For this month’s Dollar Store Challenge, I went to all the dollar stores in town, walking up and down every aisle, trying to come up with a variety of ideas for possible shoots. My favorite store was the 99¢ Store off University Drive in Denton, because it had some of the strangest things. Most stores I looked at had a lot of what you’d expect to find, but the 99¢ Store had a mish-mash of items from several different decades, including some items that were completely obsolete or that no sensible person would ever want. My four main ideas were to build a robot costume out of aluminum foil and spare metal parts, buy lots and lots of fake flowers to make into a dress, throw a disappointing birthday party, or create an 80’s pop album cover. I asked my friend Joseffa (who is also a talented actress) if she’d be interested in modeling for the challenge, and what idea sounded best to her. Since she’s so talented at dramatic acting, she rarely gets a chance to just be goofy, so she hopped on board the 80’s pop album cover.
When I tried to pick out all the best stuff for the challenge, I was overwhelmed by all the tacky items to choose from, and knew I needed help. That’s when I asked Mallory Chokas, my favorite hair & make-up artist, to assist me. She helped pick out all the cheesiest accessories in just the right combination to be consistent but not overwhelming. We bought three pieces of neon pink posterboard to build her a dress out of, a pink tablecloth with white polka dots for the backdrop, red glittery paper for the heart, a pink bow for her hair, another pink bow for her wrist, a long pink beaded necklace for her other wrist, two hideously pink rings, two gaudy pink earrings, white press on nails (called “White Chocolate”, which we made fun of constantly), fake eyelashes with rhinstones, a sheet of rhinestones (of which we only used two), and a set of markers which we intended to use to draw details on the dress, but proved unnecessary. To our surprise, all this came out to $19.07, just below the $20 limit.
Back at my house, we listened to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna while Mallory teased the hell out of Joseffa’s hair, applied her very worst eyeshadow, and tried to glue the press on nails with eyelash glue. Meanwhile I realized my initial plan of a simple paper cutout of a dress wouldn’t leave Joseffa with many posing options, so instead I struggled to figure out how to papercraft an 80’s prom dress, puffy sleeves in all. Though it came out looking more like armor, we were all quite pleased.
The shoot lasted about 30 minutes, trying out lots of different poses, until we found the perfect one that matched the name of the album, and showed off all the odd details we worked so hard on. It was certainly of the most ridiculous shoots I’ve ever done, and possibly one of the most fun shoots too. Mallory & Joseffa are both amazing to work with, and the challenge definitely tested my creativity. I would highly recommend other photographers try out the Dollar Store Challenge.
Here’s the final edited photo. (Joseffa came up with the name Lucy Love).
Bonus: we shot a little video of Joseffa dancing to one of the 80’s pop songs we played during the shoot.