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Shelf life

My sister, mom and me.
My sister, mom and me.

Did you know portraits have a “shelf life”? Just like those shoulder pads! If you’ve not had a formal portrait done in over 3 years, its time!

I love this photo of my mom and my sister. I wish I remembered what we were doing, but we were certainly happy! Is it dated? Yes! But as a snap shot, it is a snippet of that day which I will cherish. If I tried to use a cropped version (of me) as an avatar for social media or Linked In, well, let’s just say that I would be unrecognizable. People would walk away, scratching their head. Don’t let that happen to you!

Just mosey on over to our Portrait Services page to see how we can help. It won’t cost as much as you think! We’ll put together a current portrait that will not only reflect who you are now, but won’t be as dated as this one is!

 

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{epitome} Contemporary Portraiture

We’ve come to a decision. After some consideration, writing and brainstorming with friends and family (because nothing happens in a vacuum) e-Sessions is becoming {epitome} Contemporary Portraiture.

Check out the new branding:

Epitome Contemporary Portraiture
Epitome Contemporary Portraiture New logo
epitlogoiconcolor
New signature and colors (although the yellow isn’t quite right…)

 

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Meet Katie Clark

Katie in her essence.. her indomitable grace and spirit just oozes!
Katie in her essence.. her indomitable grace and spirit just oozes!

Many times in our lives we meet people who are awesome. Just quietly awesome. They do not demand your attention. But, darn it, you end up thinking about them for a variety of reasons. I met just such a person last year. I was volunteering for a political organization and through my community organizer, I met Katie. Actually, she is the organizer’s wife. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that her husband is a force to be reckoned with – and will go FAR, but Katie matches his enthusiasm pound-for-pound with incredible quiet grace and commitment. She is a special education teacher, just finished with her time with the Teach for America program where she taught in the poorest and most overlooked neighborhoods. She is, in truth, a compassionate, strong young woman with a bright future.

Alex (her husband) called me this year (I did their family portraits last year) with an idea for their 3rd anniversary. I was in the midst of changing the way I create individual portraits from the cookie cutter, 3 light – set up to a simpler, more natural set up and I said “sure!   . . .  If I can shoot in this new style, as it involves a bit more ‘input” from the client and what we end up with are closer to fine art images. The final product, printed carefully on fine art paper is likened to a fine art print.” More pretty, less casual. More planned, less contrived.

So, she came over one Saturday after we planned her wardrobe and her style. She came armed with a couple of beautiful dresses, and clean face and hair. Since they had opted for the “full treatment” we hired a hair and make-up artist, Sierra Scerato,  from Hair Refinery Studio to come to create some different looks. We had a nice afternoon, Katie, Sierra and I, just being girls!! (Alex came after for some executive portraits and of course, the requisite couples portraits. We missed their black lab, Ann!)

Here is a short video I created of all my favorites:

If you would like to book a session with me, feel free to contact me!

If you would like more information on this type of photography and what I am offering, click here!

e-Session request

  • e-Sessions are a special session and can take a long time to plan, execute and to deliver. Please choose the first date for your planning meeting.
 

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e-Sessions by SnowPro Photography

As I said in a previous post: “bear with me”. I hope the wait was worth it.

I have taken a little time away, both from the work-a-day world and from SnowPro to catch my breath. Upon my return to this country, I embarked on a different path. This is the path to explore the feminine and the strength and soul found within. Here is what I’ve discovered so far.

Classic Lauren
Classic Lauren

What is “e”?

Elegant. Enchanting. Exquisite. Exclusive.

I am calling these sessions “e-Sessions by SnowPro” as a transitional identifying mark. What do I mean by e-Sessions? Its just a way to differentiate what I am creating today from my more commercial projects.  It may change in the future, or stay the same. (update: I have changed the name.) I don’t know yet.

