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The Power of a Professional Portrait

As someone who has spent many days hiring and listening to experts, I have to say the one thing I judge people on their headshot. Why? Well, one, because I already know the value of a portrait and two, because I believe that a professional (no matter how experienced you are) should represent themselves as such. 

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I recall a convention I was attending in the local area.  Attendees got to choose which class they  wanted to attend based on the title of the class, a short topic definition and the speakers portrait. I have to say, I couldn't believe how many of the speakers or experts had submitted amateur photos as there speaker headshots. I mean, I'm here trying to learn something from experts who don't even consider their professional image important. How am I supposed to take them seriously? Is this person that was selected just someone they found to fill in the spots or are they really an expert? It was hard to tell.

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What can a professional headshot do for me?

Well, it immediately elevates your brand. As an independent person behind a brand or as part of a team, your image speaks volumes about how you view yourself. When someone is looking to invest in you they need to know that you consider yourself important enough to have a professional image of yourself. It tells us that you are worthy, confident, and an expert in your field.  It can attract people to you. It can help you stand out from the others in your industry that may not have reached that level of authority yet. 

What if I'm just getting started?

It's more important than ever to start off with a professional image. People will automatically consider you an expert because that is what you are portraying. It might even mean the difference between landing that perfect job you want. Recruiters go through hundreds, if not thousands of social media profiles. Having a great profile image can make them stop and read more about you. It may even land you that job. 

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It's too expensive. Maybe Uncle Joe can take it for me. He owns a camera.

Sure you can go that route. And maybe you'll get a decent looking headshot from Uncle Joe. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you don't know why this isn't the best way to go, head over to this post where I go into detail about what separates Uncle Joe from a professional photographer. 

How do you want to be portrayed?

Confidence, likability and influence are the main terms that come to mind when viewing a headshot. Your image should be an updated image that sends the appropriate message to your audience. Are you a realtor? Banker? Lawyer? Can you be trusted? Are you approachable? What does your current headshot say about you and how it relates to your work? 

Professional photographers are trained to create images that you need to tell your story. It has very little to do with the equipment they use and everything to do with how it is used. Think of an artist and their brush. The brush does not make the art. Same applies here. It's a dance that incorporates lighting, posing, comfortability, and connection. 

If you want to be taken seriously in your field of expertise. If you are looking to create an amazing first impression or if you are the expert and want to covey that to your audience then you should get a professional headshot to match. 

How do I go about getting a headshot?

My studio offers private sessions that consists planning a custom session around your area of expertise. Everything from what to wear to how I will light you is taken into consideration. My team and I hold your hand through the process so that the end result is exactly what you were looking for. I also host an event a few times each year where you could come in for a mini headshot session. Contact me for a free consultation or look for the Headshot Mini Marathon event on my Facebook, website or Linked IN

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The Art of Portrait Photography

I wanted to write a post about the art of portrait photography, because with the overwhelming amount of people with the access to cameras, is the art of portrait photography getting lost?

It's certainly exciting to see the photography industry explode, as anyone that has a smart phone is suddenly a photographer. They have the chance to capture images all the time and share them across multiple platforms. With all the access to filters and apps that improve photos, what's the need to go to professional studios or professional photographers anymore? 

Let's discuss this, shall we.

So by definition, owning a camera makes you a photographer right? Just like owning a piano make you a pianist. Or owning a plane makes you a pilot. Okay maybe it's a stretch but that's how a lot of people feel.

Uncle Joe owns a camera so he's qualified to take my senior photos or business headshots right? Sure thing. Having or owning a camera does qualify you to actually use it. The results however are going to be way different than what you'd get if you hired a professional. And maybe you know that, and maybe that's okay with you. Then you probably will never need a professional because your value of photography doesn't exist. It's the same for people that believe hot dogs are just hot dogs and they don't need to spend extra on Smith's Hot Dogs. 

The way I see it, it can't be replicated. Copied? Yes. But I can stand in front of several students and teach them exactly how I do what I do and they won't be able to create images exactly like me. It's because it's not the equipment that makes the photograph. No one can see like I see or interact with clients like I do. Because no one can be me except me. That's why art is so valuable. It's someones unique creation. 

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What is portrait photography? 

Creating a portrait has many complex parts but primarily consists of:

  1. Technical aspects: such as choice of camera or lens.
  2. Artistic elements: location, background choice, wardrobe choice and style.
  3. Lighting: arguably one of the most important elements.
  4. Emotional: the choice of how your client wants to be perceived. 

Let's explore these.

First up, tech. As technology is consistently evolving it's important that you stay up to date on this section. The choice of camera depends on how the final product will be used or printed. Will this be on a bus, or a building? Or is this going to be viewed as an 24x36 inch print? The choice of lens can really change the feel of the portrait. It's important to have options here. Since most of these professional grade lenses can cost well over $2,000 it's good to get a jump start on building your collection.

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What about location, colors, wardrobe and over all style? Just like an artist painting a canvas has to choose the colors and setting, so must a photographer. Understand colors and what compliments one another is very important. You must be able to put it all together. This is often built right in front of the clients prior to the session. 

Lighting. Hard, soft, diffused, indirect, cool, and warm. Many choices are here as well. The light in a photograph is similar to the paint and brush strokes a canvas painter might use. It's actually what paints light over the parts of the image we want to control. Your eye will go to the lightest part of an image first and then move across the medium to other parts of similar brightness. The lighting also controls the mood of the portrait. 

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Finally, emotions. This is a hard one. A really great photographer has mastered a way of managing how to get their subjects to be themselves. And a really, really great photographer can do that in just a few minutes. Portraits are by definition a portrayal of the person or subject being photographed. They tell a story without the need for words. The viewer feels an emotion and possibly a connection with the subject even if they don't know that person. This is where the true power exists. This is where the transformation from photograph to portrait happens. 

My wish is that you have a better understanding of portraits. It truly is an art form. Mostly it's a gift, as with any artist. Some people just have a natural ability to create magificent works of art. Mine just happends to be portrait art. 

So if you are looking for someone that can combine all those aspects to create an authentic, artistic, empowering portrait, that will leave you wondering how they did it, even though you were there for the entire process, then you're looking for a professional photographer. If you could care less and a photograph will do, then you're looking for Uncle Joe. 

 

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Fashion Week: From Runway to Photo Studio

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Do you want to look fashionable for your photo session but don’t know how? How about looking like you walked straight off the runway? Worry no more, because feeling this fashionable is way easier than you would think. Fashion week is one of the best places to look for inspiration when putting together an ensemble. Trends are spotted all over the runway from a wide variety of designers. Whether it’s oversized sunglasses, crossbody bags, or patterned trousers, you can easily include these trends into your photo session.

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If you want a vibrant spring look, try pairing a simple bodysuit with bold trousers. To accessorize, add a gold or silver pendant, or even a pair of bright red heels. Don’t be afraid to play with colors, either. Pantones shade of the year, Ultra Violet, would add fun pop to your outfit.

Don’t stress, this won’t be a big challenge, a lot of these items you can find in your wardrobe at home. Incorporating trends into your outfit isn’t hard, you just have to keep an eye out for them. Spring Fashion Week is right around the corner, don’t forget to tune in!

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Am I Crazy, or is This Girl Going to Change the World?

I'm with you moms! Raising a teen today is hard and raising a girl is even harder. With all the constant stream of drama bombarding our kids today how do you control what they see and how they deal with it? Do you take it away? Hide it from them? Protect them? 

It's an impossible challenge. They will see it if they want to no matter what. My solution......teach them how to deal with what they are experiencing. Show them their worth. Help them believe in themselves. Develop their self-love.  We can't control others. We can only control ourselves and how we react to things. This is our power. 

I didn't realize it back when I was first starting my business. Ella was 6 years old. She was my guinea pig for practicing new lighting and learning how to pose people. Shoot after shoot as I grew as a photographer, my daughter was growing in confidence. How, you ask? Every time I would nail the shot I would be so happy. I would thank her for letting me practice. I would see the final images and tell her how awesome she was.

Imagine the feeling of being that person who can look confidently into a camera and have stunning images taken. Ella is just a girl. She's not a professional model. She's just been given the opportunity to shine! 

Why is having confidence so important? Being confident isn't about what others think. It's not seeking attention to make yourself feel better. It's about that feeling you get when you know you are awesome. You feel like anything is possible. You understand that you matter and you can make a difference. 

I believe this is my purpose to help as many tweens and teens see their worth and embrace their flaws. I was given this gift to serve others. I am not just a person taking pictures. Anyone can do that with any camera. I am using my camera to make an impact on teens. 

 If we are going to change the world we need to create stronger kids. Confidant kids are successful, loving and caring people that grow up to be leaders, visionaries and high performers. 

I can't wait to watch Ella change the world one person at a time. Her power radiates and is quite infectious. She knows she can create the life she wants and she understands that it's not always easy. But it's worth it. 

I encourage you to spread love and kindness. Teach them about their power and confidence. Show them that you hear them and that they matter.

If your interested in learning more about how to get this experience for your daughter, fill out our contact form and I'll be in touch. 

If you believe in this message and know someone who might benefit in reading this, share it on your Facebook. 

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JDP Senior Round-up, Part 1!

This Class of 2018 has been so special to me!  These girls have grown up knowing that women are just as strong as men, that young people can accomplish anything, and that unique is beautiful.  From girls I've never met to girls who have been on my model team for years, it was so inspiring to see these young ladies and tell their story!

These girls are so beautiful, inside and out, and I can't wait to show them off!  So here they are, the first half of the JDP Class of 2018!  Still need your senior pictures?  Do it right at go with JDP, Erie's ONLY photographer that specializes in teen and senior portraits! Why go someplace that does babies, weddings, and fussy business shots? JDP is the place to be for senior portraits!  Email us at info@jenniferdworek.com to get one of our last openings of the season!

P.S.- want to see any of your fave seniors up close?  Just click their image for a close-up!

MacKenzie Irish, McDowell

Reagan Kennedy, Mercyhurst Prep

Bella Kennelley, McDowell

Lexie Lamanna, McDowell

Addisen Mitchell, Mercyhurst Prep

Madison Niemenski, McDowell

Zena Nieratko, McDowell

Chloe Sanfratello, Villa Maria

Sidnye Unger, Villa Maria

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JDP's Latest NYC Adventure!

You know by now that JDP is a pro at NYC destinations!  I love that no matter how many times we make the trip, the city is so dynamic that there are always new corners to explore, new people to see, and never the same picture twice.  Lexie and her mom made the trip so much fun, and let me tell you- that girl has a style MADE for New York City!  I am planning a trip again soon so if you or someone you know is interested, let's chat! JDP is usually there twice a year for sessions. Check out my favorite images from our latest JDP Destination!

The best part of going on destination trips with my clients is that I get to know them so much more. I swear Lexie's mom is my spirit twin. I didn't stop laughing the whole trip. My daughter kept telling me that we were basically the same person.

Another fun part of it is when I get to go with people that have never been to New York. I love sharing their fist view of Time Square or the first NYC cabbie ride with them. As for Lexie, she experienced the city like she lived there in another life. She felt confident and relaxed no matter where we were.

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What does SafeNet do for Erie (and what does JDP do for SafeNet?)

If you read our newsletter, you'll know that JDP's Model Charity of the year is SafeNet, an Erie organization that works with domestic abuse survivors.  JDP is honored to work with an organization that does so much for the community, and is there in a situation that can seem scary, hopeless, and can leave someone low on options. 

