Maya | Senior Pictures with Pure Urban Joy

It’s the relationship building part of what I do that I think I love most of all. The opportunity to meet people with whom I might not ever otherwise cross paths. My camera takes me places and introduces me to bright, interesting people of all ages and walks of life. I’m constantly reminded by my clients of how many incredible people there are in the world (and that reminder of the GOOD of humanity goes a long way to fill my soul, especially these days!) The high school seniors I get to work with seriously blow my mind with talent, kindness and generosity, and they fill me a sense that our future is going to be in good hands.

Natural, urban Senior Pictures Denver, photographer J. Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

Maya was among the first of this past season’s amazing humans. From the first moments of our photo consultation, I absolutely adored this intelligent, radiant young woman. I try not to blow my “cool” (if I even have any!) especially in front of people I’ve just met, but I honestly I almost jumped with joy when she and her mom looked at each other and said, “let's do it!” at the end of our consult! This young woman’s warm personality is the epitome of endearing: joyful, wise, grounded, adorable and positive.

Not surprisingly, it was such a pleasure it was to spend time with her on her photo shoot, wandering around the area near the Denver Art Museum in downtown. I’m not exaggerating to say that if I was given the chance, I’d photograph her every day! She has a completely infectious giggle, and we all had more and more fun the longer we photographed her senior session. Watching people warm up to being in front of my camera is always deeply satisfying for me. Maya’s grounded, joyful glow started brightly, and was nearly blinding by the end, in such a beautiful way. I don’t think I stopped smiling for days after her session.

It was one of those perfect days working together. Beautiful, flattering light everywhere we went, inspiring location and wonderful people. Man, I am so lucky to have the honor to photograph so many wonderful humans!

Natural, happy senior pictures, photographer J. Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

Oh man I still can't look at this last photo without smiling! Thank you Maya for lighting up the world with your bright spirit and joyful smile!

SENIOR PICTURE SESSIONS are NOW BOOKING!

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the EYES by giving my clients more than just senior pictures for their yearbook. In collaboration with each client I design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around the personality, style and interests of each awesome senior. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!

Pop Portraiture | Senior Pictures with a Comedic Twist

OK so first off, Greetings! It has been a while! The beginning of a new year is always a quiet time of reflection, and assessing business goals for my portrait studio for the year, and regrouping after the craziness of summer, fall and winter sessions. It was an incredible year for my photography business, and I’m ready to get back and blog some of last year’s amazing SENIOR SESSIONS!!

And seriously, who better to start that off with than THIS AMAZING HUMAN!!

senior portrait with comedic, snl feel in Denver, photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

I find it completely impossible not to smile around Cammy (actually his whole family is pretty smile-inducing). Talented, bright, and with a spirit and laugh that is positively infectious. His enthusiasm for life and for supporting those around him inspires me and makes my soul happy (seriously, this next generation is pretty awesome).

Fun, colorful pop senior photos in Denver, by photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

When he described his unique vision for his senior photos, I was excited for a session that fell a bit outside my normal high school senior comfort zone. For this one, we were going to create SNL-inspired, vibrant and fun “bumper” style photos, drawing on Cammy’s comedic, fun loving personality and adding colorful, pop / poster style effects in post production. We collected and shared ideas via Pinterest, booked time in my studio co-op, and we were off!

Happy, studio senior picture photostrip in Denver, by photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

As you can clearly see, this kid has personality for miles, so capturing authentic expression genuinely was a an effortless process, essentially we enjoyed a session of mostly joking around and sharing copious laughter, with some intermittent actual photographing!

Fun, colorful pop senior photos in Denver, by photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

Post processing his set was incredibly satisfying. I initially learned to use photoshop back in my architecture days, applying textures to 3D models I’d built in AutoCAD. So a photoshop project in portrait work taps into an old skillset for me, and it was really fun to stretch those muscles! Color and effects were added to provide the POP of our desired visual aesthetic.

Playful senior pictures in Denver, photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

Thank you, Cammy, for your talent, your spirit, your kindness… and for inviting me to be part of your senior picture experience and vision! I’ve been looking forward to this collaboration for years!

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the EYES by giving my clients more than just senior pictures for their yearbook. In collaboration with each client I design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around the personality, style and interests of each awesome senior. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!

September 15, 2008 | One of my Favorite Days

It was the fall of 2008, the economy was in a tailspin and it was decidedly not a great day for the country, but it was a pivotal day for everything that has happened since... and for us, it will be burned in our memory forever.

photo by Jennifer Koskinen
sketch by Gabe Koskinen, age 8

In the predawn hours of a brisk Monday morning, my son and I woke in a hotel in Grand Junction, Colorado. My beloved 8 year old boy had knocked on doors with me during the historic campaign, and had raised money for a campaign donation with an Obama inspired poster he drew with crayons. So naturally, I allowed him to skip school to be a part of history in person. As a single mom of a young, precocious boy, Obama’s unique personal story already resonated deeply for us.