Currently, I am a pretty laid back photographer – one to deliver proofing online for your viewing & ordering pleasure.  With this hands off approach, I never knew how my clients experienced the initial viewing. How the images were and are received and worst still, if they had any feedback (positive or negative) to offer. I was just a person to take their pictures. Sure, I tried to make the experience as pleasant as possible and to deliver prints at a level that delight. But at some point, the sessions were just fulfilling someone else’s ideas of quality. Not mine. Photography, and especially Portrait photography takes time and control which means planning. And this new style will take planning. And you, as my future client, will be very involved (see the ‘exclusive’ in the sub-title). By planning, we will create images that will not only capture your likeness at this time in your life, but also your being, especially if you bring someone else to experience this with you (husband, daughter, sibling, mother, partner or even your BFF).

The first meeting will be one where I get to meet you, to spend time with you discussing who and what you are. To see any “visual aids” you can think of to help me create for you. These can be a photo of your favorite dress, a page torn out of a magazine or even a pic on your phone. We will discuss the process and the expectations at length and leave with a schedule of the session day and the reveal day for you.

Each of the steps takes time.

Step 1. Estimate 1.5 hours for the planning session. This should be done at your place, so I can see your favorite dresses and we can really see what wardrobe we have to work with. I can offer ideas and get those creative juices flowing.

Step 2. Estimate 3-5 hours including Hair and Makeup.  This is done at the studio or another suitable place. The photography itself will take the least amount of time. But changing, talking,  . . .   well, the experience is more of a girls’ afternoon of snacks and dress-up. Remember those days? This can be as soon as the day after the planning meeting to as long as 2 weeks after the planning meeting.

Step 3. Reveal day! You (and your partner) will come to the studio to see the session favorites – completely retouched and finished. Printed and Matted. No more proofing online, no more submitting orders online wondering if the order went through. No more unanswered questions.

See? I’ve upped my game. I am promising to deliver portraits that defy the self image you hold. Images that you would be proud to hang on your wall, to pass down to your family and give to your friends.

Wow. That’s a lot. And I have a headache… but I am very excited. I will be reaching out to all those who have agreed to be my models in the next 2 weeks. I thought I would be ready to start the sessions this June, but it will have to be in July.

Download the e-Sessions Welcome pdf here. It contains a bit more information and details.

Thanks!

 

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A Trip to Italy (with hindsight)!

(A guest post from my partner in crime, my husband, Bryan)

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Bryan in Venice
Bryan in Venice

When initially planning a trip to Venice, I had all kinds of preconceived ideas of what type of photographs I would be taking.  After all, Italy is one of the most photogenic places on Earth, and I would be remiss if I didn’t plan to take advantage of it.  Along with those ideas I began to mentally list all the photographic equipment I would need to take.

I’m not a people-person.  For nearly 40 years I dealt with people; hundreds of people per day, and I have no desire to do that if I have a choice (and, being retired, I do).  So, my choice of photography naturally falls towards landscape, both natural and man-made.  With Venice, what would be more appropriate than the perfect image of the canals.

After much discussion with my wife/travel/photographic partner we decided on a tour of Venice, Florence, and Rome (in that order).  We would spend three days in each city, and while we knew that it was not a lot of time, we would extend that by going three days early to Venice before the tour actually began.

Once the tour decision was made it was time to decide on what equipment to take.  I initially planned to take a large backpack with as much photo gear as I could fit on my back and extra gear that I could drag along with me.  Not being that experienced with trips to foreign countries, my initial idea was to just take everything with me that was physically possible.  That would include lenses (from fisheye to telephoto as well as tilt/shift lenses), DSLR camera as well as a backup, lens hoods, CF and SD cards, filters and filter holders, tripods, tele-extenders, cable releases, rain sleeves, and a laptop for tethering (and a backup laptop just in case) as well as two external drives for the laptops.

Since I like to shoot landscapes, especially panoramic landscapes, I also wanted to take my GigaPan Epic Pro to be able to capture some really BIG landscapes.  The GigaPan travels in its own backpack complete with battery, charger, and backup battery.

The information we received from the tour company offered some suggestions which began to worry me.  Their instructions said, basically, travel light!  Travel with a backpack for clothes and a small carry-on for cameras and the like.  That didn’t bode well.

My big LowePro backpack was not going to fit as a carry-on, which meant I would have to check it at the airport.  Putting tens of thousands of dollars worth of photographic equipment at the mercy of the TSA didn’t inspire me with confidence; which meant that I would have to trim down my photographic equipment expectations.

