This week on the Promoting Passion video blog I get to explore a much sought after location with one of my favorite models, Jen Brook. We spent an entire weekend shooting while I was hosting a retreat, but when that was all over we still couldn’t get enough. So, while driving away from the retreat, we made a B-line over to this location that a couple of my friends helped me locate.
It was stunning, and I had an idea for it a while before I ever got there. However, I didn’t know I was going that day, and I ended up having to use whatever I happened to have with me. Unsure of what the angle restrictions would be, I decided to scope things out and then start shooting when the sun went down. On the beach, that always leaves very little time to shoot given that the horizon line is not obstructed by anything; so essentially, once the sun goes down, you only have minutes to get the shot.
There were also many other photographers there shooting everything from fashion to engagement shoots, so the advantage to shooting later was that the moment I pulled my camera out, everyone else was packing theirs in. I had the whole place to myself for a blissful 20 minutes.
After creating the image of the tower, I decided to shoot a sequel…a fairytale gone wrong, in which she ends up on the ground after jumping from the tower. In the first image I had imagined a fairytale character trapped in the tower, so she fashions herself a dress from her bed sheet and uses a rope to jump/fly/float down to the bottom.
It was incredibly inspiring to use props that I happened to have on hand. Rope and a bed sheet were all that I had in the car, so I used what I had to create. The bed sheet truly made the perfect dress for my vision and I was so thrilled that I didn’t feel held back in any way by not having expensive props. I hope you enjoy the resulting images!
Do you ever shoot with whatever you have laying around? Do you ever challenge yourself to shoot minimally and see what your imagination does? I challenge you!
As photographers, we know how hard it is to suddenly step on the other side of the camera, whether it is for ourselves or for someone else. I personally feel much more comfortable taking my own photograph for the simple reason that I have control. I can hit delete or use any picture I choose, whereas with someone else, they have that control.
I was in need of a new headshot because I’ve been using the same thing for ages. I have always taken my own headshots because it just seemed normal. I know how to work a camera, so why would I get someone else to do it? Well, I the more I thought about that notion, the more it intrigued me to ask someone else to portray me as they see me. I wondered where we would shoot, and what types of poses or expressions they would ask for.
So, while I was in St. Louis, MO and staying with my good friend Amy Parrish, I knew she was the perfect person to ask. I adore her style, though it is different from my own. I believe in her ability to capture a person’s soul. So I asked her if she would honor me with a picture. I am so thankful she agreed. We had a whole thing planned for the forest, but with freezing temps and busy schedules we never got around to shooting there. So instead, on a short break, as we stood in our hotel room, she took my picture.
I had been playing with the curtains and watching how the beautiful evening light filled the room, and when she noticed, she fell in love with it too. I started walking away from the window when she told me to stop, and asked if we could do the shoot right then and there. I thought it sounded perfect, and so in less than 5 minutes she took these pictures of me.
Strange, how a 5 minute photo shoot in a hotel room can completely capture how I feel inside, but it did. The way she processed the images, the way she posed me…it felt right. I felt like myself, and somehow, that is the hardest thing to feel when in front of the camera. Like you belong. Like you are being captured in a way that is true to who you are.
So there we have it. A new headshot and some pictures I will cherish forever because of the memory and because my amazing friend Amy captured them.
If you know me, you know that I am a child. I am a little innocent child at the center of it all and that is how I love living my life. I don’t turn a blind eye to all things, but if I can control how I see a situation, it is very often with a child’s innocence. For this reason, and many more, I have a vivid imagination as well as an insatiable appetite for all things magical.
I’ve been counting the months until I would be able to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Oh yes, I adore Harry Potter…more than you are understanding right now. So when I got the chance to give a lecture in Florida, I immediately resolved that I would be going to visit the Harry Potter theme park. It was Tuesday. I woke up in a flurry of excitement very much like I used to do as a child on the summer day when I would get to go to Hershey Park (my local theme park) once a year. I put on my best magical wardrobe that I had traveled with (completely with fairytale white dress, TARDIS knee socks, a cloak, and pigtails) and headed out the door.
