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Merit Member Beth Rooney

Web site:
Current location/For how long: Chicago, Illinois, for 2 years.
School/Degree received: Ohio University, BS in Visual Communication.

© Beth Rooney
All photos © Beth Rooney

Recent awards or distinctions: Student at Eddie Adams XX; the Nancy Van Arsdale Photography Award 2007.

Recent Clients: Stern, Der Spiegel, Chicago Tribune, University of Chicago, Chicago Businessweek, Time Out Chicago.

How long have you been working professionally?

2 years.

© Beth Rooney

What has been your favorite photographic assignment or project to date?

My current project, “Strange Shores,” has been my favorite to date. It is self-assigned, but I have collaborated with Chicago Public Radio for sections of the story. The piece documents several families as they adjust to life in the United States after spending years in African refugee camps. I enjoy the opportunity it gives me to be part of a community that is geographically so close, but is so different from everything I have known. I also enjoy the fact that I am able to help one of the relocation agencies, Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries, with their annual reports and fund-raising projects.

© Beth Rooney

What has been your most challenging photographic assignment or project to date?

The most challenging assignment was my honors thesis from my time at Ohio University. I chose to do a project about junior high school, so there were many legal hoops to jump through in addition to the normal challenges you encounter when embarking on a long-term project.

© Beth Rooney

Please describe any special photographic projects or assignments in which you are currently engaged.

I am currently working on a story about refugees in Chicago. I have partnered with Chicago Public Radio for parts of this piece and hope to continue the relationship down the road. I have received funding to pursue the work and have started working with another refugee family. A brief description:

Tucked away on Chicago’s far north side, amid university students and professors, lies a growing community of African refugees. The new residents hail from all of Africa’s war-torn corners and struggle to make new and better lives in a foreign city. Families face many challenges including poverty, a dramatic shift in climate, adjusting to a new diet, finding a job and sifting through a complicated system to ensure that their children are educated. Despite these daunting challenges, more and more refugee families are calling Chicago their home and finding open arms to welcome them.

© Beth Rooney

What is your greatest photographic aspiration?

To continue pursuing projects that inspires both the viewer and maker. And to work with integrity and a sincere desire to be true to the photographic subject.

What is your primary source of news about the photography industry?


In your opinion, what is the most critical issue affecting photographers today?

Rights grabs and bad contracts.

© Beth Rooney

Were you aware of the ASMP before receiving a Merit Membership?


Since receiving your Merit Membership, have you taken advantage of any of the resources, services or discounts that ASMP offers to members?

No, I need to.

Do you participate in any of the existing ASMP specialty groups or listservs? If so, which ones?

A Photo A Day, Lightstalkers.

Do you belong to other photographic associations or online groups?


© Beth Rooney

What do you consider to be the most valuable aspect of your Merit Membership in the ASMP?

The resources now available and the updates about workshops and events in Chicago.

Is there any particular resource or information that you would like to see ASMP implement as an added service to the members?

Not that I can think of now.