The Goddess Project Athena

February 24, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

A while ago I started a goddess project. The idea is to shoot women as goddesses of their choosing and bring out their inner strength through imagery. The project stalled for lack of models, however it is now in full swing again. Thanks, to cosplayers. I am full and starting to shoot the series again. Where will it take me, I don't know. I suspect it will morph into something else. For now it's about empowerment and beauty, strength and also a bit of fantasy. 

I am also now letting the model pick their goddess and make her their own. She can be modern or classic, I am open to all interpretations.

I really did want to shoot an Athena and Alexis jumped at the chance.  I asked her, "Why Athena?" and this was her reply


"Greek mythology has always been something I've enjoyed reading about since I was very young, with Athena being my favorite of all the gods and goddesses. So when Ali asked me which goddess I would like to portray for her photoshoot, naturally I selected the Goddess of Wisdom and War. While most of the other gods and goddesses had tales that centered around their numerous love affairs or bouts of petty jealousy, Athena has always seemed so level-headed by comparison. Unlike Ares, the God of War, Athena does not take pleasure in battle. She would rather settle disputes through mediation, only entering battle if her lands and people are threatened by outside forces. In times of peace, she does not bear any weapons, and is also the patron goddess of handicrafts, mathematics, literature, and innovation. Many versions of Athena depict her as a fierce warrior, but I wanted to incorporate the many sides of her personality into my portrayal of her as well as the costume I made for the photoshoot. For the costume, because she is one of several virgin goddesses, I decorated my corset "armor" with pearls, which are often regarded as symbols of purity and chastity. To represent her no-nonsense personality, I kept the rest of her costume simple and modest with a loose-fitting black gown and silver shawl. I saw her as a goddess who is stern but merciful, and so I wanted to include an air of softness and tranquility to her, with a touch of wildness to her, which Ali captured perfectly in the final photos."

We started the shoot in the woods near my house. It was shot in mid winter which made for an open forest. I find that even full winter sun can be worked with as it's softer and less harsh than summer sun. This image was taken in full sun. Please note the details of the bodice as they are intricate and beautiful. Alexis has a true talent.




Alexis also has a very soft and gentle nature which came through in her images. The following images were all shot in my garage with a fog machine.  A73A5724A73A5724

The challenge of a fog machine is you just don't know what it's going to do. Sometimes you get a little fog, sometimes you can't find the model for all the fog. But the results are usually worth the effort.

The following image came out of my camera so perfectly that no Photoshop was needed. I feel like it shows Athena in the clouds watching over her people and lands. I love how  this image just came together.



These next  two are composites. I wanted to show Athena with the symbol of wisdom so used a stock image of an owl to bring forth the warrior and the wisdom. 





Working with Alexis on this project was a pure joy. 

I will be blogging about many more goddesses so stay tuned. Next up is Skadi, the Norse goddess of the winter


Pinup with a classic Mini

January 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I Love shooting Pinup!!! I love the expression and the fun attitude and I find with Pinup it's more about capturing an action and expression, where boudoir is more about the a sultry mood. Pinup can be sexy and it can be silly and fun. 

Last spring at MINIs on the Dragon I was hired to shoot a Pinup session of the lovely Teresa. She and her boyfriend each have classic Minis and she wanted to shoot with her car. Well classics are fickle and her Mini was in the shop so she shot with her boyfriend's Mini. She did her own hair, makeup and wardrobe and really brought it! She also brought the attitude.

So we picked a location that had a pretty background where I could also get her in the shade. The last thing I wanted her harsh shadows. I also brought along some speedlights, umbrella and a reflector and a great assistant. I like pinup to be bright as that reflects the fun attitude and this Mini was the perfect color. Here's a behind the scenes of us popping Teresa up onto the roof. It's important to use the manly muscles when needed. Roger did great with hoisting duty and as you can see Teresa is having a blast


We worked through a variety of poses and the following are the ones we liked best. I converted some to black and white. The color ones are colorized in Photoshop to give a vintage look. When I shoot pinup I like to get the skin really smooth, clean up the image and add a fair amount of contrast. Then I take it into the color mixer and add a final filter which is toned down but brings a vintage look to the image. 