Our eagerness at that pre-dawn hour earned us a spot on the risers right behind Obama for what turned out to be anything BUT an everyday stump speech.

Obama rally, photo by Jennifer Koskinen
Obama rally, photo by Jennifer Koskinen

It was on that fateful morning on September of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

And it was that same day that McCain uttered those fateful words, which arguably cost him his credibility and thus, the election, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

And so it was that we heard about this impending chapter in the collapse of the economy -- and of McCain’s tone-deaf words -- in person from Barack Obama himself.

He began telling us that day, “This morning we woke up to some very serious and troubling news from Wall Street.”

It was a legitimate turning point in the election of our lives.

Obama rally, photo by Jennifer Koskinen
Obama rally, photo by Jennifer Koskinen
Boy going to meet Obama

And it was the day my son got to meet the future President of the United States.

After the speech wrapped up, and after Obama walked the rope line, shaking hands with jubilant and hopeful admirers, one of the volunteers spotted my boy and asked if he wanted to go meet Obama. It was ALL he wanted to do!! And so Harris cleared it with secret service, and walked my 8 year old to go meet Obama and pose for a photo with the volunteers. I witnessed the moment with a sense of pride that is still difficult for me to put into words.

Obama rally, photo by Jennifer Koskinen

I knew in my soul upon hearing him speak that day that he would be elected. His personal presence, his quiet command of respect, his open, infectious smile and his ability to inspire were already qualities that shone brightly.

For eight years, my son and I have been moved by his integrity and his example. Our lives have improved dramatically, from our economic livelihood (my entire business was built in the Obama era -- rising tide lifts all boats!), to our health care, to the feeling of personal empowerment he instilled in us to keep fighting for the things we hold dear: environment, civil rights, and a better life for our fellow citizens and humans around this beautiful planet.

Above all, I am grateful that my son came of age with the Obama family as our role models, as our First Family. The leadership, ethical values and high integrity exemplified by Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia have meant the world to me as a mother, as a proud citizen and as a human being.

Thanks, Obama!! I’m proud to share the planet with you and wish you a love and family filled break… and all the best in your next chapter.

My boy (tiny smiling one, to the right of the photographer) and Obama (to the left of the photographer)!

My boy (tiny smiling one, to the right of the photographer) and Obama (to the left of the photographer)!

The Urban Vibe: Senior Pictures with Street Art in Denver

I’ve long suspected that it’s impossible not to adore Sam... spending time with him while we photographed his senior session made me even more sure!

RiNo guy Senior Pictures with graffiti, photographer Jennifer Koskinen of Merritt Portrait Studio

Temperatures soared to near 100 degrees on the day we photographed this colorful high school senior session in one of my favorite, uniquely fun and ever changing parts of Denver...

But I’m pretty sure we laughed throughout the entire photo session, almost completely forgetting how hot it was. Spending time with this positive, talented, comedic and wonderful human is always a joy. Add to that the fact that my eyes were soaking up awesome possibility in every direction, and I was a happy photographer having way too much fun creating photos!

I love when people want to photograph in RiNo, as this part of Denver is relentlessly inspiring...

A burgeoning artist community at the mercy of its creatives (and a recent infusion of interest and money in the neighborhood), I think of this whole urban neighborhood like a living canvas. The combination of ever expanding commissioned street art and incredible alley graffiti makes the entire streetscape full of vibrant energy, color, and gritty artistry. And even in height of summer sun, there’s an almost overwhelming abundance of unique backdrop options for portraits.

So when you start with art, and then bring in an exceptional human -- a high school senior with a great personality and wonderful sense of style -- a guy like Sam -- talented, creative, positive and giving person with an infectious laugh -- you’re bound to end up with a pretty kick-ass set of senior pictures!

Truly, I adore this session most for Sam’s presence and breadth of expression, his genuine enthusiasm that communicates so well through his eyes, and the fact that he seemed to enjoy this location every bit as much as I did!

Sam, it was SUCH a joy to work with you and I can’t wait to see where you go next!

ABOUT JENNIFER : I’m an approachable, fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the eyes by giving my clients far more than just senior pictures for their yearbook. In collaboration with each client I design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around the personality, style and interests of each awesome senior. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an high school senior photo shoot for you!

Troilus & Cressida | A Photographer's Appreciation of Staging for Theatre

I don’t typically create blog posts about photographing individual stage productions.

I’ve already written at length about how much I love photographing live theatre, and you'd be bored by now if I waxed poetic about how VERY much I love it after every show. There’s a whole world of arts critics and journalists whose job it is to write about the performances themselves -- the production quality, acting, direction, design, etc.

But really, everyone who knows me is aware that I’m -- how shall I say? -- easy to entertain and genuinely quick to love, so my effusive praise of a particular show, heart-felt as it may be, admittedly probably doesn’t carry a lot of weight.

All that being said... I was so moved by the aesthetic experience and technical challenges of photographing this particular production of this lesser known Shakespearean play that I felt inspired to share a few “photographer perspective” thoughts (and photos) from this production; this extraordinarily beautiful, intriguing and -- at least judging by this particular iteration -- perhaps too little produced play.

