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Jen Shannon Portrait Explores the Legacy of Images

By Marina I. Jokic

Jen Shannon loves her work. She has been a professional photographer for a long time and has studied the art for over 14 years.

"Portraits outlive us, and they are the only tangible evidence [we] have of [our] ancestors," Shannon said.

Preserving people's photographic legacies is what drives Shannon to do her best work. Based in sunny Saint Augustine, Florida, Shannon loves working with a diverse group of clients. Her forte is in women's glamour photography.

"I've always felt a strong inclination [to know] who my ancestors were and what they looked like," Shannon said. "This desire is what eventually led me to portrait photography."

Her first experience with photography was in her eighth grade technology education class. Shannon was enthralled by the photographic process: choosing her subject matter, taking any and all types of photos, and developing them in the darkroom. At age 19, her boyfriend, now husband, gave her a digital camera, a gift that would guide her professional trajectory. Like most 19 year-olds, Shannon did not have a strong pull toward any particular career at that time, deciding instead she wanted to be a businesswoman. She changed her college major to graphic design with a minor in photography, eventually opting to major exclusively in the latter.

Over the years, Shannon discerned that women, especially, were inclined to hide some of their features in front of the camera and, as a result, were more camera-shy than men. Whether this pattern was due to the unattainably flawless images of women propagated by the media or just social constructs of beauty, Shannon knew it was her calling to make women feel beautiful in their own skin.

"I learned to combine my fashion photography skills with my desire to work with everyday women, eventually focusing on what I call a variation of 'Vanity Fair-style' portraiture, modern women's portraiture, and contemporary glamour portraiture," Shannon said. She uses these terms interchangeably but her goal is always the same: to make beautiful photographs of women of all backgrounds, shapes, ages, and sizes.

Shannon's photographs are done in the Vanity Fair style, which aims to show the most handsome features of the subject. An expert on posing her clients, Shannon also enjoys watching their transformation as they undergo professional makeup and hair styling in her studio. Offering these additional services is essential to controlling the quality of the final product.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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