After how much fun it was putting together the Winter Fairy Tale, it made perfect sense to continue the theme. I knew I wanted vibrant colors, lush flowers, lots of greenery, and a sense of warmth. For the model I reached out to Olivia Simons, partly because of her pink hair, but also because I had seen her work modeling for other photographers. Only it turned out she had recently dyed her hair silver, and was planning to keep it that way until graduation. I found the perfect dress on Free People, but all the reviews warned that even though the photos showed it as a deep vibrant red, in person it appeared a nasty burnt orange. I scouted locations all around Dallas-Fort Worth for a location that looked wild, lush, and full of flowers, but unfortunately I could only find two out of three. Locations that were lush and full of flowers looked too modern, locations that were wild and full of flowers were only in small patches, but at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens I found a location on the back trails that was wild and lush, and in the place of natural flowers, I realized I could work with Deryk Aubrey at The Greenhouse 817 to create a beautiful arrangement in a flower picking basket.
On the day of the shoot, my model Olivia, my hair & make-up artist Mallory Chokas, and I drove down to Fort Worth, so that we could all get ready at Deryk’s shop. Mallory did an amazing job creating an interesting look with Olivia’s make-up. Deryk also did a wonderful job going over-the-top on a lavish arrangement with the flower basket. The whole preparation took over an hour, and by the time we got back outside, we saw that a terrible storm was brewing. Keeping a close eye on the weather radar, it looked as if we could finish the shoot just in the nick of time. By the time we got to the location at the Botanical Gardens, the clouds were getting quite dark, but on the bright side it made for very dramatic lighting (which actually turned the dress the exact color I’d hoped).
While changing lenses, I blinked and in an instant the sky had gotten twice as dark and the air twice as cold. I looked towards Mallory, to see if I was crazy, and she too had a shocked look on her face. We knew the storm was about to hit terribly hard, and so we rushed back to the car. As we left the Botanical Gardens, the rain hit quite suddenly. We were trying to figure out what to do, possibly even reschedule. I called Deryk to ask if we could keep her flowers for another day, and while on the phone, the hail started. Deryk told us there was no way we could get back to Denton in the storm, and to wait it out at her house just a few blocks away.
Not 30 seconds after we got to Deryk’s house, all the power went out on her street. We hung out with her, her mom, and their 5 dogs until the storm started to blow over. We were worried about the dress from Free People getting ruined in the mud and the rain, so Deryk offered us a long white dress of hers that worked wonders. The clouds began to part, and bright yellow sunlight started to poke through, and the rain died down just enough for us to head back outside. Deryk’s house was just a half block away from the house I grew up in, so I knew exactly the best place to shoot a short distance away. The levees near the back of the neighborhood provided a great view all around.
When we got there, it was even better than I could have possibly hoped. In one direction was a big, beautiful rainbow. In another direction, enormous rolling storm clouds. In another, the sun barely poking through a thin layers of clouds, giving rays of light in a brilliant sunburst. Even better, the sunlight bouncing off some nearby clouds created the most perfect soft yellow edgelight. It was precisely the lighting I would have created had we been shooting in the studio. Mallory & I were freaking out, trying to capture it all before the sun set.
Ironic how I had planned this shoot so thoroughly, and yet the entire time we were flying by the seat of our pants, and ended up with photos much better than I had imagined.