Jessica Laredo de Sierra
The Making of a Photographic Artist
Professional photography is a profession that is open to anyone who can pick up a camera and press a button. Through a combination in inherent talent, unique opportunity and a lot of hard work, very few become true photographic artists who create with their camera and lights timeless portraits that form a unique combination of photography and traditional artistry. Jessica Laredo of Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico is a perfect example of an aspiring artist who is working her way to becoming one of the top photographers in Mexico and the world.
The daughter of an architect and an English teacher, Jessica played with art tools left behind by her grandmother and read art books. Her school days led her to seek a degree in Interior Design with sub emphasis on art, painting and drawing along with developing computer skills. Her program also included courses in the basics of photography, color harmony, contrast and depth. One particular professor managed to excite her artistic skills.
Jessica then studied at the Academy of Art in San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Mexico where she began to discover her own special style. At Vanderbilt University in Tennessee she began having fun photographing friends and truly fell in love with photography. She sees photography and painting on parallel tracks, and she freely moves between both, using both the camera and the artist's brush. Her teaching career took her to Europe where she visited museums and art galleries and viewed the artistic creations of many great artists. After marrying, she lived in Manhattan which afforded her more opportunity to visit museums and further develop her eye for color and design.
It was after moving back to Monterrey Mexico and having her first child that she began to get serious about applying her skills towards professional photography, starting with a Kodak DC400 and then graduating to a Canon 10D. At first she photographed friends and their children but then moved on to offering her services to the public.
A recent highlight in her career that really caught her attention was her discovery of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system in a shop in Monterrey. She was intensely fascinated. Shortly thereafter she attended a day long program by Joseph and Louise Simone who used the Scene Machine in their creation of timeless photographic art pieces. She could not stop looking at and studying the Simones' work. She immediately decided that producing work like the Simones was her goal and she set out to get a Scene Machine of her own. A year later, in February 2006, she purchased a Virtual Backgrounds system and attended the Virtual Backgrounds workshop in San Marcos, Texas to learn the technical basics. She read and reread the book, Background Power! and intensely studied the Simones' book, The Portrait - Mirror of the Soul.
She also studied Don Blair’s techniques from his book The Art of Seeing Light. When she heard that the Simones were conducting a 4 day course at Virtual Backgrounds, she immediately signed up.
Jessica soon got started capturing her own background images that reflected her developing and unique style. She photographed a special window her father had built and brought it into her studio. She sees her Scene Machine as a magic tool.
The very first photograph that Jessica ever submitted for competition won first place in the Virtual Backgrounds annual print competition (click here to see last year's winners). The idea for the portrait of her daughter started as she vacationed in Nuevo Puerto Vallarta, watching her children playing in the sand. She did some sketches and then decided what components she needed to create the ideal image in her studio with the Scene Machine. She visualized creating a “set” in her studio, with a variety of props picked up at the beach including sand and a starfish. Her distant background was a PhotoShop enhanced view of the pounding surf. With this set, she photographed each of her children, allowing each child to be their natural selves.
Jessica’s photographic business is thriving. Along with her timeless portraits, she is also bringing her style to school photography and has already secured several contracts. Jessica promises that her school portraits will not be the traditional head and shoulder “mug” shots.
Jessica feels that she is rewarded for her work in two ways. First, it is with the money she is paid which enables her to continuously invest in the latest tools. Second, it is the smile of satisfaction that she sees in her customers as they receive their finished portraits.
In Mexico, as in most of the rest of the world, it is more popular to hang artwork in homes than it is to hang large portraits. Jessica hopes that by creating photographic art in her portraits, she will be able to encourage her customers to order large wall portraits for display in their homes.
Jessica Laredo is well on her way to becoming a truly great photographic artist and we at Virtual Backgrounds are very happy that she is making such wonderful use of her Scene Machine system.