Ok, where were we going and what images did I need to capture once there?  Venice – lots of canals, bridges, lots of old buildings, gondolas, some historical churches, and Italian restaurants.  Florence – magnificent artwork/sculpture (including Michelangelo’s “David”), historical buildings and anything DiMedici, and Italian restaurants.  Rome – everything, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, The Vatican (technically it is another country but it’s in the vicinity), the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, the Apian Way, and, of course, Italian restaurants.

What did I need to photograph each of these?  One DSLR, no back-up.  Wide angle lens – a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom.  Buildings need perspective control lenses – so a 24mm and 45mm Tilt/Shift lens.  Telephoto lenses – a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens.  Might need to shoot buildings from up close so – a 15mm fisheye lens. Decided to also include a Sony point ‘n shoot to put in a vest pocket for shots I might want when I don’t have the regular photo gear at hand.  Tripod.  Ok, I have a BIG Manfroto tripod that normally holds my 4×5 Large Format camera or it holds my GigaPan Epic Pro panoramic gear, but it is too big to carry on the plane.  Same problem with the full size carbon fibre legs.  I decided to buy a small (14 inch long without head when folded) travel tripod that would fit inside my carry on backpack.  All of this (except the tripod) fits inside a LowePro Event Messenger shoulder bag, so I figured I was set.  There was also a pocket in the bag that would hold my iPad, so we headed off to Italy.

ANALYSIS WITH HINDSIGHT:

With all that planning and with the decision that was made on the photo gear, how did that work out?  Well, for the most part, it was adequate to good, with some exceptions.  First of all, the Event Messenger bag contained the following: Canon 5D MkII DSLR camera, 24-70mm f/2.8 Canon zoom lens, 70-200mm f/2.8 Canon zoom lens, 24mm Canon T/S lens, 45mm Canon T/S lens, 1.4X Canon tele-extender; extra battery for DSLR camera, 3 extra batteries for Sony point ‘n shoot, mini table-top tripod, extra CF and SD cards for cameras, assorted hex-wrenches for adjustments to tripod and quick-release tripod mounts.  The travel tripod was carried in my hand.

I must say that the camera bag on my shoulder was uncomfortably heavy.  I would have to move it to the other shoulder periodically or cross the strap over my head to shift the weight.  I would carry the bag from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day and it took its toll.  What would I do differently after that experience?  I would have left the heavy 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens at home, as well as the tele-extender.  Some people would suggest that I not take such a fast, heavy lens and replace it with a 70-200mm f/4 lens.  The problem is that many of the locations could not be photographed with a flash and it was dark enough that the ISO had to be raised to the 2000-6400 ISO range and a slower lens would not have be able to capture some of the photographs.  Also, I shot more landscapes and buildings and the medium telephoto zoom lens really wasn’t used that much.  Had I not taken the 70-200mm zoom I would have still returned with 95% of the photos that were taken on the trip.  In reality, I could have gotten 90% of the shots I took on the trip with just the 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens.

IN CONCLUSION:

If I was going to go on the Italy trip tomorrow, here’s what I would carry as far as photo gear.  A DSLR camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and lens hood.  Extra battery and CF cards.  The camera and lens would be placed on a harness system on my hip.  And that would be it.  Simple, not heavy, and I would be able to get all the photos I would need.  This would work on a tour in the cities.  If I was going somewhere else where I would have access to a vehicle I would bring more gear tailored for the targets I would be shooting.  Advice – go light, go comfortable.  In advance of your trip, if you are going to be shooting in cities or towns, take the time to go downtown wherever you live, and spend a day photographing.  See if you are comfortable.  See if you are shooting the kinds of images you will want to bring home.  And last, but not least, have fun and take the time to view the sights with your eyes and heart and, not just through the viewfinder.

From Dawn:
For more images of our trip, check out my Facebook photos: www.facebook.com/dawn.snow/

Ciao!

 

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“Something’s happening here …”

Texas Bluebonnet peeping
Texas Bluebonnet peeping

Call it following my heart. Call it changing focus. Call it the call of the wild. What ever you call it, SnowPro is changing. 

