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Upload from July 14, 2011

laurenandrob200x.jpgWe’re Rob + Lauren, and we’re super excited that you’re here! We’re a portrait photography team from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We love shooting happy portraits of super fun people. Families, newborns, couples, and individual folks—we adore it all. 

***Take a moment, and check out the details on how we can create happy portraits of the people you love***

*Scroll past this post to see all the new awesomeness!*

A Brief History of The Portrait: Part 1

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The history of art is filled with portraiture. From cave paintings dating 27,000 years ago, to that awesome photo of your little one you took with your iPhone — human beings have always been drawn to capturing each other in art.

Portraits have evolved in so many ways since their beginning, from the medium, to the purpose, and the presentation. But one thing has always remained the same: the motive.

The aim of Art is to present not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance; for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality. - Aristotle, Greek philosopher

What is a Portrait?

A portrait is an attempt to portray the inner essence of the subject. It doesn’t just show what someone looks like, but should show more of who they are—their personality, mood, values, and place in time.

See, a portrait is not just an image but rather a piece of history; both personal and social. It shows not only what people looked like, and how they interacted with their world, but also reveals details about what the artist themselves thought to be important in their work.

My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph. - Richard Avedon, fashion & portrait photographer

Looking at portraits from the past lets you learn so much about people and culture. What was important to them? How did they feel about themselves? How did they value art? Portraits are wonderfully complex and full of subtle insight.

The word itself has taken on many meanings over the years. It originated from the mid 16th century, from the Old French word portraire, meaning portray. Portrait is often used literally to describe “a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders”. But it can suggest more abstract concepts as well. You can create a portrait of an animal, an object, a city, or a culture. Though it has many meanings, the purpose of a portrait is simply to portray significance.

The First Portraits

The earliest semblances of a portrait came from a cave in Angoulême, France. It was a stylized representation of an eye, nose and mouth. This depiction of the human face was created long before any form of writing. We can know so much from a portrait that no words are necessary to communicate the message.  

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There are surviving painted portraits from as early as the 2nd century CE. The largest group are the incredible funerary paintings from the Faiyum Basin in Egypt —realistic representations of affluent citizens attached to their mummies. They were painted on wooden surfaces with either wax paints or egg-based tempera.There is something absolutely mesmerizing about these pieces.

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Naturally the Greeks have something to say about the portrait. They are often considered the pinnacle of sculpture, and their ability to render the human face in marble is astonishing. 

What’s particularly interesting about the way the Greeks approached portraits is in their use of idealism. They portrayed people as the perfect example of the human form. Their sculptures were initially of gods, so when they began to sculpt real people they were shown in a similar fashion.

One of the greatest sculptors of Classical Greece was Lysippos, famous for being the only artist Alexander the Great would allow to portray him. Lysippos’ work was elegant and graceful, often showing figures appearing quite tall. His sculptures of Alexander showed him as statuesque and godlike. Given that Alexander was short and stocky, his choice of Lysippos as his sculptor was less about physical accuracy, and more about presenting an idealized image.

Then the Romans came along. They were inspired by the Greek sculptors, but soon incorporated their own philosophy of verism. Verism comes from the Latin verus, meaning “true”. It is the “preference of contemporary everyday subject matter instead of the heroic or legendary in art and literature”. It focuses on the reality of the subject, often producing what are considered “unflattering” portraits. All imperfections were included in an attempt to show the truth.

The Romans saw it as a sign of character to have a portrait created like this. It suggested being unconcerned with vanity, and of having experience in life.  

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Painted Portraits

As art progressed, painting became more popular, and so portraits were created in colours rather than marble. And yet the motive didn’t change. Artists were looking to communicate something essential to their subject.

As always, the face was the focal point of the portrait. In many cases the face was completed first, and then the rest of the painting was created afterwards. The tradition was to have a serious expression, with the majority of the emotion portrayed by the eyes.

Painted portraits were quite diverse. They could be created with many different lengths (full length, half length, head and shoulders or just the head), the background was sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors. Some painters would require only one sitting, while Cezanne famously required over 100. In general the portrait would take around a year to create.

The experience of the sitting was incredibly important to the final product. The artist had to encourage a natural pose from the subject, and put them at ease. They studied their face for the one expression that they would capture that reflected the true essence. As the sittings would take quite a long time, many great artists were skilled at keeping their subject engaged with conversation.

The value of these portraits is described when Count Balthazar thanked Raphael for the portrait of his wife, and said “Your image…alone can lighten my cares. That image is my delight; I direct my smiles to it, it is my joy.”

