Tahany Yassin: Launching ChiTown Photography

Tahany Yassin is the founder and Lead Photographer of ChiTown Photography. Tahany’s interest in the field began when she received her first camera as a gift when she was only 10 years old. With many mentors along the way, Tahany found her true calling in telling stories through images. In 2002 she decided to turn her passion into a profession. Tahany specializes in all aspects of photography and lighting and her style is most closely aligned with photojournalism. Tahany freelanced for several years prior to launching her own brands, ChiTown Photography in 2011 & Jeena Studios, in 2014.

The New Agenda and MALA are proud to launch the “Women of the USA,” a campaign to showcase Muslim women’s stories and voices.  Our goal is to spotlight the diversity and accomplishments of Muslim American women.  If you would like to share your story as part of this series, please submit your information here. Join the conversation by using #WOTUSA, and share your voice with us.

My name is Tahany Yassin. I am a Muslim American born and raised in Chicago. My family roots derive from Palestine. I’ve always loved taking photos. I’ve owned a camera for as long as I can remember and my passion for photography has been burning since I was a little girl’ I started taking photos of my siblings, family members and different landscapes as a hobby. It was so gratifying for me to know I had the power to capture special moments for a lifetime.

Not only did I have a camera but I also had a video camcorder. Yes, I have  A LOT of family home videos and family members appreciate it but most would prefer not to “live in the past”.  I would always be the one to get coverage of family gatherings, special events and even role playing at home was so much fun – all of my siblings were at my mercy!

I married at a very young age and lived in southwest Florida for several years during my married years. Soon after, I became a mother to two precious angels – my daughter Jeena and my son Abdullah. Not only did I dress them up and take photos but I also filmed those rugrats every chance I could! I didn’t want to miss a single precious moment. I tend to get a obnoxious to family members with the camera in my hand and I have the footage to prove it. I was always a stay at home mom but once my kids started going to school, I decided to go back to school myself.

In 2009, I graduated from Hodges university, with a degree in Computer Design and Drafting. After graduating, I moved back to Chicago with my two young kids to pursue a career with my degree. The plan was to find a job where I can apply the skills I obtained in college. Although I had my degree and a 4.0 GPA, the only opportunities that presented themselves were unpaid internships in the field of Graphic Design. Perhaps if I adamantly continued searching, I would’ve landed a decent job. I think deep down I knew a “job” is not for me. I am free spirit and know that I can never be tied down to a “nine to five”. I’m a very social person and I love meeting people, so I decided to grab my Nikon D40 and hit the streets of Chicago to pursue a full time career in photography.

The beginning was A LOT of work and very minimal pay. I doubted myself and what I was able to offer to people, models and anyone looking for good photography. On the other hand, I did need to perfect my craft in order to confidently charge what I wanted to get paid. I built a huge network of professionals, business owners and especially fashion designers, models and makeup artists. Not only that, but I met some amazing pro’s along  the way. Some became my mentors and I learned so much from them. I still continue learning because there is always room to grow. There are so many different techniques and effects a photographer can create with the vision they have set in their mind.

I got so much exposure and was recognized through multiple sources in the windy city. My love for the city of Chicago, the lifestyle and diversity inspired me to create my first brand in 2011 called ChiTown Photography. The idea with this brand was to feature Chicago’s social scene, nightlife, fashion and food! Although my vision for ChiTown Photography is to have a team of professional photographers pursuing their passion, I was still freelancing at this point.  A few months after starting my ChiTown Photography brand, I came across an online ad to work as an associate photographer and editor for a local wedding studio. About 6 months in, I became a lead wedding photographer within that same studio all while building my brand, freelancing my photography and continuing to build my network.

In the early months of 2014, I had the opportunity to showcase my wedding photography and sell my services out of a local bridal boutique in the southwest suburbs. The target market was the middle eastern bride but certainly not limited to all cultures, religions and ethnicities. I pride myself in having a very diverse clientele base where I have the privilege to learn about different cultures and religions first hand. The experience is so fascinating to me. I have photographed Palestinian, Indian, Albanian and Pakistani weddings just to name a few. Since the vision I had for ChiTown Photography was not weddings, I had to come up with a different brand, especially since I decided to offer video services for the happy couples and their families. I called this new brand Jeena Studios after my daughter, Jeena, who also works in the business.

Jeena Studios’ had a successful first 8 months but unfortunately the bridal boutique had to relocate to much smaller space which left no room for Jeena Studios. I then decided to continue conducting business from my home.

Now, in 2017, both of my brands continue to grow and my passion continues to burn for photography and serving people. My bigger vision for my businesses is coming to life a slowly but surely!

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