by Jim Loew
You can credit a book on Victorian cemetery art that Lynn Ann Allen fell in love with when she was in high school for eventually leading her to open Black Sheep Photography, the newest member to Riverwest’s business community, which had its grand opening September 24, during Center Street Daze. “I fell in love with cemeteries,” said Allen. “I even went to Paris just for the cemeteries.”
This love affair evolved into taking pictures of statues, abandoned buildings, and old trucks. Then, nine years ago, Allen came to Riverwest. She bought a house. And she started taking pictures of the neighborhood. “I find Riverwest to be very colorful,” she said. “I love the people here. You can’t find these people anywhere else; they’re genuinely friendly.”
Not only are the people friendly, but “they’re all about their dogs,” said Allen. This is important to her, because she has four dogs of her own and is heavily involved in three canine rescue groups. In fact, in addition to her four dogs, she’s currently fostering two others. “I offer a free pet-portrait session for people who have rescued their animal from MADAC (Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control),” said Allen. And this is not just for rescued dogs either. “I don’t care if it’s a lizard – whatever,” she added with a laugh.
Animal portraits aren’t the only thing she offers – far from it. Black Sheep Photography is open to just about anything, though the physical space of its studio can limit some things, like family portraits. “I like more intimate shots, such as one on one,” Allen said. “I love doing portraits and trying to capture that essence of the person. I love people with tattoos. Someone with an individual look about themselves.”
She and her best friend and business partner, Angela Wangrud (who studied photography at MATC), offer affordable walk-in services. “We want to make it fun,” said Allen. “So perhaps a couple on a first date or someone just walking by.”
They also offer boudoir sessions for women. “So if women want to surprise their boyfriends – or girlfriends – we can do that,” said Allen. In addition, Allen has different props on hand, such as vintage dresses, top hats, and other fun things. All in all, Allen and Wangrud want to keep things fun and not too serious. “I went to school for graphic design and did that for awhile,” said Allen. “I hated it, because it became my job.”
So keeping with that carefree approach, Black Sheep Photography will have pictures of neighborhood people in its front window that will be changed monthly. Allen is also planning a display of individual facial parts of different people from Riverwest that she’ll then piece together to create a unique face. If you’re one of the lucky ones to have one of your facial parts captured on film, you could see your lips, for example, with the nose of another and the eyes of yet two others.
For a photography studio, this all sounds refreshingly different, which is how the name Black Sheep Photography was chosen. “I’ve always been an outcast,” said Allen. “I came from a small farming community in western New York. I was different. I had pink hair; I wore mini skirts; I listened to punk music. I’m sort of the ‘black sheep’ of the family, I guess.”
So if you’re unusual or strange, said Allen, and want your picture taken, you’ll feel right at home at Black Sheep Photography.
If You Go:
Black Sheep Photography
801 E. Center St.
M – Closed
T – 4-8PM
W-Th – Appointment only
Fr – 5-9PM
Sa – 1-9PM
Su – Noon-5PM