I rarely go into a shoot with an agenda, but rather prefer to make it up as I go. I always wait to see what my subject will bring to the shoot, both literally and creatively. It helps when my subject is as good at posing and emoting as Shelby.
I started off with photographing reflections in mylar, which I’ve been experimenting with for a handful of shoots now. This iteration— where I incorporated not only the warped reflection but also the unwarped subject in the foreground— is my favorite so far. I want to start doing some video experiments with it as well.
For the second look I started off experimenting with backlighting Shelby in order to add an ethereal quality to the images. I added oil to the front of my lens to amplify the dreamy light. Lately I have been really going for the appearance of the subject being in a womb-like atmosphere. After I got a few shots for me, I asked Shelby if there were any lighting requests that she had. She opted for a simple hard light look, a la young Debbie Harry. I couldn’t decide which I liked better— color or black and white— so I gave her both options.
For the third and final look Shelby had a simple dress, some fantastic aqua colored flats, and a soft pink eyeliner. I knew of an abandoned room with some chipped pink paint, on the third floor of the building where my studio resides. We shot quickly (it was about 90 degrees in there), relying on window light and pose.
I know I’ve said it before but these “test shoots” are what keep me going as a photographer. It’s not only how I develop new techniques and keep people from forgetting about me, but often images from these shoots lead to paid shoots or licensing opportunities. More and more I am having clients show me shots I have done in these sessions, and pay me to do it for them. As a photographer, that level of creative freedom is extremely rare.