New Years Day 2017

January 01, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Almost every New Years day since 2012 I have taken time to go out and shoot something. I really like it to be some me time or an adventure with Mark and the camera. This year it was inspired by my genius invention of the morning. I had been organizing my studio yesterday for my uber exciting New Years Eve and I came across my old Gorrillapod and thought once again how I wish I could use it to hold a light because the Canon 5D MIII was too heavy and valuable to risk to this thing. When this time I said to myself "This must be possible, it is really an ingenious lightstand." So I googled and found ways to turn a tripod into a light stand and before buying something I went down to the studio this morning and found this "Worthless adapter"  that I bought years ago and didn't know why. Uhhhh that baby fit perfectly on the Gorrillapod and I was able to snap one of my regular light stand adapters over it. Excitement is not enough to describe my joy as I ran upstairs to show my husband what I just figured out!!!


A thing of beauty

This means I can go shoot at odd locations without an assistant and have a chance of securing the flash somewhere without a cumbersome lightstand. Sure it won't work all the time, but there are times that this little thing will be gold to me. Sooooo with this in mind I grabbed my gear and headed out to the woods near the house. I also brought my tripod because I just like timed exposures of moving water. As I headed  to the main path and found the bridge I heard moving water and charged into the brush to get to the right location. Before leaving the house I had grabbed my warm fuzzy hoodie (Big mistake) as I was soon one with the thorns and my coat was grabbing everything. However I would not be deterred and much to the amusement of the people on the footbridge I was soon at my coveted spot on the river. I grabbed this lovely long exposure while down there, just used a neutral density filter and tripod. I think it was about a 20 second exposure.


Back into the brush I went to the other side of the bridge where I knew there were some good root formations that would be awesome to test my new lighting set up. I was traveling light so didn't pack a modifier, I set the zoom on the flash to 28mm to get a spread of light. wrapped it around a branch and set the camera as I would for the studio ISO 100, 1/100th shutter f8 and took a test shot. Here' the first image with no edits, it was a bit too moody for me but was the start of the dramatic look I wanted. 


Played around with the settings and the flash to bring in more light but I didn't want to lose the dark night feel and the shadows. I got an exposure I liked but wasn't happy with the big shadow caused by a branch between the light and the subject



Soooo, I moved the light to remove that shadow and shot again. This image I liked and edited in Lightroom only to get a cooler mood and tone. 



Next I found some area where there was water and looked around for textures. What caught my eye was a bit of green and I decided to shoot it. By now I was shooting once with no light to see a basic exposure and then adding light to add drama, depth and interest. Here it is no flash


I set the flash up low to the ground and fired at the plant, I really liked the light fall off and the intensity that it added to kept that and edited it. Adding the light made the greenery appear brighter and more alive, it also added some depth to the water.


The last few shots are no additional light just taken as I walked the trail out of the park.

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Today was a relaxing and inspirational way to start the new year. While I am not a fan of cold weather I have found winter light to be so beautiful. It seems softer and more forgiving than summer light. I was blessed with a warm day to enjoy the woods, the peace and the solitude. Used the time as a teaching moments and also to just immerse myself in something that I love.

Thank you for reading my blog. Wishing you a wonderful 2017 and much happiness and creativity


Catching up with the blog and Milk Bath Portraits

December 26, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I can't believe it's been 10 months since my last blog. Here's a quick catch up, we bought a new house in Springfield, VA and moved, sold the townhouse and then I closed the photography business. Please don't think that I stopped shooting. I closed the business because I found the business aspects destroying the fun of my photography passions and I have a full-time job that pays the bills. I disliked shooting to keep the business open and wanted to pursue my creative ventures. Since closing the business I am having fun again. I've been shooting with a group of cosplayers and experimenting with new techniques. Our new house rocks for photography and I've had some awesome shoots here. Photography is a fun adventure again!!! I am way behind on my blogging. I am also shifting my focus to include more of the how to and the story around each shoot.

During this adventure I got a message from Elizabeth who said she wanted to do a milk bath shoot! I knew of them but had never done one, however, the idea intrigued me. Where to shoot this? How to light it? Do you really fill the tub with milk???? 

Elizabeth and I started to research and I saw a lot of the same types of shoots. They are beautiful but I wanted to add my own style to the images. I also knew I was not going to be successful on my own so I called Alexis a very talented friend of mine. Alexis can make a costume out of anything, she's a talented seamstress and a photographer to boot. So she understands what we're doing. I love pairing up with other photographers!

