Any good portrait photographer knows that taking a great picture isn’t just about the shot itself, and that the journey to the final image is just as important as the end result. When ex-foreign service employee, Diana Lewkowicz began her new venture into portraiture, she knew this all too well and set out to create a photography studio that was intimate, chic and set apart from others. While working for the agency, Lewkowicz’ was freelancing as a photographer until one day realizing that her creative spirit wanted more from her job. It was then that she chose to move on from the agency and open up her own photography studio, Life Chronicled.
“When a client comes to me and we see that we're a good match for each other for a portrait session, what we'll do is we'll have a pre-session consult, it can be in the studio preferably or over the phone. It’s about half an hour and we talk about the session, we discuss what the goals are—if it’s a family portrait or boudoir—there are elements of the portrait session that I need to know before I even walk into the session itself,” said Lewkowicz. “Like what’s the end goal for the client? Do they want a framed piece for their newly designed living room, is it to make an announcement, or a coffee table book?”
Once they’ve gone through the preliminary process, Lewkowicz is ready to design the perfect setting for the session. In speaking with her, she emphasized the value of a client feeling confident and comfortable in front of the camera, which at times can be nerve-racking for some. Because of this, she has installed a few different tactics to ease them into their sessions.
“I have wardrobe in the studio for ladies and newborns and what not. I always encourage all of my clients to be styled professionally here at the studio,” said Lewkowicz. “I have a hair and makeup artist that work with me, so when they come into their session time they start off getting their hair and makeup done. It’s just a really nice process; brings the energy up. I usually have music going and I offer them a cappuccino, or glass of wine, and then we’ll start the session.” If the shoot is taking place outside of the studio, she has been known to show up with Champagne and strawberries or children’s activities to reduce any tension the clients may have about getting their picture taken.
Regarding her outfit choices, Lewkowicz talked about scouting for the right apparel for shoots and even had a seamstress make about 15 gowns ranging up to about a size 10. Especially for boudoir sessions, she shared that she is constantly grabbing things that the average mom may not have in their own closet. While boudoir in itself insinuates sexiness, Lewkowicz knows that not all who opt for a boudoir photo shoot want to be revealing, thus some of her outfit choices are still sexy without being blatant.
“I’ve chosen all the gowns based on my posing furniture, my backdrops, and the lighting. I know what’s going to look awesome no matter what body comes in here. Most of my clients have amazing wardrobes, better than mine even. This really is an indulgence for the soccer mom that wants to do something special for themselves,” said Lewkowicz.
When it’s time to begin shooting, hopefully the client is at ease, but if not, Lewkowicz has one more trick up her sleeve. “I shoot in a kind of tethered format which means as I’m shooting it’s popping up on an iPad. So on the first initial one they might be a little nervous and once I know I got a shot, one that is great, I’ll show them the one so they can get an idea of how things are looking,” shared Lewkowicz. “And ten times out of ten they see it and are like ‘oh wow, this is good,’ they are surprised by it; and so then, from that moment on, their confidence is just soaring.”
Once all the images have been taken, she will schedule a follow-up a week out to meet again. In the interim, she will pick the very best 25-30 images and to edit. After hand-retouching everything and making sure they are up to her technical standards, she will throw them through a creative process and bring them from just a picture to actual art. “What I love about what I do is that even a family session or a corporate headshot…boudoir for sure, couture for sure…it’s a serious confidence boost. You get to see yourself in the best possible way. How you imagine yourself to look like but in reality. I love to do that for people,” stressed Lewkowicz.
As far as her inspirations, Lewkowicz names photographers Sue Bryce, Bambi Cantrell and Peter Hurley. Each have taught her something different about the photography process and the importance of creating chemistry between client and photographer.
“There’s been a big shift in portraiture between traditional old school methods which are very elegant, a beautiful art in itself. But I think you can be a little more dynamic and loose now. Part of coming to the studio here is the experience, it’s not just the actual images, I truly do believe that I’m producing some of the best images, but it’s kind of like what I’m doing psychologically to my clients,” said Lewkowicz. “The whole process. When people have self-image issues, send them my way, I’m going to turn them around. It’s nice to get in there and bring out the best in them and let them see the best in themselves.”
From our brief conversation, it was clear that for her, her client’s reaching a new level of self-confidence is important. She realizes all have doubts about their appearance and her job is to help them see the beauty in exactly who they are. “When people have self image issues, send them my way, I’m going to turn them around. It’s nice to get in there and bring out the best in them and let them see the best in themselves,” she said.
All portrait sessions are pre-planned, with consultation and sitting fees that must be paid to reserve your seat. Contact Diana Lewkowicz to schedule a Life Chronicled experience at 703.532.3686.