Tag Archives: photography
With an incredible talent for capturing those special moments, Laura Novak expanded her photography studio in Wilmington, Delaware to create a unique studio experience for families with Little Nest Portraits, which offers unique, natural children’s portraiture that is unlike any other.
Little Nest Portraits has a creative team focused on capturing memories and moments to last a lifetime. Their approach to children’s portraiture is based on capturing natural, fun expressions and the individual personalities of children and their families within their unique, intimate boutique studio.
Little Nest has put together a gorgeous ‘Spring/Summer 2012 Look Book’ which provides great ideas on how to decorate your home with photography. With endless options to choose from including classic framing, hand-painted frames, float wraps, canvas wraps and gallery mounts, Little Nest offers a variety of unique ways to display those precious moments to last a lifetime.
Q&A with Laura Novak of Little Nest Portraits:
When did you start Little Nest?
Little Nest has had a few different iterations! It first began in 2009 as a small division of Laura Novak Photography in our Wilmington location with just one photographer. Then grew quickly into a retail store with three photographers when we opened Glen Eagle Square in the spring of 2010.
What was the inspiration behind Little Nest?
Like most ideas, the inspiration behind starting little nest was our customers! I have a wonderful group of loyal clients who love the experience and quality of going to a boutique photographer. When the economy dropped off, I found that for some people, price became more of a concern than it had been in the past. It was at that time that I realized many families wanted to be able to visit a high quality portrait studio even if their budget wouldn’t fit for an independent boutique photographer. Little Nest Portraits is designed to be a place where people can go for high quality, accessible family photography no matter what your budget is.
How many locations do you have and where?
We have two locations that I am so proud of – our Glen Eagle Square location is very convenient to northern Delaware and Chester County, with lots of shopping and errands that can be done right in our shopping center (yay for Whole Foods!). The other location is in the heart of the Main Line, right in downtown Wayne on North Wayne Avenue.
Knowing how popular Little Nest is, are you growing faster than you anticipated?
Little Nest is definitely growing faster than we anticipated, which is great but we have also intentionally slowed growth this year so we can build a more solid foundation for the future. I am very aware that many companies with excellent performance can hurt themselves by growing too fast, and I don’t want that to be us. We have some fantastic programs we are launching this year and then we are hoping to be in New Jersey by the end of 2013.
What are some of the creative sets for photographing clients that you’ve come up with?
I really enjoy shopping for the sets and personally design each one of them. I like the designs to be more along the lines of what you would see in a magazine set, versus a photography studio. I tend to purchase both modern and antique furniture for the studio, as well as different fabrics and materials I find interesting and unique. While I see lots of amazingly adorable trends on Pinterest, I really try to make our sets timeless so that when families invest in our portraiture it’s something that they will love forever.
How many photographers work at the various studios?
We have three photographers in Glen Eagle Square, and two in Wayne. I definitely see us hiring a third in Wayne before the Fall busy season hits!
The unique products you offer to showcase the images are amazing! Tell me about the different choices – coffee table books, pocket size books, leather bound books, wall canvases, christmas ornaments, jewelry…
Thank you so much! That means a ton because we do put so much into our product development. I personally select each of our items including the books, mini books, albums, wall art and accessories with the following criteria: we only sell items that are hand made in the U.S. We believe this offers a higher quality product for our customers, so for example none of our jewelry is coming off of a factory line.
There are six different wall art finishes available, with each one chosen carefully so that we have a style and price point that will work with anyone’s aesthetic or budget. These finishes range from a very modern gallery mount to a hand painted frame series that can be custom matched to any fabric or paint swatch. We truly have something for everyone.
Do you offer services to help clients come up with creative ways to display their images in their homes?
I am a big believer in in-person customer service, especially when it comes to items that will be displayed in the home for years and years. So every one of our session fees includes a separate in-person ordering meeting. This year, we also introduced a room view feature, which is a great way for someone to envision the artwork in their home before they purchase it. If someone comes to us with an image of the space in their home (doesn’t have to be fancy, an iPhone shot works!), we can show them how the proposed wall art will look to scale in their space. It’s a great way for someone to feel confident about their investment before making the purchase.