The Renaissance

Portraits gained in importance during the Renaissance. They became highly valued in society, and were used to record status and position. The great artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael were considered geniuses rather than mere craftsmen. During this time oil painting was mastered by Jan van Eyck, which led to greater detail and realism. He painted the famous Arnolfini Portrait, a portrait of a married (or betrothed) couple.

arnolfini.jpgThis was when one of the most famous portraits in history was created: the Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci was a master of the portrait, and his ability to capture the inner essence of Lisa del Giocondo has had people marvelling and wondering in front of the piece for nearly 500 years.

The Baroque to the 19th Century

As time passed, the portrait became increasingly popular. While many artists were still in pursuit of the true essence, others created works that had a more idealistic perspective. In the famous painting, Napoleon Crossing the Alps, by Jacques-Louis David, Bonaparte is shown in a heroic pose, on a “firey horse”, with a dramatic sky behind him. 

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The reality was not quite so legendary, however. He actually crossed on a nice day, riding a mule!

The subjects of portrait paintings were expanding beyond the wealthy. Vermeer was known for his painting of middle class, domestic life, with subjects like a milkmaid, a girl in a piano lesson, and an astronomer. His portraits provided a look at 17th century Dutch society.

Other advances were happening at this time, from Rembrandt exploring the many expressions capable on the human face, to the group portraits being produced in the Netherlands.

Female painters were gaining importance, especially in portraiture. Mary Cassatt, an American painter, was famous for her series of paintings that showed the relationship between mother and child. 

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As artists began to look towards the middle class, the desire for portraits increased. Full size paintings were too expensive, so the portrait miniature — a small portrait, often kept in a locket — became highly valuable.

Then, in 1835, Louis Daguerre accidentally broke a mercury thermometer, and the portrait changed. Big time. 

To be continued…

References

Something Different

Today we shot something very different. And yet, in some ways, it was very much the same as what we always do. Any guesses what it was?

You guys are way too smart :) Coffee roaster was correct!! We spent the day documenting the behind-the-scenes of Edmonton’s top coffee shop. Much much more to come….stay tuned!

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The Most Exclusive Cemetery in Argentina

I’m going to start sharing some of our adventures from Argentina on this blog! We experienced so much, we need to make sure we write about it before we forget! So let’s start off with a definitely different sort of adventure…

When we were in Buenos Aires we stayed in Recoleta, the poshest neighbourhood in the city. If you’ve met us, you’ll probably know that we’re anything but posh (we still wear Vans sneakers every single day!). But we wanted this trip to be a chance to expand and experience, so Recoleta sounded like a perfect spot.

A short walk from our apartment was La Recoleta Cemetery, the most exclusive final resting place in Argentina. Apparently it’s not even a matter of how much money you have, but who you know, when it comes to getting a spot in there. The people here are definitely a big deal.

The cemetery itself is possibly one of the oddest tourist attractions we’ve visited. It’s essentially a small city—but the residents are no longer breathing. It was crowded with tourists every day—guidebooks and cameras outnumbering graves. 

We thought we’d stop in a few times to take photos, but we only went once. It was pretty heavy—completely surrounded by masoleums, and the faces and names of the dead. Even now, looking through the images, I find the whole experience quite difficult to describe…

So, on that rather vague note, here are some photos we took while visiting the most exclusive cemetery in Argentina. 

Photographer’s note: Most of the images are actually taken with the Sony NEX-3, not a DSLR. More details to come :)

Frances, Duff + Chomp // A Portrait Session in Buenos Aires

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Have you ever met someone for the first time, and felt like you already knew them? I got that feeling so strongly with Frances and Duff that it totally messed with my mind! I kept having to remind myself that we had only hung out once, because it felt like we were old buds.

We met these guys through my sister’s blog. She connected with Frances because they both have food blogs. My sister found out that Frances lives in Buenos Aires, where Rob and I were hanging out for the month. We got their email address, dropped them a line, and asked if they wanted to go eat some tasty food together.

See, we love food. All food. And anyone who can show us great places to eat in a new city is an instant friend! The bonus with Frances and Duff? They are just downright awesome people. They’re photographers (hey, so are we!), travellers (yep, we like that too), foodies (we love food), and just two cool people living a fun life. We clicked instantly, and as soon as we walked away from our first dinner together Rob and I both knew that we would have to take their portraits before we left.

So one day we hopped on the train, and journeyed out to San Isidro, a absolutely beautiful little suburb of Buenos Aires where these two live. We had no idea what the place would look like, and were just going to go with the flow. 

Um, we lucked out. BIG TIME. This has to be one of the most beautiful, relaxed, and enjoyable places we’ve ever shot! Amazing colours, architecture, and just a really chill vibe. After a few weeks in the hustle and bustle of downtown Buenos Aires, it was exactly what we needed.

