MODEL LIFE MAGAZINE - OCTOBER 2012
You can read the issue here: http://modellifemag.com/oct2012/
Have/Will you ever work with boys in your stylized/fantasy shoots?
I’ve succeeded only twice. I have actually tried several times, but it always ends up not going well. See, the girls’ things are easy.. it’s a one piece dress laced up in the back and a crown, maybe some wings. That’s a total of three items to wear. Boys are a whole different story.. it’s pants, a vest, a belt, a shirt, a helmet, gloves, boots, sword, shield.. by the time we get it all on them, they’re already over it. Then I get about 20 minutes before they start taking off the gloves and helmet, and fully half of that 20 minutes is trying to get him to put down the shield so I can see his face and stop whacking at the bushes with the sword. And that’s if I can get him to be a knight or a prince anyway, most boys want to be Batman or The Hulk.. which doesn’t work out so well in lush flower gardens.. Maybe I’ll do some Batman ones in a downtown alleyway sometime.
What was your favorite shoot and why?
I really can’t name one! I really do love each and every one of them for different reasons. There’s one I love because of the girl I was photographing.. she’s such a kind, gentle soul. There’s another I love because of the light that day. Another one I love because the concept I was going for came out perfectly. Even more I love because what was going on to get a particular shot was hilarious.. I of course have favorites ones, but I can’t just pick one.
Have you done any celebrity shoots?
No.. or rather perhaps I should say, Not yet. I want to. I’d love to go do a fairy session for Suri Cruise, or a castle session in Ireland for someone’s Irish princess of a girl. I hope to one day, but for now I’m still unknown in the celeb world.
What is the fartherst a client has traveled to work with you?
I had one come from a few states away, actually! That session was carefully orchestrated to allow a little nap in between driving here and seeing me! I went to Orlando once to do sessions there, and I have a photographer friend of mine who lives in Hawai’i and she and I are planning some mermaids on her beaches out there at some point.
Have you had to go outside your comfort zone to accommodate a client?
Yes I have for sure. I had one client who had two daughters ages 8 and 3 and a step daughter who was 14. I expected the step daughter to be my difficult one, but it was the three year old! She screamed for 15 minutes while her mother and I fought her into the dress, then screamed another 30 minutes while I tried to do the session with all three of them. Finally I had to just do the older two girls together, then I had to remember what I’d done where and get the youngest girl in the same places a few days later. After that, I had to Photoshop them all so the looked like they were all there on the same day. Add to that the fact that in between the two shooting days the time hand changed.. the light was all different in the photos, so I really had a hard time editing those to make sure they all fit together!
When you were a little girl, did you fantasize about being a princess?
Oh yes. My sister and I used to pretend we were princesses in our backyard play tower when we were kids. We were tree-climbing, tomboy, mud-covered, stained, jeans wearing princesses, but we were princesses nonetheless.
Some of your photos look straight from a fairytale, how do you find such amazing locations?
I can really say that 99% of the sessions I shoot are at my local Botanical Gardens. I really need to volunteer there or something because the amount of work they put into making such a gorgeous place is staggering. I go birdwatching to find locations. I’ll take my binoculars and my camera and some comfy shoes and just take a stroll wherever the birds take me for a few hours. I often find places I can take clients back to.
All the outfits/accessories in your shoots are unique and one of a kind, do you make them yourself?
Some of them I have, yes! I make most of my own fairy wings (pantyhose and coat hangers), I have made a few other crowns. The dresses are always made for me because I really can’t sew and have no fashion sense. I’m good at adapting what I have to suit a need, but not good at coming up with something all new. I’m working on a Twilight fairy right now and I’m trying to find just the prefect dress to base it around, since I can’t make it myself.
Do you get many adult or even bridal requests for your themed shoots?
I don’t, but I’d like to. I can’t provide dresses for adults because I don’t have the means to have one size for every single dress offered, but I’d love to do more adults in their own outfits, but there are not that many adults who have closets full of princess dresses, you know?
Where do you get your inspiration to make each session unique?
I either decide what I want to build and shoot, or the client’s own input lends itself to a theme. I’m in the works to build a few different fairies for my own concepts now.. a Twilight fairy, a Cherry Blossom fairy, and a Rapunzel. I’m also working on building a Bird fairy for a client who told me her little girl just adores birds.
For a tomboy, you have some amazing girly creations! Is it hard to do, or does it just come naturally?
I’m a “go big or go home” girl.. I may be a tomboy myself, but that’s really only because it’s not socially acceptable to wear giant ballgowns out to the grocery store. So I can really get pretty girly for little girls because it’s not embarrassing to them. They love it. Maybe it’s a little bit of living vicariously through their eyes before I have to return to the world of being a grown up with bills to pay.
Tell us more about your Memorial Princess Sessions, it looks like an amazing and life changing experience for you as a photographer, and the girls you photograph.
My very first year in business 7 years ago, right after I’d started the idea of dress-up sessions, I heard about a little 8 year old girl named Sabina in our town who has fighting a brain stem tumor. I decided to offer them a session for her to feel pretty as she was about to go through chemo. I thought to myself “What girl wouldn’t want to feel pretty as she’s sick or losing her hair from what the treatments are doing to her body?” I met the family out at a park, got her all dressed up in what I had (which wasn’t anything as nice as what I have now), and did about an hour photo session with her. It was a blast. She didn’t seem sick at all except that one eye turned inwards because of the pressure on her brain stem. Se positively bounced through that session and I came away feeling like a million dollars. That session was in November. In January, the tumor was so big she couldn’t walk.. in February she was gone. I was crushed. I’d met her twice, but I felt like something wonderful and bright had been taken from the world. Even now, I get teary thinking about her. So I decided a few years later to have a contest to nominate a deserving girl for a similar session. It originally started as just a one-time thing. The girl who won that year, her name was Ava Jane. She was born with a heart defect and a few other things going on. She and her two older sisters came out for a session with me and a trio of pink princess dresses, and it was an amazing session. Just a few months after that, Ava’s heart gave out suddenly and we lost her too. I sobbed all the way through her funeral because on stage next to the flowers.. was a canvas of the three sisters in princess dresses I’d done for them. Both Sabina and Ava Jane’s mothers said to me “You will never ever know how much those photos mean to our family.” After that, I knew that no matter how much I hurt for them, those girls needed to be happy for a while and the families needed some peace through photos. So the Sabina and Ava Jane Memorial Princess sessions were born, and each year I accept nominations for deserving girls to win a big fairy photo session package. I offer sessions and print credits to each of the runner up girls also, because I never know when something might happen to one. This was my third year doing it this summer. Every year the nominations get harder to read, but I feel so lucky to not be those girls.. I can walk, I can talk, I mostly have my health.. I did not grow up facing an endless round of doctors and chemo just to live a normal life, or even just to live at all. Each of the families are unfailingly sweet and appreciative, and I love working with all of them.
Athens, Watkinsville, and into Atlanta - Available for travel to Seattle, Portland, and New Orleans