In addition to operating an emergency shelter for victims of domestic abuse, SafeNet can provide counseling, education, legal services, help placing pets from an abusive situation, and help through a 24-hour hotline.  All of these services take not only money to run, but a well-trained group of people to work with the individuals seeking help and to navigate these uncertain and definitely dangerous situations.

I'm proud to be working with SafeNet this year, and excited that my model team can see not only the organizations and people who help domestic abuse survivors, but just to be exposed to situations that they hopefully never have to think about in their lifetime.  There is always something to be learned from seeing the world from another perspective, and I love to do so with a local organization. 

Also, I think it's so important to continue supporting small, local charities.  Sure, a lot can be done with national organizations, but there's something about keeping our giving local that makes it all a little more understandable.  There are people. maybe within a few minutes of you, maybe your neighbor, who are being helped by local charities and organizations.  If we want to make Erie better, it has to be done from the inside, a little bit at a time. 

Every year I'm absolutely floored by how much my models are willing to give of themselves, and the effort they put forth in helping out these local charities.  Last year, we were the top donor for the entire year for Dress for Success.  Because of the JDP Model Team, Dress for Success was able to fully stock their closets and pantries with supplies, AND donate the extra to emergency shelters.  While we aren't doing a physical goods drive this year, I do hope we'll be able to raise enough money at our car wash to make a difference.  The people at SafeNet work HARD, and deal with really difficult situations every day, so to bring them some light and show them that yes, your community cares about the work you do, and our young people want to see a difference made, is so important.

This year, JDP will be holding our annual charity car wash on Friday, July 21st from 11am-4pm.  If you can, stop by to get your car washed by our hard-working models!  We will be having a mini-shoot, but the main focus of the day is to work hard to raise money for SafeNet.  SafeNet can then use the funds to purchase clothes, toiletries, invest in education, and much more to help domestic abuse victims right in our hometown.

Can't get to the car wash?  Feel free to drop off a donation at the studio any time, just put it in an envelope labled SafeNet and drop it in mailbox 4 at the studio!  We're also accepting donations of car wash goods such as sponges, car soap, and supplies to make signs.  For even more ways to help out SafeNet, visit their website here: http://www.safeneterie.org/

As I said, I'm honored to work with SafeNet and hope my fabulous model team can raise some much-needed funds for SafeNet's programs!  Hope to see you at the car wash!

xoxo, Jenn

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Fresh custom shoots!

I LOVE Fresh custom shoots!  Just like senior shoots, they're a chance for my models, who've been working in groups so far, to be photographed in their clothes, with their style, their way.  I'm sure you've noticed, but we've done some pretty crazy styled shoots this year!  They're always fun, but don't necessarily show off the individual style of the models (at least, we're pretty sure Nadia doesn't go to school in her 1980's workout Barbie outfit!)

After practicing on a bunch of group and themed shoots, our Fresh models finally get to show off all that camera confidence during their custom shoot.  Each girl gets her own time, one-on-one with me, with hair and makeup, and we bring out their best looks! I love seeing how each girl has changed over the model year!  Some of the girls don't even look like the same person!

That's why it's so important to not wait until senior portraits for professional photography! Sweet sixteen portraits used to be a huge deal, and families were professionally photographed every year.  Now, families wait and plan until senior year, but why?? If you've been following my model team for the last few years, you'll be able to see the huge difference in these girls in just two years, and they're not even seniors yet!  From what we've seen, the biggest change comes in age 13-16, with each year having a different look, style, and confidence level!  If you're interested in our Fresh line for your teen, call us at (814) 464-1184!  Trust us, your teen will LOVE being in the spotlight, and the confidence you'll see in the images will amaze you!

We know what you're here for- to see all of those awesome Fresh images and to see how your favorite model rocked her shoot!  As a special bonus, we've included an image from the first shoot we did with our previous models- so you can see just how much these girls have grown up!  Just remember, Fresh shoots aren't just for my models- any teen 12-16 can book their own Fresh session!

Sadie Bean- McDowell Class of 2019

Olivia Carneval- McDowell Class of 2019

Irelan Eddy- Collegiate Class of 2019

Mackenzie Farrell, Class of 2019

Laurel Fuhrman, Villa Maria Class of 2019

Claire Mulard- Villa Maria Class of 2019

Lauren Reckner- McDowell Class of 2019

Morgan Sonney- PA Cyberschool Class of 2019

Nadia Vollbrecht, McDowell Class of 2019

Brianna Yates, McDowell Class of 2019

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Behind the curtain at JDP!

"Can I just get a USB of the pictures?  The other person I talked to will give me a USB for $50!".  We hear things like this all the time, and it's so understandable if you don't know photography.  After all, one camera is basically the same as another, and if you know someone who got the same one I have on Black Friday, why couldn't they just take your daughter's picture?  It makes so much sense, logically.  Same camera, same subject, same picture!  Right?

Not exactly. The way I hear it put in seminars and classes I go to is that clients pay for my "talent", and I hate how that sounds!  It sounds like you're paying for the huge privilege of being in the same room as me *eye roll*.  In reality, "talent" is a lot more than that.  Talent does include natural proclivity, or more commonly, an "eye" for photography.  Some have it, some don't.  But I wouldn't expect my clients to pay for just my "eye".  No way!  Here's what talent means to me:

It means the passion that I've had since high school, the passion that made me leave a six-figure job as a travel nurse to start a brand new career with two kids, an old house that needed remodeling, and zero guarantee that I'd be successful.  Talent is the determination to never settle, never just find my niche and stay the course, to always keep pushing myself and learning from others.  I go on at least 3-4 educational trips per year, and am constantly buying new online classes, software, and tools to help me do my job the best I absolutely can. 

