Personal Branding & Women's Portraiture

What IS a Personal Branding portrait session anyway?

And how could a cohesive, MAGNETIC set of editorial style and headshot portraits enliven your professional image, give you more fresh content for your social media profiles and increase your marketability?

Check out the latest issue of my portrait magazine to learn if this might just be one of the best investments you could make in not only your business, but also your confidence and professional image.

NOTE: magazine is divided into two sections:

  1. Personal Branding and packages (geared towards people who need only digital files) in the first half

  2. Modern Women’s Portrait Glamour sessions (designed for that special, once in a lifetime story session to be celebrated with archival prints and files) in the back half.

If you’re curious to learn even MORE or book a consultation, let’s grab a coffee and discuss how a custom session could benefit you and your business.

Contact me now to set up a consultation to learn more!

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Jennifer Koskinen specializes in creating custom, natural light, editorial-style personal branding sessions to highlight what you want to share about YOUR story.

She has a background as an architect and architectural photographer, and is an internationally published Live Theatre and Stage Production Photographer. Jennifer is based in Denver Colorado. For more info and client testimonials, please visit our ABOUT page.

For information and pricing of personal branding packages, please take a look HERE!

Meet Sequoiah | Empowered Urban Portraits in Denver

This woman is extraordinary. For real.

Sequoiah was a classmate of my son’s at Denver School of the Arts since the 6th grade (currently she’s a freshman at Stanford University), so we got to watch her grow over the years, developing her voice over the years to become a fierce advocate for women and minorities.

Throughout my time knowing her, I’ve always come away from conversations feeling inspired and energized. In each of her junior and senior years, she wrote incredibly moving and enlightening plays, both brought to life as full length productions as part of DSA’s Black History Show program. Not only did she research and write the scripts, she also directed each with brilliance, nuance and indomitable strength.

When I say she’s impressive, I’m only scratching the surface of the bazillions of ways in which she inspires me.

I’ve wanted to photograph her for years, so this was a special honor -- a true senior portrait experience. A sun and laughter filled photo session before she headed off to Stanford.

Absolutely radiant in the warm summer sunshine…

At Sequoiah’s consultation, she talked about her ancestry and familial roots, and out of that conversation, the ideas for styling her session were born. She decided that each look would celebrate a different side of her biracial roots.

We were so lucky to have her dear friend Yasmine to help style each of her looks on location, from accessories to wardrobe to hair and makeup. And of course I love that we were able to capture photos of their gorgeous friendship as well.

Ultimately this session (as I strive to make all of my sessions!) was about empowerment. Celebrating her spirit of extraordinary integrity, hard work and joy. Radiance. Sisterhood. It was a celebration for all of us, and I couldn’t feel more fortunate to have finally had the chance to work with both of these incredible women.

Sequoiah, we are thrilled for the next chapter you’re out there writing! You are an inspiration, a change-maker and we love you!!!

Meet Catherine | Flowers, Grace & Tulle in the Denver Botanic Gardens

Everything about working with this bright, graceful, kind, insanely talented and beautiful young woman for her senior pictures in Denver was a dream!

denver-high-school-senior-pictures.jpg

Catherine mentioned at her consultation that she wanted to photograph her session at the Denver Botanic Gardens. As you’ll quickly see, this was the perfect fit for her in every way.

As we discussed styling at her initial consultation, I mentioned that I’d had a vision for a while of a senior session in the gardens with a homemade tulle skirt. Not only did she love the idea, she and her mom jumped on it, hand making not one, but TWO gorgeous, feminine tulle skirts in different lengths and colors.

She looked like a goddess in the gardens.

I should mention here that the weather in Colorado in mid-summer, as anyone who has lived here can attest, is unpredictable, at best. For several weeks during this particular “monsoon season,” my photo sessions were on precarious footing nearly every day. My advice usually is to keep the session and let the weather be a part of the story (barring lightning and/or hail). The weather was iffy enough this particular afternoon that we nearly postponed while watching the intensity of passing storms on the radar. Thankfully (in part on account of Catherine’s new haircut looking fabulous that day), the spirit of adventure was alive in her and with her family (I love it when family members come to watch the senior picture experience -- and I happen to adore her whole family). 

A decision was made to go for it and make the best of whatever happened. From the moment we all arrived the weather convinced us we’d made the right call: the afternoon unfolded in the most PERFECT ways. Soft, filtered light, gentle breeze, moments of sunshine, lovely temperature -- and just a few fleeting raindrops which ended up being no challenge whatsoever.

denver-family-pictures.jpg

We had a dreamy session together and I just adore the ultimate collection of senior pictures she chose for her beautiful storytelling album.

Catherine, you are a gift to those of us who are lucky enough to know you (and those who get to listen to you play the piano).

I’m so ridiculously excited for your next chapter (and happy your mom will keep me up to date!!)

Love you guys!!

Oh and before I go... bunnies! So many bunnies!!

denver-senior-pictures-garden-bunny.jpg

NOW BOOKING SENIOR PORTRAIT SESSIONS FOR CLASS OF 2019! DON’T WAIT (had to turn away too many end of season clients last year and it broke my heart!)

