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Most people have no idea how hard it is to make it as a photographer. Andrea Behrends has no problem telling you straight up, Chicago-style as we like to call it, what she has gone through to achieve the success she has.

The first time I met her she asked point blank, “You still waiting tables?” I nodded and her response was, “Yeah I should probably make a cameo again at Burger Up.” A few months into working together this shining star didn’t need to. One day I turned around and she had sailed straight into the stratosphere.

She is a trip and to this day, I cannot compare Andrea to anyone. Even after many photo shoots together (she shot about 1/3 of my first book, Word of Mouth: Nashville Conversations) I still find her mysterious in many ways.

On the surface she plays the sassy stoner chick yet, underneath the “Willie Nelson blow job jokes” (her favorite) is a sensitive soul. She may act tough yet at heart, she’s a softie. It is how she is able to extract her subject’s ethereal side.

The second that I met this fellow Chicagoan (thanks to Project Runway Star and fashion designer Amanda Valentine) I knew we’d have a great creative love affair. Wanna know how? Like myself, she was a little skeptical about my motivations (my pitch was something like, “hey I’m trying to bring back the art of talking face-to-face ’cause I’m tired of all this virtual bullshit… wanna shoot a bunch of strangers for me?”) yet she threw herself 1,000% into this passion project. It became “ours” very quickly and revitalized my love for the game when I was ready to walk away.

Andrea loves the process. She has no problem getting close to her subjects —literally and metaphorically. Photography is, after all, how the Windy City native met most of her Nashville friends. She has an unparalleled knack for bonding with others. Wild, passionate and uncensored, you never know what will come out of her mouth next.

Tie and cap designer Otis James nailed it when he said, “Andrea has great energy.” The part-time yoga teacher is, indeed, in touch with her spiritual side. She extracts a new side of her subjects. For myself, it was a strength I had never seen before.

Meet Miss Personality and one of my all-time favorite collaborators at our book launch party on Thursday July 16. Hear her side of the story when our conversation begins at 7PM.

View more of Andrea’s work here. 

Book launch party details here. 


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