It may not steal a soul, but it does capture a moment. One quick click, and time stops. One quick click, and a piece of you is forever frozen in a time and a place. A memory has just been made.
Member Brooke Clark is forever creating these moments, seemingly quick flashes that will one day tell an entire story. Brooke and her husband Glenn are the creators and owners of Studio B portraits in Issaquah—where Brooke captures pieces of people's lives and personalities every day. And as new clients stop by for a visit, for that minute, or hour or day, Brooke becomes a part of their lives while creating pictures to help them remember all of the important bits and pieces.
Brooke is a local, but after college at UW, she went to Los Angeles, attending a photographer open-call for Ford Models. "In L.A. there's an accessibility to things kind of glamorous and fun," she said.
So while Brooke escaped her corporate job in pursuit of her passion for photography, she fell in love working with children and teens at Ford Models. Soon, Disney approached her for stock imagery work, and her time with kids doubled.
Although Brooke had some fun opportunities in L.A.—some of her images were featured in GQ—she and Glenn decided to move back to the Pacific Northwest with their growing family, with a goal to live and work on the Eastside.
So in 2006, Studio B (studiobportraits.com) was born. Glenn runs the operational side of things, and Brooke shoots the photos.
"At the time, there was nothing like Studio B Portraits on the Eastside. I wanted to create a commercial, editorial experience for the regular person, who maybe really doesn't love to be in front of the camera," Brooke said. "We wanted to create an environment that felt, dare I say it, fun!"
The venture was a long time coming, and is almost like Brooke's oversized scrapbook, where she keeps all the trinkets and designs that inspire her. She's always loved fashion, design and color composition, and it shows in the space and her photos. "A lot of my work is based on color and putting things together from a composition standpoint," she said. Even while shopping, she'll memorize a look or color combination, and put it back together with her own tastes for a shoot.
It's a creative formula that Brooke scrutinizes before ever snapping a photo, even with her husband and two daughters, Lachlan (8) and Ryan (6).
"I've gained an appreciation for taking photos, but sometimes I'm like, 'Honey, step back and let me take the photo with the iPhone,' " Glenn said. "Otherwise, the moment will pass."
"And sometimes I'll let him take the photo with the bad lighting just so I know we have it," Brooke added.
"She doesn't enjoy being in front of the camera, but it's funny, she'll say, 'How come I'm not in any of those pictures?' " Glenn said.
"LOVE ME OR HATE ME, IT'S ALL MINE"
As Brooke and Glenn started designing the studio, Brooke made sure her personality was prevalent, which makes it easier for those who come in to feel comfortable showing off their own quirks. "I wanted it to look like my style; I have a contemporary lean," she said.
The environment is filled with walls of props and pops of color; plus, it has a touch of home with a large, wraparound sofa, a chaise lounge and big, beautiful family portraits on every wall. Since there's only one session ever happening at a time, clients get the place to themselves, bouncing between a living-room setup, the photo studio and even a "glamour" room with lighted mirror and dressing area.
For the in-studio shoots, the backdrops were either chosen by Brooke or designed through her vision. "I want to look like we're with it, but you're never going to cringe looking back at the photos."
To date, Studio B has cycled through more than 100 backdrops, since Brooke always wants to try new things. "I don't shop for shoes, but it's backdrops," she said. "It's an art piece for that client, so after I make the perfect shot, sometimes I'm over it."
The backdrops are all part of the proper scene setting. Brooke wants each client to have an experience, so that includes music and personality nods to tailor the shoot. Clients fill out an online questionnaire after they book their session, so Brooke can prepare color schemes and a certain feel. "It's an experience that feels nice, so we're not surprised when the imagery turns out pretty," she said. "In the photos, you look like you're having a good time because you were having a good time."
Brooke acknowledges that there are some people who'd rather get dental work than be subjected to an hour or two in front of the camera, but she works hard to negate that.
For family shoots, there's one member in particular she focuses on. "Mom better look beautiful, or the portrait isn't going to be what she wants," Brooke said. If mom is self-conscious about her body, Brooke will adjust the lighting to hide any "problem areas." If dad is stiff or uncomfortable, she'll play his favorite music. But not every family member is predictable.
"I'll simply say that nine out of 10 of the precious baby portraits are preceded with the little angel christening me minutes before the first click," Brooke said. It's all part of the "journey to the perfect picture," which Brooke says, "is usually just paved in embarrassing moments for me."
"IT'S YOU ON YOUR BEST DAY"
For Brooke, working with teens is always a joy, which may sound like a paradox, but she assures it's true. "The thing about teenagers is they're so perfect, but they don't know it. They haven't had enough life experience to realize their perfection yet," Brooke said. But once they see their senior pictures, edited, set to music and blown up to six feet on a wall, their opinions change. "It's the first time they've ever seen themselves be amazing."
Plus, there's one more thing. "They also know I like them. Small children and teenagers know if you mean it."
"She does a really good job of keeping pulse of what's important to a teenager," Glenn said. "She spends so much time researching what's happening. It helps her come across as genuine. She understands where they're coming from."
Senior pictures are one of Studio B's most-popular sessions, and each senior gets a special experience, either directly in studio or on location somewhere in Issaquah.
But no matter where the photos are taken, fun is still the philosophy.
Oftentimes the girls will come in with requests of things they've seen, either from a magazine or a friend's photo, and Brooke will take the image and tweak it to make it different. "You want to be as cute as your friend, but you can't look like your friend."
It also comes back to creativity. "I can't get creatively excited about the same thing," Brooke said. "Not everybody has to be in a certain box, and it's okay."
Ultimately, everything that Brooke shoots, from newborns to seniors to families, is about lifestyle, and nothing is a perfect vision.
"It's more than the picture you planned for; sometimes, it's the picture you didn't plan for." Glenn said.
Brooke's style is reflected in every image she takes, which she says is more about a feel than an actual look. "There's an energy," she said. "When people look at pictures of themselves, they're looking for some sort of perfection. But later on, when they look back, the imagery that speaks to them is the one that had some kind of emotion to it. It makes you feel something. A lot of what we shoot is meant to storytell."