Another aspect of the photography "talent" equation comes after the session is over (aka post-production).  So the "shoot and share" or previously "shoot and burn" photographers maybe color-correct the images, and delete the obvious blinks.  That's the easy stuff.  Here's what JDP does after that!

For Ella's parachute dress image, you can see a lot has changed!  This is the kind of work I do if a client knows they're getting a large canvas, or somehow featuring one image.  All of this stunning detail would be lost on an 8x10 print!  I worked for over six hours on this image alone!  I played with the colors, textures, light, and dropped in a new sky, and tweaked a lot of other things to get the picture exactly how I imagined it!

For a stand-out image like this, I go all out!  This is where that "eye" comes in!  A lot of times, I can "see" a finished picture before I take it.  I know the exact setup, lighting, pose, and everything I'm going to do in post-production before I even click the shutter. If you've ever had a session with me, you've surely noticed me tweak tiny, tiny things to the point of perfectionism!  That's because I'm just re-creating what I've already seen. 

All of this comes together to make photographic art.  Portrait photographers can be wary about classifying themselves as "artists", after all, we're just taking a picture of someone!  The same thing you have albums full of, for free!  Hopefully, though, I've explained a little bit about what goes into the images we create at JDP.  The "talent", the "eye", all of the post-production that makes up each individual image we create!  Of course, once you choose which of those images you'd like to purchase, then we work with only the best craftsmen to put together the absolute best products for you.  Are there cheaper options out there?  Sure there are, but they'll start to fall apart in a few years, and I couldn't bear to do that to my clients. 

For Mackenzie's Fresh Custom shoot, she wanted an Old-Hollywood vintage look.  Although her image has a more subtle transformation, it still took two hours to edit!  This transformation was all about lighting and color.  Obviously the finished image is in black and white, but it's not as easy as just turning "off" the color!  Taking out certain pigments in certain ratios will lead to different highlights, shadows, and tones, so getting an image just right requires a lot of tweaking and experimentation!  For this image I channeled the work of George Hurrell, the best known photographer in 1940's Hollywood.  He was an expert on pin lighting that focused on a star's face and led to the glamorous, glowing look of vintage photographs.  I loved recreating the Old-Hollywood look for Mackenzie's session! 

Finally, for Madison's Ice Queen images, I wanted the final product to look bright, white, and mythical.  To do this I blew out the image to make it brighter without losing too much of the contrast, and then tweaked the color and light to create the ethereal look I was wanting.  Of course, having fantastic models as muses makes my job easier!

So even with the same camera, Lightroom and Photoshop software, and vendors available to any other photographer, I really believe at JDP that I create artwork for you.  I pore over the details (even the correct spelling of "pore" in this phrase in this blog!), make sure candles are lit and water is cold for your appointments.  I spend hours and hours on one image that I hope will hang proudly in your living room.  I miss softball games and dinners at home to travel so I can learn even one new technique to make your image better.  If I ever say that part of my price list includes "talent" or "time", please know that all of this is what's included.  Not ego, arrogance, or pride, just passion, time, and a bit of an eye.  All used to create the very best for every single client who comes through the studio door.  If you've been a client, I hope you've experienced this.  If you're thinking about being a client, expect this professionalism and perfectionism with every image you see.  Let me use all of that "talent" to create something magical for you!

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Fairview Prom Fun!

If you could bottle the confidence these girls (and guys) were serving on prom night, you'd make millions!  And they SHOULD be confident! They've put together the Pinterest board, searched far and wide to make sure they had a unique look, and spent HOURS putting every detail in place! 

The Fairview teens and their dates brought style, flair, and so much fun to their prom! When all that standardized testing is almost done, final projects are finishing up, and the countdown to the last day is well on its way, prom is the perfect time to let loose and dance with your friends!

I had a great time photographing the couples and groups at the event!  Who wouldn't want to capture all of that hard work on film! Some of the girls said they'd been up since 7am getting their hair, nails, and makeup done!  If I'd been up that early I'd be in bed at 9pm, but that's the energy of a 17-year-old!

It was so fun to experience prom again, as a sort of fly on the wall, seeing all of the excitement, stress over asking someone to dance, trying to look really cool while doing the latest viral dance, and keeping that hair and makeup perfect through it all.  I had a blast and I know everyone there did, too!

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Senior Session Style!

Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest...there are SO MANY thousands of pictures out there of senior portrait inspiration!  What hair to get, what to wear, how to pose- it's all out there!  But how do you sort through the dumptruck full of images to figure out what you REALLY need?  here's our professional take on the latest trends and what will make your senior session slay!

1.  Pack jewelry! So many seniors either forget jewelry, or only wear a set of tiny stud earrings that will never show up in pictures! Borrow jewelry from your friends, mom, mom's friends...whoever has the best statement pieces!  The things that show up best for pictures are long, dangly earrings, layered necklaces, pretty rings, and tons of bracelets.  Remember, we pose your hands by your face a lot of the time, so all of those bracelets will bring added texture and color (aka interest!) to your pictures!

2.  Keep it fitted! loose, flowy boho looks are a HUGE trend, but be careful- the camera can't pick up your real size if you're wearing a giant dress!  We see a lot of boho and t-shirt dresses that don't really have a shape.  Those are comfy, but don't photograph well.  If you like a loose, boho top, wear a more fitted bottom, or vice versa.  Classic, well-fitting clothes are always in style!

3.  Off-the shoulder tops are limiting!   They're a HUGE trend!  I see them everywhere!  Unfortunately, they pretty much pin your arms to your sides, so say bye to any poses where your arms are up at all!  You're welcome to bring them if they really are part of your favorite outfit that makes you feel super confident, but just know that we'll be limited with our posing!

