I was laying on the couch browsing my new Magnolia Journal magazine...when I saw that my Minted Pony Print had been featured in one of the home tour articles! As you can imagine I was completely floored and so honored to be included in this awesome publication (and confusing my husband by jumped up and screaming in my pajamas). Chip and Joanna have such inspiring style and the publication is just beautiful. It's definitely a highlight of this year! Corgi thinks so too :)
All images were shot on Fuji 400H film on a Mamiya 645af and on TMax400 film on a Yashica Mat 124 pushed 2 stops. The following images are from a family beach trip last spring in Gearhart and Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Press play below for music while reading.
I'd been wanting to photograph a ceramic artist at the wheel for many years, but never seemed to find the proper introduction towards the opportunity. One day, while visiting my friend Tiffany's (of Foraged Floral ) "pop up shop" at Mantle (a charming Portland boutique) I met Tamara Bryan. Tamara is a very talented potter and as it would turn out...only lived a short walk from my house. Seeing as we were neighbors and had a mutual friend in Tiffany, it seemed fitting to finally pursue the pottery lifestyle session I'd always had in mind. Tiffany even joined us to craft some beautiful floral arrangements alongside Tamara's impeccable ceramic creations. The result was a very laid back, natural session where I was able to be a fly on the wall with little direction. It was so much fun to photograph two artists in action in Tamara's light and bright North Portland studio.
My friends and I got together to shoot some spring florals in a couple different rooms in my home, which I often use as studios. The light wound up being very challenging, especially when it came to pushing film but I learned quite a bit about shooting in low light. Enjoy!
Gown: Holly Stadler of The Diamond Sea Bridal
I like to stay creative by admiring visual and audio that inspires me and puts me in certain moods. I used to call this "moods + music" on my blog...and am excited to be relaunching it for myself and whoever happens to stop by. Today's typeface is Adobe Garamond, which is a classic font I use all the time. For a little extra elegance and simplicity try it in italic! I'm very excited to be in the very beginning stages of planning a lifestyle session with potter Tamara Bryan, if you get a chance definitely check out her work!
LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST
This bright and fresh lifestyle session was shot during a real family vacation near Seaside, Oregon. My sister in law and niece enjoyed a beach picnic, some sun and of course fresh linens on the clothes line doesn't hurt either. My Corgi named Walter may or may not have photobombed quite a bit. Special thanks to Cottage Hill, one of my favorite publications, for this feature. I was out of my mind excited to finally be on their blog...head that way to see the full feature!
It was such an honor to photograph the Wecks family on this cold and rainy day in downtown Portland. Bethany and Tim recently adopted their oldest daughter Lily and chose to celebrate her by scheduling some timely and fun family pictures. It has been really special to watch their family grow over the years and particularly fun to get to know Lily even better by photographing her. I love partnering with families for the important moments to create heirloom images.
A tip for parents!! Don't shy away just because of the rain, there is always a way to embrace it and make the photos work!
All images shot in Downtown Portland, Oregon in the Park Blocks on a rainy afternoon. Special congratulations to the Wecks family on the adoption of both of their amazing girls.
It was such an honor to travel to Louisville, Kentucky for this elegant and classic wedding day. Lindsey and Shawn were warm and welcoming as I explored their part of the world for the first time and the images turned out just as we all hoped.
All images shot in Louisville, Kentucky on a stormy overcast day.
Scans PhotoVision, Bride's Gown Nordstrom, Invitations Kelsie Malie Calligraphy
It is never sunny and warm on the Oregon coast in April. Never. Except this day that I happened to be out in the waves with my film camera and a lovely expectant mother.
Scans by PhotoVision , Client Brittany Walker
In order to wrap my brain around a styled shoot and stay inspired, I usually create a little story in my head so that I can stay toe to toe with my original vision. Often the story stays right there, in my head. However this time, I actually wrote it down. I imagined a bride wandering out to the woods, eager to have some time to herself before her wedding day progressed. We shot these serene bridal portraits with that story in mind... in the dead of winter...among stately poplar trees at sunset.
ALL images shot with Mamiya645af | 80mm F/2.8 Lens + Scans by PhotoVision
As a digital photographer trying to re-learn the art of film, I have run into multiple frustrations attempting to achieve outcomes that I am satisfied with. Like any "fine art" wedding and portrait photographer, I pay attention to the greats like Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina, as their work is always incredible. However, all too often I see their luminous photographs (whether it be inside a French Villa or in gorgeous southern Californian fields) and am left in despair that my scans don't look at vibrant as theirs.
So, what is the problem? Well after conducting a few different tests - here are some findings that other pacific northwest photographers may find helpful. Warning: I don't always use the perfect terminology when talking photography...I've developed my own phrasing that makes sense in my head. If you read something that you see isn't the exact proper term, feel free to embarrass me in the comment section (I'll forgive you eventually).
Everything starts with a good lab. I adore the folks at PhotoVision for the quality of their processing and scans - but also the good natured and kind customer service. I am new to film and constantly screwing up my settings and struggling through pushing film and they ALWAYS treat me with kindness. Plus they are a Pacific Northwest lab and so the turnaround is really fast and they understand the culture of this area. They will work with you to develop a look that you are shooting for with sample images and discussion. This is important! They can't read your mind you have to work with them.
ADOPT A CONSISTENT METERING STYLE
This was a game-changer for me. Stephen Wood from PhotoVision asked me how I meter and I awkwardly said something like "I meter for...the shadows?"...which was more of a question than an answer. He laughed good-naturedly and said I wasn't alone, that most people can't really answer that question in the beginning. So he taught me how to meter with my Sekonic L-358, and I've used it, religiously, ever since. It has completely changed everything for me, as my scans are finally coming in with a consistent look that is getting better and better the more I shoot. Since then I have been shown other ways of metering by photographers who clearly know what they are doing, but I've stuck to Stephen's advice because it's working for me. I think there are a lot of ways to get it done, but whatever you choose, you have to be consistent.
Film won't magically correct bad light...and neither will pushing film for that matter. If the light doesn't look good as you are shooting, the scans aren't going to look good either. So find that good light...even if you have to stop everything that is happening to get it.
CHOOSING FILM STOCKS THAT WORK FOR YOU
This is where it gets controversial and everyone has a different opinion. So everything I'm about to say is just what I've found to be true, in the Pacific Northwest, for the way I shoot and like things to look.
--- Fuji 400H ---
The most common film stock I see used in the world of "fine art film" is Fuji400H. It's a gorgeous film that renders pastel greens and turns warm light into a golden softness that is beyond dreamy. It is beautiful for all skin tones, making a it a wonderful portraiture stock. My issue with it is that in the PNW we get a lot of overcast days and our greens have a lot of yellow in them. I find my results with Fuji400H to be "meh" here in Oregon, it just doesn't do what the southern california or southern U.S light effect has on it (not to mention France or Italy). So I only use it in very specific scenarios these days. The exception to that rule would be in very golden, bright, neutral reflective settings in Oregon. For example I love shooting it in on the Oregon coast or indoors if it's a really pastel, neutral setting. I am drawn to contrast and my work is evolving to include a lot more pop and depth of color...Fuji400H is very soft so it's not usually my first choice. It loves to be over-exposed and is very light hungry. Rate your film at ISO 200 and Fuji400H will be so happy with you. This makes it more of a challenge in low-light, however, so be prepared to push film a lot if you shoot in Oregon during certain seasons.
--- Kodak Portra 400 ---
I like to think of Portra 400 as the great neutralizer. It's pretty nice with skin tones, it's a little warmer a stock than Fuji and it has a wee bit more pop to it. When I'm not sure what I want to do, good ol' Kodak Portra 400 will usually leave me mostly satisfied. I say mostly because it does get a little too yellow for my taste pretty easily...which again goes back to those very yellow-greens we have here in the pacific northwest and our heavy, water-logged air. In general though, it will give me good, solid, consistent results...as it's more versatile than Fuji400H. Kodak Portra 400 is like your best friend that you hang in your pajamas with - it's just comfortable and a good choice if you aren't sure. Quick note: I think this really comes down to your lab and their processes, but in my experience Kodak Portra 400 doesn't need to be over-exposed as much as Fuji, rating your film at ISO 320 will do the trick just fine. If you start to expose it more than that, you are going to start seeing yellowy and even purple tones in your scans. It definitely wants extra light, but it's not necessary to go overboard.
--- Kodak Portra 800 ---
I love Portra 800 for color vibrancy and pop. Portra 800 turns the pacific northwest yellow greens into a beautiful emerald green that I die for, so I don't have to take it out in post (and if I do, it's minimal). For me, it has solved that green issue I've struggled with for so long. It adds an "umph" to the color that really satisfies my hunger for more pop in my images. If you shoot families a lot (like me) that higher box speed helps with catching kiddos in motion as well (but it doesn't solve focus issues, so you still gotta nail that), and also helps for low-light scenarios so you aren't necessarily having to push film all the time. Also, it's a reddish film stock (which helps neutralize the green), but if you know you'll have a lot of red in your shoot, better to choose one of the stocks above unless you want to spend some time in Lightroom later. All in all though, if I'm in overcast very green scenarios, it really saves the day. I even love to use it at golden hour to add an extra pop of color! Kodak Portra 800 seems to perform well if you rate it for an ISO 640 (so one extra stop of light). Like it's sibling, Portra 400 -- it doesn't need an excess of extra light, just a bit to make it happy.
