For centuries artists such as sculptors and painters have defined their craft by capturing the beauty and essence of the artistic nude female body. And most recently photographers, such as myself, have added fine art nude portraits to our portfolios. As a woman, I know that there are those fleeting moments when a female sees her nude body in the mirror and her mind actually registers and acknowledges the true beauty of her female form.
It may be a glimpse of the smoothness of her shoulders, the line of her chin, the depth of her collarbone or the curve running down her back. And for that moment, despite society’s definition and perceptions of beauty, she is present and she realizes she is beautiful. It’s those kinds moments that I long to capture and bring to life and make real for her forever.
One of my most favorite parts of the nude art portrait session is when I show my subject the image of her nude body in the window of my camera seconds after I’ve taken the shot. Inevitably she will say something like, “Wow, I didn’t know I looked like that,” or “I’m a lot prettier than I thought,” or “Is that really me?” And once she sees that first image, she feels safe with me, and she lets go of her negative thoughts, and relishes in the opportunity to celebrate her body and she is free.
It’s at this moment that the artist in me feels the ultimate connection.
For couples photography please go to Linnea Lenkus.com
All couples portraits should be like this!
It was the first time I’d ever had a couple come into the studio with the sole purpose of “experiencing” a professional portrait session as part of an anniversary gift. And what was even more amazing was that the idea came from the husband!
Bill wanted to give his Debbie something unique and special for their 21st anniversary. While looking around the house and contemplating about the perfect gift for Debbie, he admired the family portraits they had taken over the years with their children, and realized they had never had professional photography of just the two of them. Bill let his creative mind run wild, and he decided to actually turn the experience of doing a professional portrait together into a anniversary gift for her. I was so touched when he told me that after much research, he decided he wanted me and my portrait studio to be a part of their romantic day.
I so enjoyed photographing this husband and wife and playing an integral role in helping them celebrate their love for each other! It’s wonderful to see a couple who’ve been married for over 20 years still get so giddy when looking into each other’s eyes.
When they looked at the camera, I noticed how they automatically interlocked their fingers together. To me the gesture truly represented just how intertwined their lives had become. They even made their order session, which involves viewing their images on a giant size wall, as part of their anniversary celebration. They laughed, kissed and hugged, as they complimented each other on how great they thought the other looked. It was really quite moving and a joy to see such happiness and support for one another.
This is a big week for my family. My twins turn four years old this coming week. Ahhhhhhhhh. I’m sighing.
Ava and Maxwell are my youngest children and they are such a whirlwind. This is a very active phase and I’m enjoying it (and then on some days I’m not at all – – if you’re a parent you know what I mean). Still, I am awestruck. My dynamic duo are amazing together and apart. My daughter is practically my clone, full of energy, vigor and force, and my son is practically my husband’s clone, pensive, a loner and always saying the things that everyone talks about for days. My husband and I delight in watching our own relationship play out. They get along fabulously, as we do.
Last night my daughter got out of bed and as I was about to sternly say, “Get back to bed!” she ran up to me and said, “I love you, mommy.” She knows how to stop me in my tracks.
That’s what my children do to me. They stop me. I am a high energy woman. I can easily obsess about photography every day, but my children bring me back to reality, to family and to love. They breathe life into me. They frustrate me like nothing else and yet, they transform me every day. I am so grateful that they arrived four years ago.
When I photograph a celebrity portrait, I feel very honored to get that extra seal of approval. But nothing touches me more than when celebrities return with their family for another portrait session, especially when they’re as wonderful as Brooke Burke and David Charvet.
I photographed celebrity portraits of Brooke and her two daughters a little over a year ago when she was pregnant with her baby, Rain. Brooke’s mom also showed up for the excitement, and I was so impressed with the entire family’s realness and friendliness. Brooke’s a busy, beautiful woman and has a very loving, positive and calm attitude toward everyone despite her very hectic, albeit affirming life.
Recently Brooke let me know that she’s pregnant with her fourth child, and that she has launched her new website BabooshBaby.com. Many of the pregnancy photos that we created together are on her new site, but more importantly she’s offering new moms a sexy, smart way to bring their post-pregnancy bodies together. I wish I’d known about this method after my pregnancies.
I’ve seen Brooke’s pregnant belly up close and personal and I can tell you that it’s a miracle that anyone can have such a natural, beautiful belly and gorgeous figure after four pregnancies. Seriously, after seeing her body in person, I totally recommend to all my pregnant and new mom clients that they visit BabooshBaby.com and buy Brooke’s very smart Tauts and her L’Huile de Baboosh. Why not? It seems like a no-brainer.
