Explore the World of Surreal Fashion Designer Rachel Epley.
Styling for Artistic Portraiture
1. Kalina you work in a Museum in Washington, D.C. so you are literally surrounded by the most amazingly styled beauty constantly! I’m so jealous! How would you say this influences how you style for photo shoots?
The collection of art at National Gallery of Art is most definitely a constant source of inspiration
for me. Every time I walk thru the galleries I rediscover a painting that I have seen a hundred
times It’s either a color or detail in a dress that catches my attention and makes me study it all
over again. In addition, the curators rotate the artwork constantly so there is always new
paintings to admire.
2. Your husband is an amazing photographer/artist in his own right, you two must have so muchfun with your passion for art, photography and beauty. Is the style and forethought that goes into styling your sessions always your idea, or is it a group effort?
Kelly usually gives me a vague idea, a key word – sort of “one-liner” of what he envisioned and
what he want’s the final image to be and I take it from there. I put together a costume/ outfit
sometimes I make one. Then I work on details, jewelry, shoes etc. and then present it to him.
Sometimes he has a suggestion- usually he wants things “bigger, puffier, longer” rarely smaller!
Once the outfit is ready he set’s up the scene and we take it from there. If it’s my own shoot, I
usually do both. Sometimes an outfit/dress is an inspiration and that would determine my
scene selection, colors, accessories and props. But sometimes is the other way around.
For the most part it is definitely a group effort because each one of us look at things from
different perspective and will pick up on different things.
3. What is your most current styling, artistic obsession?
Kelly and I have been working extensively on low light studio portraits. Inspired by Dutch
Masters, specifically Vermeer, Gerard Ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu. We love not only the
subject matter but mostly the intimacy of a quiet scenes unfolding in private houses and the
masterful lighting always coming from one direction and bouncing off textures and objects
surrounding the main subject. It looks completely casual yet very calculated. Kelly and I find it
4. If you could work with one time period, what would be your favorite and why?
I have been fascinated for years with the movement of Pre-Raphaelites. It was a secret society
of young artists (mostly painters, one writer) founded in 1848 in London, who were opposed to
classical norms embraced by British Royal Academy and their promotion of Raphael and the
Renaissance beauty cannon. Their subject matter was anything from mythology, biblical scenes through medieval legends to romanticism. And because of that I find it so interesting and
inspiring. So the short answer would be the Romantic period- with a very broad definition of it.
5. Who is your favorite artist?
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent, John William Waterhouse and Boticelli. For me it is very hard to name just one.
6. How would you define your personal style?
I’m a Libra – so if I had to describe my own style I would say is “Bipolar” I will wear for weeks
black on black accessorized with black or over the top flamboyant-Iris Apfel like.
7. Do you follow designers and trends? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love fashion and always keep an eye on what’s new. This does not necessarily mean I run to
the store and buy something in neon lime, but I’m always interested where my favorite
designers find their inspiration and how it evolved. I love Roberto Cavalli and and his prodigy-
Olivier Roustering who is a creative director of Balmain. I think fashion- especially High Fashion
is a form of art, art that we can play with and enjoy on daily basis.
8. What advice would you give to other photographers looking to style their own sessions?
Don’t copy others. Go out there and be YOU. Go out there and discover what makes you tick.
Read a book, watch an old movie, travel and look around. Very often we overlook or ignore
wonderful objects that are right in front of us. Maybe a family member has a great collection of
something that would make a great image? It could be something very simple, you just need to
have a vision. Find your inspiration. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” but we
all as artist should strive to be us, to be different, to be one of a kind!
Kalina Schneider was born and raised in Poland, Europe. In her early years she was interested in art and was drawing and painting. She had a few successful exhibitions in her home town- Katowice.
She has a Maters Degree from Silesian University in Katowice, Poland where she studied Art History and Cultural Studies.
After finishing college, she took a sabbatical and was working as a travel agent in Turkey. In 2000 she moved to London, UK to study English where she had a short love affair with fashion design and started her own small fashion line… but ultimately she gave it up and accepted a job as a flight attendant.
In 2006 she moved to Kingdom of Bahrain to fly for their flag airline, where she met and married her husband Kelly Schneider. Kalina’s passion for traveling the world combined with the same love of Kelly, ignited their mutual interest in photography.
After moving back to the US Kalina helped her husband run a successful landscape photography studio. Selling prints at local galleries gradually faded as the world of portraiture brought a new life and vision to their work.
Today they are based in Washington DC and specialize in Fine Art Portrait and Boudoir photography-KSfinearts.com – as well as teaching photography to professional photographers in the USA and in Europe.