Going Back To My Roots - My re-entry into Editorial Styled Shoots

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First, I lived in Philly. I was a club kid and a professional dancer (not on a pole). I tended bar for money, I traveled, and I lived my 20's like a true rebel loving life.

Then, I lived in Amsterdam. It was beyond what you can imagine (and not for the reasons you think).

Then, I lived in Boston. I put myself through Emerson College from 26 until I was 30.

Then, I lived in Los Angeles. I got married there. I produced television there.

Then, I taught myself A LOT about photography. I got good. I met people. I shot music makers. I shot models, I shot naked people, I shot food. I learned a lot. I got published a lot. I dreamed of shooting editorial and fashion.

Then I got pregnant. I stopped taking photos for a long time. I had very bad postpartum depression and a baby to raise in LA, where it was not unusual to drive up to an hour for a play date. But I got better.

Then, we moved back to Boston, and I picked up my camera again. I started photographing families. Soon, it was weddings. After that, it was food. And then people with autism. Storytelling portraiture.

But all the while, I wanted still to shoot for Vogue. For W Magazine. For Harper’s Bazaar. For Dazed and Confused. For whoever would let me do it my way. But how could that happen for me in Boston—a town that is very cosmopolitan, yet so behind trends on the other hand? The tapes in my head kept saying, "Forget it, stick to what you know. You love weddings, food, families, and documentaries. Play it safe. What if you suck?"

Then, I met Dave Jackson.

Last year, I attended and mentored at Inspire and went to a talk given by this 6'4’’ redheaded guy who scared the crap out of me for about 10 seconds. Then, he opened his mouth, and I knew there was no way this guy and I were not gonna be friends. His name? Dave Jackson. An incredible photographer from Wisconsin. Yes, you read that right. He shoots big jobs for big people and lives there with his amazing wife and 3 kickass kids.

He gave a talk called "It's OK to suck." You know how sometimes you are in the right place at the right time because you need to hear that one thing that wakes you up? Well, in that room I was riveted. His work inspired me. I felt like I was the only one in the room. I was sucking up everything he said. Not to mention he is funny as shit. I'm a sucker for funny.

After the conference, Dave was supposed to fly home to Wisconsin, but if you know anything about winters in New England, there is always a chance you won't be going anywhere. So I offered our guest room to Dave so he could reschedule his flight home, get a good night’s sleep, and be on his way the next day. He said yes, and the next thing I knew, Dave, my husband, and I were having drinks, eating truffle popcorn, and shooting the shit in my kitchen.

Then, Dave asked to see my work. Not my wedding work but my work from my past. My editorial stuff. So I opened my computer and showed him. He was quiet for a bit and then said the following to me:

"Not to discredit the wedding work, it's good. But can you please tell me why the hell you stopped doing THIS STUFF? Cause it's good, and you should do more"

I froze. Why did I stop doing that stuff? And then I thought: Hell, if Dave can do campaigns for HBO, Jeffree Star, Revolver Magazine, and countless editorial and commercial jobs in Appleton, WI, why am I not trying to do fashion here in Boston? If I don't like the way editorial fashion is shot here, I need to friggin’ change the scene!

Then I set up my first styled shoot in about 12 years.

I found models through Model Club Inc. I did a real go-see and had my pick of portfolios. I contacted my friend Harper, the brilliant designer/owner behind Seams Couture in Providence, RI, and asked her if she was interested. I called my dear Philly buddy and now Providence resident and creative genius hair guru, Claudia Curl. She was in. They introduced me to Brandon Ward, makeup master and all-around great guy. He was in too. Harper told me about this crazy fun guy named Jimmy Guzman who worked with flowers like no one else around. "He makes these amazing head pieces with flowers, twigs and branches! You will die."

So on a hot day in July, my models Tayla and Courtney spent about 2 hours in hair and makeup before we hit the streets. The goal of this shoot was to make sure that everyone that contributed got what they needed, and I was happy to oblige. We started in Harper's studio with some beauty shots to cover hair, makeup, and head pieces. Then, it was off to a cemetery to get the girls into nature and work the dresses and basically the whole package. Even though the dresses Harper designed were wedding dresses, I knew we could do more than a typical wedding styled shoot. So we took the flowers out of the girls’ hair and headed to Brown University, where the Radish Food Truck welcomed us with open arms, allowing us free reign to shoot in front of and inside the food truck. After that, I just let the girls play a bit. And boom, wrap time.

Here are some samples from the many images we shot that day. I've been asked what I will do with these images. I will try and get them published, but for me, the most important thing is to keep shooting and meeting more stylists, models, hair and makeup folks.

I feel like the world of fashion in Boston is so boring. Everyone just standing around. I want more. I want to prove that there is edge to this city, one shoot at a time. Who's in for the next shoot? I have a ton of ideas swarming through my brain! Let's go.  And on a side note, this type of shooting just makes me a stronger wedding and all around photographer because the minute you stop learning, you need to pack it up.

Hey Dave. Thanks. You are the tape that plays in my head now when I think I can't do something. And you know what? I love hearing that voice instead of my own.

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Special thanks to the team that made this happen for me. It was a long ass day, but boy was it worth it. Models: Tayla and Courtney Booking agent: Xavi for Model Club Inc. Hair: Claudia Curl of Claudia Curl Salon Dresses: Designed and created by Harper of Seams Couture Makeup: Brandon Ward Flowered head pieces: Jimmy Guzman And yours truly behind the camera. (Man, I need an assistant for the next one)