I often get asked how I "land" certain shoots - why I travel so much - do I really love working as photographer, etc. - so as part of my first blog for my website, I'd thought I'd share this story.
Last June, I was out in Los Angeles for a three-day LUCIMA workshop. After putting in two full 14-hour days, my worst nightmare happened. I was pick-pocketed while on Hollywood Blvd, which consequently caused me to lose 5 full shoots - an afternoon & evening's worth of work - and $280 worth of compact flash (memory) cards. I'm lucky I didn't lose more gear. I promised the models that I would be back to LA before the end of the summer to replace what I could.
In August, I flew back to do just that. (Coincidently, I found out, the very same day that Nina had flown to my coast - and literally one town over from where I grew up to attend the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit).
At the very end of my trip back to LA, I took some time to just observe the city. I've always loved the energy there - and having lived right outside of Hollywood for six months in 2012 - it felt good to be back. I stood on a patio in Burbank, breathing in the summer air and listening to the hum of the distant traffic. I quietly asked the universe for a connection to Nina and I promised myself that sometime within the next 365 days, I'd work with her.
I flew home and got ready to start my sixth year at Penn State. (Working toward two degrees and a minor is no joke!) A week later I was at a friend's house watching movies and just happened to check Twitter at the right time. I saw that Nina had just posted about her VerifiedCall account and I decided to take a risk. I asked my friend for a piece of paper and began drafting different ways of approaching the subject of a shoot without sounding like a crazed fan. (Not a cute look for anyone.)
I got home around 2am, my time, and made the call.
Twenty minutes later, my phone rang.
In the following fifteen minutes, I told her that I was a photographer, that I launched my own business at 17, that I had worked with Tila Tequila, and that I was interested in doing an art shoot with her.
Never in my life did I think this was actually going to work. Except it did.
Two months later, a friend and I were on our way to Gettysburg, for a speaker series event being held at the college there. The speaker was Nina. We met (briefly) after the talk and later that evening, began locking in the details for the shoot that you see now.
Coordinating travel with my holiday schedule was hard - but we finally settled on March - her birthday month - and even more special, her birthday.
I flew out to LA the night before (nervous as fuck), but happy that I got to continue doing what I love, in another adventure. After an 11 hour travel day, I arrived at my beautiful hotel to fantastic live jazz music and a delicious dinner.
The next afternoon I went to Nina. It was raining in LA - the first rain that I've seen there in person since 2012 - which made Nina dance around her studio with pure happiness. As I found out, she loves the rain as much as I do.
The shoot was beautiful. We spent time getting to know one another and we shot three different looks, part of Set 1 is what you see here - and there are other's still to come.
This is easily in my Top Five favorite shoots of my career and it definitely won't be the last shoot that I do with her. As Nina tweeted out to her fans, this is the start of a beautiful relationship. Nina will always be Nina and I will always be an artist - forever creating - and working towards capturing a person's essence in every photo.
I can't say that I just "landed" the shoot. Yes, I put it out in the universe that I wanted a connection and that working with her was indeed a final goal - but the shoot did not just fall out of the sky and land in my lap. There was still work involved. Selling yourself and your talent to people - as an artist - is particularly hard, in general. Doing it over the phone is much harder.
I have been shooting for close to thirteen years, but only seven - professionally. I'm ballsy to a degree, but not in a let's-call-a-famous-person-and-ask-for-a-shoot kind of ballsy. That was definitely new. But if there's anything I've learned in the past thirteen years taking pictures, and in the past twenty as a singer - you have to take risks in order get what you want.
I do, very much love what I do. Art has been apart of my life since early childhood. I take pictures, I sing, I make jewelry, I've designed tattoos, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't do something artsy. The traveling - that's just a bonus.
I'm certainly grateful for everyone that I've worked with over the past seven years, the amount of hours people have spent with me working on website design, social media promotion, and everything leading up to this week; from my very first model, Miss Mischief, to Nina's willingness to set up this shoot. It's been a wonderful ride - and I can't wait to see where the next 20+ years takes me.
Hard work, dedication and passion - those are the ingredients to a successful shoot, successful life and plenty of adventure.
Work hard. Play hard.
Please note that all images on this website and within this blog are copyrighted. Please do not edit, crop, manipulate, attempt to remove my watermark, transmit, copy or reproduce any of these photos in any form. Sharing these images without proper credit and using them without permission is punishable by law.
Please respect the artists involved. Thank you.