Friday, March 19, 2010

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT! -- Lauren Withrow

It's back!

Hey everyone! Hope this transition into Spring (in like a lion, out like a lamb, right?) has been treating you all very well.

Winter was long and I'm so ready for some warmth. What better way to ring that in than by a new and shiny Artist Spotlight by a photographer that has mastered warm light and environmental portraiture?

True, you say? That's what I thought. ;)

I am really excited about this month's artist. Not only is she very kind, and incredibly talented, but guess what?
She's 16.

Yes, you heard me. 16.
At first glance, her works scream 'old soul' to me, and continue to do so every time I visit her wonderful stream on Flickr.

Her pieces always feature intimate expressions, emotional messages and superb lighting.

So, without further ado, let's get to it.

The lovely, kind, talented & beautiful artist, Lauren Withrow...

Q: What is your full name?
A: My name is Lauren Nicole Withrow

Q: Where in the world area you located?
A: Dallas, TX USA

Q: Self Taught or Schooled?
A: Self taught.


(Selected Works...)


Q: What made you want to be a photographer & artist?
A: Photography and art had always been an interest of mine. Throughout elementary and junior high I've always enjoyed my art classes the most and I loved looking through different books at photographs. I'd always want to be "head photographer" at birthday parties so I'd steal whoever's little camera and take pictures. Then I was older and my dad got a dslr and I'd take it whenever I could and mess around with it. Of course, I never knew what I was doing but it was so much fun. Then once I hit freshman year in highschool I realized I had lost everything I was good at. I had gone through so many different options of what I was going to do when I was older and I was disappointed in myself. I grew depressed and never told anyone anything. I spent two years living bottled up and I realized I needed a way to express what I wanted to say for others to understand and when I decided (on a whim) to start a 365 project I figured that it would be the best way of expressing myself. And from that moment on photography/art became a part of me, something I know I will never live without.

Q: How would you best describe both your vision and style as a Photographer & Artist?
A: This was difficult to answer because I have heard what others think my style is, but many times I don't agree. Whether manipulated or sooc, my images are real. I want my photos to represent a real moment in time, capturing the emotion felt in that second I released the shutter. I don't think I have a set style yet, other than incorporating a real emotion into the very pixels of the image. I walk around the world as if I am looking though the viewfinder trying to capture each moment in my brain as film would record the light. I take pictures in all circumstances ranging from 'posed' in a random woods behind my house, to candid-me-spying-on-my-friends-at-a-retreat photos. But every photo has some sort of real emotion in them, not put on by an actor. I guess that's what I would describe my style/vision as. I don't want to capture something that is false in appearance, but real down to it's very core.


(Selected Works...)


Q: Who are you behind the lens? What do you like to do in your off time besides being an artist?
A: When I'm behind the lens I'd say I am much more confident. I enjoy taking self portraits since they are my form of emotional release, but when I'm shooting other models I have this sense of not having any fear. I don't like to hold back, and I like to try and incorporate these feelings in everything I do, and when I'm not shooting I enjoy writing and athletics. I love to do all sorts of things so don't be surprised if I take up some random activity like starting a slingshot competition.

Q: What gear do you work with & What piece of equipment could you not live without?
A: I use a Canon Rebel T1i, 50mm f/1.8, remote, tripod, and natural lighting. I'd say I just couldn't live without my camera. I take it almost every where I go. I went on a retreat a few weekends ago and it never left my neck. My camera is to me as a gun is to an FBI agent and since it's grown to be a part of me I'd probably die without it. Over dramatic much? But what can I say, photography is who I am now.

