Kids, it’s 2:00 a.m., do you know where your parent is? If your parent happens to be local photographer Elizabeth Morris, then you know she is probably capturing action on the set of “Chicago Fire.”
And doing it really, really well.
I first met Liz on the set of a 2012 DC Comics fan film I co-wrote called “Little Man of Steel.” I could tell Liz was great then, but I had no idea how truly talented she is.
The photographer who never seems to stop smiling and laughing was born and raised in Joliet. She swears not the prison. Though it would explain her affinity for competitive fighting, but more on that later. After moving back from Montana seven years ago, Liz had aspirations of becoming a wedding photographer.
“There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to be a wedding photographer in Montana because the market was so oversaturated. And I was offered a position by my former employer to shoot weddings in the Chicago area,” Morris says.
Upon returning to Chicago, Morris met local actress Grace McPhillips and hit it off immediately. This soon led to independent and student film projects. It was her first time working on a film set as a still photographer and she immediately fell in love.
And then as it happens so many times in this industry, the perfect timing gave Morris a break. Well, it was really a broken leg, not hers, but Matt Dinerstein, who was booked to photograph the “Chicago Fire” pilot.
“I friended Matt on Facebook and followed his work. One day he posts that he broke both his legs, I thought he was joking so I messaged him, and he told me had to go into surgery. I thought this may be an opportunity for me to fill in for him while he heals. I immediately called Grace…” She advised Liz to call Cinespace Production office.
After a positive phone interview, Morris was booked for two trial days on the “Fire” set. When the show was picked up for a full season, Morris was also picked up, alternating at first with Dinerstein.
“He would do the even episodes and I did the odd episodes.” As Morris grew with the show, do did her reputation as she was hired to shoot the pilot for “Chicago PD” and then again for “Chicago Med.”
“The Med shoot was the toughest. Twenty-one days straight. It was a massive set. Explosions. They put a lot of money into the production.”
In addition to the Chicago series, Morris has been in demand for a bevy of other productions including, “Sinister 2,” “Hot Date” and the hit Amazon series, “Patriot.”
When asked what she likes about being a set photographer, Morris replied, “I can tell the same story that the director is telling, but in stills. I can get in tight spaces for a shot that a crane can’t. Even though I try and mirror the director, I’m also looking for the best story. Sometimes a director will look at my images and ask me why they didn’t get that shot.”
But make no mistake, Morris is not full of herself. In fact, she is her harshest critic.
“Sometimes I will look at my work and think it’s not that good. I find flaws all the time. And I compare myself to others’ work and wonder why is theirs’ so much better? But it does push me to get better. I’m not going to rely on a filter or re-toucher. I want to shoot right the first time straight out of the camera.
When asked who influenced her, Morris had this to say, “Jason Boland, Frank Masi, and Kimberly French. I really didn’t follow any other photographers. I also watched a lot of movies. I found myself stopping at any point and appreciating the DP’s composition. I said to myself, I want to do that.”
And she is. Two to three days a week. Sometimes 14 to 16 hours.
To read more “Day in the Life of Cinespace,” click here.