Shooting Stars: Adam Ouahmane creates magic moments with his camera

Sat. December 5, 2015 11:06 AM by Ross Forman

adam ouahmane

photo credit // adam ouahmane
When Adam Ouahmane started watching the TV series "America's Next Top Model," he was immediately fascinated by the art of transforming a person and the ability to tell a story through photographic imaging.

"I saw this as just another artistic medium," said Ouahmane, who long has been interested in the arts and, while in high school, took many painting, sculpting and drawing classes.

"I (now photograph) fashion – from models to editorials. I only discovered shooting drag performers when I found Kim Chi on social media, and because the fashion scene in Chicago is pretty fresh and commercial, drag performers gave me the outlet to get artistic and avant-garde with the concepts. Since then I really got the passion to shoot drag performers and people in general within the LGBT community."

Most of his shoots are in the Boystown section of Lakeview, or elsewhere in the city.

Ouahmane, 27, lives in Boystown and has called Chicago home since 2012. He was born and raised in Morocco, moved to Michigan in 2000, and then to Chicago a few years ago. He is the creator/photographer for Adam Ouahmane Photo & Design.

He has two cameras and mostly shoots with a Nikon D 610.

Ouahmane also is a photographer for Neverland (NVRLND) – the popular Chicago-based party promotion company. He shoots all of NVRLND's glitzy, skin-filled, fantasy-concept promotional photoshoots. He shot photos to promote NVRLND's 2014 Purity Ball, and has since used his camera handy work and skilled eye for photos in advance of such NVRLND events as Cosplay, Bougie Ball, and Alien Invasion.

NVRLND's next major gig is Purity Ball: White Party on Dec. 30, at Circuit Nightclub (3641 N. Halsted St.) in Boystown – Ouahmane has already snapped seductive pics for that night-before New Year's Eve party that features DJ Alain Jackinsky, guest host Naomi Smalls, performances by Shea Coulee and The Vixen, and hosted by Kim Chi, Impqueen Nico and Sara Andrews.

(For tickets to Purity Ball: White Party, go to:

"What makes a good photograph to me is how well it is thought out," Ouahmane said. "Every single image I do is envisioned in my mind. Many times I even sketch it out, so that way I can execute the photoshoot perfectly.

"For the NVRLND promo photoshoots, I (work with) the rest of the creative team. (We) sit together and talk concept, wardrobe, location, and models. It's a team effort, which I love. They all have such strong imaginations and creative talent; that's something that I look for when collaborating with other artists."

The actual photo-shoots are always an adventure, Ouahmane said.

Case in point, the Bougie Ball shoot was at Hollywood Beach in Edgewater – and the weather was extremely cold, yet the models were basically nude, with just skimpy swimwear since the event was a pool-party concept.

The Alien Invasion shoot was also at the beach, and again it was very cold outside. "That seems to be a trend with us, but all the people involved are hard workers and push through the pain of being cold and or uncomfortable," Ouahmane said.

Photo-shoots can take up to six hours.

"I've always wanted to be involved with art in some matter," he said. "Prior to discovering photography, I was planning on doing illustration for a company like Disney or Pixar. After discovering photography, I made it my passion and I cannot see myself doing anything else."

Ouahmane said the first photo he took that he was truly proud of was one of the first ones he snapped of Kim Chi – with long, exaggerated lashes. "I am naturally a shy and low key person, and to see the amount of positive comments people everywhere leave for both myself and Kim Chi is extremely humbling; it validates what I do as an artist," he said.

Ouahmane also praised a McDonald's-driven photo of Kim Chi, which was a long time in the works. "To see her execute what I envisioned was out of this world," he said.

Ouahmane said a recent photo he took of Shea Couleé also stands out to him.

"We did a super luxurious and expensive shoot where she was covered in gold leaf. It was super stylized and very high fashion," he said.

Another noteworthy photo from Ouahmane's portfolio showcases two male models, where they were confined in a small space, and how they interacted throughout the story. "One of the images was of the model in white Versace underwear, and he as a model was very commercial, and how he was transformed into a high fashion editorial model was my challenge ... it turned out perfectly."

Ouahmane said photography has opened his eyes to his passion. Photography "allows me to explore and work with so many different artists," he said. "My career goal is to continue to collaborate with others, and to create art. I would love to have my fashion images published in high-fashion magazines, and also collaborate with well-known drag performers."

Photography also can be a drag for Ouahmane ... well, sort of. The worst part of his job is sorting through thousands of photos, and I do mean thousands. And so many are truly amazing.

"It takes me (a while) to pick out my favorites, and I hate to narrow them down," he said. "The best part of my job is seeing people, especially the model's reaction to the transformation and final image."