Get a good lab. Choose a metering style and stick with it. Be thoughtful about your film stocks and how/when you use them (think about the colors around you). Always seek out good light as film or pushing film won't correct poor light. Most importantly, don't give up and give yourself time to get good at it. You will more than likely be disappointed with your very first scans - this is normal. You'll get there! Hope this helps a bit!
A thoughtful brand puts your own personal stamp on all the little touches your clients receive along the way. Whether it's your business card, a thank you note, even your response to an inquiry email with your attached PDF - these are all early seeds planted to quietly communicate to your client what your business is all about. Where do you start? Here are a few things I think really work.
ONE - Get inspired - what visually represents your business?
Go to places you love, study people who do things you respect, ingest art + music, read books and lastly...look online for photos that really communicate something to your soul. Don't JUST look online, get out in the real world. Create a journal and/or Pinterest board and collect the imagery and thoughts that really inspired you. Take as much time to do this as you need, you are in charge..nobody else. Narrow down your choices to a few strong images that really indicate where you are going with your business. Certain vibes, colors or thoughts should become pretty clear if you edit your collection down to only images that you truly adore.
MY BRAND MOOD BOARD
This (below) was my brand identity mood board. The best discovery for me during this time was that one of my own images was actually what most inspired me! It was exciting to see that I was growing and finally creating work I was proud of.
TWO- Hire a designer.
I know I know. You don't like this part because designers cost MONEY. And you are thinking, "easy for you to say Jenni, you ARE a designer". You are right, I designed my own brand identity because I'm trained to do so. But guess what? I hired a web developer because I don't have those kind of skills. I saved for 2 years in preparation for this because I didn't want to screw around with Wordpress and Squarespace anymore. But that is another story.
THREE- apply your brand identity.
If you spent all the time and energy to develop a brand, don't just upload the logo to your website and call it good. Use the fonts and colors on your business materials and web site if you can. Have your designer develop your business materials for you (cards, PDF's, catalogs, communication materials, packaging, etc) with your brand if you can't do it yourself. These items don't have to be elaborate, just consistent.
Is it okay to have client consultations in my home if the paint out front is chipping? Am I fashionable enough to be a fine art photographer? Will wedding clients with higher budgets still want to work with me if I drive a 1998 Honda Civic?
These are actual questions I've found swirling in my head at night while thinking about my business goals. Remember, you may need a brand but you don't need to BE a brand. I see the trend of people turning their life into a brand and it worries me. You are a living breathing person...a human. You have this one life, and to fully experience it you have to be present. More than your brand and logo, your clients connect with YOU. So be yourself and don't worry too much. Can't afford a brand make-over right now? No problem! Do the best with what you have now and slowly save up. Is your work good? Are you kind? That's all that matters - if you don't care about being perfect your clients won't either. So embrace that cluttered kitchen and that extra 25lbs. Do your best, work hard and be at peace.
There's always time to have a brand identity - there's not always time to truly live. Thanks so much for reading this, means a lot that you stopped by.
Brand Identity + Web Design: Jenni Kupelian
Web Development: Jim Krill
Last summer, I had the honor of photographing Lindsay Helzer Floral Design's brand shoot. Lindsay's florals have a unique edge and she is not afraid of color. All her work, (even the softer palettes) have a pop to them that is so fun to be inspired by. So imagine my delight when I was offered the opportunity to create a full brand identity for her with all that beauty in mind. Lindsay was actually featured on the cover of Magnolia Rouge this year -- you can see that full shoot from her and Cassie Roch HERE.
A little known fact? My degree is in Graphic Design and my original plan was to become a stationary designer and sell wholesale to boutiques and larger companies like Anthropologie. I operated a small freelance company under my name and did small contracted jobs while pursuing a custom line of stationary... before deciding to pursue photography full-time a couple years ago. I have found myself really missing that creative time at my notebook, and often wish I'd have kept that dream alive awhile longer.
I think as humans we are always evolving and changing...which pulls our focus and goals into different spaces every few years. I feel a new pull back to my roots in order to pursue some old dreams I thought had died. To say the least, it was wonderful to work my old design muscles in creating this brand identity for Lindsay.