We read a lot about the process and finally figured out that it didn't seem to matter what you used (creamer, milk, cream, soy milk, dry milk, paint) and settled on a few gallons of whole milk. We also wanted an etherial look so Elizabeth acquired some water-safe LED tea lights and fairy lights. Alexis found some pretty silk flowers and I ordered a slew of peacock feathers from Amazon. I also have a lot of fabric so grabbed everything I could find that was soft and sheer.

The morning of the shoot we got organized. I remember thinking how can I do this in my bathtub, but I remembered one of my favorite photographers Frank Doorhof saying that you can make any location work. We were putting that to the test, right there in my bathroom. When we bought this house we gutted the upstairs bathroom and it had a nice white ceiling and gray walls. It was actually a pretty good set up. As we organized we carefully tested each tea light in a bowl of water making sure that they wouldn't shock Elizabeth in the tub. I'm not big on shocking my models so wanted to be sure we were safe, all tests were good. Finally it was time to start the shoot.

I filled the tub 3/4 full with warm water, then added a gallon and a half of milk. That water was opaque, at about an inch under my hand was gone. So we popped Elizabeth in and set up for the first shots with just the soft white fabric. 

Here's a behind the scenes of the set up, the bathroom was a bit crowded


Here's one of the first resulting images. 


In these images I was happy with the soft look we were getting and I liked that we could see the lights but I felt like they were being overpowered by the flash. I was just bouncing a flash off of the ceiling which gave a lovely even fill. We played around and decided to drop the flash and try the Ice Light on just Elizabeth's face. This would balance the light and allow the glow of the tea lights to show up better while keeping her face lit.

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This worked so much better to give the look we were going for. As you can see here we're now in the holiday mood with red and green fabric and Christmas ornaments. There was lots of giggling as we  tossed the ornaments in the tub. Up until this point we had found that the biggest struggle in a milk bath is that EVERYTHING sinks and you can't find it in the milk!!!! The balls floated!!! This was a joyous revelation. 

In order to keep the tea lights near the surface we had  to use fabric just under the surface of the milk and work the lights and the fabric into some magic that only Alexis understood. Did I mention she is an AMAZING Assistant?!

I like to have fun with these shoots so in the very beginning it's kind of weird. I have a friend in the tub, I'm standing over her with a camera. We're decorating her with fabric. Let's just say it can feel a bit awkward so I did what has always worked in the past. I had Elizabeth be the goof that she is and make funny faces. Later I photoshopped in a few goldfish to go with one of her expressions. I love working with this woman, she is pure fun and an incredible model.


Our last idea was to work with peacock feathers in the tub. They floated!!!! This was exciting, however within a few minutes we also realized that they smelled weird. Poor Elizabeth has now been in the tub over an hour. The water was luke warm and she was getting pruned up. So we shot the feathers and finished up.



So what did I learn???


  • Milkbath photography is fun and you can do a lot with it.
  • The biggest challenges were with things sinking
  • Peacock feathers smell when wet
  • My model was a bit tall for a standard sized tub
  • USE Fabrics! they really add a lovely quality to the images
  • Hair doesn't float!!! We're wondering maybe if we add salt to the water...
  • I might buy a kiddie pool and try this over the summer so there's more room


I want to do this again!!!

Thank you to Elizabeth and Alexis who made this whole thing possible.



Friends Pinup Casey and Dallas

March 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Casey and Dallas are friends and coworkers that wanted to do a modern pinup shoot. I consider modern pinup to be pinup influenced without the vintage clothing or hair, yet bringing in the fun, expression and posing. 

We booked Union 206 and chose to use the boudoir studio for this shoot. The day started with hair and makeup with the lovely Mary Hair and makeup artist. After primping and packing up the car we headed to the studio for the shoot. 

A few things to think about before you show up for a boudoir or pinup style shoot

1. Get a good nights sleep

2. Drink a lot of water to hydrate your skin

3. EAT before the shoot, don't go in hungry

4. Shave your legs and armpits

5. Think about the fun and get ready for an experience where you will love being in your own skin

The studio session was two hours and we worked each model back and forth. While I worked with one the other was right there shouting encouragement, having fun and prepping for her turn. 

We shot a lot of different scenes and found the Casey and Dallas are very different looks while both being major fun to work with. The giggling level was high and we had a hard time being serious. I don't even know what I did when they both declared that I was the best photographer ever! High praise indeed.

Here are a few of the images from our session. Bringing a friend along can really make the session more fun and relaxing







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