Q: In your career, what has been your single greatest memory or favorite moment thus far? (i.e. award, publication, comment, shoot, etc)
A: So far it's been the process and events surrounding my first book cover. Here in April, the book "How Clarissa Burden Learned To Fly" will be published. Now, this was my very first time involved in any sort of commercial dealing so once the contracts were signed and I got paid I thought it was the end of it until I found the book's fan page, became a fan, and found out that the author was actually a fan of my photography. Just the few words she had written on that fan page really made my day. Well, it was about 5 days before Christmas when I received a friend request from Connie's personal Facebook and we exchanged emails, and it was incredible just to talk to her and get to know a little more about her. I thought that this couldn't really get any better. I was talking to the author, who in turn was a fan of my work, but what really hit me was Christmas morning when I unwrapped a signed advance reading copy of the book. I remember just crying because not only was it fantastic to actually hold the book that held my image, but it was just incredible that Connie would take time out of her day to send me a surprise Christmas gift. That has been the best thing ever so far.


(Selected Works...)


Q: In contrast, what has been your biggest lesson or revelation?
A: I'd say my biggest lesson that I have learned so far is to not let what other people say or believe ruin my love for photography. I want to say that whatever people say won't bother me, but still being young this affects me every day. I had even gotten it into my mind that "being popular" on flickr was important when it's not. I had let "being popular" consume me and let it interfere in my goal to grow as a photographer. Therefore, it's my goal not to let that happen again and to do what I love and not let others get in the way of that.

Q: What is your favorite piece you've ever taken?
A: This one...

A: (cont'd...) I'm sure you'd want to know why, yes? It marks a turning point for me. From that day on I realized that I can't hold back anymore and that I needed to change some things in my life.

Q: Who are your greatest artistic inspirations?
A: I have a huge list of people that inspire me. Majority from flickr. But I'd say my too greatest inspirations are Alexis Mire and Brooke Shaden. I want to be able to combine the two. I love the intense power or Brooke's concepts but I cannot take my eyes of the simplicity or innocence of Alexis'. I just want to mix them both together and see what I can come up with. So those two I'd say are my greatest inspirations.

Q: Do you have any advice for those who are inspired by you and your work that are just starting out?
A: Oh gosh, just go for it. I sit here and regret letting certain things get in my way of growing, and I don't want that to happen to anyone else.


(Selected Works...)


To see more of Lauren's work, you can visit her website at:

Lauren is also available for commissions. You may contact her at:


And that does it for this Artist Spotlight.
I hope you've enjoyed this wonderful photographer. There are several more wonderfully talented artists in the next few months, and I cannot wait to share.

Talk soon,
Ashley | Bottle Bell

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

WIN A PHOTOSHOOT WITH ME! (and my creative team!)


~ Monday, June 21st, 2010 ~


A winner was drawn over the weekend. There were over 200 different individual entrants w/ over 250 official entries in all!!

I'd like to congratulate Marley Taylor of Santa Barbara, CA as the WINNER! :)
Congrats, Marley! I look forward to speaking w/ you & making your dream shoot a REALITY!!
ash x


Hey everyone!

Hope this post finds you all very well. Are you as ready for Spring as I am?

Alright, SO...

I've been hinting at this for awhile and am thrilled to be able to finally make it happen.

Over the last few years I've had so many messages on every network from people inquiring about my rates on things like weddings, family work, senior portraits, modeling portfolios, boudoir, maternity, engagement, musician/album work, personal shoots, or even conceptual (as you've come to know of my style) etc... only to find out upon my reply that I no longer shoot commercially and work (almost) exclusively for myself as an artist & writer.

While that is still (primarily) true, I've done some rearranging of my schedule and would like to offer the opportunity for one person (or a group) the opportunity to win a FULL DAY, on location photoshoot w/ not only myself, but also a wonderful creative team of hair & makeup artists for whatever concept you've created w/ an in depth consultation w/ myself to make your 'dream shoot' into a reality. I would like to give one person the opportunity to get those shots you've always wanted. Again, I don't typically offer my services to the public, but thought this would be a really fun thing to do over the spring/summer months. Can you imagine a dreamy woodland portrait of yourself or a wistful shot in a moody field? Do you want to be photographed but don't have a concept? Worry not, because I have a whole book full of them ;)


(Sample works...)

So here's the fine print and further details:


*$3.00 (USD) to enter.