What is your vision for Little Nest as it continues to grow over the years?
We have very big goals! I’d love to see Little Nest be a household name on the eastern seaboard and to be recognized nationally for setting the gold standard in family portraiture and lifestyle family photography. We want our clients to love us so much that they want to be ‘lifers” and that they hit the 10 year anniversary of working with us. I am so proud of our team and would love to see the fantastic culture at Little Nest grow to half a dozen locations between NYC and DC.
Anything new and exciting you would like to share with our readers?
There are some fantastic surprises in store for Little Nest customers this year, and one of them I am excited to share with your readers as a “sneak peek” of what is to come. As of June 1st, we are offering $50 mini-sessions (called sessionettes) that will be available throughout the week. The sessionettes will have print packages available from $175-695. These mini-sessions are a great ‘fill-in’ session for our clients and a fantastic way for someone to be part of the Little Nest experience even if they just want gift prints. More details are in our May newsletter (called our monthly chirp) and we are very excited to offer this price point to customers as easy package options. Stay tuned for more info!
Apropos of last week’s post on Lautrec, France, I recently pulled out some old boxes from college and discovered these black and white photographs I took while in Lautrec in 1999.
Last month, I spent a few hours with talented author, photographer, lecturer and horticultural consultant Rick Darke at his home in Landenberg, Pennsylvania. He introduced me to his world filled with passion for horticulture, landscape design/ethics, garden art, photography, travel and much more. Not only is his work fascinating, his worldly accomplishments are altogether inspiring.
This post focuses on the ‘Meadow Metropolis,’ a piece of art he created in his backyard from old sash vents from the conservatory at Longwood Gardens, where he worked for twenty years. Please enjoy Rick’s narrative on his career and his diverse interests.
Rick Darke on his career and the ‘Meadow Metropolis’:
I never imagined a career working with landscapes and gardens. I’ve always been fascinated by machine design, and thought mechanical engineering would be the ideal way to work at something I loved. I nearly went to General Motors Institute but chose instead to enroll as an engineering student at the University of Delaware because it offered a more varied environment. That was a fortunate decision, because I quickly realized that there wasn’t enough art in the engineering curriculum. I changed majors, wandering through art and cultural geography before settling on botany and plant science as the best fit. I was lucky to join the Longwood Gardens staff fresh out of school in 1977, first as Assistant Taxonomist and then as Curator of Plants. My twenty years at Longwood proved to be an extraordinary education about people, places, and plants. As Curator, I contributed to the concept and planting design of new gardens including Peirce’s Woods, the Silver Garden, the Cascade Garden, and the Mediterranean Garden. My role in plant exploration and introduction literally took me around the world, with trips to diverse places including Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and the Canary Islands. The more I traveled, the more I realized I was most intrigued by how human culture shapes landscapes, and by the inherent stories that are evident to keen observers.
It’s been nearly fourteen years since I launched my independent practice with a focus on landscape ethics, photography and contextual design. In that time, I’ve been fortunate to have a number of books published on landscape design, which have found an international audience, and some have been translated into other languages. An active speaking schedule has continued to offer glimpses into communities and landscapes around the world, and this, and the books have in turn lead to involvement in a wide range of design projects including botanic gardens, parks, transportation corridors, and residential landscapes. The camera plays an ever-increasing role in all of this. After taking more than seventy five thousand 35mm slides, I switched in 1999 from film to digital photography and now enjoy taking pictures and using them in my work more than ever before.
One of the greatest gifts of my line of work is that it constantly enriches my perspective on what makes landscapes truly livable, and I’m able to use this knowledge at home in the garden that my wife and co-hort(iculturist) Melinda Zoehrer and I have been making together for almost two decades. Situated at the edge of the White Clay Creek Preserve, in Landenberg, a half mile from the Delaware state line, our 1.5 acre property is both our home and a living laboratory where we can try out our ideas in real-time 3-D. The garden is full of functional spaces including outdoor dining rooms, an outdoor shower, a stone fire circle, a small cabin with a tin roof for listening to the rain. But it also serves as a living theater in which we enjoy telling stories by means of plants with special provenance or found objects and other cultural artifacts.
