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?


  1. So happy for you Nicole! Keep up the good work :D

  2. Thank you :)
    I'm excited about where things are going, and I hope they keep moving forward!