And the shoot itself was a true joy. We strolled around with these guys and their adorable pup Chomp, and just had fun together. Chatting, laughing, and stopping every few feet to take more photos! We finished off the night with nachos (kinda my favourite thing) and it was perfect.

Frances and Duff, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You made our trip 100X better. We can’t wait until our paths cross again!!

Tons of love,

Lauren (and Rob) :)

If you want to see more shots from this session, including those too silly for the blog, head over to our Facebook page, “Like” it, and then click on Photos. You’ll then have access to a bunch more!

Get Details on Booking Your Own Session // View Our Portfolio // Give Us A Shout!

Sophia // A Real Live Superhero

Sophia is a superhero. She has her very own cape. She’s a big goofball, constantly making everyone around her laugh, and so full of love and life that you feel truly alive when you’re around her.

She also has a Berlin heart.

Another incredible session with Ronald McDonald House. I hope that from these images you get a sense of the personality of this little girl. She had us laughing constantly throughout the entire session. She and I became fast friends, and I still marvel at how quickly and easily she gives love.

This session took place in the Healing Garden in the Stollery Children’s Hospital. It was such a beautiful space to spend some time with this amazing family.

I guess I can sum this session up pretty easily. We were truly lucky to meet this little girl. Her strength, and her parents’ strength, taught us so much. While they’re all going through something that we can’t possibly understand, they spent their time with us hugging, playing, and smiling. They genuinely just enjoy being around each other.

Love is super.

Lauren :)

Japji, Bunny + Aarav // Newborn

We knew Aarav was going to be awesome, because his parents are awesome. They all proved that and then some at our session. Take a moment and watch Rob’s Moving Portrait of this triple awesome family. It’s beautiful. 

Japji and Bunny are pretty special to us. You see, they were the very very very first wedding we ever photographed. Ever. 

They’re so special to us that we named our car after them. Bunji. Yes, we’re dorks. But we’re sentimental dorks, so perhaps that makes up for it?

When they had little Aarav, we hopped in the car and drove down to Calgary just to see them. We quietly hung out, watching this new little awesome person. It was incredible. These two are going to be such fantastic parents, we’re excited to get to watch them grow as a family!

We also had a chance to see Muskan again, the beautiful little girl who really took a shine to Rob :) See, she’s a part of the family too, and years ago we flew out to Vancouver when she was born to take some photos of her as well.

What can I say? This loving, beautiful, awesome family is pretty special to us all around.

Thanks for having us guys, can’t wait to see you again!

Buenos Aires in 10 Photos

We just got home from a month living and working in Buenos Aires. Did you even know we were gone???

The trip happened so quickly that we didn’t really have time to spread the word. After what seemed like an eternity of snow and cold in Edmonton, we decided that we needed to get away for a while. We, rather randomly, chose Buenos Aires as the destination and within a couple of weeks we were off!

We spent lot of time reading, learning, posting on Photography Concentrate, and exploring the city. It was a trip we certainly will never forget, and we’re so excited to go through all the photos!

For now, here are 10 images that give a great sense of what our month was like in Buenos Aires. 

Big Lights, Big City

This is the view from the balcony of the apartment we stayed in. It was right smack dab in the middle of the action, which was a huge change for us! We live in a super quiet little suburb, so the big city atmosphere was probably the furthest from what we’re used to. It was a great experience to throw ourselves into such a new situation, but we’re very glad to be back home to our peace and quiet :)

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Empanadas

We probably ate empanadas at least 4 times a week. They were incredible! Rob described them best as the “Original Pizza Pops”. Beef and chicken were the most popular fillings. I think I’m going to have to learn how to make them here!

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Antiques

Buenos Aires loves the antiques. In San Telmo, one of the neighbourhoods, there was a huuuuuuuge antique market every Sunday, as well as dozens of antique shops. So much fun to just stroll around, we could really get a sense of life “back in the day”.

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Meat

Argentinians absolutely love their BBQ. The restaurants that served it were called parillas, and they took their meat very seriously. Here you can see a chef brushing the grill with salt water, admist his many many tools. Verdict on the steak? Well, being from Alberta I have to say that it didn’t quite live up to the hype. We’re pretty spoiled when it comes to steak here :)

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Books

They are definitely bookworms in Buenos Aires. There were so many bookstores, including some of the most beautiful in the world (photos to come!). Unfortunately for us they were mostly all in Spanish, but we got by with our Kindle App, and spent a LOT of time reading. It was blissful :)

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Photo Walks

We spent most of our time just walking around the city, snapping photos of what we saw. Rob was especially good at it, and got some incredible images that I just can’t wait to print out! The architecture in the city gave us such a great backdrop for street photography.