*This offer is open to anyone, worldwide.
-Within the continental USA, I will travel to you! (unless of course you'd like to travel to me & my locations)
-Outside of the continental USA, you will have to arrange travel to my location (usually MN | Midwest, USA)

*Entrants must be at least 18 years old to enter OR be prepared to have parental accompaniment and permission to shoot.

*Entrants may choose to submit more than once via the form below to increase their chances of winning. 1 entry = 1 chance to win. 2 entries = 2 chances, etc...

*Winner will receive one on location photoshoot, photographed by myself.
*Winner will receive hair & makeup via a creative team of hair/makeup artists.
*Winner will receive in depth consultation before shoot (in person or via telephone)
*Winner will receive 15 processed, high res. images, personally & professionally retouched by myself.
*This offer runs beginning today (3.18.2010) and will run for exactly 3 months.
*Winner will be drawn at random & announced June 19, 2010. You may enter until June 18, 2010 @ 11:59 pm (CST)
*Winner will be contacted via email, so please be sure to include all contact information.


(Sample works...)

And that about wraps it up!

If this is something you are interested in, I encourage you to enter. I'm incredibly down to earth and very easy to work with. I wanted to extend this option to the public to celebrate art and the ideas we all have as people. If you have that idea in your head you've always wanted to execute, don't be shy... It's my job. We can make the shoot as extravagant (within my budget) or humble (for those of you that are shy and don't like all the hoopla) as you want.

Enter this contest below by clicking the "PAY NOW" button and follow the prompts.

Best of luck! I look forward to collaborating with one of you!

Ashley Lebedev | Bottle Bell

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Hey everyone, just a quickie post!

I received these scans (they are out in the UK, but not in the US as of yet ;) from a lovely gentleman last week, and finally have a moment to post. :)

This is my feature in the April, 2010 Issue (issue 41) of Digital SLR Photography Magazine.
This will be available in all major bookstores, worldwide.

I hope some of you are able to grab a copy, and I truly hope you enjoy.
The 2 page spread was very humbling.

As a photographer, it's sometimes hard to relay to the public this thought, but when we all get so use to seeing things on the computer, they really do look SO MUCH BETTER IN PRINT. I prefer actual prints, but seeing "Arethusa Woodlands" larger is very cool in the mag.

Of Note**** The narrative in this feature reads like I wrote it, and to a degree I did provide some of the information, but these are not my words. I wrote it very differently and it has been rewritten. I was a bit disappointed by someone who took the liberty of rewriting the descriptions & motivations behind my photos. However, all in all, I am incredibly grateful for this lovely honor, and I again hope those of you who get to a bookstore are able to check it out. :)
A special thank you to EVERYONE at Digital SLR Magazine for this lovely opportunity to showcase some of my work on this platform, as well as Simon Lunn for the scans!


In other news...

I have a GREAT few artist spotlights (1 this Friday!) in the coming month that I cannot wait to share. A really diverse and gorgeous pool of talent coming at you!

Lastly, for those of you who've ever wanted to have me photograph you, or who've inquired about getting shots done for family, senior, modeling, fashion, life, etc... just to hear I don't shoot commercially anymore, I'm putting together a little something that might excite you. Give me a few days to get that all put together. I'd like to make one person's 'dream' shot into a reality. x

Ash | Bottle Bell ;)

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Sneak Peaks!

Just a very quick sneak peak from yesterday's shoot.
This is one segment of three separate shoots that will all be part of a lookbook/storyboard I'm in the process of shooting for a west coast designer.

These are right out of camera, and aweful cell phone snapped screenshots, so I can't wait to process them and share.

Hope you enjoy!

In other news, I've been shooting some personal work as well, and will be getting featured in 2 major worldwide publications in the next several months (one this month, and much larger spread in July). Both will be available at all major bookstores. :)

I will be sure to post them on here as soon as I have the deets or scans to show. ;)

I hope everyone is very well, and as excited for the warming weather as I am.
This winter was so long, and I cannot wait to be back in barefeet and sundresses, shooting everyday in better conditions!

Ash x