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What will you leave behind? My Grandmother was an amazing woman...unbelievably tenacious, loving, and fiercely devoted to her family and her God. She lost her beloved father to a work accident when she was just a girl, and was widowed as a young mother when my father was 4 years old. Her life was filled with struggles and hardships, and in spite of that, she (and her mother) managed to document the stages of her life in photographs. Not just any photographs, but beautiful, professional portraits...pieces of art. These photographs are precious to me. In one of them, she is 14 years old...in another, she is in her 20's. In another, she is a small child, and still in others, she is with her husband and my father as a boy- as a teenager- as a man. These images are absolutely stunning. They remind me of the life she lived...even before I came into this world; they remind me that she was not just "Grandma". She was Elvira Gomez; a person all her own. Her experiences were unique. Her beauty was unique to her, it was honest and fierce, and it came from within. Her entire life was a legacy to me...the lessons she learned and passed on readily to my sister and I will be with me forever. She did not collect fine things...but she collected these photographs of herself and her family that I will be able to pass on to my own children when I am gone. The first two images here are of Elvira, my grandmother. The last two are images I took in my studio, and are inspired by those of my grandmother. I absolutely love being able to create beautiful legacy portraits that will be cherished into the next generation and beyond.








  • info@christinatselnik.com

When I first became a student of photography, I had a Pentax ZX-M. It was a gift from my then fiancee (now my husband), when I graduated from UCSF. It came with a kit lens, had a "fancy" three point averaging meter, and was completely manual. Shortly before, I had expressed to him that I wanted to learn how to make beautiful black and white photographs...what I meant by beautiful was this: there were moments when I would see a framed black and white photograph that looked like a piece of art...that WAS a piece of art. It was clear to me that something set it apart from just a snapshot. What was it? Why did it look so intriguing? I can't stop looking at it. What made it look like that?! That is what I want to learn! That is what I want to do! I already had an obsession with photos...I came from a family where images were scattered and lost and sometimes found, fought after, stolen and "borrowed" for very long periods of time. I had virtually NO images from my early childhood due to a tumultuous upbringing. It was as if my history would die when my memories faded; it was as if the joyful moments of my past were just a dream I had. When I left home at the age of 18, I went to Germany as a member of the US Air Force. My dad sent me a Point-And-Shoot camera...a shiny black Vivitar. I was ecstatic! I was launching my adult life, and I was living in Europe.I wanted to capture EVERYTHING. Every moment, every beautiful and fascinating moment. And I did my best to do just that...to tell the story of my life, and then I would send all of the images back home. I did that for several years.


When I was a young girl I suddenly found myself in a very desperate and tragic situation. I will not sidetrack here, but from the age of 6 to the age of 12, my days were filled with sorrow. In the middle of this sorrow..there were moments when, walking along a road, or sitting in the grass, I would see something that looked beautiful to me...a candy wrapper drifting in the wind, and the way the light shown through it as it sailed down to the ground like a leaf; the sun setting behind my grandmother's lemon trees as I watered them in the evening. In the evening when I lay my head down and prepared myself for another day, I held on to that imagery... and to the scent in the air as the summer came to an end, to the sound of the water flowing in around the little tree trunk...and that light! That beautiful light!


An image can be powerful, if you allow it room to be. And to capture it...to be able to cherish it and look back upon it in full force...that is JOY to me! I have been a documentary photographer for many years, and now, being able to create a wonderful experience for someone...to create a beautiful portrait that uplifts her and that her family will cherish long after she is gone, it is just incredible.


Forever obsessed,

Christina


*one of the images shown now at BLUE SKY GALLERY for the month of September, in the Portland Photographers Forum community drawer*

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Updated: Sep 6, 2019


When I was on a social site this morning, I came across these questions from one of the members there. Being submerged in a world of photographers, I can sometimes take for granted as common knowledge, some of the basic elements of our craft, and answers to questions like these! So first of all, why would someone consider having a headshot in the first place? At first the answer seems obvious: to have a photo of themselves, but the answer is just a bit more complex. After all, we could always ask a friend to take a photo of us on our cell phone. A quality, professional headshot should definitely be more than something that your bestie (or yourself) can snap with their phone, or other camera for that matter. A professional headshot should present you in the best light (literally), and should convey the level of quality that your client, colleague, or potential employer can expect from you. Depending on your profession, your personality, and what message you want to send out to the world about yourself, your photographer should plan and style your shoot accordingly. Your skin should have good texture and skin tone, and should not be over edited (although choosing to diminish the appearance of wrinkles or skin imperfections is never a bad idea). Your pose and your expression are very important, and an excellent photographer will provide guidance and direction with both, in addition to wardrobe and professional hair and makeup, should that be desired. The quality and polish of your headshot will let others know that you are worth such quality, and of course...YOU ARE!



© 2019 by Christina Tselnik