.  We had so many photographers and reporters outside the church documenting our every move -IT SUCKED!  So happy to not be famous.
I got to see the incredible power of the media at a very young age.  I never in my wildest dreams thought that one day I would be an editorial photographer.  I figured I'd shoot weddings, babies and families.  Hey!  Wait!  I also did that too!  LOL!!!  I knew while in college there was more to photography than the portrait business and I thought I might like to do fashion photography.  Luckily that didn't work out. I did however work as a photographer's assistant in New York City and Chicago and had a blast!  It was so much fun and difficult work, but I learned a lot.
Breaking into “the business” is a different story for everyone.  Believe me no story is the same.  Mine just happen to be dumb luck...remember I have some Irish in me.  Hehe!  Our next door neighbors in Jersey City (who we didn't know) were on their way to Costa Rica for vacation and had nobody in our building that was willing or trustful to mind their cats and fish.  They asked us for a favor and we were more than happy to give it to them.  When they got back from vacation they invited us over for a drink and conversation.  John Mackenzie asked my wife Traci what she did for a living.  She said she was a teacher at Public School #16 -in Jersey City New Jersey and he looked at me and asked what I did.  I told him I was a photo assistant.  He had the biggest smile on his face and looked at Lynn and said…welllllll…Lynn is a photo editor at Marie Claire Magazine and he was the director of technologies at Donna Karan New York (DKNY).  We became great friends and still talk to them to this day.  Nepotism didn't work for me at that time.  John made it clear that they did not hire friends and we all were cool with that.  Friendship to Traci and I meant more than money and I truly mean that!
With our first born on the way Traci and I both knew that raising children in Jersey City was not for us, so we went back to the suburbs of Chicago to purchase Traci's mom's dance studio.  While working in that business and photo assisting in Chicago, I got a call from Lynn and she asked if I wanted to shoot a small story.  Duh…but we're friends I said!  She said it's in Chicago and if you don't take it, it's going to someone else -and she will give it to someone else!  I took it!  A no frills job, but my foot was in the door.  A couple weeks later another call from Lynn.  John…how far away is Elgin, Illinois from you?  Forty minutes, Lynn.  You're shooting a story next week and the title is, I Was Raped & Kept The Baby -you cool with that?  Hell yeah!  One of my favorites and very powerful stories.
After the Creative director Donald Robertson saw the story, he told Lynn “send Brennan anywhere”, HOLY SMOKES I went everywhere!  Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan Magazines were short lived and the crew from those magazines migrated to my last place with them at Glamour Magazine.  Glamour sent me all over the country, I had so much fun traveling and hearing my subject's stories.  Other magazines were getting interested in who I was and would also hire me.  Rosie O'Donnell had a magazine and gave me quite a few stories, unfortunately she opened her big mouth and lost the magazine and many talented folks lost their jobs -thanks Rosie!
Ending my editorial career is a personal story at this time I cannot share with you, maybe later.  I spent lots of time traveling the country and chasing stories and money, it effected my family and I had to take a break.  I didn't think it would be a seventeen year break.  I/we Traci and me, did however start up a baby portrait business and that migrated to toddlers, families, senior high school photography and professional head shots, etc.  We loved that business!  It went on for a few years until “The Crash” and the advent of cool apps on smartphones.  A couple of years before “The Crash” we managed to figure out how to photograph “volume photography”.  We specialize in extreme cheer and dance studio photography i.e. sports photography.  We love it!  That's really all we do now.
I had no idea in what direction I was heading when I started and today I can say the same, who knows where I'll be tomorrow.  I just know that God will direct me where He wants me.  So this is where my story ends.  It ends with faith, hope and love.  Or does it begin again?  We'll see.
 
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