Monday, February 17, 2014

Creating Ophelia: An Adventure into Conceptual Photography

This post is LONG overdue.

I would like to make the excuse that I've been busy, but let's face it...everyone is busy. It's just an excuse. If something is important, you either make the time or you make excuses.
I'm finally making the time.

You might have read my blog post on conceptual portraiture. It's an area I would like to explore more, and ideally, the direction in which I would like to see my work move.
I had been busy with family portraits, head shots, portfolio work and boudoir photos and...while I love to capture all those moments...I felt like my creativity was withering away in some dark corner of my soul. There was a small spark of it somewhere in my chest, but the only reason I still knew it even existed was because it was whimpering in despair. In an effort to find my lost creativity I followed the sound of it's crying, found the malnourished little bugger, and brought it out into the light of day.

Serena of Esoteric Makeup, the talented makeup artist who helped me create our famed Zombie Apocalypse family portraits, immediately climbed on board when I suggested a creative shoot.
We agreed that Hamlet's Ophelia would be a great subject to conceptualize.Youth and beauty coupled with madness and despair...what a photo that could make!

Serena suggested a costume designer she had worked with before, namely Elizabeth Ritter, who is fondly known as The Swift Stitcher. She seemed to be as excited as the two of us were to tackle Ophelia and bring her to life.

So we had the photographer, the makeup artist, and the costumer. All we needed was the model and a hair stylist.

I was lucky that I had a good friend who is also a bad ass hair stylist. Laura was on board. 4 down.

The model was the last to enter the game, and I will admit that I began to fear we wouldn't find that perfect person who would embody everything we hoped for.
THANK the Lord for Facebook!

Enter Hannah Lynn Payne, the gorgeous younger daughter of a family I have been acquainted with for years. Both she and her family graciously agreed to let us steal Hannah, cover her in makeup, bobby pins and hair spray, and snap photos to our hearts content.

There was the whole preparation process, which I wont delve into except to admit that it was full of small, irritating details that were both absolutely necessary and completely mind shopping for the PERFECT fake flowers to adorn our model.

ON to the big day. I was nervous and excited all at the same time.
Strangely enough, a big creative shoot like this is almost like giving birth. You spend days, weeks, months even, imagining how everything will be and what the end result will look like. Will the process be painful? Will the result be beautiful?
The anticipation is terrible, but the results are worth it!

I literally got to watch a fairy tale come to life before my eyes.
Hannah is a lovely teenage girl. She's all American, athletic, with pretty blonde hair and blue eyes and lovely skin. She's pretty much every girl next door.
Within 2 hours, she didn't even look like the same person.

Serena had painted a new face. Now she looked like something fey, strange and lovely at the same time.
Laura had crafted a coifure that was familiar yet a bit wild.
Elizabeth stitched a dress that seemed pulled right out of history, and yet didn't really fit with any traditional dress I've ever seen.
Hannah was gone, and Ophelia sat in front of us.
I don't think any one of us were really prepared for seeing the embodiment of what we had been imagining for months.

The whole shoot went down under a bit of a spell. As I took photos, gave Hannah direction for posing and expression, watched Serena touch up makeup or Laura tweak hair just a bit... I felt like I was watching a fairy tale happen.

Toward the end of the shoot, I gave Ophelia some direction for what I wanted her to do. She was to start to pull her hair style out, tear out some of the flowers we had placed, and just generally let herself fall to pieces.

I swear, once she began to move and I started pressing the shutter button the whole room went silent. The last sound I heard was the indrawn breath of every person sitting in the background. Ophelia was real, sitting in front of us, and her mind was beginning to unravel. It was absolutely spell binding.

My poor withered creativity had sprung to flaming life with a vigor that left sear marks inside my chest. It was a reawakening. A reminder that CREATION is what I love, and what drives me.
Capture is important, and I can't say how much I enjoy being able to capture important moments for my clients. It is the creation, though, that makes me feel as if everything that I've got inside, everything that inspires me to dream, has been birthed and is now on display. I get to share my secret dreams with people who view my photographs, and in that viewing I've forged a connection between myself and someone else on a level beyond words.

I feel it, though. It's exhilarating. It's now my goal.

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