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving, Award Winning Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection and personality in the eyes of my clients. I strive to do more than just take senior pictures for yearbook. Instead my focus is on creating an unforgettable experience. Together we are telling a part of your story with pictures. I collaborate with each of my clients to design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around his or her personality, style and interests. I’d love to tell a high school senior story about YOU. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!

Moving through Still | Dance Photography and the Paintings of Clyfford Still in Denver

The arts run deep in my family. 

Growing up, I thought it was really cool that my grandfather was an artist. I earned an Art & Art History major in college before becoming an architect and eventually a photographer. Within a few generations we have a concert pianist, an interior designer, a jewelry designer, painters, writers, architects, actors and a photographer. 

I've always felt most alive with a creative tool in my hand -- a pencil, a camera, even a computer (to write or design) or a paintbrush. Creative spaces of all kinds excite me -- museums, galleries, theaters, libraries and studios.

Artists and creators are my muses, my subjects and forever my inspiration. 

I mention all of this because several people asked both Valerie and I why we were doing this project. And the answer is quite simple: it was born in this space -- this love of creativity.

We just decided to make art. Art for Art's Sake.

And I mean really: Art combined with dance and photography… it sounds like a dreamy mix, doesn't it?

dance-photographer-denver-madonia-koskinen.jpg

My creative collaborator -- my "partner in art" -- for this project is my treasured friend Valerie Madonia, an accomplished dancer in the world of ballet (seriously accomplished -- check out her bio below).

I have known Valerie since our days of living in Telluride and have wanted to photograph her for years. When I first approached her I only knew that I wanted to photograph her, but the details were still murky in my head. I wanted to create striking images that involved her dance background and her graceful presence as an accomplished, poised and beautiful woman. 

Enter the Clyfford Still Museum. My background as an architect made me quick to fall in love with this unique space when it first opened in Denver. Huge abstract artworks on display in a building designed specifically to show this artist's paintings. The museum is impeccably detailed with beautiful proportions, overlapping spaces, strong architectural materials in natural earth tones, and architecturally designed to take advantage of Colorado's consistent natural light to illuminate the artwork.

When I learned we could photograph inside the museum (with special permits), I suspected I’d finally found the location for our first shoot. Valerie and I toured on one of her visits to Denver. We set it up with proper permits and got to work planning our photoshoot, still not altogether clear on an end goal -- other than to make art for the fun of it.


BEFORE I CONTINUE... A FEW WORDS ON ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM: If you're not familiar with the roots of abstract art, this genre of art is non-representational. Expand the photos below (from inside the Clyfford Still Museum) to see the evolution from more representational art to abstraction in both Clyfford Still's artwork, and in the larger context of art history.

In these demonstrations (which I photographed at the Clyfford Still Museum), you can see that while elements of abstract art are often derived originally from figures, landscapes and more traditional still life subjects, in their final form the compositions may be openly interpreted by those who experience the art. 

It is this idea of artistic interpretation that most excited me about photographing Valerie in this space.

I anticipated that her breadth of experience as a dancer and choreographer, along with her vision as an artist would all lend themselves to compelling choreographed movement in her reactions to the motion she felt in viewing Still's paintings. My own instincts on this were not wrong...

As I moved around the space with my camera, watching her move, I asked simply, "what do you see?" and directed very minimally, only reacting for compositional or framing purposes. Together we moved through the museum, creating and capturing, from painting to painting. My perspective kept switching from the physical space and relationships between gallery, painting and dancer, to the framed composition within a photograph.

During my years as an architectural photographer, this interplay between three dimensional design and two dimensional photography always excited me, but the opportunity to play with these parameters -- now with a moving dancer -- was creatively satisfying on a whole new level. 

My heart leapt right with Valerie's movements as I watched her improvised choreography transform the artwork before my eyes. Paintings came alive in ways I hadn't previously perceived as she danced with them. Sometimes in quiet contemplation.

Other times it was as if she leapt right into the compositions and became a part of the paintings themselves.

denver dance photography clyfford museum koskinen.jpg
08-denver-dance-photography-art-triptych-merritt-photo.jpg
denver dance photography art koskinen.jpg
09-denver-dance-photographer-art-triptych-koskinen.jpg
dance-photographer-museum-koskinen.jpg
denver-dance-photography-art-triptych-koskinen.jpg
dance-photographer-museum-jennifer-koskinen.jpg

In this block of creative, "art for art's sake" time we were transported into a world of imagination, color, movement and the beauty of dance. A world of where dance choreography meets improvisation. 

This is a world where three dimensional space can flatten into a framed composition in a celebration of the human body and art -- where photography allows something frozen in time to remain full of life. 

denver-dance-photographer-paintings-triptych-koskinen.jpg

After finishing this shoot, Valerie and I sat at a coffee shop and scrolled through the collection of images. Exhilarated and filled with satisfaction and inspiration, we realized this would most definitely be the first chapter in a larger dance photography project...

So stay tuned...


