Continuing my Seasons Fairytale Series (be sure to check out the Winter Fairytale & Spring Fairytale), was the third installment, Summer Fairytale. This one was a bit trickier to put together, because the props & look weren’t as obvious as the others, and because my go-to hair & makeup artist, Mallory Chokas, had moved away.
I began by reaching out to a highly recommended and very talented hair & makeup artist, Meagan D’von Funk. I wanted to collaborate with her on a look just a bit outside your normal beauty make-up, and create something she’d be glad to add to her portfolio. We went back & forth for days trying to nail down what we were imagining. Here was my inspiration…
And here was Meagan’s inspiration for the hair & makeup…
For our model, I reached out to a painter from Fort Worth, Jana Renee, who I had been wanting to do a photoshoot with ever since I first met her at a friend’s party. I thought she would be perfect for this shoot because of her blond hair, her breezy attitude, and her striking bone structure. I also wanted to collaborate with another Fort Worth artist, Deryk Poynor of The Greenhouse 817, to create the wheat crown, because she had been telling me how badly she wanted brides to use wheat for a wedding, and I thought she could use the photos to show brides how awesome it could look.
Finding the perfect dress was a challenge, as always. For once, I thought I might try a simple, flowy, lace dress from Lulu’s. But once I met with Jana for a costume test, it looked cheap and poorly made. I realized I was better off with a dress from Free People, like all the other Fairytale shoots, because of their quality & elegance. (If you’re interested, we went with the Reign Over Me lace dress in white).
I scouted locations all over Fort Worth that could ideally incorporate fields and bodies of water. Unfortunately all my usually best fields weren’t looking so great, and my typical shorelines had been flooded, leaving very little room to work with. The last place I scouted was the western edge of Benbrook Lake, which still looked great at its core, especially because of the tall ruins alongside one of the shorelines, but it had recently become overrun with litter. Just a ridiculous amount of litter. I knew if we were going to make it work, we’d have to spend about 30 minutes just cleaning up the space we were going to shoot in.
For props it was hard to think of anything that said Summer, but was also timeless. I purchased a wood & brass hourglass (that hardly made an appearance, because it’s not a very interactive prop), and created a message in a bottle with the help of Deryk’s calligraphy skills. Had I been thinking more, I should have gotten a brass spyglass, which would’ve been appropriate and more interactive.
The day of the shoot I was pretty nervous, not only because I had never worked with Meagan or Jana before, but also because as I was driving into Fort Worth, it started to rain. I was checking 5 different weather apps on my phone to make sure it would be all cleared up by the time we got started. Even though we got incredibly lucky with the weather on the Spring Fairytale shoot, I didn’t want to risk my luck a second time. Sure enough, after an hour or so of preparing at The Greenhouse 817, the skies were clearing up to give us a soft warm glow of sunshine just as the sun was setting.
We rushed down to Benbrook Lake, and preceded to clean up 8 trash bags full of litter from our main area, and jumped right into shooting before we all turned into puddles of sweat. Here are the photos we captured.
I was very impressed with Meagan’s professionalism, making sure Jana’s look stayed looking great even as the heat started to melt it off, and making constant tiny touch ups to her hair as well. I was also impressed with Jana’s concentration on creating a particular mood and calmness, despite me running around like a madman trying to capture it all. And I was very appreciative of Erin Summerlin’s assistance, both in taking care of our dog Ruby, who joined us on the shoot, and for helping carrying so much equipment around.
Halfway through the shoot I changed into swim trunks so I could hop in the water with Jana and get her reflection in the water as she faced away from the shore and towards the sun. The last time I had done that on a shoot I was using an old film camera, so worst case scenario, I slipped and was out $100. This time I was using my favorite camera and favorite lens, so worst case scenario I slipped and ruined over $5,000 worth of camera gear. That’ll certainly make you walk very, very carefully on the slippery algae-covered rocks. But it was worth it for the last few gorgeous shots.
In editing, I had to play with the colors to get everything on a consistent summery palette. For instance, the wheat wasn’t quite golden since it was so fresh, so I shifted all green colors towards more of a yellow. I also shifted the magentas & reds closer to a peachy color, to give everything a steady golden hue. And lastly I completely desaturated the aquas & blues that showed up reflecting off the blue sky onto her dress, which ultimately made her dress glow pure white.
Because I was having so much fun shooting, we went until the sun took away every last bit of light. Which meant some of our later shots were much darker than they should have been for the bright summer vibe we were originally going for. I had to pull out the detail in the shadows much more than I ever had before, and the digital noise clearly showed up in the background. I decided to leave it, because it gave the photos an unnatural texture that adds to the surreal timeless look we wanted.
All in all, it turned out to be a great shoot with some wonderful people, and I can’t wait to finish up the series soon with the Autumn Fairytale!