Earth Day Shoot: Breaking Ground
I’ve always loved creative shoots. Pulling together a team of your friends to work with you to hang out for a day and make some great pictures! No clients, no budgets, just fun. Last year I was chosen as one four photographers in the city to produce a photo shoot in honor of Earth Day. Open to individual interpretation there were no limits set and we were asked to create an original photo using a professional model. My first instinct was to shoot outside, but the weather could pose a problem. To avoid this we opted to bring the outdoors in. I had a concept in my head of a bird on a branch and from there it snowballed into something beautiful.
I have always appreciated art direction because it gives me a definitive place to start a shoot or project. This project was tough because I had to act as an art director and I sometimes have a hard time deciding on a first place to begin. I started by stripping the shoot down to one basic element. I knew we needed a bird, so I started there. Working with a local producer and stylist, Reese, we brainstormed and came up with two concepts. The first was a black bird I originally envisioned and if we had time, a green goddess of the earth. Again, not sure which direction I wanted to go I covered all the bases and we did both. I ordered feathers and leaves from Amazon, bought a few bustier undergarments from Macy’s, fashioned a papier-mâché earth, stocked up on hot glue and dug in.
Both the feather bodice and the green bodice came together really nicely. Reese suggested a henna tattoo for the model: a tree, branches—just something earthy. Unfortunately, due to other obligations our professional model was prohibited from even having something semi-permanent. However, the model had an artist friend who could paint a tree on her back. Next, I found myself trudging through the snow at the park in my neighborhood to find the perfect branches for our bird. Numerous branches and a few hundred pounds of garden soil later we were almost set. Reese and I had discussed what bottom the models should have and we decided on a skirt. Armed with nothing but a few yards of black tulle, Reese got to work. I watched in awe as she braided a skirt around our model. It was fantastic. She left a tail feather and everything.
From wearing the feather bustier to shooting just her tattooed back with the skirt we captured several variations including a contrasting soft, green goddess version of the model holding a sapling in her hands. Another version showed our model lying in the dirt with only thepapier-mâché earth balanced on her feet, as well as a close up shot of her embedded in the texture and landscape of the dirt—the epitome of Earth Day drama. It was a rewarding shoot all around as we created beautiful editorial pieces with a gorgeous earth angel as my muse.