Friday, November 25, 2011

Pointe Shoes, Balloons, and Spider Webs

     Over the Thanksgiving break I wanted to get some shoots done that I have been having in my head for a while. I'm meeting with some colleges for portfolio reviews and scholarship opportunities in the duration of the next few weeks. I really wanted to add to my portfolio with some recent images. My cousin Emma came to stay at my house for three days leading up to Thanksgiving so we could shoot. I had a total of four shoots I wanted to get done over a span of 3 days. The first day I could not drive because of very heavy fog and rain. And the second day was raining on and off. During the second day we went out and bought some props and had organized all the items needed for each shoot into bags (which I highly suggest for cutting down time during the day of the shoot).
     We found ourselves with only one day to shoot. Luckily the weather was perfect and the rain had dried from the previous days to allow us to get to locations easily. We started the day off at 9am and left the house and met with Francesca at 10am. I knew we couldn't get all 4 shoots done in a day seeing how we only have 7 hours of daylight due to day light savings. But I wanted to at least get 3 done so we had to shoot one shoot after the other without stopping. The day started out by driving to a location I had on a roof top. we had found this amazing red orchestrator themed jacket and a matching red pencil skirt at a local thrift shop. Emma does Ballet and dance so she brought along with her some pairs of pointe shoes. One pair were vibrant red which was perfect for the jacket. I wanted these pictures to be very traditional to the art of pointe and ballet, but also very high fashion and avant grade with a futuristic feel. Set up for this shoot took about 30min with hair and makeup and a few alterations to the jacket. The shoot took a total of 2 hours. Red is one of the hardest, if not the most, challenging color to photograph so working with the camera settings and lighting set me back with time. But in the end the pictures came out amazing and exactly how I had them imagined in my head.

     After we had the red jacket pictures done we moved right on to the next shoot. As I drove to the next location Emma was taking off the makeup and changing for the next 'look'. The drive only took about 10 minutes. I wanted this picture to be taken in an ally way but the location I had in mind was being worked on by construction workers so we had to find a new location on the spot. Luckily I had a back up. I parked about a block down and I did Emma's makeup and put her hair up for the wig. We had to walk to the alley which wasn't that far away. When we got there we had to set up which took about 30-45 minutes. We had to blow up 50+ balloons, we lost a good bit of them when the wind blew down the alley and took the balloons into the street. I'm sure passing by cars had a good time watching 20 colorful balloons pour out of the alley and into the street. Throughout shooting we heard the balloons popping off one by one. I wanted as much color as possible; from the color of her hair to the stains on the wall. I accomplished exactly what I was going for which made getting a headache from blowing all those balloons totally worth it.

After we finished the balloon shoot we had to move on to the last shoot. We went through a drive through and picked up lunch because we had no time to stop. We had about 3 hours left at this point which is a lot of time but also not enough. The shoot required almost 2 hours of setup. The location was also a half a hour away. By the time everything was set up and ready to shoot we had 30-45 minutes to capture the images. I had brought 3 bags of spider web to set up in this abandoned country club. This country club was establish by the same man who founded local parishes in my area and the building is over 100 years old. It was the perfect area to shoot. I had brought thumb takes to use to old the web. We learned the day before when scouting that the frame of the staircase did not have many nails or splinters to attach the web to. If we had not scouted the area previously the shoot would not have worked (another tip I suggest-scouting). Hair and makeup was done by Francesca and the head piece was created on site by me. It contained bats and a few crows :) Once we had the webs stretched and set, I made a plastic skin tight dress over her. I wanted the whole shoot to be a "black widow" themed. I wanted the 'widow' to be a young beautiful girl who is seemingly trapped so that the guy trying to free her would fall into her web were she would capture him (a little twisted, I know). Along with the story I had I wanted some original fashion installations made. This shoot has been in my head for a few months and I wasn't sure if I could the pictures captured with the dark lighting in the building. Or if I would have enough space to set up the web. Once we finished I was so relieved to have this done and accomplished the way I had envisioned.  

    I want to thank Emma for being so willing throughout the whole day and letting me cake makeup on her face and dress her and drag her around the whole day. And an even bigger thanks to Francesca for helping throughout the whole day. Without her non of these pictures could have happened. We all made a good team and got 3 shoots done in one day. Thank you!

xx austin


  1. silly white people thinking they know fashion

  2. I think providing provocative images and art is the goal here, not applying to some high fashion critique. I think he performed wonderfully, considering his amateur status, and would encourage the photographer to continue to grow and develop as an artist, and take away lessons from trusted instructors or mentors that are proven in the field - not from anonymous "non-white" (?) internet critics who offer no suggestion for development.

    I want to say the spider-web shots feel like the subject needs to have more interaction with the webs themselves, she looks too isolated and I feel like it hurts the narrative quality of the piece. If you intended it to be that way, I'd try to think of ways to better "tell the story." Remember that you want each image to be a novel, to spark in the viewer's mind some hint of a sweeping story. Good luck, and stick with it!


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