Marie Antoinette Inspired Shoot

If you read my last post, you know I am sort of reinventing myself now that I have much more time to devote to my career.  I've recently discovered the importance of just being creative.  Kids learn through play - are we adults really any different?  The issue for us is allowing ourselves the time to do so. For a long time I felt I was up against such a steep learning curve with photography that playing wasn't an option.  Between lighting, posing, directing my subject, and manipulating the camera for the best shot, I was overwhelmed.  I was also trying to shoot in several different genres of photography, and that kept my head spinning.  It took a long time for me to truly own my role as a women's portrait photographer.  Letting go of photographing everything wasn't easy, especially when there was a demand for me to excel in each of those areas, but the decision to specialize was the best choice I've made yet.  It's not that I won't shoot families or children, because I do, but focusing on a smaller subset of my field allows me to master that area in a smaller time frame.  It also affords me the ability to do that which I am most passionate about.  Now that I'm more comfortable with the basics of photography as a discipline, and completely in love with photographing and serving women, I am taking the time to explore within my genre and to really hone in on my style.   So here's your heads up for some fun and outside-of-the-box material from me in the coming weeks!

One aspect of photography that's been a tough pill for me to swallow is "it's all been done before."  When you're learning, it's really easy to feel the impossibility of creating something truly unique and original.  It's also easy to look at the work of many brilliant photographers and throw up your hands.  But after wrestling with these ideas numerous times and feeling defeated as a result, I am now embracing the mindset that learning and inspiration occur through mimicking the work of those you admire - those who are the very best in your field.  I adore the soft, ethereal, feminine portraits created by my favorite photographer, Sue Bryce .  Her current work often harks back to another time.  It could be Victorian or vintage, but there is beauty in her work more breathtaking than I could imagine, and I am always anxiously awaiting what she will do next.  Like Sue, I believe women are overly sexualized in modern media, and I would love to capture their beauty, femininity and sensuality in my own images with a similar soft, ethereal, vintage feel.

I won't prattle on today about my heroes, but I am always trying to achieve their skill level in my work.  So, one of my hair and makeup artists (and dear friend) Tyson Keanum and I put our heads together for a Marie Antoinette inspired shoot.  Tyson scored an amazing dress at a thrift store years ago, and had always wanted to do a shoot with it.  He even knew of someone who fit perfectly in the dress and she was willing to be our model.  Having watched a tutorial on building beautiful hair pieces out of inexpensive "fake hair", I was all about trying my hand at this skill.  I approached this shoot with bridal portraits in the back of my mind.  It would be so beautiful to modify this idea for a bride - to create a glamorous, elegant bridal portrait she could treasure.  

So Tyson and I set to work "making hair".  He came over with this doll head he'd used in cosmetology school branded "Deluxe Debra" and after getting some good laughs about her name, we bolted her to the table and got right to work.   

We took turns sewing but ultimately Tyson did the bulk of the work, taking it home to finish it up.  So on the day of the shoot beautiful Sarah joined us at the studio to be transformed into Marie Antoinette.  First though, I wanted to capture some beautiful images of her just as she is.  Sarah is so warm and friendly, and a joy to photograph.  Here are a few of her portraits.

Then the transformation began.  I felt like I was on a movie set watching Tyson work his magic.

Once her look was completed by the dress, I had a blast posing Sarah.  Not only was this fun, but I also have a sense of pride about these images. I attempted something completely out of my comfort zone, and the outcome was a true success in my book.  I am so excited to modify this style to capture amazing, one-of-a-kind bridal portraits.  I would LOVE to take myself back in time 11 years and do the same for yours truly, but I digress.  What do you guys think?  Oh, and very special thanks to Tyson Keanum for contributing the amazing hair, makeup, and wardrobe for this shoot, and to Sarah, our beautiful and easy going Marie Antoinette.