Community Spotlight: Torie McMillan


Pictured from left to right, Torie McMillan and Sierra Berquist

Torie McMillan is one of those photographers that quietly moves around the room, wisely framing her photos before snapping just at the right time. Without making a scene, moving people around to perfection or otherwise complicating the process of capturing memories, McMillan utilizes her talent and has always presented stunning results. Being behind the camera for the past 15 years has given her an amazing vantage point that has developed into a thriving business that has taken her everywhere from fabulous weddings to the Chick-fil-A kiss in. Her most current project is her “in bed” series, a portrayal of queer women in their own beds. The series is being displayed the Center on Halsted through August 13th and will hopefully be featured as a book in the near future. I caught up with McMillan and talked to her before her June 19th artists celebration.

Which aspect of photography inspires you the most?

Making art with social relevance is my favorite thing in the world. Photography is such a flexible tool that allows me to capture a variety of scenes and ideas in a short time.

From weddings to portraits to head shots- what’s your favorite?

Overall I like the power an image has to take you back to a moment or time in your life. That’s my favorite service.

You photographed the Chick-fil-A kiss in. Did you get a wide range of feedback?

On the photographs? Only positive. Why, what did you hear? There were some interesting dynamics AT the protest that weren’t so positive. I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage any queer protesters to mind your manners and be positive and respectful representatives of our community. I read some very positive articles from the event, but others focused on the two or three hostile protesters.

What was your inspiration behind the “in bed” series that is being displayed at the Center?

Oh, a combination of things. I knew I wanted to do something showing the variety of queer women out there. I feel like the expectation of what a queer woman looks like is shifting a bit since I started this series, but I still hear plenty of comments about how we all look or should look. Plus the Chicago winters are long, and I’ve always enjoyed seeing folks’ personal spaces, so it seemed like a good idea to execute the portraits indoors. There’s definitely a bit of a satirical element here as well…sex is the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people when they hear any GLBTQ label. The bedroom just seemed like the natural choice.

Is the series complete?

I’ve taken about 40 portraits for it so far, but I’d like to take hundreds.

Does this mean you’re still looking for participants?

Absolutely. E-mail me, ladies!

What are your plans for the images?

Eventually, I’d like to make a book. In the meantime, there are limited edition prints for purchase, and I’d like to keep participating in exhibitions.

What can participants expect in a portrait session for the “in bed” series?

Participants decide if they want to be photographed alone, with other humans, or with pets. Some women choose a theme or concept, and some just choose their outfits or lack thereof. People arrange their rooms and beds as they like. I’ve started asking for adjectives they’d like to convey or avoid; this tends to help the session feel as collaborative as possible. I’m often seeing the spaces for the first time, so most of the portraits happen organically. But sometimes I’ll suggest poses or ideal placement for the sake of composition.

What do you want people to get out of your work?

That really depends on the work. I also don’t think that’s really up to me. In general, it would be nice if it made people feel good about themselves and more accepting or loving of others.

For more info, visit

Click on the photo below to view a slide show of her work!


Event Details

Artists’ Reception at Center on Halsted
7pm-9pm / $5 Sug. / Center on Halsted / 3656 N. Halsted St
One of The L Stop’s favorite photographers is having a show! Torrie McMillan will be presenting twenty images from the “in bed” series (featuring queer women in their beds). The show runs from July 5 through August 13. Artists’ reception will be July 19, from 7PM to 9PM on the third floor. $5 suggested donation with a cash bar.


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About Lauren

Lauren was born and raised in South Minneapolis and like many other innocent midwesterners got sucked into the black hole of Chicago politics 4 years ago. As the LGBT Coordinator for the Gery Chico for Mayor Campaign she attempted to take on the entire city and hasn’t looked back since. Now working for a communications firm, she spends her extra time running around with cases of PBR playing in different sports leagues, hosting couchsurfers from all over the place, and deciding how she is going to change the world. A simple lady at her core, she has decided that the first person to send her an edible arrangement must be the one.



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