The process that I went through to create “The Hostile Branches of Whistling Fog Forest” is like none I have ever completed. I set out about six months ago to begin creating this series but soon realized that I was in need of, and in store for, a change. I wanted to start taking my time with my images in a way I had not done before. I discovered that it takes great courage to do that; to sit with your images and let them simmer rather than cooking them so quickly. There is a certain rhythm that one can get used to with the Create – Post – Move On creation process that I had not only become used to, but complacent about. I decided it was time to shake things up. I also wanted to document this shoot in a bit more of a classy way than I normally manage, so I got friend and cinematographer extraordinaire Devin Schiro to come along and film. He brightened the whole day!
I am personally very bad at making costumes but learning all the while. If you give me a simple piece of fabric I can do a lot with it, but I wanted these new costumes to have a lot of depth. I also had the idea that it would be wonderful to collaborate with different people, fashion designers and models and assistants, and really make it a team effort. The idea for this character came when I was thinking very hard about what makes me most excited about taking pictures. I decided it was the character, at the heart of it, and how that character interacts with her surroundings. Being that my favorite place to shoot is the forest, I decided to place the first subject there. The idea was to have branches attached to her yet also attached to the tree, as if nature is pulling her back as she tries to walk away. But of course, there was more that went into it and I hope more that can be taken from it, too.
The dress and headpiece were made by an up-and-coming fashion designer who some may know. Her designs are straight from fairy tales, and she even had one of her gowns worn to the Grammys last week. Her name is Michelle Hebert, and I recognize the privilege I have in working with her. Thank you Michelle for working so hard on this dress – it took her over 100 hours to complete and is a real, wearable dress made out of sticks. My hope is that at the gallery show for this series a model will wear it around. She is already hard at work on the next dress, which I am photographing in the second part to this series on Sunday….in the desert. Think birds.
The model is Mika Mae Jones, who is always inspirational to shoot. She had it rough that day, since when I scouted the location there was no snow and it was about 30 degrees warmer. When we showed up, it was 23 degrees outside (F), icy, and windy. I went out to scout the perfect spot while makeup and hair began in the warm car…Soon after, the car got stuck on ice and mud, and we had to have the whole team of us get the car out…then we helped the car behind us, and the car behind that! Poor Mika was so cold to the bone when we shot, it had to be very quick. Everyone else was freezing too, but no one more than Mika. Some of us were out there for hours though, and our socks were actually frozen when we got back to the warmth.
Mariah Wright did an amazing job on hair and makeup. Bryce Rankins along with Olivia Clemens assisted. Bryce was quite a hero that day, handling my smoke bombs and carrying Mika all the way back to the car to make sure she got warm fast. There was so much love in our little group, it was an amazing and fulfilling day for everyone involved. We ended the night at a local restaurant (of which there were only 2 open) and we had mexican food in a room all to ourselves.
Experiences like this make me gush with happiness and pride that I know such amazing people. We’ve all become friends after this shoot, which is so wonderful. Photography really does bring people together in so many ways. I hope you enjoy the resulting images and the video. More to come from this series soon!
Brooke, and The Team