My first experience photographing Carolyn Howarth’s work was last season at Colorado Shakespeare Festival, when she directed HENRY V on the indoor stage at the University Theatre. Everything about that production was spectacular -- for me as a photographer AND to experience without a camera (and I say this having attended several times throughout the run, including closing night when I almost cried because I still wanted to go see it again… but I digress… )

Photographing a director’s work multiple times gives me a chance to learn how to “dance” with a director’s blocking. It allows me to move through space in anticipation of where actors will be to create the best photographic compositions. Carolyn’s work was so beautifully staged for Henry that I was giddy to see what she would do with the outdoor Mary Rippon stage on the campus of University of Colorado, Boulder.

And let me tell you…  this entire team of designers spectacularly delivered on a vision which somehow was at once both distopic and stunningly, viscerally beautiful.

The opening scene of TROILUS AND CRESSIDA immediately thrusts the audience into a visual (and acoustic) landscape of overwhelmingly powerful beauty. Symmetry of design, of stage direction and blocking, of light, and even somehow of sound -- which is difficult to capture in a photo, but somehow, it was so powerful that I actually hear the beating of Benaiah Anderson’s incredibly crafted swords and shields when I see the opening photos.

The outdoor setting of the Mary Rippon Theatre provides a spectacular backdrop for the set design that changes throughout the evening. Wide photo of Troilus & Cressida at Colorado Shakespeare Festival, photographed by Gabe Koskinen for Merritt Portrait Studio

The outdoor setting of the Mary Rippon Theatre provides a spectacular backdrop for the set design that changes throughout the evening. Wide photo of Troilus & Cressida at Colorado Shakespeare Festival, photographed by Gabe Koskinen for Merritt Portrait Studio

Howarth’s stage aesthetic is simply divine. Her blocking of the actors -- how they move through and inhabit different parts of the outdoor stage -- so perfectly complements the depth of the incredible set design, the colors of the wardrobe, and the dramatic and compelling lighting design, that even for those who may not follow every twist of Shakespeare's story, there is always something beautiful, sexy and dramatic to absorb for eyes and ears.

How the wardrobe -- the colors of the designs of each scene as a whole worked so that everyone on stage at a given time complemented each other as an ensemble... I mean, just look at the palette of costumes and how they work together in this scene (the last set of photos above). It nearly took my breath away, even where the colors on each actor stood on the stage!

And yes, it IS my job while shooting a production to become almost “lost” in the visual. To celebrate the composition, color and light… but it is also my goal to capture the connection I see in actor’s eyes, with each other and to their character. The most satisfying productions to photograph are those which provide all of these things in concert with each other. When that happens, my job honestly feels like playing...

...until the light design becomes so brilliantly in line with the story that it envelopes the audience in near darkness as the stage fighting intensifies... and the photographer who wants to capture it all freaks out.

Luckily I had scouted this show the night before, so I knew this was coming, but still -- to capture the combination of extreme low light and extreme fast motion -- it pushes even the best photographer and equipment to the limits of what is possible. Even with a super high ISO and the widest aperture my lens could shoot, this is still a nearly impossible combination to capture, but I pushed myself and my equipment, tried a few new things and was actually able to capture more than I thought would be possible. Though I must say still… you really need to SEE these scenes to get a sense of how incredible they are. Geoffrey Kent’s stage fight choreography and his movement onstage during these scenes is jaw-droppingly good.

I'll add a few more photos of ending scenes AFTER the show closes so as not to give away any dramatic and incredibly aesthetically powerful spoilers...

The artful storytelling of this lesser known Shakespearean work, which contains both comedy and tragedy, in the hands of these incredibly talented actors is not to be missed!

CREDITS:

Direction by Carolyn Howarth | Scenic Design: Caitlin Ayer | Lighting Design: Shannon McKinney | Costume Design: Hugh Hanson | Sound Design: Jason Ducat | Fight Director: Geoffrey Kent | Photos: Jennifer Koskinen + Gabriel Koskinen for Merritt Portrait Studio

CAST: Christopher Joel Onken, Howard Swain, Lilli Hokama, Carolyn Holding, Naomy Ambroise, Kristofer Buxton, Kelsey Didion, Sam Sandoe, Mare Trevathan, Zach Stolz, Austin Terrell, Sean Scrutchins, Geoffrey Kent, Spencer Althoff, Coleman Zeigen, Steven Cole Hughes, Emelie O'Hara, Jihad Milhem, Benaiah Anderson, Lindsay Kyler, Coleman Zeigen, Jesse Wardak, Paige Olson

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, by William Shakespeare has 8 remaining performances at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival through August 6, 2016. VISIT: CSF for tickets!

And a final sequence to appreciate, from my son's wide angle photos, how spectacular it is to feel twilight stretch into night, watching theatre under the stars on a summer night in Colorado is an experience everyone should have. How the trees surrounding the theatre space are included in the lighting and set design -- just breathtaking!