Early in the summer I traveled to Idaho to take part in a conceptualized shoot with a wonderfully talented friend, Krista Melone of Five &Five Photography. She had a vision for a female version of Indiana Jones, and I got to watch her bring her vision to life and take part in the process.
Over the course of my stay there, we talked about my visions. I told her how much I had enjoyed the process and that I wished I could do something like that. Krista assured me that I could. I timidly suggested a small project I might be able to pull together based on some Grimm’s Fairy tales, and we tossed around some ideas.
By the time I left Idaho, I was full of new editing techniques, new knowledge about shooting in different lighting and for different styles, and new confidence in myself as an artist. My brain was racing with ideas for artistic conceptualized shoots I could put together. I ended up bypassing the Grimm’s Fairy Tale idea because it was not the right season. It would have to wait until the trees lost their leaves. Instead, I opted for a small single image concept embedded in a boudoir session. One of the things I had learned in Idaho was about building my boudoir clientele through model calls. So I asked a model to allow me to do something drastic and artistic at the end of her boudoir session.
I started with a simple idea: gold and glitter. That led to an idea for an almost steampunk lighting plan, and then the idea of free flowing fabric. I contacted Babette Shedd, of Faces by Babbette, to help me get the make up right. Babette was amazing. She was able to help me express the idea in my head in words and then bring it to life using glitter, metallic body paints, and gold leaf.
Meanwhile in the back of my head a much larger project was brewing. I wanted to bring the Witches of Macbeth to life. As a former English teacher who had reveled in the Scottish play for years, I wanted to explore the kind of fierce beauty that might bring a man to his knees and make him abandon everything he knew to be good and true.
I connected with Glennis Black from the Cosmetology Department at the Limestone County Technical Center to collaborate on hair and makeup. I then contacted three women I knew would make the perfect Weird Sisters: Maija Telley, Sharonetha Williams, and Angel Elliott and I set about making costumes and gathering props.
An old wash pot from the neighbor of another friend became our cauldron; some found bones in a back alley became part of the potion; a former student’s Halloween skull, Rupert, was drafted for the project; tarot cards and rope and PVC pipe and scraps of fabric all came together to create a witchy, creepy, spooky backdrop.
On the day of the session, Glennis Black brought three of her cosmetology students with her to help create the fierce weird sisters. My sister-in-law and mother were on board as assistants and my husband acted as grip setting up the cauldron and hauling the witches’ hut from one place to another for the various scenes.
The models were incredible! It was the hottest day of the year and there they were in leather corsets, long skirts with leggings, full make up and velvet capes! We began shooting in the full shade behind the studio around 5 o’clock with intermittent breaks to bring the models back into the air conditioning.
We ended the shoot on the other side of the property bringing our the fog machine, the lighting system, and all the models at once, along with all the volunteer hands to help create the final images.
By the time it was over, I was both exhausted and exhilarated! On a shoestring budget, with a little creativity, and a lot of help from friends, we had pulled it off and I had gotten almost all of the shots I had envisioned for the project.
Like any junkie, I am hooked on the idea of creating personal projects to keep myself inspired and fresh as well as constantly learning and growing. Keep an eye out for future conceptualized shoots!