When we started walking up to the park, I realized that I had forgotten my camera. I felt heartbroken! I wanted so badly to capture the magic of the day. We didn’t even have cell phones with us. So it was decided that when we got into the park, despite it being far overpriced, we would buy two disposable cameras. I hadn’t used one in about 7 years, and holding it in my hand felt magical somehow, as though I had stepped back in time to when that was normal. I loved not being able to see the pictures I was taking. I loved not worrying about camera settings. I just took pictures of everything that made me happy, silly or not, and I was completely content.
I got many knowing winks and nods and shouts from people who recognized my Doctor Who socks and even waited in line with someone I went to college with, all the while approaching the wand shop (my favorite thing). When I finally got to go inside there was a demonstration of how to use a wand, and myself and my sister-in-law were chosen to demonstrate the feat. I was over the moon. I was smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe that I had been chosen. Yes, chosen. Don’t hate.
After my wand chose me and I got to perform a spell in front of the crowd I hurriedly moved into the wand shop to purchase my pride and joy…a tourist trap, perhaps, but completely worth the money spent. To feel like a child. To feel magical. To feel powerful. To believe in make-believe. A wand is just a stick in the wrong hands, as so many things in life are. Any situation can be turned negative or positive. Any part of life can be seen with magic or without, and it is up to us to decide which side we are on: the side of magic, or not.
The pictures I took with my disposable camera show the happiest of memories. I was beaming all day long and still am, thinking of how in control I felt over my happiness. I truly felt as though I let the magic in me shine.
I have been thinking a lot about self-portraiture and why I adore it so much. It certainly isn’t because I love being in front of a camera or because I adore the way I look. It goes far beyond our traditional standards of beauty and into the realm of self-discovery, which is so much more beautiful than what any industry can tell me. Self-portraiture is a way of putting yourself in your imagination and becoming the character of your story. It is the ability to understand your own strengths to create an impactful image. It is so much more than meets the eye. It is your own personal declaration of pride, love, and strength.
For these reasons, I am starting a project entitled “I AM ME” which makes the very clear statement that we should be proud of who we are no matter our differences. The most powerful message of self-acceptance must come from within, and if at all possible, that message should be spread far and wide.
What I ask of you is this: Create a self-portrait. It does not have to be personal, or it can be the most personal thing you have ever photographed. It does not have to be traditional, but must feature you (or part of you) in some way. Along with your self-portrait, I want you to finish this sentence with one word: “I am ________”.
In the comments of this blog post I want you to share your self portrait by pasting a link and writing the sentence “I am _________”. The deadline is March 15.
It can be incredibly scary. It might be less scary than you think. It might be very difficult to push past how you see yourself to see the truth: your physical beauty is irrelevant. By not seeing yourself for the person you are (a beautiful and unique individual), you buy into the idea that there is a universal standard of beauty.
Let’s not. Let’s do something to change it. Let’s decide, all together, right now, that we can be the main character in our stories. I sincerely hope you’ll join me on this.
If more people talked honestly about their failures rather than their successes we’d be able to see that we’re all in this life together.
In making that statement I do not mean to target any one person, nor was there anything in particular that really made me think it. And I also don’t mean to say that I’m perfect, or that there is any right way of behaving. Hearing about success makes us want it more and is a big motivator, and so in the right context it is wonderful to hear about. I get so excited for people when I hear about good things happening.
However, it is so easy to follow another person in your field and say, “wow, so many great things happen to that person and they probably never fail like I do.” That is never true. Everybody fails. Everybody has bad days. But not everybody talks about it. I am a big believer in failure. I would rather tell you about that shoot last week that went horribly wrong than to tell you all about how proud I am of myself for getting a picture published in a magazine. Why? Because it’s human.
We all fail. We all make mistakes. There are times when we find success and times when we don’t. But what success matters? That is the important distinction. I have a personal philosophy that if I don’t have to, I won’t post anything about “name-brand” successes. Sometimes there is obligation, like having to share about gallery shows. And that’s great, because it is information that people might want to know about. But sharing publicly about this award or that magazine doesn’t seem relevant, and makes me feel like I’m too focused on what my images do for my career rather than what my images do for me; which is more profound and important than anything else.
I like to share personal successes, when I’ve created an image that touched something inside of me. I share that. I shout it to the rooftops that I am doing what I love and I want with all my heart for you to do the same. My biggest hope in doing so is to encourage someone else to live the life of their dreams.