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The Pink Parachute Project: Strength Persists

I’m so excited to finally be releasing these images!! From the initial planning I started in January, to the travel and photoshoots in Miami back in July, and now to the final edits – it’s been a long road. And almost too long as I really wondered if I would ever release this set …. sometimes life gets in the way and it’s been a bit of life since July.

I wish I could say it was the editing process, or maybe my perfectionistic nature that has delayed the release of my Miami images. But it was not really any of that. In my defense, since I took the images I’ve been delayed with mourning and passing of my grandmother and new work that had me swamped. But more than that, I think the delay is mostly more related to my anxiety over how they will be received.

I’ve mulled over each image’s composition, meaning, concept; mulled over their selection, and then re-selected over and over again, edited and re-edited and then edited again –

January … July … October …. it’s been a long road since the start …. and I’m not done.

You get on this path where you start realizing these images are not necessarily something that you can just think up and spit out like a windmill. You have got to keep working it – you start on a concept and as you experience it, it evolves. And you evolve. Your skills and ideas evolve. Your thoughts on the meaning and imagery evolves. And then the project evolves. But the issues women face – they don’t change as quickly as we wish they would. I really wish they did. The fight is long and hard and requires so much patience. I think it was only fitting and aptly named “Strength Persists” considering all this.

In my last post, here, I discussed how I came to start this project from my own personal journey and what this project has meant to me. 

The project started out as a metaphor for all the resistance that women have to endure and fight against through in their lifetime. The parachute being the visual representation of women and the resistance they battle. I almost wish we could say that awareness of women’s issues would propel immediate change. But our empowerment is the only thing that adjusts and changes so quickly.

And thank God for that. Because, let’s face it, women face a huge hurdle and resistance at every turn:

  • Unequal access and treatment in education
  • Unequal access and treatment in employment
  • Unequal access and treatment for gender-based health issues and inequality in reproductive rights (and control)
  • Disregard and lack of acknowledgment of the need for improvement of maternal health and family leave
  • Disregard and lack of fighting against gender based violence
  • Unequal expectations and treatment of women in domestic roles
  • Unequal and unfair treatment and portrayal of women in media
  • Unequal social treatment of women in society
  • And truly? The list can go on and on ad-nauseum.

But I digress. While raising awareness of women’s issues had started out as the initial goal, and now has naturally guided me to ensuring that we remind ourselves of what women ARE and CAN be.  

Reminding all women of our strengths and power has now become a part of this project.

So the images I created in Miami focused on our positives, our power, our force and what we ARE in the best possible way. We might face resistance in life and have to struggle to move forward, but we.can. and we.will. overcome every single thing in our path.

We have to remember this and steer our efforts to correct any wrongs with our strengths. Because like the parachute, despite the resistance that slows you down and pulls you back, we can still steer it to where we want and create our landing destination.

We *still* have so much control.

We are like the LIGHTHOUSE

We must always remember that like the light house, we women are the guiding light in life, for society and for our family.

Like the light house, we bring out the best in people. We bring them into safety. We as women need to remember we can guide with our light.

Like the light house, we shine in the darkest of times. We must remember to celebrate our light!!

We Are Like Calm Seas And A STEADFAST Force

The seas may get rough, the storms might be strong, the wind may try to knock us down and pull us away – but we have the power to hold strong, straight & calm.

We are always a steadfast force.  

Despite the rough seas in our midst, despite the turbulence we endure, we must look around us and remind ourselves that it will die down and we will still be standing.

We must remember to celebrate each other! We are each other’s pillars and balance! 

WE. WILL. ENDURE.

We Are The Roots

Like the tree whose roots run deep and hold the earth around it together, women are the root of the family. It may be a patriarchal focused society, but we are the matriarchs and must never forget that WE ARE the reason and only way for life on earth! We need to remember that WE are the ones who carry and give birth to the existence of everyone. We can and should control our reproductive rights. It takes two to tango, but only one to carry and bring it forth. We need to remind ourselves that this.is.all.powerful.

We are the root of the family. And like roots, we hold everything together. We are the glue and WE can make the difference for future generations in how we raise our children now. We have the strength and power today to influence changes in society and how we are treated. Changes CAN start with us and make life better for the future. We can teach our boys how to be better men and teach our girls how to be stronger. We can teach equality from the start. Our fight in all issues can continue on in the future without us, starting with our children now. 