When Bryan and I take road trips, (and we have taken several in the past 3 years) we talk & talk. One of the reasons why we are still together after 30+ years. We always have something to say. During our trek to Yosemite, he mentioned that the spark was gone from my eye for photography. Apparently, I used to get so excited designing lighting or if I would be able to manipulate the existing light that would help illustrate a client’s concept. I thought hard about that statement and I agreed. He asked why? What would bring it back? We talked about the subjects that excite me. Traveling, flowers, spring time, strength and consistancy. We were working on our macro floral project at the time, and we talked at length about that since it was in the working stages and is exciting and frustrating at the same time. I realized that consistency of my own vision was gone because I was always concentrating of creating someone else’s vision!

So we talked about changing the direction of SnowPro. Not that I didn’t enjoy the work I received (I did) or that it wasn’t rewarding (it was). I just felt there might be something more. Something that I had forgotten in my press to make a living. I felt that “something” was a deeper connection to the photography I was creating. As a commercial photographer, I never had a dog in the fight. I brought the tools and the know how, my clients brought the spark of inspiration and concepts. Sometimes it was conceptual or illustrative,  sometimes I simply captured what was in front of me without added art direction. But in reality, I had no “dog in the fight”.

Examples where I captured great images for someone else’s vision.

One of the other things that I felt strongly about is the apparent (to me anyway) loss of strong and feminine archetypes. Not strength via the body building type and not uber passivity, but the strength illustrated in some of the ancient, yet iconic mythologies of women. You may love her or hate her; but Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent was perfect. Those characteristics of being nurturing, providing safety, but yet, don’t F– with me, all rolled into one.

I have always drawn women. I have found the curves that are inherent within a female form easier to draw than the more angular masculine. I think that may be because I never studies life drawing more than what was required for my Graphic Design degree. Men simply mystified me. (Shocking but true). A woman’s face, the openness and the softness, the depth of spirit are simply easier for me to understand. Unfortunately, I stopped drawing altogether when I became a mother 27 years ago. Stopping was not a bad thing as doing a finished graphite fine art portrait was an emotional journey for me, and I had to place my creative energy, life and soul into moulding and guiding a tiny life! (Altogether a very gratifying experience – one that doing a fine art portrait pales in comparison too!) Simply put, I don’t think I had the stamina to keep it up.

Now that small life is a secure, talented, amazing young adult, I can turn myself back to my first desires. To illustrate and to create portraits of strong, archetypal women who may or may not be REAL women. BUT, make no mistake, the “models” I want to use are real women; my neighbors, my past colleagues, my past clients; I want to create soft yet strong, soulful and heartfelt fine art portraits of my amazing family, friends and future clients.

I am using our upcoming “road-trip” as a break to reset my mind and soul. To renew and refresh myself and to gather inspiration from the sights in Venice, Florence and Rome, as its a new way of photographing people for me in general (aka: going back to the basics and accomplish a complete new mindset for me) and in May complete a minor retooling of the studio and equipment used to capture the components of each portrait. SnowPro will continue to create photography to support my current & future clients but I, personally, will be concentrating on creating these fine art portraits of women: mothers, daughters, friends, old and young throughout the summer. I hope to share some behind the scenes videos and share some works in progress as I continue to grow and stretch and learn.

And to be sure, Bryan has supported me, and continues to support me in these endeavors. While his focus has been and always will be astronomy, astrophotography and landscapes, he supports my renewed vision. He is and always has been an emotional rock and steadying hand when I needed one. Without him, this new chapter would not be possible. I ask that you bear with me, and accompany me on this journey.

If you would like to be one of my models (I need several more), contact me! 

Contact me

 

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An Invitation

Just a quick post of what Bryan and I are up to this weekend. We’d like to invite you all to come to the On and Off Fredricksburg Road Studio Tour. We are thrilled to be included as  guest artists in this 8th year of this wonderful art walk.

We have worked on this series on display at Deco Pizzaria (located at 1815 Fredericksburg Rd. in the heart of the Deco District, 210.732.DECO) for the past two years.

