Jenn Ocken

10 Cool Things About Jenn Ocken

Last year I photographed weddings in Montana, Jamaica, and Denmark, as well as all over Chicago. (Three of the five siblings in my family are photographers.)

As an enterprising young businesswoman, I have learned to make the most of the money and equipment I have. I once ran over my Macintosh laptop with my car and then kept using it for another three years (slight repairs to the screen required).

I have four older brothers who are all at least seven years older than me, the only girl. They found me an interesting novelty when we were growing up. My oldest brother used to hang me upside down and tell me all the blood would rush to my head and make it explode. Later they taught me to do a keg stand.

My fashion photography work has taken off in the last couple of years, and from time to time I see one of my images on the side of a cab – or in the international terminal at O’Hare Airport.

In addition to photographing blues musicians, I’ve been to enough shows that Bobby Rush likes to pull me up on stage to shake my booty with his dancers. He tells me I “have the legs for it.” I’ve also been privileged to meet (and photograph) Honey Boy Edwards, Mavis Staples, Pinetop Perkins, Robert Lockwood Jr, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, and BB King. I’ve shared a beer with multiple members of Muddy Waters’ band and sat across the table from John Lee Hooker’s daughter, listening to stories about when he was alive.

blues guys

After doing my duty as a bridesmaid numerous times, I got to be the best babe (or best beeyotch, depending on who you ask) at my brother Chris and Jessica’s wedding in 2004. Their reception was at a bowling alley.

I have a kick-ass dog, Eddie, who is a yorkie-shih tzu mix. He has no idea what size he is, and his best friend is a 70-lb bulldog.

In 2006 my brother Chris and I went to get wristbands for Cubs tickets, just to be sure one or the other of us got one. We BOTH got one, and we were so excited on the day of the sale that we ended up with $2000 worth of Cubs tickets.

I’ve long been a camping and canoeing aficionado, perfecting the art of making even whiskey and diet Dr. Pepper a good cocktail when you’re on the river, not to mention whooping up a delicious campfire dinner with canned chicken. In 2002, I bagged Long’s Peak in Colorado, the only girl with an all-male climbing crew. I only cried a little (and no more than some of the rest of them).

My sister-in-law calls me the baby whisperer because of the expressive, kids portraits I’m able to create. I like to put my subjects in a familiar environment and give them time to become comfortable with me so I am capturing their true emotions and personalities. Also, kids just seem to like me. Could be because I have 11 nieces and nephews to practice bonding with, or that I worked my way through college teaching gymnastics and swimming to little squirts.