We are the foundation of the home. Not princess in a castle needing to be saved or too fragile to do anything. We do not need to be controlled or told what to do. We ARE the rocks of the castle and the foundation.

We have fought for and won the right to own land, the right to vote, the right to work, the right to education. We have fought for and won, as recently as this year in the middle east, the right to drive without being escorted by men. The fact is, we are always thinking about how to make things better for our lives, for our future. 

We are intelligent and see through the junk thrown our way. The road is long, but we can make great changes. We are tenacious. We are relentless. 

We can keep on the good fight  – and we are succeeding! 

We Are Glamour, We Are Timeless

We are beauty. We shine, we sparkle, we awe like the glitter and neon lights of the city at night. Like art deco, we are timeless. 

We shape life around us, transforming generations of thought through our presence in media. We can dominate and positively influence society in subtle ways. What other force can influence people’s subconscious from the magazine racks to the clothes racks? We must remember to use this strength for positive influences.

And like the sun breaking over the horizon we are the dawn bringing light to those around us. 

We are warm, inspiring and illuminating. We can change our world by informing and spreading knowledge. Without awareness of all the resistance women face, we can not impact change. 

As light touches everything at dawn, we must remember that our strength in the fight has transcended and inspired generations.

There is no limit to what we can accomplish!!

And we can do it all with a smile :).

Now it’s time to put The Pink Parachute Project into further action. I have more that I want to do and more that I want to accomplish with this. Awareness of issues will continue to be the primary goal, and just as important a continuation of celebrating our strengths. 

So now on to other cities and creating more images. So stay tuned because NYC, the great plains & San Francisco are yet to be explored. I won’t be releasing the images created for those until they’re all done & at that point you’ll have to see it all in it’s final form – a photo book!!

Thanks for reading, thanks for coming along with me on this journey – and above all, thank you for supporting this project!!

With all love and devotion,

Teodora Pogonat

Brad & Briana

It’s a stolen glance. A knowing smile shared between two people. The locked eyes, soft whisper and sweet embrace. It’s simply two people completely in love and devoted to one another, sharing their vows and professing their love in front of those that love them unconditionally.

I had the honor of photographing the wedding of Brad Booker and his wife, Briana this weekend.  I was so excited over their images that I couldn’t wait to grab some highlights, edit them and post the sneak peeks!!  In addition to the incredibly touching devotionals and vows, the couple had a special guest singer come and perform their favorite song for the wedding. Singer Justin Furstenfeld from Blue October  sang “Home” for them and the wedding guests and the love shared between them as they listened filled the room. 

So enjoy the sneak peek and congratulations to Brad & Briana on their new journey together as husband and wife!

Brad & Briana

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Pink Parachute Project: The Prequel!

I have a few thoughts that I wanted to share – take it as a little soul searching and and exporing of the origins of The Parachute Project.

Five years ago I was a working as a hardware electrical engineer and since then I’ve become a professional photographer. That thought alone makes me realize how far I’ve come. I never would have thought that today I would be doing photography in other cities on such an amazing project.

I had never thought all the loneliness in my engineering classes and all the inherent sexism I faced within the workplace would have deterred me, but I was rather wrong. For those that are not aware of what I’m referring to, it boils down to being a minority in a male dominated field. I was usually one of very few women in classes or at work in industry. Let’s face it, STEM was not encouraged for young girls in the 80’s and 90’s. I was always one of three girls in classes of 60-80 people. And when you’re one of the very few female engineers in a group of 100’s, you see exactly what inherent and covert sexism is really all about in the workplace. What Elizabeth Warren faced when she was shot down by Mitch McConnell in January of 2017, that coined the feminist chant of “Nevertheless She Persisted!”? That was every bit of my daily life in engineering.

I left engineering for many reasons, the biggest being that I was really rather tired of fighting the male ego and constant dominance that was displayed day in and day out. My love for problem solving and analytical thinking was overrun with comments about not smiling enough, comments that it must have been nice to have three months of maternity “vacation”, my opinion being drowned out in meeting after meeting – and not two minutes later having a male counterpart say the same thing and be praised for it… It was a constant fight for proving myself and capabilities, working twice as hard on some projects with minimal recognition – all while male counterparts were being promoted, praised, given raises & promoted for doing significantly less or for being better buddies with the manager. I had felt the pay gap in my wages versus male counter parts – which was a constant slap in the face. My husband and I had the same degrees, the same field of work, the same years of experience – yet I made 70cents on the dollar to him consistently throughout my career.

Honestly – I had lost my drive. I had lost my ambition. I had lost my will to fight. And I had lost my will to be any kind of technical lead within the engineering world and it showed so badly that I realized it would be better for me to leave engineering all together than stay in it. I felt leaving for “family reasons” was apt enough. I mean, no male in that field bats an eye or argues with a woman who decides she wants to raise her children. They expect it and think it a more natural occurrence than a woman who wants to stay and work long hours away from her family. So I got no resistance to leaving – the first time ever not facing resistance. But what came at me after leaving work was a completely different story.

Enter Photography.

I never thought I would be doing photography at my age. I mean, starting photography as a profession at 39 was a bit crazy. Most people commended me that I was brave to venture into this new world – but I don’t know if it is bravery so much as crazy, LOL. But I wanted back into something that would drive me. Something that would give me a sense of pride and something that I honestly love. My first love was always photography and I thought – hey, why not. I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was 12 years old. I knew how to work it, I had an eye for composition and a love pure from my heart. What have I got to lose? So I dove in head first with all my might. And with that, I never thought it would take me on a journey so profound and healing. So I started. And I fell in love again, and I found my drive again.

Enter The Parachute

After four years of honing in my skills, attending all sorts of classes for a college degree in photography and making my work less amateur and more professional, I found that little missing piece that gave me my creative outlet. Then one day after feeling so riled up after the Elizabeth Warren incident, I morphed a simple project into the drive that it is now.

My goals for the project started off rather small. I just wanted to photograph something pretty.

Because.

Because we’re women and we’re beautiful and we deserve the beauty to shine 🙂. But it turned into something so much more. Something that felt like it was bigger than myself and my creativity because it was touching on something emotional and raw that all women face.

I realized along the way that everything I was doing was a symbol for what women go through, and at the same time my outlet for all that I had gone through and a visual outlet to show what women truly are. I realized along the way that the metaphor for the pink parachute that I was photographing was everything that women face – all our challenges in life, all our unique circumstances. From gender equality, gender pay issues, sexism in the work force, societal stereotypes, inherent sexism and just in general the perceptions of what we ourselves, as women, think we can accomplish – I realized the metaphor for this is all in the parachute.

But like a parachute that faces resistance, I also realized that it was a metaphor for empowering women with what they CAN be. We can control and guide and power-through all that resistance because our strength is massive and is prevalent.

Where I started off lamenting the issues that women face, the parachute project has reached a new point. From the woes I’m naturally guided to showing and celebrating all the amazing things we as women ARE and not just what we face. Raising awareness of women’s issues and struggles also means raising awareness of our strengths and powers. And honestly, #neverthelessshepersisted couldn’t be more apt for this project. Despite the issues we face, despite the resistance we face, we persist and always will because we are tenacious and we are strong and -we-will-.

So off to the next phase of the parachute project. My images from Miami will be released in my next blog within the next week. After that, I will be booking tickets to New York City and exploring creating images in the amazing urban landscape. My goal is to represent women of all walks of life around the country because we are as diverse as this country’s landscape.

Because truly, women are everything to society. Women are leaders (not bossy). Women are the foundations, they are guides, they are the energy and the force of our families. Women are incredibly intelligent, intuitive and straight up strong. We are the roots, and celebrating our maternal lineage should be just as important as celebrating all our paternal lineage. We fought for our rights to own land, to vote, to hold positions within career posts – and we won. We still face so much in so many respects, but the drive and the force behind us will help us win in these everything we do and win against everything we face. And we need to remind ourselves of this.

It’s with the pink parachute project that I’ve been exploring all our issues and want to talk about them more and raise awareness for each one in detail. I want women to celebrate the victories we have accomplished and explore how we have been able to overcome so much. I’ve already posted on my FB page a series of articles that have highlighted how we have been hidden from so much history. From art when women were dominant, to sciences where  people are surprised there are genius women, to the celebration of the women who have shaped history. We can not neglect and deny the role women play in every day life. We can not neglect or deny the role women play in shaping society and history. We can not continue to stifle and silence women from influential and dominant roles in careers.

We are strong and we will navigate our parachute to where we want it to go.

Stay tuned for more. More Parachute project and more Miami images :).

The Saga Continues!!!

Sooooo, I’m excited to share!! “Nevertheless She Persisted: The Pink Parachute” saga continues!!

I’ve been busy planning for the last few weeks the next photoshoot in the series ;). And now I’ve just packed all my bags and equipment and am headed to South Florida to continue creating images dedicated to all us women!!

 

This trip, the series will focus on Miami and the surrounding areas as the backdrop. I’ve planned my locations, focusing on some symbolic backdrops, but also ideal and iconic areas of Miami. 

 

The artistic goal for this trip is just as big as Miami :). We have three locations, three models and the images are sure to be just as epic as Denver and Red Rocks images are!!  My goal for the series of images in Miami is to represent women as the trees of life, the rocks of our home, the beacons and guides of life, love and hope – and just the flat out glamorous beings that we are!!

And the skirt was shipped and ready for us to start in South Florida!!

So here we goooooooo!!

Studio Headshots, yay!!

Professional headshots in studio are always so comfortable and entertaining! I just had the pleasure of having Donalyn come into my studio to update her professional images. She will be a key speaker for a conference and her image will be the highlight. 

I could tell she was a little nervous, not knowing what to expect and a little camera shy. But I know that just the right amount of fun conversation and the cozy surroundings of my studio would help put her at ease. By the end of the session, she not only loved the images she chose for retouching, but she left with a big smile on her face – yay, success!! 

You see, to me, it’s not just about the images that make up a photo session, but also the laughs, smiles and great conversation – putting everyone at ease and ensuring they enjoy their time in studio is always my goal!

Here are some highlights from her session:

Professional Headshots in Studio          Professional Headshots in Studio

Just to highlight – All headshot sessions services include two looks and two retouched images delivered as jpg files, along with social media copies. 

Contact me today to schedule your headshot session and update the images that represent you and your brand!

Headshots Woohoo!

Professional headshots have to be, hands down, some of my favorite type of photo work! It’s so much fun getting to know the client’s, their personality and goals for their images. From there we create the images that represent them and their brand.

For this session, I got to meet a the young and talented musician and actress Amelia. Her mom scheduled her theatrical and musician inspired session with a very urban theme. We had the session at the Long Center so we could get a bit of the Austin skyline in the background, thus tieing in her musical talents (after all, isn’t Austin the Music Capital of the world?!) and giving her a backdrop that represents her wonderful spirit. 

Here are some photo highlights from her session –

Urban Ballerina!

There’s something about ballet that infinitely stirs the heart – the beautifully refined and gracefulness that is presented so effortlessly in dance, the physical power and years of  hard work that each movement represents, however large or small, and the knowledge that it took years and years of heart, soul and passion to be the magic that is the dancer in front of you.

I had such a lovely time photographing the very talented Isabella! I had the idea of an urban ballerina and she rose to the challenge with her graceful moves. With the amazing setting of the Austin downtown skyline and the intricate leading lines, I feel that this wonderful image from the session was just *everything* that it should be :).

A huge thank you to Dance Xplosion in South Austin and Isabella’s wonderful mom :).

 

Loving Professional Headshots!

Can I just gush for a moment about how fun and awesome taking professional headshots is for me???
I had the opportunity to help a friend update her headshots for her law firm and had such a fun time creating these images!
And, it was the first time I had the opportunity to create commercially-styled professional headshots using a really nifty set of Profoto B1 lights.
So if your business needs professional images for your website and/or marketing campaign, please contact me here!!

 

Pretty Pretty Window Light

Oh my goodness, sometimes natural light just takes your breath away!

I looooved taking these series of images at Laguna Gloria with the lovely Eva Dimitriadi. She was so sweet and relaxed to work with. The theme was a bohemian, soulful setting and the Tea Room at Laguna Gloria’s villa was *just* perfect! And oh my, that blue antique sette – so beautiful!!

A huge thank you the the amazing Roxi Atelier from Path Salon in South Austin for the amazing hair artistry!

If you would like to schedule a women’s photo session to capture the beauty in you, please contact me here.