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4.  Iron and organize, ladies!  I know, some of you have never ironed before, ever.  BUT, this is a special occasion!  These are your SENIOR PORTRAITS!  Those images that someday your kids will look at to see if they have your nose, that your mom will look at when you're away on your grand adventure!  NOW is the time to get out the iron or steamer!  Wrinkles are only cute on bulldog puppies and grandpas, not your favorite dress.  Iron or steam and hang up your clothes!  That tiny detail will make you just a hint more confident and calm, and that will show in your pictures!

Of course, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident in your outfits!  They should represent YOU and your personal style!  A girl with confidence is always the most beautiful!  We can't wait to see the looks the class of 2018 will be serving this season!!

 

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Why experiences matter for senior year

Ok, I'm going to get sappy here for a while.  Buckle up.

Senior year is coming.  Whether you're a class of 2017 parent and collision is imminent, or if you're a class of 2018 parent and you already see the dollar signs looming on the horizon, it's coming.  EVERYTHING branded with your child's graduation year.  Everything is now signable, specialized, and meant for collecting memories. 

My favorite product is the signable stuffed dog.  From about age 7-17, stuffed dogs are not a priority.  However, if they happen to have your child's graduation year and a tiny-dog-sized graduation cap, they are now a vital part of your child's graduation experience and YOU. MUST. HAVE. ONE. 

The stuffed dog is just one example of how everything that seemed silly before becomes a NEED for senior year.  A dress for under their graduation gown (that no one will see)?  NEED.  $70 of craft supplies to decorate their graduation cap?  NEED.  Every single school-logo'd item that exists anywhere?  NEED. We see where this is going.

Companies are smart.  They know your teen will want every single thing that has their graduation year on it, because this is THE LAST YEAR (dramatic movie music). Their very last chance to make memories ever, because all the movies they've seen focus on how high school is their very last chance to do absolutely anything fun for the rest of their lives.

Here's where I side with them. To them, this is a HUGE deal.  This is the thing that they've been working for for the majority of their lives.  ELEVEN YEARS out of their seventeen has been spent on this effort.  For them, this is the end of the cliff, the end of every routine, safety net, and comfortable thing in their life.  After this, they're going to take a pretty big leap, without that safety net below. 

Now for you, you can see things from the other side of the cavern.  Looking back, it's not so dramatic.  There is life (and a lot of it) on the other side of high school.  The thing is, though, your kid will never be the same. 

I don't know exactly when it happens, or how, or if there's a specific trigger verses a gradual change, but when my former seniors come to visit me after their first year of college (or work, or whatever), they're different.  They're more confident, not so flighty, not so eager to agree with whatever anyone else is saying.  They stand stronger on their own feet, and don't look to anyone else to see what their answer to a question should be before answering.  It's so subtle, but such a difference. 

Here's where we get sappy.  Grab the Kleenex.  The thing is, that's your kid.  The kid who tossed you a look before their big event, the "I'm way too cool for this but please mom, I'm begging you, show me it'll be ok", the "I screwed up and I shouldn't care but I really do so please offer a hug", or the "If my friends see me I'll never hear the end of it but tell me you're proud of me".  That kid is now more able to carry their own load, knowing that they've handled things before and they can handle whatever else comes their way.  They don't need every glance, reassurance, or gentle push to get them where they need to go.  They can (kind of) do laundry, feed themselves, keep a schedule, and all the other basics that grown-ups need to do.  What's a parent to do now that they're just a little bit less needed?  You joke about your kid living in your basement until they're 30, but... what happens when they don't?

All of this is why everything I do is an EXPERIENCE.  It's not really so much about the pictures. Sure, the pictures are beautiful and stunning and will be there to look at every day that your daughter isn't there with you in person, but that's not REALLY what it's about.  Everything we do at JDP gives you a chance to spend some really important time with your child before they're not your "child" anymore.  Planning outfits, giving your seemingly unwanted opinion, lending some of your jewelry or a hat, helping to iron, steam, hang up those outfits that best tell her story.  Stopping for Starbucks on the way to the studio and praying she doesn't spill that pink tea on her new white dress.  Her eye rolls as you document every pose and smile (but she loves it, trust us).  Her feeling pampered as you help carry her shoes, bag, maybe a reflector.  You remembering all of this when you see her finished images and get your first glimpse of your grown-up girl.  *cue tissues* No one remembers the plush autograph dog, but everyone remembers the time spent laughing, eye-rolling, worrying, crying, and being proud at a JDP senior session.

This is why we do things differently here.  This is why we say "create an experience".  We're not trying to be kitschy or gimmicky.  It really is what we do, for families.  Even if we never see the mom or dad in our finished images, we know they're there, just out of frame, holding a reflector and beaming, or capturing all the behind-the-scenes pictures, or just watching your daughter be in the spotlight and loving every second of it.  The cool thing?  Your child knows you're there too.  That secret support, one of the last times they can toss you a glance and know that they're doing great and you're proud and everything's good.

Loooooooong story short, this all ties in to why we plan destination shoots and contests like the Seniors Ignite Model Competition.  Sure, we love to travel, but I'd have a lot fewer gray hairs if I wasn't spending weeks planning the perfect locations, hotels, and travel arrangements! We do this for YOU.  To have a chance to do a big plan, have a big adventure, a huge bank of memories that both you and your child can dip into when things get lonely. If there's any time for an adventure, it's now.  Right as her wings are spreading but right before she takes off over that ledge, go on a trip!  Document it the right way.

If you're interested in a JDP Destination trip to NYC, Paris, or any location of your choosing, or if your senior is graduating in 2018 and you'd like to give your child the chance at an experience of a lifetime (with you right along with her), call us at (814) 464-1184 or email us at info@jenniferdworek.com.  For the Seniors Ignite Model Competition, entrants MUST have their senior pictures taken at JDP studio, so schedule their session right away!  And for goodness' sake, please don't buy the plush autograph dog!

