Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why I Was Surprised; Emotion on Both Sides

I had an interesting experience this week.

I set up a photo shoot with Seattle based model and actor Hans Iverson and, of course, my dream team; Serena Cook and Laura Klem.
We planned to shoot an editorial for Obscurae Magazine's "All Men" issue. I prepped like I always do, with brainstorming and story boarding, throwing ideas around and trying to put together a cohesive idea and lighting plan.
There were a few hiccups in the road (yes, I know that is an odd metaphor...but you still got the idea)
*ahem* someone missed the know who you are...but despite all of that, we gathered in my studio with tasty donuts and all our gear.

I've worked with models in the past. Each had their own distinct way of moving, of inhabiting space. Each one unique in their expression. I've always appreciated the singularity of every one of them, and enjoyed what set them apart from the others. I didn't expect anything different during this shoot, so I did what I always do.
I played some music.
I always play music during a shoot. It helps everyone relax, gives common ground, and sets the mood for the shoot. Sometimes it's Celtic folk music, sometimes its pop, sometimes it's the Rolling Stones. THIS time, though, it was the incomparable Sia.

I wanted the weight, the depth, the emotion of her voice and music to color the shoot. I wasn't prepared for what would happen, though.

Have you ever set about a task and had a plan in mind, only to see everything change in an instant and find yourself running to catch up? You realize that, in the words of the great Robert Burns, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley," or, to paraphrase for those not versed in 18th century Scots dialect, "the best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry."

When Hans started to move, to give expression to the song "Breathe Me," all my plans for the rest of the shoot went right out the window.
The emotion he was able to express was honest, raw, and cutting. I found myself pressing the shutter over and over, oblivious to everything going on around me. I heard the music, I watched the man, I pressed the shutter. I didn't even try to give any direction, I didn't need to. I was removed from all the plans I had made, not thinking about my next shot, just simply reacting in the moment to the man in front of my lens. I have never felt so much that any subject, model or client, was looking through the lens and at ME.

The song ended, Hans looked up at me, and I pressed the shutter one last time.
Serena and I both let out breaths I'm sure we didn't realize we had been holding and looked at each other with wide eyes.We had just been party to a singular moment, an impressive talent that moved beyond modeling and into something else; a hybrid of modeling and acting, some kind of truth neither of us had expected to see. It left my stomach in knots.

Even now, days later, when I look at the images I am still taken unaware at what was created there. While I love every photo I am able to take, from smiling families to fairy magic, it's moments like that one that awaken my creative mind, touch my soul, and make me grateful to be on the shooting end of a camera.

I hope it's not the last time I am privileged to experience it.

Since our editorial will be published in Obscurae Magazine, I can't share the photos with you YET, and believe me I would LOVE to, but as soon as the issue publishes I will plaster those suckers all over the place!

If you want to see some of Hans' work, head over to his website,

As always, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. What is one of YOUR most poignant moments behind the lens? In front of it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Finding Fairies

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been enamored with all things magical.
I'm pretty sure I was influenced by movies like Legend, and The Labyrinth as I grew up, not to mention anything Disney.

Yes, I am an unrepentant Disney geek.

If fact, and this is no lie, if I am in any body of water larger than a hot tub, I will have pretended I was a mermaid at least once. I'm 31 years old. No, I am not ashamed of myself.
All I know is, anything that holds the slightest bit of fairytale magic will indubitably grab my attention and refuse to let go...kind of like those product testers at the mall.

I've mentioned my love of conceptual work before, and now I am following and pursuing that with a passion. My first big effort will be happening this July, when a crew of ridiculously talented people will be joining me to create a Fairy Wedding. There will be fairies, dryads, elves, brownies, and who knows what other magical creatures will join in the fesitivies!? It's like all my childhood fantasies are coming true at once and every time I think about it I almost burst with excitement.

It's a big undertaking, though. There is a whole lot of planning, casting, creating, and money that goes into making things like this happen. What is important, though, are the people who are making this possible.
Without their time and talent, I'd be sitting in the forest by myself; a sad little photographer dreaming of magics.

We have got some stellar talent on board for this project. If you've ever read the blog before, you've been introduced to Serena Cook of Esoteric Makeup, and Laura Klem of The Best Little Hair House. They're my dream team, and I know they are capable of creating any look that I can dream up. If you've stuck around for a while, you've also seen some of the gorgeous creations of Elizabeth Ritter, the Swift Stitcher. She's going to be creating one of a kind ensembles for our cast of characters.
Of equal importance are the models who will be giving these characters life. As a first for me, we will also have uber talented Jennifer Jensen on board, who is going to use her mad body painting skills to create real life dryads!

I can't pass up the opportunity to plug these artists because more people need to know about the talented artists that are out there pursuing their dreams and fighting to make a living doing what they love. Hans Iverson, Ronda Olshefski,  Jeff Marlatt, and Oryx Leucoryx will be principle models for the shoot, and I cannot WAIT to get them in front of my lens!

The crew and I have been planning and scheming for months now, and I can honestly say that I have never been more keyed up for a project than I am for this one. Here are a few examples from test shoots that will give you a good idea of where we are going with this project.

This first model is the gorgeous Kayla Altman, who came out to shoot for fun and absolutely ROCKED it.

This next model is the lovely Ronda Olshefski, who will be our fairy Queen, Titania.

Hair and makeup by Laura Klem and Serena Cook, costumes pieced together by myself (thanks Goodwill!) and Serena Cook, wings from the peerless Fancy Fairy Wings and Things, and ears by Aradani Studios.

I'm already more than excited about the images we've created so far. Once the final photos are in my computer, I may just pee on myself in pure ecstasy.