I'm just getting the hang of this blogging thing.... My last post could have contained a lot more images, and I'm working out a kink with compression that won't be fixed until my next shoot. Most of you will be reading this on your phones, and probably through a facebook link, so I'll keep that in mind for future posts. Welcome back!
This is the story of a pregnancy shoot for a good friend, Llewellyn. At the time when shot these photos in my home studio in Gainesville, Florida, she was 33 weeks pregnant. Enjoy!
I've had a studio on my mind for years. I've always wanted a space where I can do my art, where I can meet my clients. Not just someplace where I can store all of these photo booth props(there are a ton of them and I want more), but a place with tall windows where I can paint the floor and the walls any color I want for any project. I imagine my clients coming to see their photos on a big projector screen with friends and family, I would keep a collection of interesting chairs, and one night every month I would open the studio for an art show. A girl can dream...
For now, I have a pretty big living room, and a spare bedroom for an office. I can't paint the floors and walls, but I have a collection of backdrops I've made from up-cycled upholstery fabric and discarded paint. I have enough stands to set up six of these, and I have done so for fashion shows in the past. The equipment I work with is limited, but I learned from jewelry design that you can do a lot with very little, as long as you understand the principles of a medium and know how to use the tools you have.
Additionally, I can fit everything into my car and set up my studio anywhere, with or without electricity. I work with what I've got, and I do as much DIY as I can, and I think the result is something singular and spectacular. No one else has these backdrops, they're one of a kind, and my little home studio is intimate and comfortable. I have workarounds in photoshop if I want to create the effect of a larger studio setting. It's actually really nice.
I hadn't seen Llew in a while, but there's something about old Gainesville friends where it doesn't really matter how long it's been. We just kind of pop into each other's lives now and again and it's like we were hanging out yesterday. I'm sure you can all relate. So I hear through some mutual friends that she was going to have a baby and I immediately wanted to do this shoot. Llewellyn has always been a magical creature, perhaps taken from another time, or from the pages of a book. She's hard working and industrious, and horse girl to the bone. She's tough and sweet, somehow mythical, and also a classic beauty.
I had been inspired by classical painters, trying to imagine how I could bring that painterly aspect to some of the work I do, and so I visited the Appleton sometime around Valentine's day, where I saw a painting called 'Springtime' by Pierre Auguste-Cot, and happened upon the exact same painting at the Met after our shoot but before editing the photos(we were visiting family and saw sooooo very much art). I also wanted to see some work by Vermeer and other Dutch masters, but the look was too dark, and not exactly what I was imagining. I suppose I mixed up Rococo with Vermeer, or something. I'm a terrible art historian. Lesson learned. Anyway, it was low contrast and treatment of highlights and shadows that I learned I should focus on if I wanted to achieve this effect, and I sought out these paintings in real life to learn that.
I chose to alter the background in some of these images to make it seem as though we were working with a much larger backdrop, but I also feel that there's something interesting about a photo that includes the backdrop in the background, something like breaking the fourth wall, where the viewer is allowed to see the space where the photo was taken, giving it context, sometimes creating a narrative. That old skull finds its way into so much of my art. It's about as repurposed as I am.
Here's a quick video on how I altered the backgrounds in photoshop. It's a pretty useful technique.
My studio shoots are always fun; it's a creative journey we go on together, not really sure where it's going to take us but with a direction in mind we find our way. Each shoot is an exploration of the subject matter, whether it be an object or a person, but a portraiture session always seems to bring with it a new element of discovery and appreciation.
I suppose our next shoot will be an infant shoot! Many thanks to Llewellyn for sitting for these, putting up with my crazy ideas, and for being my friend all these years.
Enjoy this collection of images from the shoot, and please reach out if you'd like to schedule something like this for yourself!
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Illustrious Floridian Photographer Extraordinaire