Chad Leverenz

I didn't discover photography until I was 30 years old. I was always the kid who cried on picture day.  Having my picture taken, trying to "just be yourself" and smile-despite the overwhelming artifice of camera, lights and clip-on ties-opened an entire universe of painful self-awareness for me. I never considered growing up to be the person who made me feel that way.  But, what better place to hide from the camera than behind it?  The paths I chose at the standard path-choosing times in my life were music, religion  and philosophy.  Which is probably why, when I first got my hands on a camera, I was "managing" a Starbucks (really, really badly I might add).  Like so many of us, I bought a camera to document the life of my beautiful brand-new baby girl.   Behind the camera I felt like a roving, transparent eyeball.  Like an alien explorer.  Like I had never seen anything before.  And my daughter, well, she was an alien explorer, she hadn't seen anything before.  Once she could walk, we started going out together, hunting for photos, devouring our little chunk of world.  

I began professionally taking child and family portraits about 7 years ago.  I am a devoted student of the art of putting children and other humans at ease in front of the camera.  I love the challenge of capturing real, human, everyday moments despite the artifice of a specialized photographic space.  Having your picture taken can be frightening and awkward.  I remember well.  We do not exist in staccato slices.  We are continuous and flowing.  When we become overly aware of ourselves, the everyday magic of being a conscious human being can become problematic and grind to a halt.  All of the basics are up for grabs.  You forget how to stand and breathe and just 'be' in your own skin.  Stuff like this.  I am fascinated by this moment, and I love uncovering some of  the things that help us move through the awkward space, and then find our way back to ourselves.

In 2011 I started The Beloved Object Project, a photographic exploration of children and the lovies, binkies, blankies and babies they bring to life on a daily and nightly basis.  The project grew out of a long-term interest I have had in masks.  Specifically, the ways in which masks simultaneously conceal and reveal us.  The project is ongoing and I am in the early stages of collecting the photographs into a book.

In the summer of 2013 I was able to realize my dream of teaching young children photography.  I designed a 6 week course for children ages 7-12 built around the idea that photography is, fundamentally, a way of looking at the world.  It is an empowering tool for young artists and scientists alike, rewarding curiosity with the treasures hidden in our everyday worlds.  The children were given weekly, hands-on assignments focused on large concepts, like feelings-without-faces, perspectives, color, movement, negative space, context and 'invisibles'.  They learned the fundamentals of cameras and photography while in pursuit of these larger concepts.  The children gathered photos during the week, then shared a select few via projector.  Most of our sessions were spent discussing each other's work.  For 20 minutes at the end we discussed the following week's assignment and touched on helpful techniques and some basic rules of photographic expression.  The class concluded with an exhibit of actual printed work, complete with artist statements and refreshments.  I loved every minute of it and can't wait to do it again.

I want to take beautiful pictures of your kids, your family, and you.  I will not ever attempt to reverse-engineer your smile by asking you to say "cheese."  Because, that does not work.  I am available for on-location and in-studio portrait sessions for families and children, as well as for events and ceremonies.

I can't wait to hear about your picture!



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