Q&A With Chicago Photograhper Maria Ponce Berre

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If you're a Chicagoan, you are most likely familiar with the Ponce family. The patriarch of the family, Phil Ponce, is a television journalist who hosts Chicago Tonight on WTTW, while brothers Dan and Anthony are morning news anchors for WGN and NBC respectively. But the real star of the family is Maria Ponce Berre, a Chicago based commercial and fashion portrait photographer. Like her mother Ann (an artist of high esteem in her own right) Maria possesses a creative eye that uniquely captures the beauty and nuances of her subjects. With a roster of high profile clients, this wife and mother of two has already made her mark on the Chicago scene with her exquisite sense of style and her keen photographic eye. It won't be long before she's shooting for the cover of Vanity Fair, and Modern Brown Girl was thrilled to talk to her. 

Modern Brown Girl: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: where you were born and raised, and the journey that brought you to photography?

Maria Ponce Berre: I was born in Indianapolis, IN and raised in Wilmette, IL. I decided I wanted to be a photographer when I was studying abroad in Spain my junior year of college.

MBG: What inspires you about your Latina roots?

I love that my Latin side of the family is so demonstrative about their feelings. I have always felt like I could speak freely. This has been helped me be a confident risk taker when it comes to my career and my photographic style.

MBG: What do you think the mainstream media gets wrong about Latina women?

I'm not sure. I guess perhaps the assumption that Latina women subscribe to machismo culture. My aunts are strong and smart.

MBG: Where do you draw inspiration? For work, inner-strength and motherhood?

For work I draw inspiration from seeing the great masters in museums. Paintings inspire me. My inner strength comes from motherhood, from wanting to set a positive example for my daughters.

MBG: According to your bio, you spent some time living and working in Paris. Parisian women are seen as the epitome of fashion and style. What can Parisian women learn from Latina women?

Generally speaking, French women tend to look beautifully effortless. Minimal makeup, classic dress- I find it incredibly chic but love that many Latina women incorporate bright color into their wardrobes.

MBG: What does beauty mean to you?

Confidence.

MBG: Who are your style and beauty role models?

Behind the scences as Maria shoots Giuliana Rancic for the cover of Chicago Sun Times: Splash  

Behind the scences as Maria shoots Giuliana Rancic for the cover of Chicago Sun Times: Splash  

Frida Kahlo and Sophia Loren.

MBG: If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why?

For a living person, Annie Leibovitz. I'd love to get inside her head and spend the day shooting some of the subjects she's had the opportunity to shoot.

MBG: What are 5 things that you can’t live without?

A cozy blanket, my 2 daughters and husband, and my camera.

MBG: If you'd like to learn more about Maria's work or to book her services, you can visit her site at PoncePhotography.com.

Up next: Latina Magazine's Editor-In-Chief, Robyn Moreno, On The Incomplete Narrative Surrounding Latinas

copy by: gabriela garcia

Photo Credit for Featured Image: Frank Ishman