One such story is an interweaving of my machine interests, childhood experiences in New York City, my Longwood Gardens association, and the notion of the landscape as a palimpsest (a parchment or entablature that has been written on many times, each time being imperfectly erased so that the previous writing is partly legible). As a child, my parents for years took me on birthday trips to the Museum of Natural History in New York, where I was equally awed by dinosaurs and skyscrapers. I learned years later that Longwood Gardens’ founder, Pierre S. du Pont was one of the financial major backers of my favorite, the Empire State Building. He maintained offices on the 80th floor, which survived the 1945 crash of a B-25 bomber relatively unscathed. Longwood’s main conservatory, built in 1919 by Mr. du Pont, was undergoing extensive renovation in the mid-90’s while I was still working at the gardens. This work included replacing the sash windows that vented the monitor atop the conservatory. More than seventy-five years of increasingly acid rain had taken their toll on the sashes, which were beautifully constructed of wood, hand-sheathed in copper, with glass arranged in repeating patterns of eight lights with diagonal cross muntins. After learning the old sash vents were destined to be recycled for their copper, I expressed an interest in acquiring a few as relics and was permitted to purchase a number of sections at scrap value. I brought them home and began experimenting with placing them in our garden. The ideal location quickly presented itself – a position at the edge of our small grassy meadow, where they could be viewed looking south from our glass-walled bedroom. I arranged sections of the sash in a ziggurat pattern evoking the set-back spire of New York City skyscrapers. Melinda took one look and christened it the ‘Meadow Metropolis’, a name that has endured, along with the sash, for the past fifteen years.
The soft-textured matrix of grasses is the perfect foil for the organized geometry of the Meadow Metropolis. The translucent grasses and the acid-rain-etched glass are regularly set aglow by the sun as it arcs east to west over our little meadow. The glass is illuminated in different patterns corresponding to seasonal variations in the sun’s angle, and experience has taught us to tell the time of year by these varied signatures. It’s delightfully dynamic in its celebration of small moments – those incidental keys to the universal. It is also the perfect prop for those visitors interested in stories. I believe the notions of renewal and recycling are at the heart of gardening. Tomorrow’s landscapes will always find life in each summer’s seeds and each autumn’s fading treasures. Authentic artifacts of experience are worthy of reconsideration in the places we make today, weaving together a pride in past accomplishment and novel insights into the present.
Maintaining my machine interests, I bought a 1938 Chevrolet pickup a few years ago with the intention of using it as garden art. It was a farm truck from southern Delaware that had been stored in a barn. It proved to be such a strong runner. I redid the brakes, carburetor, starter, and some wiring, replaced the wood in the bed and registered it as an antique. It is street legal and is used for local trips and appearances at the Hagley Car Show each September but still occasionally spends time in the garden, back by the Meadow Metropolis.
The truck contributes to the story of the ‘Meadow Metropolis’, since the truck was made by General Motors, Pierre du Pont was a GM board member in the 1930’s as well as being one of the principal financial supporters of the Empire State Building, and of course the sash pieces came from the Main Conservatory at Longwood, where I was on staff for twenty years. I began my college studies as a mechanical engineer, and was in final stage of interviews for General Motors Institute (a 5-year engineering program) when I decided at the very last minute to go to the University of Delaware instead. So, it really is one big circle.
Locally acclaimed photographer, Jim Graham’s exhibit “ADRIFT” opened yesterday afternoon at The Station Gallery in Greenville, Delaware. His remarkable exhibit features a new collection of black and white photographs taken in White Sands, New Mexico.
ADRIFT will remain on exhibit through Friday, September 30 at The Station Gallery. Please stop by to see Jim’s exceptional exhibit of the serene New Mexico landscape.