ABOUT VALERIE MADONIA (DANCER): Valerie Madonia began her dance training with Maris Battaglia at the American Academy of Ballet in Buffalo, NY and left home at the age of 14 to continued at the National Ballet School of Canada, graduating in 1979. She was a recipient of the prestigious Peter Dwyer Award for Dance Excellence. She danced professionally with the National Ballet of Canada 1979-1981 (under the direction of Alexander Grant), at American Ballet Theatre 1981-1986 (under Mikhail Baryshnikov) and at the Joffrey Ballet 1987- 1997 (under Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino).
 
Ms. Madonia began as a member of the corps de ballet eventually establishing herself as a leading ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet. She had the honor of dancing as a company member with Alonzo Kings Lines Ballet, Armitage Gone! Dance, Complexions Dance, Configuration Ballet and as a guest artist with Alaska Dance Theatre, Russian Ballet Theatre, Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet, and at Le Gala des Etoiles numerous times in Montreal and Greece. She performed the role of the Princess in Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in 2001 and with the New York Philharmonic in 2005, conducted by Alan Gilbert and accompanied by Pinkus Zuckerman. Madonia appeared in six PBS Dance in America Specials and is featured in four dance books, most prominently in, Classical Ballet Technique, by G.W. Warren. She performed the role of Madge in Colorado Ballet’s 2015 production of La Sylphide and as the Queen in it’s 2017 Swan Lake.
 
Her choreographic credits include the full length Ballets: Cinderella for Louisiana Delta Ballet, The Nutcracker, Polar Express and Appalachian Spring for Telluride Dance Academy and Ames Conservatory,  Shapeshift for Boulder Ballet in addition to new works for the NYC Dance Now Festival, Sunday Salons and Les Patineurs for Colorado Ballet’s Pre -professional Division, Solo works for professional dancers in  Colorado Ballet, YAGP competitions, Ballet West and Dayton Ballet. In 2016 she staged staged Gerald Arpino’s Light Rain Pas de Deux  for Colorado Ballet.

ABOUT JENNIFER (PHOTOGRAPHER): After a ten year career as an architect, Jennifer is currently an Award Winning, Denver based photographer, specializing in actor headshots and high school senior portraits. She is also an accomplished theatre and dance production photographer, having worked with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the Denver Center Theatre Company and Denver School of the Arts. She specializes in creating a positive experience and helping clients find their value through photography, fostering a sense of connection in her work, and bringing out personality in her clients while celebrating THEIR work. Her published theatrical photography work has run all around the world, and has appeared in American Theatre Magazine, The New York Times, Playbill.com, Broadway World and the Denver Post, to name a few.

10-denver-dance-photography-art-triptych.jpg
Madonia-Clyfford_Still-Koskinen.jpg

FINALLY: A special thanks to the wonderful staff and curators at the Clyfford Still Museum for a lovely experience. I highly recommend a visit to this unique museum in the heart of Denver's growing arts district.

Photographers, please note that a photography permit is required in advance to photograph subjects in this space.

Valerie_Madonia-Clyfford_Still-Jennifer_Merritt_Koskinen.jpg

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

- Pablo Picasso

"Sex and The City" Fashion Themed Senior Pictures in Denver

Gah!! This downtown senior session was crazy satisfying and so much FUN!! For starters, this amazing high school senior told me she wanted a stylish, urban, Carrie Bradshaw themed senior session -- what a dream this was for me! 

Urban Senior Pictures in Denver with Denver photographer J. Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

I watched every episode of Sex & The City as they aired in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, so this request was right up my alley in every way. AND she arrived with a rolling suitcase (perfect!) and completely prepared to carry out her entire vision.

PLUS… It's Josette. I mean, this girl ROCKS. Absolutely gorgeous, to be sure, but she's also bright, passionate, talented, incredibly present when talking with you. She positively owns her strengths and lights up when she talks excitedly about them (she also hilariously owns her dislikes… Ask her how she feels about math sometime… It's kind of adorable, and I’m honestly a little envious of her ownership of this, too).

We headed to a different part of downtown Denver for her senior photo session, seeking a more metropolitan-Manhattan vibe than I find in most of my more traditionally “go-to” parts of our little metropolis. Anyone who watched Sex & The City knows that NYC was the fifth character of the show -- Carrie even referred to it as her “boyfriend.” So to capture the feeling of the history of our city felt critical to really capturing the vibe she wanted for her pictures.

Everything she brought, from the red and pink tulle skirts (which she found just for her senior pictures) to the leather pants and jacket, to the dripping pearls -- it was all PERFECT in the urban setting (and watching her enjoy crossing the street in the giant red tulle skirt was a blast!). I just love the juxtaposition of old and gritty, with her feminine and stylish wardrobe. FABULOUS. This girl has STYLE and capturing her light was a blast. Girl, making this kind of art out of senior pictures is infinitely fun!

I'm thrilled to know you, Josette, and can't wait to see where you go next with your talent and passion!

 

SENIOR PICTURE SEASON IS NOW BOOKING : Class of 2018, you're next!!

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the eyes of my clients. I strive to do far more than just take senior pictures for yearbook, instead my focus is on storytelling with pictures. 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!