Shannon Btown


When Bloomington native Shannon Zahnle bought her first camera in 2007, her goal was to develop a professional skill that could offer an alternative to waiting tables. She had no photography training, learning instead by relentlessly shooting under all conditions and in any circumstances. Through trial and error, library books, and the Bloomington Photography Club (particularly her friend James Kellar), she honed the style and technique that have made her a consummate creator of images, at once both a photojournalist and an artist.

If you are a regular reader of Bloom, you have seen hundreds of her photographs over the years. She has shot 10 cover stories, some of the magazine’s best, including last issue’s “Buddies,” as well as “Gay Bloomington: Then & Now,” “Bloomington Ink,” and “Comedy in Bloomington.” For this feature, we asked her to select photographs she takes when she’s not on assignment. “I rounded up everything that wasn’t just of my family or my cats,” she says.

Shannon, 37, is adamant that anyone with interest and persistence can develop photography skills, emphasizing that each person can bring a unique approach and vision. “I just want to encourage everyone to experiment. I don’t like hearing people say, ‘I could never do that,’” she says. “You don’t have to make your photographs look like someone else took them. If you take enough photographs, they start to have your own look.”

The Bloom editorial staff chose these 13 images as representations of the Zahnle “look.” View them here! Scroll down to view some of the outtakes.