By Kelly Konrad
Ask Linda MacLennan what her business card would have said 20 years ago and, surely, it would have indicated her career in Chicago as a news reporter and anchor.
Today? The answer isn’t as cut and dry.
“The last three years have included pretty significant changes in my life,” MacLennan says. A divorce and a move mixed with an expected empty nest as her youngest child heads to college this fall make for an uncharted future.
“I’m at the point now where I’m trying to look further ahead,” she says. “I do want to start a new business that incorporates some of my photography, some of my voiceover work, some of my reporting skills. Hopefully, a business card in months from now will say “’Photographer, Journalist, Voiceover Professional.’” When asked if, close to 15 years post-television news career, she’s been able to shake the inquisitive bug, she says “no.”
“We don’t ever lose that,” she notes. MacLennan is still drawn to the urgency of events, even from behind the lens rather than in front of it. This past fall, when the Women’s Club of Wilmette was burning, she raced to the scene, camera in hand.
“I was compelled to go over and get the pictures as soon as I could,” she recalls.
“Doing so much photography now, I feel like a photojournalist. I think it’s in your blood. It’s in your heart and your mind all the time whether you want it to be or not,” she says.
MacLennan has always had the penchant to be a shutterbug. “It was something I always loved to do,” she says, remembering her first experience at 10 years old in Montreal with a Brownie Instamatic and one roll of black and white film.
“I got back and I was thrilled with my pictures,” she says. “There’s just something inside me when I’m shooting that makes me feel like nothing else does.”
MacLennan fed her passion through her teen and college years, saving money to buy her first SLR camera, and lugging the heavy metal body piece of equipment across Europe.
“It’s just an addiction,” she explains. “The passion I have for it never goes away.”
When her television career came to an end in 2003, MacLennan found the time to immerse herself in her hobby. Thankfully, she’d nurtured it on trips to her Wisconsin cottage, where she began to show her landscape photography at a local marina.
When it comes to the different genres within photography, MacLennan says, “I like it all, but it was the landscapes that got me started in terms of thinking of it as a business.” Her children’s connection to sports and a stint at Wilmette Theatre on its board of directors provided the more challenging work.
“I love a challenge, and sports and theatrical photography is a challenge unto itself.”
MacLennan’s work as a storyteller has its advantages when it comes to engaging with her photo subjects.
“Being able to talk to people when you are shooting them helps them relax,” she notes. “The difference between head shots when I look at the first and then the 20th is like night and day.”
Still addicted to landscapes, MacLennan doesn’t have to go far to find something to shoot on the North Shore. Her favorite spot? “Anyone who has kids that go to New Trier drives by it all the time,” alluding to a spot on Winnetka Road. “I’ve gotten some beautiful shots of the Skokie Lagoons.”
So, now comes the next act, as MacLennan turns 60 in May. “It’s kind of a mind-blowing time, really,” she says. When asked what comes with age? “With age, comes choices.”
For more information, visit lindamaclennan.zenfolio.com