By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Beautiful imagery is more than just a business for husband-and-wife duo Jonathan and Bonnie Burton. Individually, they’re talented, educated, expert photographers with remarkable technical skills. Together, as Burton Photography, they’re an impressive force of creativity that uses true artistry to explore life’s most precious moments.
The glory of the Blue Ridge hill country often plays the backdrop for their portrait, wedding, fine art and commercial work, which always tells the story of the people and places it features.
While both Jonathan and Bonnie are brilliant photographers on their own, they’re even more incredible when they work as a team.
Jonathan and Bonnie began their individual careers in photography by creating images for their own enjoyment, which later evolved for both into a passion for capturing memories, relationships and beauty for clients.
Raised in Avery County, Jonathan had been running his own studio in the High Country for more than two decades when he met Bonnie at the East Coast School, an intensive weeklong seminar hosted by the Professional Photographers of North Carolina.
In addition to working as a professional photographer, Bonnie, a graduate of Wake Forest University’s music education program, was living and teaching in the Winston-Salem area at the time.
The two joined creative forces in 2010, were married the following year and now work together to offer high quality, fine art photography services in the High Country and beyond.
Together, they describe their style as “timeless and illustrative — the Art of Life.”
“A single image can be a beautiful portrait, and a series of images can tell a story,” they explained. “We strive to combine the endless beauty of the High Country with our enthusiasm for illustrating the personalities of our subjects — the melding of these two elements.”
The acclaimed duo and their work have been recognized on state, regional and international levels, earning a number of prestigious awards from industry greats like Fuji, Kodak and Canon, as well as associations including Professional Photographers of North Carolina, Southeast Professional Photographers Association and Professional Photographers of America.
The Art of Life
The bulk of their work lies in portraiture, where they capture families, babies and children, high school seniors, special occasions and more.
“Portraiture makes up the largest portion of our work,” said Bonnie. “We also have our commercial clients, and for them we create numerous business headshots, architectural images, illustrative images of their workplaces in action, images for their annual reports, etc.”
The Burtons also shoot close to a dozen weddings in a season, which often runs through spring, summer and fall months, and they typically shoot engagement and bridal portrait sessions for each couple.
“We limit the number of weddings we photograph so that we can be extra attentive to our wedding clients,” she said.
For Jonathan and Bonnie, photographing a client means getting to know that person or family in order to produce an image that best reflects their personalities, their passions and their experiences.
“Many of our clients have turned into close and lasting friends. Getting to know our clients is a continuous cycle of meeting and making new friends, as well as reuniting with old friends,” said Bonnie. “Social media has been a wonderful means of keeping that connection alive. We love seeing our family portrait subjects add new members, our wedding couples getting new jobs, homes, having babies, and seeing our child portrait subjects deciding where to go to college.
“We celebrate our clients’ life milestones with great excitement and affection. Many times, we have been called upon to provide a portrait of a loved one who has passed away. We never forget how precious these images are to family members who are separated from someone they love so much.”
A true love for their profession drives the Burtons to grow and learn as artists every day.
“We are energized by regular trips to view and study the work of other artists, especially at the Smithsonian galleries in Washington, D.C., at several of our favorite galleries in Asheville and, of course, the work of local artists in the High Country,” Jonathan said. “Studying the art of others helps refine an idea or inspire us to try something new. Bonnie especially loves the work of the great portrait artists, as well as the ancient technique of encaustic — the layering of beeswax and resin to create one-of-a-kind, original pieces of portrait art.
“In order to stay up-to-date with quickly evolving technology and techniques, we frequently participate in educational experiences, learning from internationally recognized artists. The joy our images bring to our clients keeps us continually striving for an even higher level of excellence in the images we create.”
They’re constantly working to offer their very best to clients, and they look to the people and places around them for continued inspiration.
“No matter what time of the year, we know of beautiful locations and are constantly seeking out new places to explore. Whether it’s a field covered in wildflowers, a moss-covered rocky stream, layers of the Blue Ridge, weathered barns and cabins or miles of fences and rock walls, there is beauty everywhere,” the Burtons agreed. “We find soft, directional lighting that is most flattering to our subjects. Because we don’t always have the ideal light, we have the technical skills and equipment to modify the existing light if needed.”
So, what’s new with Burton Photography? In addition to their exceptional photography services, Jonathan and Bonnie now offer “Live Portraits” and “Talking Business Cards,” which use a smartphone application to bring still images to life by connecting them with video.
“Imagine a portrait of a child that comes to life, and the wonderment of being able to hear your young child’s sweet voice several years later as they’re getting ready to leave home for their next big adventure in life. Priceless,” Bonnie said. “Imagine a business card with a professional’s portrait that magically starts to tell the story of that person, inviting a more personal connection with their potential clients.”
To see the magic of a Live Portrait, all you need to do is download the free Live Portrait app on your smartphone, open it up and hold it over the image (whether it’s hanging on your wall, on a screen or the front of your Christmas card or business card) and watch the image come to life.
Want to try it out? Get the app, open it up and set your sights on the photo to the right, which features a family and yellow balloons.
“This past year, we created several Live Portrait Christmas cards, and we’re still getting rave reviews as friends and family not only received a beautiful card during the holidays, but it also came to life as our portrait subjects actually spoke right from their card,” said Bonnie.
“We are excited that advances in technology are making these sorts of innovations possible for us to offer our clients,” she said.
Jonathan and Bonnie look forward to their 11th annual “Portraits on the Parkway” event in May, which enables Burton Photography to make a generous donation to the Blue Ridge Parkway. They are happy to give back to the community in this and other ways, often donating gift certificates or other services to local organizations and their fundraising events.
Need a photographer for an upcoming special occasion? Is it time for new family portraits? Can’t wait to have a Live Portrait of your own?
“Most of all, we love creating beautiful images as a team. Playing off each other’s creativity intensifies the success we find as we are working together,” they said. “We share an artistic vision and have the highest trust and respect for one another’s abilities. We are passionate about the images we produce and capturing a moment that can never again be duplicated, knowing that, to its owner, it will only become more valuable as the years pass. We feel so blessed to live in the beautiful High Country and work with such wonderful people.”
Portraits by Burton Photography: