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Winnetka resident opens photography studio in Wilmette

April Dahlquist, Editor, Winnetka Current/Wilmette Beacon

6:37 am CDT October 16, 2014


Comfortable for years in the dark room in her Winnetka home, photographer Lisa Neild decided to take the next step and shed light on her business.

Neild moved her equipment to a sunny storefront on Green Bay Road in Wilmette and opened “Lisa Neild Photography” in February 2014, replacing Diane Hamilton Photography, which closed after Hamilton moved out of state. 

Neild has been taking photos along the North Shore for years, processing them in her house. When the space specifically designed for a photographer opened up, she knew she had to seize the opportunity. 

“I feel like I’m cheating because I’m just walking in,” joked Neild, who was grateful for the opportunity and the mentoring of Hamilton before she left. 

The studio has a front meeting space, with large windows flooding the area with natural light, which shows off some featured pieces Neild took, including a cheerful family photo and a sleeping newborn in a colorful, knitted cap.

Behind the comfortable meeting area is Neild’s studio, where she’ll shoot all sessions that aren’t on location. The room is equipped with moveable lights, backdrops, props and just about any tool to transform the space into somewhere other than a photography studio. 

Clients also can choose to be outside, which is typical when the weather is nice, Neild said.

Neild has always enjoyed photography, describing it as glorified hobby that turned into her passion. 

In high school, she took her camera everywhere, always taking pictures of her friends and surroundings. 

“I just have always loved photography,” she said. “I love capturing and telling stories with that. I love looking back and revisiting all those milestones.”

Neild received her bachelor’s of fine arts with a concentration in photography from the University of Michigan. 

After moving to Chicago, Neild worked for a photographer and then at an art gallery. She went back to school to get her master’s in art therapy and then worked at the World Young Women’s Christian Association, and incorporated photography there with the women she worked with. 

“It’s always been woven into my life, even when I wasn’t per say taking pictures,” she said. 

Once Neild moved to Winnetka and became a stay at home mom, she put a dark room in her house where she could process her own pictures. 

She also started taking pictures for family and friends and a small business started to blossom. 

“It grew at a very manageable pace for me,” Neild said, as word of mouth spread about her photography. 

She would often have repeat clients, having Neild take pictures of their family throughout the years. 

“Thanks to Lisa, I have these monumentally important memories that she’s been able to capture through the years, that are so precious to us as a family,” client and friend Roni Neumann said. “I think that’s really the gift that Lisa has given us, and so many families.”

About seven years ago, Neild made the complete switch to digital photography, which came with positive and negative effects, she said. She enjoys how forgiving digital photography can be, and the amount of photos she can take, but laments the purity in developing her own black and white photos. 

“It makes me sad to see my dark room, which is more like a closet in the basement of my house,” she said. 

When the studio space became available so close to home, coupled with her aging kids, Neild decided to work full-time on her business. 

“This was really a huge step,” Neild said. 

Typically, Neild photographs newborn babies and families.

“It’s capturing the real essence of people, their authentic selves,” Neumann said.  

Neild described her photography style as comfortable and casual, and not totally candid, as she will pose and arrange her subjects. While keeping an eye out for the overall composition, Neild also likes to connect and engage her subjects, so she is capturing a real moment, she said. 

One area she wants to expand into is high school seniors. 

“I think this is such an untapped market in our area,” Neild said. 

While photographing newborns is important, so is capturing the end of childhood, before the big step of college, she said.  

“This I feel, is the book end and doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” she said. 

For her own son Owen, Neild did an album showcasing different aspects of his high school career. Not only portrait shots, but shots of him in his band uniform and goofing off. 

“There’s the fun ones, where he’s on his phone or drinking Mountain Dew and it’s more that ‘slice of life,’ which is really who he is,” Neild said. “I think that
will be more and more meaningful to us as time goes by.”  

After soliciting feedback for her website,, Neild found out that many of her clients find her comfortable to work with, a compliment she covets.