If you are a creative business owner, particularly if you are a wedding vendor -- I still take on brand identity freelance work and am always up for collaborating on a styled brand shoot. You can contact me at email@example.com for information on custom pricing and options.
All Images shot by Jenni Kupelian in Portland, Oregon, unless otherwise noted.
I'm gearing up to photograph Lindsay and Shawn's downtown portland January wedding in just a week or so and I could not be more excited. This couple have such a warm and fun dynamic together on camera and I'm sure it's going to be a fantastic day. Over the summer we did a little hike to Government Cove, a secluded space in the Columbia River Gorge. The dramatic sunset environment was the perfect space for their engagement photos.
Canon 5d Mark III | 50mm F/1.8 Lens | Kodak Portra 400 Preset + My Tweaks
Congratulations to Lindsay and Shawn! You guys are the best clients a girl could ask for!
Styled shoots can be a lot of work and sometimes there just isn't enough left over in my budget for the year to plan anything elaborate after workshops and equipment upgrades. That being said, I used to become bitter and jealous and say things like "I don't know how all these photographers do styled shoots all the time." The truth is there is always a way to create with the tools you have in the moment. So a friend and myself put together a last minute bridal portrait session near the Columbia River Gorge simply because we were inspired by the golden light of the day. I happened to have a rather outdated white maxi dress in my closet and I knew my mom had amazing florals growing in her front yard. Styled all a certain way, while not the most amazing styled shoot that ever happened, we were able to highlight our gorgeous model Malaika's sweet spirit and create some lovely work for our portfolios. Sometimes that's all you need!
Mamiya 645af | 80mm F/2.8 Lens | Kodak Portra 800 | Scans by PhotoVision
Sometimes a simple shoot can wind up your favorite. I love when the weather clears un-expectedly and I'm able to put together something fun last minute. When the sun comes out in November here in Oregon, all the photographers emerge, groggy eyed like vampires ...cameras in tow. This last minute portrait shoot with Malaika was no different.
Mamiya 645 AF | 80mm F/2.8 Lens | Kodak Portra 800 Film | Scans by PhotoVision
The final wedding shoot of the Forage + Fern workshop (that I took part in) took place in a cove of sorts - there was just enough wind to create beautiful movement in the amazing Leanne Marshall gowns and the ocean took on a deep blue color. The algae that washed up on shore was deep emerald creating a very fairy-tale like environment. To be honest, during this part of the workshop I found myself a little anxious and distracted, worrying about some things at home that I had to face when I returned. I did not shoot as much as I usually would have, but instead tried to let the experience wash over me (no pun intended).
In fact, for the rest of workshop I chose to put my camera down (besides a few images here and there) so that I could ask questions and learn rather than worry about my portfolio. I missed out on some amazing photo opportunities, but I was able to absorb direction and receive encouragement much more when I let my camera go. It was hard, but I don't regret the restraint I chose to embrace.
Mamiya 645 AF | 80mm F/28 Lens | Kodak Portra 800 + HP5 | Scans by PhotoVision
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to go on a road trip alone and do some thinking and pondering about life. I met so many amazing, encouraging people on this trip -- and was wow'd by so many creative perspectives, business know-how and of course sheer talent. I found myself very emotional when I was alone in my room, feeling challenged of course in my photography...but also just to be more brave as a person and open up more.
Special thanks to Kate Holland of Magnolia Rouge for pouring so much heart and soul into all her creative communities over the years. It means so much to me and countless others.
All images taken at the Forage + Fern Workshop in Galiano Island, British Columbia.
Creative direction |
Photography tutor |
Photography tutor |
Hair & make-up |
Wedding gowns |
Scans + Processing |
We all woke at sunrise to photograph a gorgeous (and last minute) bonus shoot at the Foraged + Fern workshop. The mist had settled over the grass as the early morning sun began to rise from behind the pines. Our model Maja was probably so cold but never showed it. I remember somebody yelling out "you look like a baby fawn!" - she did! It was magical and probably my favorite shoot of the whole workshop. Enjoy :)
Mamiya 645 AF | 80mm F/2.8 lens | Kodak Portra 800 | Scans by PhotoVision
*Black and white is Portra 800 converted to black and white in post due to lens flare -- I used the HP5 Medium Format Mastin Labs preset, with my own custom tweaks. Sometimes that will save you if you get too much light in your glass! Sometimes, being the key word - better not to get light in your glass to begin with.
All images taken at the Forage + Fern Workshop in Galiano Island, British Columbia.
Creative direction |
Photography tutor |
Photography tutor |
Hair & make-up |
Wedding gowns |
Scans + Processing |