I photographed celebrity portraits of David and Brooke and Rain recently and I’m so glad this time to have met David and Rain. You can see some of the images that we created in our maternity photography section and also get a hint at Rain’s activity level which is so normal for a new walker- – full of energy, mercurial and loving. She’s a daddy’s girl, as my little girl is, and it was so fun to watch her relationship with David. David is an amazing dad, very patient and very loving. I am really impressed with his attentiveness.
I can’t wait to photograph Brooke and David’s new son. Brooke wrote us this last week and said, “Give my best to Linnea. I am so grateful for her work and our session. I would like to come in with my new born, as soon as he arrives, complete our story and start making selections for a coffee table book.”
To a new year, to a new life, to a perfect family.
Christmas is near, very near. We have just a few short weeks left before our Christmas portrait orders must be in. With just a few slots left open, it’s important to book your last minute sessions now.
I would love to photograph your family in a memorable way, in a creative way that will be a gift to you, as well as your extended family and friends. I know this is the time of year to get silly and load an image with props. I tend to avoid props and anything that can steal an image from the true focus – – you. Plus, I want you to be able to hang your wall portrait for years, not just at Christmas.
I want to create family portrait photography with heart, family portraits that show how much you love each other. So, with your best interests at heart, I welcome you to experience a different kind of family photography at one of my three portrait studios.
We have had a wild year here at our portrait studios. We have grown so much, so rapidly as so many of you have called us for a family portrait or a maternity portrait or a baby portrait or a. . . the list goes on.
I’m big on preparation and customer service. After many years of being a photographer with two portrait studios, I know that planning is crucial to make sure that you have perfect portraits in a timely manner. So to prepare for the coming year and the impending Christmas rush I have hired more studio personnel to assist the growing amount of wonderful clients who want professional photography. This creates a new challenge.
Our office was meant to be a two person office. With eight people now in our small office, it’s a tight squeeze with elbows and desks and many wall portraits in production and framing and orders going in and orders going out and computers and office chairs – – yikes! So to prevent employee mutiny I have leased a large office space close to our Long Beach studio. It’s a beautiful office that makes me feel so good to have and so large that we don’t feel cramped so we can expand to the next level. But in the meantime, our Long Beach Studio will be closed for a week or two as we knock down some walls and expand our portrait gallery.
Please bear with us as we reorganize our office and our phone lines in the next week. Our Long Beach portrait studio should be ready soon.
In the meantime, I want to suggest to all families in Los Angeles County and Orange County, that if you are interested in Christmas portraits for Christmas gifts, now is the time to book your portrait sessions. Our Pasadena portrait studio and our Orange County portrait studio remain open. Do not procrastinate this year!
Our appointment times are very limited during November and the first part of December as many families are last minute in planning their Christmas photos and it seems that everyone calls at the same time. But my art consultants and I can only be in one place at a time. We try to get everybody in, but then we are unable to be as flexible as we are in our planning of portrait and order times. If you can come in now, you can assure a time to be photographed. We are interested in photographing art for your life and this takes time, which is rare in the Christmas season.
I am a California photographer and my art can be seen here
I returned from San Francisco a couple of weeks ago where I spoke to a large group of photographers. It was very energizing and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to share my vision with other portrait artists. Thank you California photographers in the Bay Area for listening to my ranting. I hope I sparked some vision and hope into your photography studios and made you push towards excellence. Thank you for the many complimentary emails. I appreciate that you were inspired and moved enough to re-evaluate your own paths and make changes to how you see your photography and your vision.
Being a photographer is tough. Weathering personal opposition and trying to keep my vision fresh and present in my work has been a challenge. But I love challenges. My whole life I have seen things differently than those around me. Meeting other artists like myself I’m reminded that it’s very easy to feel like the outsider, and not believe in yourself for your vision. But I was fortunate in that I have a very determined and upbeat, albeit critical personality, like my mother. I am a fighter. I don’t give up.
The critical part of me sees things and says, “Hey that’s not right,” or “That’s how it should be.” As a photographer it helps because I can move my camera, move my photographic lighting, move my subject to make it right. I can make my vision come to fruition.
But living day to day and creating a photography business you usually have to come up against some type of wall, some type of stick-in-the-mud thinking, someone elses critical thinking. It’s very easy to give up your dreams when you hear the “have to’s”.
What I’d like to say to photographers is this: follow your path, follow your vision. You will not be happy until you do. But don’t copy other photographers. That’s not cool. That’s not your vision, but someone else’s. I never have copied other photographers and you can see where it has taken my vision by looking at my work. It is original. It is me.
I tend to think outside the box. That’s the artist speaking. If you stick to your inner vision that will also be the successful part of you speaking.
