Barrington’s White House Selects Fine Art Photographs

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

The fine art photographs of Barrington’s White House, shot during the renovation and rebuilding of Barrington’s first community center, have been selected, printed and are being framed.  They will be installed and ready for viewing at the Open House on July 4th, immediately following Barrington’s annual parade.

For more information about these photographs contact Susan McConnell.  For more information on this project see Barrington’s White House.

Here are a few of the fine art photographs you’ll be able to see inside Barrington’s White House.

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

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Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell

Barrington's White House by Susan McConnell
















“Oh! I Love What You’re Wearing!” by Dyllis Braithwaite

Dyllis in her summer house.

Dyllis in her summer house.

“Oh! I love what you’re wearing!”

I knew of Dyllis Braithwaite from her Barrington store “Finn’s Fabrics.” She always intimidated me because my love of fashion and sewing paled in comparison to hers, but throughout the years I purchased the most beautiful fabrics in her store from which to sew many things, including the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding.

It’s 28 years later now, Dyllis is 87, and she asked me to be one of the photographers for her new book, “Oh, I Love What You’re Wearing!” The book features dresses that Dyllis has designed and produced over the years. Inspired by the thought that someone would write a book at the age of 87 and remembering my bridesmaid dresses, I said yes.

That yes has led a year long project which in turn has led to a relationship more important to me than fabrics or photographs. Spending time with Dyllis means learning about sewing, kale, her long relationship with her husband, and her artwork; all things that come with life lessons attached. She calls the gazebo in her back yard “my summer house” and she calls herself “an icon,” which, of course, she is.

I’m not the only photographer on the project. Included are Maxine Cress and Bob Lee. Working with them has, as always, been an honor.

You can meet Dyllis and the photographers at a special book signing at the Barrington Library on Sunday, April 19 at 2:00.  Dyllis will have on hand a selection of her fashions.

Here is a video where you can see the passion of this extraordinary woman, followed by some of the photographs that we created in her garden and mine.

Oh, and, by the way, I’m changing the name of my back porch to “my summer house.”








Until She is Adopted, I Will Photograph Her Every Season

“What if she never gets adopted?”  My little girl had to ask.

“Then we’ll have one hell of a story to tell.”  I had to say.

It’s a terrible analogy but one you’ll all understand.  My friends who are realtors insist that a house sitting on the market is photographed each season, so that it doesn’t look like it’s doing just that, sitting on the market.

While Joyanna waits for a family to adopt her, I’m going to photograph her each season and while social workers change and foster families change, I’ll be constant.  Joyanna is a child in the Illinois Heart Gallery, a photography exhibit of children available for adoption.

The appointment for the photo shoot is tomorrow in Chicago.  I’ll report back.

In the meantime, to learn about Joyanna visit the State of Illinois Adoption Website.

And to learn about the new nonprofit we’ve started to help these children become adopted, visit Let It Be Us.

Whiskey Photo Shoot & Styling


Not being a whiskey drinker wasn’t part of the equation.  The magnificent bottles and rich colors would surely add up to a not-to-be-forgotten photo shoot.  The work was created for Taster’s Club, the first whiskey subscription company in the world.  (They send you great whiskey every month and then teach you all about it.)  The photo shoot was styled by our planet’s most creative stylists, Mosie Himes of OMO.  Watch Taster’s Club’s Facebook Page for how they use the photographs during the holiday season as they kick off their “Give the Gift of Taster’s Club” campaign.  Here are the favorite photographs:











Photographing in Milan – Susan McConnell Photography

Quintessential Barrington Magazine invited me to document one of the original international designers, Starr Kondos, as she traveled through Milan, architecting original, one-of-a-kind designs for her boutique, Starr Couture.

For four days I followed Starr and her team through the walkways of Milan’s fashion district, along with Publisher Lisa Stamos.  I documented every step and when there was down time, which wasn’t often, I’d sneak out and photograph the sights.  Of the over 1,000 images, here are some of my favorites in black & white:











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She’s One of the 3,300 But She’s One of a Kind

Today I photographed a little girl who is available for adoption. I wasn’t sure how to break the ice, so I brought her a present. Presents usually do the trick. Turns out she recently celebrated her birthday. “How did you know I just turned 10?” Our new nonprofit is Let It Be Us and we’re going to help little kids like this become adopted. (ps … She tucked the ribbon in her pocket. “How did you know my favorite color is pink?”)

The fine print: Since Illinois has a whopping 3,300 foster children who are available for adoption, you would think they’re sort of forgotten.  This little girl, while she doesn’t have a mother or a father, was very well cared for.  She was dressed warmly on this chilly day, with a beautiful pinky coat and hat and mittens.  (Remember the favorite color.)  Socks and nice shoes too.  And happy.  She was really happy.  She seemed to be very loved by her social worker, who got down on her knees to talk to her, telling her that we were going to take her picture so that we could find her a “forever family.”  “Can’t I just stay with you?”  That’s what she asked as she nestled into her.  Her social worker pulled her in tighter, “I’d love to keep you but we’re all going to find the most perfect mommy for you.”

This is a team.  One of the most important teams ever.  Because we’re going to find this little girl, whose favorite color is pink, a family.

You can learn about adopting this little girl here.  (Adopting from foster care is absolutely free and to be a parent you can be single.)

Barrington’s White House Photography and Video Update

A view from inside Barrington's White House 10:24:14.

A view from inside Barrington’s White House 10:24:14.