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JDP Dream Shoots- where will your dream come true?

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JDP Dream Shoots- where will your dream come true?

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

JDP has been doing Dream Shoots for a few years now, and they keep getting better!  What started off as a pipe dream has turned into a major trend inphotography!  I've loved each Dream Shoot we've gotten to plan and experience- New York City x3, Las Vegas, California, and most recently Disney World in Florida!

JDP Senior Model Madison Niemenski KNEW Disney was the only place for her JDP Dream Shoot! Her family has had season passes for seven years!  She loves everything Disney and knew the Magic Kingdom was where she wanted her senior portraits!  As always, JDP is all about capturing the spirit of each client, making sure no two sessions are the same.  With our Dream Shoots, seniors have a chance to go anywhere in the world!

Madison custom-designed her Dream Shoot in the Magic Kingdom to be exactly what she's always wanted!  We loved making her vision come to life, and helped to coordinate session locations, styling, makeup, and everything else Madison would need to have the perfect Dream Shoot Experience!

Like what you see?  JDP Dream Shoots are the absolute, ultimate experience to celebrate the journey that's made each of our JDP clients unique!  For a senior or teen who has every gadget and app available, Dream Shoots are a real-world experience that you will never forget!  We already have two amazing trips planned for 2017- New York City in July and PARIS in the fall in 2017! That's right, JDP Dream Shoots are going global! 

I would love to be the lucky client who gets to go on one of the Dream Shoots- can you imagine telling your senior that you have a HUGE surprise- a trip to Paris for senior pictures!- a trip to NYC for your 13th B-day or Sweet 16!  What a celebrity dream that only JDP Clients can have!

AND- if you think JDP Dream Sessions are just for teens, you're wrong!  Can you imagine having an Allure session in Paris! One VIP client already is!  Join us on this once-in-a-lifetime experience and celebrate everything you've accomplished!  This is the ultimate TREAT YO SELF!

Want in on the Summer 2017 JDP in NYC trip?  Your session MUST be booked by April 30th- tick tock!  Call us ASAP for info so you can get in on this awesome trip!  JDP is a PRO at NYC Dream Shoots, we can't wait to show you around the city and give you an exclusive experience like no one else!

So, if you could go on a dream trip anywhere in the world, where would it be?  JDP can make it happen with the most exclusive portrait experience you'll ever see!  Give us a call and start planning your Dream Shoot Today! Pack your bags and get that Pinterest page ready, we can't wait to hear where JDP Dream Shoots will take us next!

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The Who I Am Project

Who I Am


It's the last year before Ella is officially a teenager, and I'm left here wondering: "Where did my little girl go?"! I want to be sure I have photographs of her as she grows into a young woman, not just for me but for her to look back on someday.  As a mom, it's part of my job to make sure there's more than scrunch-faced selfies for her and her children to admire someday.  Watching Ella decide every morning who she's going to be today has inspired me to bring back our limited-edition tween line, "Who I Am"!  We had an absolutely amazing time meeting the Who I Am girls last year, and got to create some truly great memories for these ladies to look back on.  I can't wait to do it again!

"Who I Am"  is meant to hand the proverbial microphone to preteens so they can grow in confidence as they project their rapidly growing image.  Truly, how many photographs do you have of yourself from the ages of 9-12 that aren't school or sports pictures?  Imagine what it would be like to go through and see exactly where your style developed, how your confidence grew, and when you decided "yeah, this is who I am".  

In comes the "Who I am." project:
We started the "Who I am" photography project to fill in the forgotten photo years while enriching the lives of pre-teens.  The goal is to help tweens look and feel beautiful and have unshakable confidence in themselves when they hit junior high. 

Who we're looking for: 
We are looking for girls age 9-12 for the Who I Am Project. We will ask the girl and her parents a few questions, then combine the text and photographs to create something amazing. 

Why "Who I am"? 
We want to capture the the personality of these tweens and record the last stage of their childhood before they become young ladies. We want them to realize their true beauty so that they are confident in themselves before they hit Junior High, when everything is about comparison and there is such a desperation to both fit in and be an individual at the same time. Imagine the impact a single beautiful image can do for your tweens self-image. 

How to participate or nominate a friend: 
The new year is the perfect time for an exciting project like this!  We have three dates in February available, so please e-mail us ASAP if you're interested in having your child participate in this project, or if you would like to nominate a friend or family member of yours that you think would be perfect for this. Please nominate people you think would enjoy the boutique experience we provide. The in-studio session itself is complimentary and includes a free gift print (a total value of $175). Our goal is to create a gorgeous group of photos you’ll love and that truly show your daughter’s spirit and soul! Many people like to use these photos as birthday, Mother's Day, and “just because” gifts. Our portrait collections start at $200. 

Just share this newsletter with your friend that has a daughter that might be interested or reply to this newsletter with the name and email of who you think might be perfect for this and I'll take care of the rest.

I truly hope I am able to change some young lives with this, but I  need your help.  Can't wait to hear from you! 

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Calling all Dudes!

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Calling all Dudes!

If you haven't been following along, I am involved with a national organization composed of the top high school photographers in the country. Through it I have been given monthly photography challenges to execute with my high school senior team of models. We don't find out until the beginning of the month what the months challenge will be. And at the end of the month we find out if we won. I won last month and I plan on winning this one too!  Here's last months challenge.

The challenge this month was to use spotlight lighting to create compelling images of high school teens that told a story. The story of love. A beautiful girl. A boy searching. A glance. The attraction. The desire. Finding comfort in an embrace. Finally getting the girl.

The execution wasn't the only challenge. Finding the boy turned out to be the biggest challenge. I love to photograph guys but you wouldn't know that because I don't show many on my website or social media. It's definitely not because I prefer girls. I just don't have many moms calling me for their son's pictures. Turns out boys don't really like to get their picture taken but the ones that do get to go home with some pretty sweet images of themselves.  And guess what guys? The ladies dig cool images of dudes. Just look at Instagram. So Mom-of-a-son, call me!

Mackenzie was our JDP Model winner for this months shoot and she had her dude all lined up but he wasn't able to make it last minute. She did not give up! She texted people while she was getting her hair and makeup done. Finally she found someone. Mario! Mario was literally thrown into this photoshoot with no idea really of what to expect and he came out KILLING it! WOW! I hope I get to work with him again. So back to my story, Mario arrived at the studio with Mackenzie's mom without a suit jacket. Hmmm? I thought. I got this! So I sent mom on a mission in search of a jacket for our new model, Mario. By the time makeup was done and Mackenzie was dressed Mario was ready for his time in the spotlight. (Get it. Spotlight.) 

So here we have it. The final 10 images. What do you think? Can you see the story unfolding? 

 

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Hello!

It's finally here!  Erie's first Snow-mageddon!  Over a foot of snow feel between Thursday and Saturday, and we were right in the middle of it!  It just so happens, I had my very first model shoot on Thursday, right as the heavy snow started to fall.  Our new senior model Sidnye Unger won our first themed model shoot for Seniors Ignite- a group of the top senior photographers in the country who challenge each other to up their game through challenges and national features.  

As we watched the snow fall, we knew we were going to be in for an epic shoot!  I've shot in full-on blizzards before, and having real snow in the image (as opposed to photoshopped textures) will help Sidnye's images stand out in a crowd of models from California, Texas, and New York City.  

Do you recognize this dress? I've used it a few times before, in Bella's 1940's-themed custom Fresh shoot and Hallie's celebrity shoot.  I absolutely love it because it looks fantastic on everyone and is a great neutral look to build on.  Of course it fit Sidnye like a glove, and after some awesome dramatic hair and makeup from Megan, we were off to play for a shoot all about angles.  

We weren't kidding our models when we said they'd be tossed into real-life modeling shoots!  Professional models have to deal with rain, snow, cold, and and everything else while wearing heels and looking great!  Sidnye did a FANTASTIC job of being stunningly gorgeous and working all of those great angles without letting on for a minute that she was freezing- which we all were!  

This shoot was the exact definition of "go big or go home!".  Snow, traffic, freezing temperatures, wind, we dealt with them all and had a great time!  I can't wait to see all of the great looks my entire model team brings to the table over the next ten months.  We'll keep you updated on all of their shoots and adventures throughout the year!  

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Senior Roundup Part Two!

Phew!  We love our crazy senior summers at JDP!  We do shoot seniors year round, but most of our senior clients come in between June and October, when the Erie weather is the best.  It's definitely busy at the studio between consultations, sessions, editing, ordering, and everything else, but we love it, and wouldn't have it any other way.  Like I said, we love to do late fall and winter seniors with cozy sweaters and gorgeous snow, so if you like what you see, call to find out about our availability!  

Thank you, thank you, thank you to our JDP summer and early fall seniors!  We had a blast and hope you loved your experience with Jennifer Dworek Photography!

-xoxo, Jenn

Lauren Scutella

Daniel Scutella

Sarah Al-Mandhrey

Julia Casella

Chloe Hampy

Tyson Markley

Allison Higley

Olivia MacArthur

Nina Ng

Anna Przybylinski

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Fresh Model Sneak Peeks!

We're so sad that our 2016 model program is  over!  We've been with these girls since December, so I was so excited to finally get to work with our Fresh models one-on-one!  They each brought their own look and feel to the shoots, and the shots we got are some of my favorite from the entire year! I love how each girl's shoot is completely different!  Check them out below!

Want in on the 2017 JDP Model Team (or know someone who might?) scroll to the bottom for all the info!

Olivia Heasley

Bella Kennelley

Lauren Reckner

Irelan Eddy

P.S.- This image of Irelan has been featured EVERYWHERE!  At least three teen insta profiles have shared it!

Olivia Hilbert

Madelyn Stoops

Becca Hanes

Becca upgraded her Fresh custom session to a NYC destination!  We offer a VERY limited number of destination sessions to teens and seniors! Email us to find out about our 2017 destinations!

Know someone in 9th-11th grade who would make a great JDP model? Click the button below and send the link to your model so they can apply for our model team!  Applications close October 31st, so don't wait to apply!

 

 

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Megan's favorite beauty tips and products!

 Products used: halloween black facepaint, Clinique Quickliner Intense in Ebony, Urban Decay Electric Palette

Products used: halloween black facepaint, Clinique Quickliner Intense in Ebony, Urban Decay Electric Palette

Megan's been the HMUA (hair and makeup artist) at JDP for over four years now, and she does OUTSTANDING work (as I'm sure you've seen).  Most of our clients ask for a natural look that's just a few notches above what they usually wear, but we also have concept shoots where she gets to play!  She's taking over our blog this week to share her best tips, most-used products, and favorite looks from her years at JDP.

 Products used: Urban Decay Electric Palette, Anastasia Dipbrow in Medium Brown, Lime Crime liquid lipstick in Black Velvet

Products used: Urban Decay Electric Palette, Anastasia Dipbrow in Medium Brown, Lime Crime liquid lipstick in Black Velvet

Part One: Best Tips

      I'm sure you hear this a lot, but the biggest beauty tip I could possibly give is to take care of your skin.  Get enough sleep, drink tons of water, and limit your extra sugar.  Korean-style sheet masks are HUGELY popular right now and can be found anywhere.  The night before a session, use one that corresponds to your skin needs (moisturizing, wrinkle-reducing, brightening, etc) and relax with it.  I use them all the time, and they really do make a difference.  Another thing most people don't do enough is exfoliate.  Face scrubs are great at getting rid of the tiny bumps I see on a lot of our younger clients, and even if you just scrub your face with a dry towel after a shower, it will help your skin look brighter and fresher.  One final thing, if you plan on wearing a darker lip color, exfoliating your lips is a must.  Dark lips (like the dark matte's that are everywhere) will really highlight flaky lips, and we'll have to do Photoshop to fix it.  Coming in with soft, moisturized lips will allow us to use less product and will just look better overall.  