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Street Art

Buenos Aires is a major destination for street art. You would see the most incredible murals all over the place. This one was probably the most impressive piece we found. The texture and detail was mind blowing. It was quite fun to spot art all over the place!

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Street Fairs

Every weekend there were a couple street fairs, and we loved to go and just soak up the atmosphere. There were incredible performers, tons of stalls with beautiful crafts, and lots and lots of tasty food. Such an enjoyable way to spend the day!

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Toilet Museum

This is definitely not a standard destination for visitors to Buenos Aires, but one that we’ll remember well! We were looking for a photo to represent the concept of a list, and were having trouble. I spotted a free museum, so we wandered in, and found ourselves in what we fondly refer to as the “Toilet Museum”. It was actually all about the history of the city water system, but we thought Toilet Museum sounded funnier :)

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New Friends

Through the magic of the internet, and a little bit of luck, we met some very wonderful new friends in Buenos Aires. They not only showed us to some great restaurants, but they were also the only people we could speak English with, so they really made our trip so much more enjoyable! You’ll be seeing the results of a super fun portrait session with them soon, so stay tuned :)

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When we get the chance to go through all the images from the trip we’ll share more stories and photos on this blog! But for now, we’re getting set for a GREAT shooting season ahead, and a LOT of posts on this blog! So come back regularly, we can’t wait to see you again!

P.S. There are more photos from Buenos Aires on our Flickr account if you want some sneaky peeks!

Hope you’re having an awesome day! See ya soon!

Spring Sale + Introducing The Signature Session

With beautiful weather just around the corner (fingers crossed!) it’s time to schedule your custom portraits for 2011!

This season is going to be a great one! We’re more excited than ever to create beautiful photographs of awesome people.

Spring Sale

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We’re kicking things off with a Spring Sale! Book your session before May 1, and you’ll save $150 off any session!! The shoot itself can take place any time before September 30, 2011. Head over here for more details.

Signature

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We’re also incredibly excited to introduce a brand new type of portrait session. It’s called the Signature Session, and is focused on capturing real moments, in both photographs and video.

Life is made of moments. Tiny, fleeting moments.

They go by almost unnoticed. But if you slow down, and look carefully, you’ll see that they hold unbelievable amounts of love.

It’s in that look, that smile, that laugh..

It’s in the way you snuggle and play together…

These are the moments worth preserving forever.

If you’re interested in more information on our Signature Session, head over here to get more details!

Book Now

Our season fills up pretty quickly, as we take a limited number of clients each year. This lets us give each and every one of them an amazing experience!

Contact us now, and book your super fun portraits!! 

A Sneak Peek!

First off, our apologies for the non-existant post schedule here on robandlauren.ca! Rest assured that this winter Lauren and I have not rested! We’ve been working relentlessly updating our educational site as well as creating a couple new tutorials! 

We’re incredibly excited to share everything with you! For now you can head over to Photography Concentrate for a sneak peek at things. It’s not quite the polished release version yet, so you’ll have to excuse a few little bugs. But we’re very excited to have updated the design and think it will make the site a lot more enjoyable and useful for anyone who is interested in photography.

Stay tuned over the next month for a ton of exciting announcements! :)

Made a New Friend Today

Her name is Sophia. I got to take her photo. Short writeup for regularly verbose self, but I suppose the photos just tell the story well!

Thanks to Rob for taking these shots for me. I like ‘em. Sophia was our latest session for Ronald McDonald House. I know I talk those guys up a lot, but they’re truly wonderful. We got to share some pizza today with a bunch of the staff, and we had such a blast hanging out with them. Almost made us wish we had an office so we could have co-workers. Almost. :)

Though the blog seems quiet, things here are anything but. We’re working like busy little bees on something big. We’re super excited about it, possibly more than we’ve ever been about anything. Which is super! But it means this blog has been a bit neglected. Our sincere apologies, we really love it! Just hang in there, we promise we have a lot of photos to share!

I got a new camera, which is exciting! I’ve only had iterations of similar cameras for years, so to get something totally new was a thrill. It’s the Sony NEX-3, which is an interesting take on an interchangeable lens camera. Just take a peek at it to see what I mean. 

It’s been really fun to carry around with me day to day. I always tell myself I’ll start bringing my SLR with me more, but I never do. It’s just too awkward. This guy fits in my purse and produces awesome quality so I’m pretty happy! I’ve posted a few shots up on our personal blog if you wanna check out my results!

That’s it for now, just thought I’d post an update to let ya know what we’re up to! Hope this New Year has been awesome for you thus far!

Lauren :)