While I continue to get my ducks in a row for the ‘fairy tales’ project I’m in the middle of (another blog on that coming soon), I posted on Facebook that I needed to know more models for shooting. Two friends of mine, who I don’t get to spend enough time with (story of my life) graciously volunteered to let me haul them out to the Mojave desert on a Saturday, complete with a skull from a Ram-horn-animal-thing that my dog was terrified of:
We were experiencing the season’s first storm in Los Angeles county, and all weather reports told me the area of the Mojave we were headed to would have clouds, had had clouds, and were currently covered in clouds.
Lies. All lies. It’s 2013, how goddamn hard it is to accurately tell me the weather?
But you work with what you’re given, as I’ve learned and blogged about so many times in the past year and a half, so in this case that meant I’d be working with clear blue (read: boring) skies.
On a much more positive side, I had great models who were ready and willing and overall the lack of environment texture made me think in terms of subject and framing texture: black and white, effects, positioning, etc. (the shot below is a great example of that.) Also, in many ways Iris was more prepared to model than I was to direct her.
Aside from the weather being dull, the biggest bummer presented itself as we arrived to the dry lake bed: cars were no longer able to drive on the playa. Goddammit. It was cold out – 50 something degrees in LA proper – and windy. Gusts up to 35 mph on the playa. Thankfully it was roughly 65 on the lakebed but the wind was cold. Iris was such a sport about the whole thing. We had planned to have her use the car as “home base” to warm up in between shots, but now we were 1/2 a mile from the car with no shelter. I felt awful about that, and knew I’d have to grab fast shots. While that doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity, it was a really great lesson in efficiency. While some photographers may not agree, I strongly believe in keeping your models very happy.
Another lesson for me was how incredibly hard it is to manage tissue cloth in strong wind. This reinforces the idea that I need assistants for subject shoots.
Thankfully Art was there in the background keeping it all arranged (as best as he could) while she posed. They perform together, so it was great to have them there to pose for me as a pair. Their dynamic when they are getting into a pose is an interesting process to watch. They’re patient with each other and communicate so well physically – it was almost like watching a dance between two people who don’t need to use words.
At sundown we arrived a location I’ve shot on several occasions, and gleefully found the moon full and rising in the east. This place is just past Mojave (the town) and filled with broken down cars and old abandoned buildings complete with old cans of soup and hypodermic needles. Iris climbed up on a stone wall from a torn down structure and posed in freezing cold wind (the sun had gone down at that point) and I got the idea to increase the size of the moon behind her for effect. I think it worked really well: