Category: Art Inspiration

Inspire Boston – Graveyard Sep 12th | Art Inspiration

September has begun and we are about to head into our busiest season ever! To take a little breath before the season begins, I decided to actually look through some personal photos that are long overdue to be looked at.

This past March, Peter and I had the opportunity to speak at a photography conference in Concord, Massachusetts called Inspire Boston.  It was my first time in the area, and I was in love! Concord is steeped in rich history, and I was fascinated by my surroundings. While we spent most of our time taking classes, teaching, and hanging out with the awesome people there, I made sure to stop by a graveyard near the conference hotel.

I have never seen a graveyard so old here in the United States- some of them from the early 1700′s. The design of the headstones was fascinating to me, they were so delicate and simple. I felt like I was in a different time as I wandered around. Here are a few of the images I captured.

Whitney Carlson

Dove Wedding Photography - Inspire Bostin, At The Pub | Dove Wedding Photography: [...] my last photography post I mentioned that I have been going through some personal photographs lately. Today I wanted to [...] (Sep 14th - 08:26 am)
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Inspiration: Just Feel Dec 02nd | Art Inspiration

Sometimes, all you need for inspiration is a feeling….

One thing I did while we were at Mackinac Island for Elly’s wedding was just took some time to photograph things I saw that I found beautiful. This is something that I have not done in a while, and something that I realized I missed. Once I became a professional photographer, taking photographs started to become just something I did for work. This past year I realized that I was forgetting a lot of the joy I found in just taking photographs for me and not for someone else. So while we were in Michigan, I kept my camera around my neck, with no expectations but to just feel while I looked through my lens. So that is what I did, I felt. And I grabbed a few images along the way. Here are a few of my favorites. Photographers, I encourage you to take your cameras out one day. Don’t have plans, don’t think too much. Just feel. And see what you come up with!

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Breaking the Rules: Rembrandt Sep 21st | Art Inspiration

Night Watch by Rembrandt

I had so much fun researching this painting by Rembrandt and finding out how it was commissioned. In the Netherlands military groups would often develop into social clubs for gentlemen. These groups would often commission a portrait, which were called militia paintings. When a group portrait was commissioned, each individual would pay an equal amount to be in the painting. This also meant that the painter would need to show everyone as equals in the portrait. You know the term “Going Dutch”?!

“Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq.” which is also known as “Night Watch”, came around and broke all the rules. Really, that’s what helps make someone great, right? Rembrandt did not aim at painting each of the members as equals, but instead created a work of art that had focus and drama. Additional people were added to the portrait to create the story and figures were placed around the scene to show the group in action. This is one of the many reasons everyone has heard of Rembrandt today. He knew what everyone else was doing and did something different and in the process created a true masterpiece. One of Rembrandt’s pupils wrote about this work:

“It will outlast all its competitors, being so artistic in conception, so ingenious in the varied placement of figures, and so powerful that, according to some, it makes all the other pieces there look like decks of playing cards”

What rules will you break today?

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Inspired by PUG Aug 31st | Art Inspiration

We are often inspired by people we know. Each month Nashville’s top photography studios, as well as aspiring new photographers, meet and share ideas with each other at the Nashville PUG (Pictage Users Group).

The event is sponsored by Pictage, but it has now been opened to all photographers. I actually lead the group and would love to have you join us! This Thursday will be incredibly inspiring as our dear friends Sean & Mel McLellan will be our guest speakers.

McLellan Style is one of the top wedding and portrait studios in the country, but you would not know it by their humble demeanor. Speaking engagements and workshops are a rare occasion for them. So, you will NOT want to miss this special evening.

For more information on the PUG and Sean & Mel’s seminar “Shooting with Purpose, Shooting with Style: Pushing the envelope and delivering amazing results, no matter what!” visit:

A recent PUG meeting involved a cookout and some experimentation with studio lighting. Check out the photos Whitney and Phil Thornton took at the event:

Gregory Byerline and Sunday

Yes, I was the grill master.

PUG members always discover something new. Jeb Wilson of Nashville Photography Group was showing off his newest iPhone App to Cade Truitt of Inara Studios, Gregory Byerline, and Laura Louise Perkinson.

Whitney really likes this series she took of Joel & Michelle Hartz, of Hartz Photographic, just being their self.

Dave Pavol chilln’ with Sean McLellan.

Phil Thornton & Brian Kaplan: looking like two guys you don’t want to mess with.

So, we got a little silly with our experimenting. Today on my PUG leader conference call, a PUG leader from another city said “Nashville has one of the most fun PUGs.” I’m glad we have that reputation.

Phil takes off.

Sean inspired by Davinci

Phil made me Dance!

- Peter

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Art Inspiration: Artemisia Aug 24th | Art Inspiration

Since I wrote about Caravaggio 2 weeks ago, I wanted to talk about an artist that was greatly influenced by him, or a “Caravaggisti” The special thing about this artist is that it is a woman. Much like everything else before our time, women artists were ignored in the art world for a large portion of history. It was believed that only men had great artistic talent. Born in 1593 in Italy, Artemisia Gentileschi was the first woman painter to be widely known and appreciated. Even with this status, there is still little appreciation of her work today. Critics spread rumors that she had help with her work, because of course a woman could not be so good. In fact, I don’t even remember studying her in college, but that doesn’t really mean anything:) My how things have changed!

When she was 19, Artemisia was raped by her tutor who was then brought to trial. What she was put through during that trial was horrible, and you can read more about it here. It was this trying time of her life that was the inspiration for much of work. She painted large scale biblical or mythological subjects that portrayed women heroes, some of the paintings quite gruesome. I love this quote that I found of hers after finishing a painting for a patron ” This will show your Lordship what a woman can do.”

Artemisia was a master in so many ways with her paintings, not only in technical skill but he ability to share a story and an emotion. She is an inspiration- aren’t we lucky to live in a time period where women have obtained a respected voice in the art community! Here is a painting of hers that I love, Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes. c. 1625, Oil on canvas, 6′ x 5′.

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A Different Type Of “Art Inspiration” Aug 17th | Art Inspiration

Today’s art inspiration is a little bit different. Typically Whitney will write these, as I like to call her “The Master Artist” of Dove Wedding Photography. However, I was inspired this weekend and I wanted to share it with you.

Sarah is the member of the Dove team who does all the photo processing and assisting at weddings. If you have seen Sarah during this summer you may have known that she has been working on a head of dreadlocks. For a number of reasons, Sarah has decided to end the growth of her dreads. Jokingly, I offered the use of my clippers. Next thing you know our lunch break turned into an extended break involving us chopping off Sarah’s hair.

So, why is this classified as an art inspiration? For those of you who are not wedding photographers: you may not realize a lot of our weekly work involves a lot of office work and mundane computer work. This past Friday we all thought it would be fun to break up the monotony by going to get some tofu soup at So Gong Dong Tofu House. (Audrey and Sarah flip over this stuff!) Instead of heading back to the office, we decided to have a little more fun and head to Whitney and my backyard to get creative with Sarah’s head.

Whitney spent some time cutting off dreads and leaving certain ones just to have some fun. Next, I brought out the clippers and proceeded to shave a Mohawk into Sarah’s scalp. After much laughter, Audrey, Whitney and I all voted for Sarah to keep the Mohawk.

Finishing up the Mohawk and Calvin looking on.

Clavin was laughing along with us as we cut Sarah’s hair

Friday afternoon we realized to keep fresh, creative, and artistic we have to get away from our daily tasks to have a little fun and be creative in different ways. We can’t take ourselves too serious in everything we do. Laughter truly is some great medicine and now Sarah has a really cute and unique hair cut that she was not planning on having. On top of that, we are now starting our week off refreshed and ready to get back to work so that our clients will truly benefit from the art that Dove will produce. Hence why I consider this “art inspiration.”

- Peter

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Caravaggio & LOST Aug 03rd | Art Inspiration

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas


Oil on Canvas

42in x 57in

I am so excited to be talking about this painting today! I knew I wanted to discuss Caravaggio, and while I was browsing through his work I remembered that one of his paintings was in something that I had watched recently. What was it? It had me stumped for a little while then all of a sudden it came to me. Of course! It was on my all time favorite TV show: Lost. The fact that they use such an array of references and inspirations from art to literature is one of the many reason’s I love Lost.

Without giving too much away to those who haven’t seen it, I will give you a simple set up of where it was used. Benjamin Linus is seen in a church, talking with Jack. From Lostpedia: “Ben tells Jack about Thomas the Apostle, noting Thomas’ claim to fame was not his bravery, but his doubt regarding the Resurrection of Christ. Jack asks if Thomas was ever convinced. Ben explains that Thomas needed to touch Christ’s wounds to be convinced and then says, ‘We’re all convinced sooner or later, Jack.”

Caravaggio was an Italian painter known for the great amount of realism that he brought to his work. His people and events were not idealized. In his religious paintings, miracles were made to look like they were happening to ordinary people. There were no halos and white fluffy clouds. Look at the wrinkles on the disciples’ faces and the dirt under their nails. They were made to look like the ordinary men they were.

I love seeing how popular culture can take a painting made hundreds of years ago and present it to the public in a way that we can all understand. I think that this scene in Lost makes us see the painting for what it represents and makes us think about what side we may be on. Do we doubt or do we believe? In my art I want to do the same thing. As a wedding photographer I not only want to create something that is relevant, but to show real emotion that we all can understand.

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Art Inspiration: Winslow Homer Jul 13th | Art Inspiration

Today I wanted to give you an idea of how art work can inspire photography. I have a longer post coming on inspiration in the weeks to come, but today I just wanted to show you an image I took this weekend that was inspired by a painting. One of my college art history classes was on American Art. We had a great teacher, although I was scared to death of her. The class was about 150 people and she loved putting people on the spot, which I in turn did not love at all.

Regardless, I learned a ton about artists that I would not have normally looked at. One of them is Winslow Homer, who painted in the late 1800′s. Looking at some of his work this weekend I realized it reminded me a lot of Cedarwood. He painted scenes of country American life in a simple and nostalgic manner.

Winslow Homer

1872, Snap the Whip

Oil on Canvas, 22×36″

One painting that we studied intensively is “Snap the Whip”. Knowing that Krissy and Dustin had two children, I knew that it would be a perfect inspiration for their wedding photograph. Here is the resulting image.

There are so many things that are different about this image from Winslow Homers. It is not a copy. It is not in an exact setting. There are adults and a dog in it. But the feeling of playfulness, the angles, and the country setting are what inspired me from this painting.

To learn more about Winslow Homer and this painting, check out this great article:

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Art Inspiration: Mona Lisa Jul 06th | Art Inspiration

Leonardo da Vinci

c. 1503-1506

Oil on Poplar

Louvre, Paris

More Information

I know you have heard of this painting, and of course this painter. I like to imagine Leonardo da Vinci the way he was portrayed in the movie “Ever After” as a fun, crazy, and sweet old man. After learning more about him and about his paintings, I like to think the portrayal had a little truth to it :) . There is so much that I could say about Leonardo and about this painting, but I want to stick with just a few.

When I was a teenager I had the opportunity to visit the Louvre and to see the painting in person and see why it was considered so great. I was expecting a gigantic portrait, but it was a mere 21×30 inches. This is a lot smaller than most of the canvas prints we order from our clients.

So, what was so great about this painting? The perspective and proportions were phenomenal for the time. The way he used oils was beautiful. However, it is her expression that people always remember.

Today, we are used to seeing all types of emotions and expressions in paintings and photographs. However, before Leonardo most portraits were stoic and almost somber. Look back at my blog post on Jan van Eyck’s paintingto see the example of a pre-leonardo portrait! You will notice the Mona Lisa has a smile, almost a smirk, and you start to see a bit of her personality show through. Leonardo purposely did this by engaging musicians and jesters to amuse her while she sat for hours.

Even though we don’t go so far as hiring jesters to amuse our subjects, wedding photographers often use little tricks to make their subjects look natural and true to their emotions. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to sit for hours now for one wedding portrait?! Thank you Leonardo for introducing emotion into the art world!

-Whitney Carlson

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Art Inspiration: Inventor of Oil Paintings Jun 29th | Art Inspiration

Jan van Eyck

Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami

Oil on Wood, 1434

(images from

I’m so excited about sharing this painting with you guys! It is one of my favorites for so many reasons. The artist is Jan van Eyck, and the title of it is Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami. There is so much detail in this painting, and so much to be said about it that I will not be able to get to it all. Also, I want to clarify that there is a lot of debate about the meaning and circumstances of the painting, so you may find different information out there than what I have shared.

What I love most about this painting is all the detail and symbolism that has gone into it. Many art historians speculate that this is a wedding portrait of sorts, that they are taking an oath to each other. The artist signed the painting, “Jan van Eyck was here” which suggests that it might even be a sort of legal document of an important oath, which you can also see in the position of their hands. There are other symbols that point towards an oath of marriage. The dog in the front, which is a symbol of fidelity, and the shoes that have been removed which represents holy ground that they are standing on.

There are also witnesses to this oath which are reflected in the mirror behind them. There is even more evidence that this is a religious ceremony of sorts by the image of the rosary and the passion of Christ which is shown in the circles around the mirror.

When I look at this painting and I think of my own work, I am reminded that there is much that can be said in a traditional portrait. Each detail should be important, each object you decide to include in an image has the ability to tell a story. What is important to the bride? What can you include that will give viewers a hint of what is going on at an event that you are photographing? Are there things that should be excluded? What does the pose say about this person? Think about this the next time you photograph someone, and see if you can add just a little something extra that can make the viewer see deeper into who they are looking at.

-Whitney Carlson

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Nashville Wedding Photographers, Whitney & Peter Carlson are Dove Wedding Photography.
Our wedding photography portfolio and information can be viewed on our portfolio site.

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2827 Azalea Place
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