 Products used: bh cosmetics Carly Bybel palette, Urban Decay Smoky palette, Urban Decay Naked 2 palette,  NYX contour palette, Anastasia Dipbrow in Taupe, NYX Cosmic Metals liquid lipstick in Speed of Light

Products used: bh cosmetics Carly Bybel palette, Urban Decay Smoky palette, Urban Decay Naked 2 palette,  NYX contour palette, Anastasia Dipbrow in Taupe, NYX Cosmic Metals liquid lipstick in Speed of Light

Part Two: Most-used Products

      Recently, we did a Facebook Live video of a makeover I did of Jenn, where I shared some of the products that I used. If you missed that, here are my top products and why I love them.

 Products used:  NYX Micro brow pencil in Auburn, Estee Lauder Pure Color Lipstick in Cherry Passion, Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen in Black

Products used:  NYX Micro brow pencil in Auburn, Estee Lauder Pure Color Lipstick in Cherry Passion, Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen in Black

Eyes:

1. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Enigma

      I use Primer Potion on almost everyone, and it makes a huge difference.  Because the skin on your eyelids is so thin, a lot of undertones and sometimes veins show through.  This gets rid of those and ensures that the color I put on someone's lid will look the way I intend.  

 

2.  Too Faced Star Dust eyeshadow palette/ Carli Bybel palette

     This palette was sadly limited edition, and I wish I would've thought to get a few while they lasted.  I use the shade called Selfie all the time, it makes a great highlighter.  Millennial and Double Tap make great looks as well.  Too Faced makes great eyeshadows with a ton of pigmentation, so they're all pretty good.  Just the other day I bought bhcosmetics' Carli Bybel palette, and though I've only had it a few days, I think it's going to be a new favorite.  The colors have a ton of pigment and this will be a palette I expect to use a lot this fall.

3.  Clinique eyeliners

     I know, there's a lot of Clinique here, but I worked for Clinique for a few years and got hooked on some of their products that really work.  The eyeliner I use on myself every day is their Quickliner for Eyes Intense in Intense Aubergine.  It's not as harsh as a true black (thought their Intense Ebony is fantastic) and is a creme liner, which is better than liquids for a softer look. It also blends great for those who like a really natural look.  The other Clinique liner I use is their new Pretty Easy liquid eyelining pen in black.  This is by far the BEST liquid eyeliner I've found.  The brush-like pen can do anything from a thick line to a super-fine line a single hair's width, which is great for winged liner.  Once it's on it stays there, and I always buy two, one for the studio, one for me.

 Products used: NYX Contour Palette, NYX MIcro brow pencil in taupe, Vegas Nay false lashes

Products used: NYX Contour Palette, NYX MIcro brow pencil in taupe, Vegas Nay false lashes

Face:

4.  Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector

     Not everyone needs this, but it's very worthwhile for those who do.  It fills in large pores, matte-ifies skin, and smooths small wrinkles.  I use this as a spot primer before foundation.

5.  NYX and Wet n' Wild

     Whenever I can, I buy products that aren't tested on animals.  Sometimes, that leads to weird natural brands that may not work as well, but sometimes they're just as good if not better.  For my seniors, I use Wet n Wild Coverall Cream Foundation, which is only $2 but has a great coverage level and the shades fit most skin tones.  I use a lot of NYX products in the studio (especially their lip products), but more than anything I make sure I keep their HD Concealers in stock.  They're amazing and I don't use anything else on our clients.  

 Products used: Anastasia Dipbrow in soft brown, NYX Matte Lipstick in Natural, Too Faced Star Dust palette

Products used: Anastasia Dipbrow in soft brown, NYX Matte Lipstick in Natural, Too Faced Star Dust palette

Lips:

6.  Estee Lauder Pure Color Lipgloss in Pink Sparkle

     This is my go-to lipgloss for seniors.  It's a pretty peach with lots of shimmer, and looks great on all skin tones.  

7.  Clinique Different Lipstick in Sweet Honey

     This is for sure my most-used lipcolor on everyone.  It's a perfect neutral for people who don't want to do a fully nude lip, but don't want to commit to a dark red or wine lip.  It's shiny and is one of the few "step up from neutral" shades that works on very fair skin (like mine).

 Products Used: Anastasia Dipbrow in Medium Brown, Clinique Pretty Easy liquid Eyelining pen in Black, Too Faced Star Dust Palette, NYX Pro Lip Cream Palette in The Reds #5

Products Used: Anastasia Dipbrow in Medium Brown, Clinique Pretty Easy liquid Eyelining pen in Black, Too Faced Star Dust Palette, NYX Pro Lip Cream Palette in The Reds #5

Hair:

8. Pennello Brush:

This is THE best brush for combing out curls without losing them.  I sadly lost this brush on our last NYC destination, but I will definitely be buying another because it's fabulous.  Go to Salon Verde and get one.  

9. Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast: 

This is another new acquisition, but I love it so far.  Warning: it REALLY does blast, but the result is great volume for even heavy hair.  We bought a sample, but I'll definitely be going back for the full-size bottle.

 Products Used: Estee Lauder Pure Color Lipstick in Cherry Passion, NYX Butter Gloss in Cherry Pie, NYX Micro Brow pencil in Espresso

Products Used: Estee Lauder Pure Color Lipstick in Cherry Passion, NYX Butter Gloss in Cherry Pie, NYX Micro Brow pencil in Espresso

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