Throughout the year I like to put together photo shoots that I conceptualize and style myself. As a working artist, it’s important to have personal projects to experiment and push yourself creatively. All creatives – be they painters, musicians, photographers, or actors – start their artistic journey with the desire to satisfy something within themselves. Along the way, however (probably somewhere between having children and mortgage payments) the client’s desire becomes paramount and our artistic voice becomes subdued. There becomes a fine line between meeting client expectation and falling into the dreaded “service provider” roll, so I like to use personal projects to help keep this relationship in balance.
I’ve shared several of my styled shoots on this blog and I thought it might be fun to break down how they come to be. The inspiration comes in various forms. Sometimes it’s a single piece of clothing that inspires an entire shoot, other times it’s a story that plays in my head over and over until I have to get it out. Personal projects can be consuming of your time and money and a huge disappointment if they don’t come out how you envisioned. Trust me, I have personal shoots that will never see the light of day but I have learned something new from all of them. I have grown as a photographer and honed my skills a bit more. So I try not to put too much pressure on the outcome and just focus on what my gut is telling me to do.
For this shoot, the location was my inspiration. I have passed this motel on daily commutes hundreds of times and it always struck me as somewhat of a dismal place. Random doors ajar no matter how hot it was.. mysterious characters hanging out on the balcony. The motel’s one redeeming quality was the sparkling blue pool in front of it, almost representing a beacon of hope in the depressing landscape. I would catch myself wondering “who is staying in that place? how did they find themselves there? are they bored? are they sad? how’s the water feel?” Slowly a story started to form in my head of a girl stuck there alone, bored out of her mind, with nothing better to do than to play dress up and mill about the place. I asked beautiful Mayra to be my model and Hair and Makeup artist, Allyson Day, to join me. All clothing was either purchased by me or came from my own wardrobe. Jewelry was borrowed from my friend Cory, a Noonday Collection ambassador.
I don’t know why I felt the need to create these images. With every pass of this motel the story grew stronger, floating around in my head for years. My brain sure is happy to have it out now! My advice to anyone wanting to work on personal projects is to not over think it. Don’t let self doubt and the comparison monster get the better of you. You will have some projects that flop, yes, but the point is to keep creating, keep exploring, keep digging, keep listening to what the heart is asking for.