Here is a construction update from Barrington’s White House. In these photographs and video you can see the old craftsmanship that is found within the walls of this old house that is about to become Barrington’s first community center.   A lot of the work has moved inside this week while Pepper Construction prepares to orchestrate the building of the roof. I’ll tell you one thing, every time I go in the house there is just one constant; it’s never the same place twice.  I’ll tell you another thing, it’s a lot of fun being a White House Photographer!




How to Knock Down an Audacious Goal



Translating the lessons learned in knocking down the audacious goal of swimming the English Channel, the Mount Everest of open water swimming, into life and business goals is a translation of surprises.  Come and hear how Doug McConnell put the pieces in order, step by step, to achieve this awesome goal that is attempted by many and attained by few.  RSVP HERE.

A Photography Story (+ a new camera review)

Barrington's White House roof is removed one section at a time.

Barrington’s White House roof is removed a section at a time.

As the “White House Photographer” my photography friends are a little jealous, until they hear the # of hours I’m putting into this volunteer project.  It has become my labor of love.  What my photographer friends don’t realize is that it’s an extremely interesting and fun project.  Every time I head over to photograph, thinking “this will just take 15 minutes,” the time turns into hours as I’ve morphed from White House Photographer to Construction Photographer, climbing ladders and walking in dangerous places discovering more and more once-in-a-lifetime shots.  The whole project is like one big puzzle and as I photograph each piece I’ve become obsessed over not letting one fall through the cracks.  I’m also having a blast with a new camera, the Sony Action Cam, which is similar to a GoPro, but the reviews are actually better.  The Zeiss lens means that the colors are more vibrant and the HD quality means that I can utilize Vimeo as a platform for showcasing my work.  Here are some of the latest Barrington’s White House, I mean construction, photographs:










When Great Friends Come to Dinner

Having all been born at the same hospital, delivered by the same doctor and then having all grown up together, we reunited with a trivia game about our home town with the backdrop of awesome food, wine and 70’s music. (Photographs and video recorded with the new Sony Action Cam. Love that 170 degree view!)

An Interview with Pepper Construction’s Sustainability Engineer


Ted Krasnesky, Sustainable Engineer with Pepper Construction Company

In managing the communications for Barrington’s White House Project, the restoration of Barrington’s landmark on Main Street through a public/private partnership, here is one of the questions that is often asked, “Why should the building be LEED Certified?”  I interviewed Ted Krasnesky, a Sustainable Engineer with Pepper Construction Company, who certainly knows the answer this question. Watch as we build communications for this project and engage Barrington residents, garnering their support for this future gathering place for all generations.

Designing and Writing a Blog


Whether for your business or for a personal project, a blog is a beautiful and effective communication tool. You may want to add a blog to your web presence, memorialize a special trip or improve your reputation in a specific field.  We’ll help you with designing and structuring your blog so that it is engaging and simply awesome. Whether your blogging goals are to go big time and change the world or to keep it to a small audience, we’ll show you the tactics to get you from A to Z in a manageable and engaging way. (Class size is limited to 3) $245.00

October 8 & 15 & 22 (three classes) … 6:00 – 8:00 pm
November 5 & 12 & 19 (three classes) … 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Barrington’s White House Construction Update

Creating media for Barrington’s White House is a project that I love.  As a young woman, in 1980, I worked my way through college as the weekend secretary at Barrington Realty Company, which was located in this house.  As a result, I know every inch of this huge, old mansion.  There’s nothing better than putting on my hard hat and roaming around the place, which is changing every single day, as Barrington’s first community center comes to fruition.  Stay tuned for more.

Just One Day on Martha’s Vineyard


Just one day on Martha’s Vineyard. We rented a jeep and took it up island but had to have it back by 4:30 because the president’s secret service had it booked. Just as well, the ferry was at 5:00 and an afternoon was long enough to remember that this place is heaven on earth.

Getting ready for Mrs. President.

Getting ready for Mrs. President.





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The Bight. One of the most amazing places on earth.

Barrington’s Ice Bucket Challenge

Barrington’s Ice Bucket Challenge
Thursday, August 21st, 6:00pm
Barrington’s Gazebo (right in the middle of town)

Come on out and be a part of Barrington’s history as we celebrate the Ice Bucket Challenge and raise money for the Les Turner ALS Foundation!
100% of proceeds go toward research at Northwestern, the same research team that discovered the cause of ALS!

The same research team that announced their findings on the day that Douglas McConnell landed on the beach in England, after swimming the English Channel. His team has raised more than $325,000 for this research.

You can donate now at the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

We’re making a difference and we can’t stop now! 

Hands of Hope

When Vicky Wauterlek, Founder of the nonprofit organization Hands of Hope, asked me if I’d like to include her cause in my philanthropy photography, I jumped at the chance. I had long admired her work in Africa, meeting the critical needs of women and children by addressing education, economic development, clean drinking water and health care. And I had long admired Vicky as a hard-working, determined yet consistently placid woman.

The first thing I did was take take a beautiful portrait of her.


In my meetings with Vicki over the winter, I realized that the best way I could support her work in Africa was to photograph the unique beauty of her Garden Faire, the #1 fundraiser for the important work of Hands of Hope. Over the last 14 years, the Garden Faire has raised over $4.5 million dollars. This year, as the Garden Faire is being staged, I’ve been photographing the volunteers at work. Here is a sneak peek at some of the special items you’ll be able to pick up at this year’s sale  …

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