About the series:

In this fine art photographic series, we explore the inner beauty of flowers. Each unique bloom is filled with fantastic color and texture. Since one cannot see these views with the naked eye, the Snows use special photographic equipment to help capture these sensual images, making the small details into works of art. Creating these intimate portraits stretched and ignited their imaginations — they hope viewing them does the same for you.

Georgia O’Keefe said it best:

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.
I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower.
I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”

So, take a moment to stop and “smell” the flowers this weekend at the Deco District.

Preview of our show (this images are suspended in the windows of Deco Pizzaria and at a minimum are 20 x 30 inches.) You have to see them!

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Family legacy

Topinka family from Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Topinka family from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

This is my Czech family (thanks to Lauren Snow for posting on FaceBook) from 100 years ago. And it is professionally photographed! The pose gives it away. I just love all the little details and to know that the little girl standing on the far right is my grandmother, Olga Mally. This is what leaving a legacy is all about. From diaries, taped voice conversations and photographs. Things to hold and cherish.
Want to leave a true legacy? Think of things to hold, things to pass down. Diaries and scrap books, framed portraits and lockets with portraits, all these things tend to gain sentimental value as time goes on. Electronic media changes. Let’s look at music in my lifetime as an example: 33 records (listened to my mother’s Elvis records as a child), then came 45 LPs, then 8 track tapes, then cassette tapes, then CDs (and now going back to LPs. My son in law collects them!), to iTunes and mp3s. And now – at the point that LPs are making a comeback, a collector has to be sure he/she can play them on something. Or else, they are just black coasters. Movies have a similar trajectory. As does photography. We have gone into a (nearly completely) digital age. It does simplify life, indeed. But it’s not better. How do you know that the CD or thumb drive full of images you have from your last portrait is going to be readable in 10 years? You don’t. Are you ever going to get anything printed from that portrait session?  You aren’t. But for your grandchildren’s sake, I hope so.

I offer digital “prints” as an add on, only after prints have been ordered. I want to be sure that the portrait we create is a beautiful legacy for your family. Remember, the investment you make today is for tomorrow’s enjoyment.

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Laguna Vista Ranch project

We just got back from spending some time down in Pearsall, Tx. We worked on a photographic project for an exotic wildlife ranch. Recently known as Knowles Laguna Vista Ranch, the new owners, Clark Keeshan and Sally Maxwell-Keeshan renamed the ranch to be simply: Laguna Vista Ranch. This place is 1500 acres of wonderful Texas wilderness. From wildebeasts, scimitar horned oryx, axis deer, elk, whitetail and zebra abound! They have a herd of bison, too!

 

In addition to their exotic animals, they have some “pets” that they just love! There are the two tigers: Willie and Waylon and the leopard: Hunter. They also rescued an antelope of some sort – but I cannot (for the life of me) remember what kind it is! These animals are used to people and will interact with you! (Keep your hands out of the big cat’s reach – good advice!)


 

They are working on their new website, and new opportunities to share their space. After we did some dusk photography, Sally served us her famous Cuban Chicken dish with plantains for dinner.  I must get that recipe. We stayed in the “Colorado” room – decked out in antique ski gear and rustic ski decor. Very comfortable, indeed.

After a good night’s sleep, we arose early and met Clark (after filling our mugs with coffee) out in the common area so he could take us to one of the many hunting blinds so we could do our own hunting but with our cameras.  The herds of elk, fallow deer, bison and oryx were out in force. It was a beautiful morning, although the wind kicked up and the clouds blew in. After about 3 hours, we returned to the lodge, and Sally had breakfast ready. Everything was so delicious.

If you are looking for a quick get away – even if you do not hunt – this IS the place to get away. They have a beautiful place situated on top of of the highest point around, perfect to view the sunset or the sunrise from their perfectly appointed patio, swimming pool or hot tup… Look for info about them at their website: www.LagunaVista.com. (We are planning on hosting a photography seminar and safari in the near future! So excited!)

Yes, the photos there are ours (theirs’!) and they have their work cut out picking out new ones. We created a library of over 1000 images for them. I can’t wait to see it finished.

 

 

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Find a way . . .

Macrophotography of Baby's Breath blossom.
Macrophotography of Baby’s Breath blossom.

“Either I will find a way, or I will make one.”
— Philip Sidney