Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shay and Nicole

All of these images are from the same three hour session, but let's talk about the fire shall we? We had planned to use the burnt down building but I wasn't quite sure of the best way to keep it interesting. The old grill was already there so we were going to haul it inside but the ooomf factor was still missing. That's when I decided to call my awesome wife Jenny and see if she would mind bringing us some gasoline, a lighter, and of course a fire extinguisher. Ah, what an awesome girl she is!

Now armed with the essentials we doused some gas into the grill and lit it on fire, now we were talking! At the end of the shoot I got to use a fire extinguisher for my first time ever, it was a lot of fun and made me wish I had more, non-life-threatening, excuses to use it! Maybe you'll see fire in some future shoots!

Playgrounds and Goldfish

Most of the time I don't like to pre-plan ideas for a shoot, I'm a spur-of-the-moment-inspiration kind of guy. But for this shoot it all started with an idea, peanut butter to be precise. When Carly arrived for the shoot I knew that there was only so much I could do with peanut butter so I let inspiration take it's course and settled into the usual pre-photoshoot routine where we lay everything they brought onto the couch and I stare at it. After contemplating it long enough we got in the car and started to drive, I still wasn't sure where we were going but I knew it would come to me. Chris Tittle, my assistant, suggested a location we had scouted weeks before with a river, lots of foliage and stuff like that, sounded good to me! So we parked and I picked the outfit for Carly, a denim sundress, striped leg warmers, white furry boots, and striped gloves. As we were walking down the trail to the river I couldn't stop thinking about how much her outfit cried out "playground", but at the same time I knew any park would be full of kids this time of day... eventually my internal argument won out, we turned back up the trail and walked about five minutes to the playground.

After putting on a fashion show for all the young girls at the playground, who excitedly pointed us out to their moms, we headed to the grocery store for Peanut Butter. Carly wouldn't stop asking me why I seemingly randomly bought some goldfish crackers too, I guess she just doesn't understand how inspiration works! :-)

Friday, July 20, 2007


In 2001 Katherine was making smoothies in the Newgate Mall in Ogden. That's where she caught the eye of a model scout working with me on a project, the 2002 Calendar of Utah Girls. The calendar has long been forgotten but by far my favorite result of making the calendar that year was discovering the beautiful Katherine.

For the last six years I have shot Katherine more than any other model I've ever worked with. She is amazing, and over the years as she has become a better model I have been inspired to become a better photographer just so I could do her justice.

I know I'll never forget the time we were shooting on a rock solid dry lake bed until the sun set. We quickly discovered the lake bed remained dry only because of the sun, once it set we were literally in the middle of nowhere with my SUV sunk up to it's axles in the thickest mud I've ever seen. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out our options when the swarm came. I have no idea what the mosquitoes out there normally ate but tonight they found a feast - us. By the way, if you are picturing a swarm of mosquitoes right now and it is anything less than a swarm of biblical proportions then you are imagining all wrong, I have never seen anything like it, nor will I ever again. At first we sought refuge inside the car, but when they followed us inside it didn't take Katherine long to call it quits and just start running. I seriously have no idea what her plan was, we were at least a mile or two from the freeway with no services within 30 miles in either direction but she didn't care - she just ran. So I figured, I'd better run too.

Her commitment to the run was much more intense than mine, I trailed behind her at least a hundred yards and it sure didn't help my speed having to stop and gather up her shoes that she lost along the way. Lucky for us a trucker was parked right off the exit with a flat tire, just sitting there waiting for his company to come change him out I guess. He invited us into his truck and proceeded to show us the worst picture album in the history of the world, I won't go into details but suffice it to say they were his travel photos, captured during his visit to the "Testical Festival" in Oregon. Nice.

Several hours later a snow cat arrived (turns out they are expensive to hire) to yank my car out. First we had to find it though. It was not a small lakebed and with no moon it was pitch dark. After a joyous, longer than expected ride through the feature-less field of mud we spotted the saddest looking vehicle ever. It was listing to one side as if it were a giant, leaking ship in an ice-berg laden ocean, clawing at the surface to stay afloat. I thought the poor car was going to break in half when we started pulling it out. But out it came, and after our five hour ordeal we dragged our muddy selves back inside for the half hour drive home, during which the ever vigilant Katherine constantly smashed mosquitoes on every solid surface of the interior.

So what does all of that have to do with last nights shoot? Well last night when I asked Katherine which photo, of all the photos we've ever shot, was her favorite she referred to a black and white close-up we shot that very night, while the sun was high and the ground was firm. Sometimes the best images are worth every bit of suffering they require. And other times a photo really isn't worth taking at all - the Testical Festival sure comes to mind.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Syrup Breath

The enigmatic Shay was feeling left out. As she was sitting in my kitchen one day with myself, Michael Dean and Mark Slagaowski (two other fantastic Utah photographers) she made it clear that she was tired of seeing so many other models get filthy dirty on shoots with me - watermelons, chocolate, pineapples, and marshmallows (just to mention a few) - while she stayed nice and clean. I told her I was running out of food items to plaster models with, undeterred she suggested syrup. I had briefly thought about syrup in the past but I figured the combined stickiness and gooiness would be a complete deal breaker so I never really brought it up.

Fast forward to weeks later Shay leaves a myspace message reminding me that she hasn't forgotten about our syrup conversation. So, she was subsequently covered in syrup. As per her request.

Dead Grass & Lush Leaves

100 Year Old Cemetary

When a new model arrives for her very first shoot with me she has no idea what type of shoot we'll be doing, where we'll be going, or what exactly is in store. The reason is simple, I don't know either. Shoots with new girls are never preplanned. She walks in and we lay all the clothes she brought across the room and I stare. Sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes for several minutes. Inside my brain I try to match the clothes I want to use with their perfect location.

After staring at her clothes for a longer than average amount of time it came to me, the cemetery. I've never shot there before but that's the fun of it. Towards the end of the shoot a van pulled up with the official markings of the cemetery, the assistant announced that the shoot was probably over. I walked to the van and met the driver halfway. I put my charm in overdrive (yes, us males have charm) and two minutes later we were back to shooting, now with official permission.

I opened the images in Photoshop where the finished product took another turn, though I wasn't planning it the images turned goulish, surreal, even macabre. This is what happens when you let creativity happen on it's own. It takes you places you couldn't have otherwise predicted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Creepy House 2

If you haven't done so already, read the previous post titled "The Creepy House" because this is a sequel.

After discovering the Creepy House almost three years ago we have returned dozens, if not hundreds of times. Each time the house becomes a little more destroyed, more fantastic antiques go missing, and lately structures have even been burnt to the ground. It's a tragedy, but I promised more stories about the creepy house so I'll talk about Halloween night 2005.

We went to the creepy house after dark, at about 11:00 with a group of about ten people. We stood in the center of all the buildings in the dead of night, no moon so it was almost pitch black. I told the story that I related in my first post, most of the people there thought I was making it up as I went along (I wasn't) so it was very difficult to get through the story with all the sarcastic interruptions. By the time I got to the part about the light turning on we had been there at least 20 minutes, but as I said the words, "and then the light turned on" I pointed at the light and at that second the light TURNED ON! Not before, not after. It was at that second. To this day I have been unable to explain how the light came on, there was nobody there, I've never found a switch... nothing.

Tonight we brought Carly to shoot at the Creepy House, we had a great time and as you can see we made some wonderful images - both inside the house and out.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Car Graveyard

Just when I begin to think that I'm running out of good locations we stumble upon this, the Car Graveyard! You can expect to see many more shoots from this location, but for now enjoy these new images of Katherine and Holly!