Interview With Pulitzer Prize Nominated Photographer Jean Lachat
It’s true what they say, that a picture is worth a thousand words because Jean Lachat’s speak volumes compared to what you’re about to read about her. Her photographs tell her story better than I ever could.
Jean was the photographer assigned to take our picture as the cover family of the new Tinley Park Neighbors magazine. We bought some of the prints from the magazine photoshoot and then I learned some interesting things about Ms. Lachat. They say curiosity killed the cat, but I am a curious person by nature and I’m still here, so I had to chat with this cat.
FUN FACT: The word chat in French means cat.
Q&A With Jean Lachat
Where did you grow up, and where do you call home?
I was born on the South Side of Chicago, growing up in Mt. Greenwood, and my dad lived there until just recently.
What’s something cool about your family that you’d like people to know?
I am one of five girls, no brothers. My own family is blended so I have four children!
What inspired you to get into photography?
My dad and my Gram both took a lot of photos of our family when I was growing up. My Gram would let me play around with her camera when I was very young, and I loved it, and that has never changed.
When did you first start to develop a passion for what you’re doing now?
I bought my first camera when I was 12. I brought it on vacation and shot about 10 rolls of film in a week. I was hooked, and never looked back.
How did (your business) start?
I was working as a staff photographer at the Chicago Sun-Times when the newspaper industry started to have trouble. I had done side work for years, but I was a single mom with two daughters, and knew I needed a plan B, so I officially started my portrait business, Jean Lachat Photography in 2008.
What’s something interesting that has happened lately to you and/or your business?
Giving back to my community is one of my core values as a business. This year has been especially challenging, so I am thrilled to have been able to raise money for several local charities with limited edition photo sessions — the Suburban Service League, Mokena Educational Foundation AND The Center in Palos. In addition, I have been able to support local fundraisers for additional WONDERFUL non-profits like Kidswork Children’s Museum in Frankfort and the Cancer Support Center in Mokena.
What’s the driving force behind what you do?
I truly, truly believe that everyone should have beautiful artwork of their family and children on the walls of their home. I cannot think of a better way to make a house a home than to decorate it with portraits of the people you love most.
Walk me through something you do and/or your business offers?
My business is much different from most photographers in the local area. I do not just hand over a bunch of digital files and say, “Good luck.” I work alongside my clients from beginning to end, creating a custom plan for their session, providing a fun and memorable experience for their session, and then helping them create custom artwork for their home that will be treasured forever.
What get’s you really excited, that makes what you do a joy to work?
Being a photographer is all I have ever done as a career. And even though my career spans decades, I truly love meeting new families, creating a forever relationship, and creating beautiful portraits. I am so lucky to do what I do.
What are some future plans for your business?
I am currently getting ready to launch an amazing new session concept that brings documentary portraiture to a new level! I can’t wait to unveil it on November 3rd.
In today’s struggling economy, what steps have you taken to continue to grow?
I love supporting local businesses, and during Covid, I developed relationships with local businesses by helping them to promote themselves on my Friday feature, “Friday Focus.” I go live on my Jean Lachat Photography Facebook page every Friday at 10AM for an interview with local business owners to talk about what they do, and it has been amazing!!!
Where did you get your training for what you do?
I am largely self-taught in photography!
What or who are your influences?
I have had an incredible opportunity to work with the best photographers in Chicago during my career. They helped me to become a talented photographer, but more importantly, to become a better person.
What’s your favorite memory of you mom and/or your grandmas (an important female figure in your life is cool too).
My mom died in 2013. She raised five daughters while working either part-time and full-time as a nurse. She was not only a great role model; she allowed me to explore all of my interests, whether photography, band or sports. She was super supportive of my creative tendencies, and I am so thankful she encouraged me to find something to love as a career.
What books, podcasts, articles, etc., do you read/listen to that have influenced the way you approach your business and art?
My photography mentor Sarah Petty has a podcast called the “Worth Every Penny Joycast.” She is amazing and literally has taught me to value myself as an artist. She also wrote “Worth Every Penny,” a best-selling book for entrepreneurs.
What’s the #1 most asked question have people been asking you?
They ask why I don’t just sell digital files. I tell them I do not sell “just digitals” because I believe portraits belong on the walls of your home, where you can see them and love them and enjoy them forever, not in a drawer. I do provide digital files of my portraits for sharing on social media, but a great wall portrait of your family is my jam!
If you could go back in time to your younger self, what would you tell her/you ??
I would say to stay true to who I am as an artist and believe in my talent and worth, because they are truly priceless!
Is there anything else that I haven’t asked you that you would like people to know about your business?
If you choose me to create custom portraits of your children and family, I will be by your side from the beginning of the process to the end. It will be the best thing you have ever done for your family, and we literally be friends forever. That’s just how I am.
Keep up with Jean on her social profiles:
Visit her website to check out her porfolio and information on her pricing, etc. www.jeanlachatphotography.com.