Over time I have pushed the naysayers and the “neggy-negs” away. It’s a freeing experience and one I don’t regret. It’s what you have to do to follow your calling, to challenge the laziness of rote, to push toward what you really are underneath it all. It’s what a creative photographer has to do.
It helps too to have a patient, loving husband who believes in you. And one who shares your vision (and is an amazing dad). I recommend that. But if you don’t have a wonderful husband I recommend positive family or community and unwavering friends.
I hope all of you California photographers make it to this event because I don’t think I’ll be speaking much on the photography speakers’ circuit. I really don’t like any extra time away from my kids. I make sure to be there every evening and morning because I unfortunately cannot be there during the weekdays.
So, drink it up you photographers. I have so much to teach you. And so little time.
There must be a reason why photographers are not very good at verbal communication. I think we get lazy. Annie Leibovitz
I feel guilty that I haven’t blogged in a little while. It’s been a busy two months and I’ve been distracted by our family vacation, our very busy photo studio and of course, my children.
My youngest children, twins Ava and Maxwell, have left the baby stage and we have been working on constant potty-training. They both turned three and then proceeded the next week into preschool.
School. My babies are in school. That’s such a shock to me. I was just holding their tiny bodies in my arms yesterday it seems.
It’s difficult to understand, but these changes throw our lives into turmoil and force each of us in the family to adjust, to reflect on our lives, to be cranky, and to work towards acceptance of the change. . . until the next change which will make us recycle through this turmoil again. So, I have been too distracted to think about writing in my blog. I’ve been experiencing and mourning the loss of my babies, and yet I have been celebrating independence, mine and my children’s.
I love photographing pregnant women and their spouses together and talking with them about their expectations of what it will be like to have a child. I love sharing my experiences. I had no clue that motherhood would change me as it has. I talk about this in my photo sessions because motherhood is bittersweet and most of us don’t expect that this little person will pull us in their direction so forcefully.
I especially love when the pregnant couple return with their newborn babies for newborn pictures. I get to see them “in action” and see the beginnings of personal transformation. It’s especially rewarding to me to see families grow and babies and children come back to the studio so the discovery is more apparent. That’s when I usually exchange knowing glances with moms and dads. We have been through the same, together and apart.
Naturally, when you are in baby mode, you are too busy to notice yourself changing. You just feel the exhaustion every moment of the day. It’s that adjustment to the 24/7 part of parenting, which is a real shock to the system. But when you take time to reflect and to see yourself before and after this new person has arrived you get a chance to realize the path you’ve been on and the path ahead. I love that my photography can help a person see themselves at moments in a beautiful way.
Thank you to all my photography clients for letting me be a part of your journey.
The world is full of women blindsided by the unceasing demands of motherhood, still flabbergasted by how a job can be terrific and torturous. Anna Quindlen, O Magazine
Linnea Lenkus Fine Art Portrait studios are located in Orange County and Los Angeles county. Find the photographer here.
A client of mine asked me the other week a question that has stuck with me: “What do you call what you do?” “What do you mean,” I asked.
She said that she had looked everywhere for someone like myself to photograph her family and had seen lots of imitations of my photography, but she chose our portrait studio because of the unique look of my photos and the realness of the subjects. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was that I do, but she knew that there was something really different.
I knew what she was getting at as I have discussed this at length with other admirers and have had many of my clients point it out to me. Based on my conversations with them about my portrait photography I replied.
“I guess,” I said, “you can call it Emotional Photography. I am looking for real emotions while I photograph. I am looking for the real person, not the facade.”
As my photographic technique has become second nature and my artistic vision has become stronger I can let go of all of that and focus on the people in front of me as unique individuals. I look for the emotion, I look for the place where they are in their lives and I try to take a very simple, genuine moment and turn it into art. I don’t copy other photographers, instead I try to find how the person in front of me speaks emotionally and interpret it through the place that I am in my life.
Most people have a left brain and a right brain. I have a children’s brain and an adult’s brain. Being one of the children photographers in Los Angeles and working with kids, I have learned to play in my brain.
When I am in adult mode my brain is in command, frustrated at anything not moving fast enough, and insisting that things have to be a certain way in order to be right.
When I am in child mode I laugh. I make fun of everything and I dance or jump. I enjoy my kids in child mode- – I soak them up, embrace them and let them take me down the path of their love of life. They teach me so much.
And so when I see a child in my photography studio get that look in their eye and that jiggle in their legs, I know that I have to change modes. And that’s when they show me. That’s when they reveal where they are. And I join them.
Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. With boys it’s usually a wild thing like jumping off a chair. And often with girls it’s the mastery of dancing and twirling. Most times they will do what they will do.
You have to be ready to perceive it, embrace it, and not prevent that moment. Most parents will say, “No, no, don’t do that,” to their children in my children’s portrait studio. But that’s when I say to the adults, “No, no, don’t hold your child back.”
The article, written by Po Bronson, brilliantly describes a study by psychologist Carol Dweckwho explored how praise affects children. Dweck studied the difference between praising a child for their intelligence or praising a child for their efforts. Now, that may seem like a little discrepancy, but Dweck found that there was a huge difference in performance, frustration and hope for each child.
After reading this article I realized that I was guilty of praising my children’s natural smarts a bit too much. I then altered my verbiage slightly with my children to reflect their trying hard and working hard to produce intelligence. I have noticed a definite difference. Not only are we more active at the family table drawing and talking about educational things, but there is more harmony.
Interestingly, I made the realization that my mother has always praised me for working hard. It’s funny when you realize that your mother knew it all along, and that she guided you and nurtured you to the person you are today.
My mother produced a daughter who has always made a big effort. I never realized until now that she did this because I have been too busy working hard. Not only do I work hard daily at being a good parent, but I work daily at being a good photographer. Does it work? I hope it does. All I know is that I have always been driven and happy.
Thank you mother. Happy Mothers Day.
Our child portraits, which include mother and child portraits, can be seen at LinneaLenkus.com
I love hands. So I guess you could say I have a hand portrait studio.
Hands are subtlely defining. They represent so many parts of our psyches, so many emotions, so many moments and movements, and ultimately the weathering of time. Although I do not like to look at my own ravaged, clumsy hands, I love and visually caress the hands of extremes when I photograph – -age and youth.
Years ago I photographed a beautiful resident of a nursing home. Her life story, her defiance, and her will were intriguing. We talked about her life while I created a portrait of her. Although she had a devilish nature and a wicked sense of humor I noticed that she was refined and kept her hands folded properly in her lap. Her delicate fingers were petals, liquid and telling. When I was in my darkroom printing her portrait, I felt that her hands were the more compelling portrait. My editor at Getty Images agreed.
To me, there is nothing more beautiful and revealing as hands that have worked hard, experienced life, and have aged and rippled. And yet, I am awed by the newness of touch, the exploration of new life and the contrast of that with protective parenting hands.
I guess what I am trying to say is that your hands are an honest expression of you and where you are in your life. Hands are, in themselves, a complete portrait of your life.
It was my birthday this weekend. Time to reflect. Time to go back and see how I ended up here.
I am the youngest child in my family, the quiet one. Though most people would never consider me shy today, I have the soul of a shy person. I began there, an introspective person shoved into extroversion by the force of my vision of the world. It’s a big force, ask anyone. With two very pushy sisters I have had to hold my ground.
My father created this photo of me when I was a shy four year old.
How One Aspiring Photographer Inspired Another
My father loved to photograph. He owned a Busch press camera, which I inherited from him. He was a frustrated, almost aspiring photographer. He supported our family instead. His love of photography was passed down to me along with many 4×5 negatives of my family. He gave me my first Kodak Instamatic camera which I keep at my Pasadena photo studio to remind me of where I started.
And so I began, an artist, a shy person, a photographer. I really haven’t changed.
I photographed twins portraits the other day. It was exquisite. I love twins photography. I delighted in these two week old babies, holding them, being with these two new lives, and watching closely each of their new movements, their first expressions, their relationship.
I’m a M.O.M. For those of you who aren’t “in the know”, that means Mothers of Multiples. It’s a special club and I am grateful for its inclusion.
My husband and I conceived Maxwell (Twin A) and Ava (Twin B) when their older brother was exactly one years old. Two years previous to that, almost to the day, I was told by the last of three top fertility doctors in Los Angeles that I would not be able to conceive a baby of my own. They were absolutely wrong. We conceived all three children naturally. What a turnaround.
Do you see why I am walking on air? I am living a beautiful dream. My beautiful babies are here, present in this world and blossoming before me. I am, also, privy to special lives of twins at my portrait studios, re-experiencing my own twins’ newborn stage through the twins photography I create at my studio.
One thing any mom of multiples will tell you is that there is an inherent sadness because you know that you are operating through complete exhaustion and enormous sleep deprivation and you can’t fully enjoy and bask in their newness- -there’s just too much to do. I remember looking down at my 2 week old twins at 3:00 a.m. and crying because I knew that my stress and exhaustion would make me remember so little about them at this very, very precious stage.
So parents of multiples have a special place in my heart. I know what they’re going through. I can empathize how the babies crying can drive their stress level up, but I recommend that we treasure those cries. I can let them know, standing where I am, that it speeds by. And more importantly, I can bring back the memories to them through my art. . . and truly from my heart.