The Traveling Skirt| Charleston Portrait Photography
Charleston Portrait Photographer and The Traveling Skirt
About two years ago (this July) I became a member of an amazing group or women. We were brought together by our photography editing style and the fact we were mothers. That was it. It started as a small group of us of about 50 and has now grown to almost 400 members. It has grown to a point that many of us “originals” are now social media friends with many of us now actually having each other’s personal phone numbers. We know where each other are and follow one another through so much. We’ve supported one another through natural disasters, pregnancies, miscarriages, death of parents, and just regular trials of life and motherhood. I’ve been lucky to meet one of these mommas in person recently and look forward so much to the day we finally get to wrap each other in giant hugs and sip wine together in person.
Last year, a small group of us participated in a spring traveling dress project. (go there to see it) It was so much fun so this year I asked if anyone was interested in doing it again. A Traveling Dress Project has a few rules. We choose one article of clothing (this year a skirt) and then each photographer get a small window of time to photograph the piece in her vision. We cannot share images of the session until the last girl has completed her turn. That means that we started passing this skirt around in early February and it was just finished in early May. This dress has been from Katy, Texas—>Georgia—>Wisconsin—>South Dakots—>Nebraska—>Pennsylvania and South Carolina. It’s been ripped and stained and dry cleaned. We’ve each looked it over for hints of what the previous girl did with it. In the end we’ve all been awestruck with the passion, creativity, and talent (and love) that each of us have. Here is a small sampling of what each of us did with this skirt.
First with the dress was Emily Przybylo with Kettner Sister Photography in Appleton, Wisconsin. Emily partnered with Camille & Isaac (real couple). Find her on social media at @kettnersisterphotography
I pushed to receive the skirt first because I planned to take my photos at the new ice castles exhibit in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Due to weather (the exhibit only runs when it is cold enough!) and the skirt planning, I couldn’t buy tickets until I was absolutely certain, and by then, the exhibit was sold out. My models, a newly engaged couple living almost five hours away, drove to my hometown instead to take the photos. Our window of opportunity narrowed when we had the polar vortex visit that week and negative -30 degree weather. We luckily found a window of warmth (15 degrees!) one foggy morning. For those not familiar with the area, one thing to love about the Fox Valley is the variety within a short drive. Each of these locations in the collage are just five to 10 minutes from one another. My original vision was dramatic, large, hard blue ice formations and an ice queen, but Mother Nature turned that vision into a soft and dreamy instead.
Model: Tabitha Anwur
Earrings: St. Rain Jewelry
Crown: Jezebel’s Fascination
Tops: Forever 21
Makeup: Artistry by Lyd
My initial concept for this shoot was something that incorporated Voodoo influences and an eerie, New Orleans vibe. Think pythons, chickens, and smoke bombs, oh my. Due to lack of time and the need for extensive planning (I didn’t want to inaccurately portray aspects of Voodoo without the proper resources and materials), I shifted the focus to the of an ethereal, earthly goddess. I wanted to avoid white at all costs and was initially leaning toward a black top but ended up going with more jewel tones. I definitely wanted to have elements of gold paired with a mysterious black mask and possibly, some headdress or epaulets. With the decision to incorporate the driftwood crown, a makeup mask felt most appropriate to minimize adornments and the shoulder accessories went out the window (not to mention, that ish is $$$.....there’s like a whole goth/steampunk/creepy mask subculture and it ain’t cheap). Overall, I’m happy with the shoot but definitely began with a very different vision. I would have loved to have tried out a smoke bomb prior as I had ZERO idea what to expect and definitely could have benefited from a test run. Trying to knock this out during the busy season and dealing with school was THE biggest challenge BUT I can’t wait for the next round! The competition is heating up.
Next came…ME!!!! Half of these portraits in this collage were shot on Portra 400 film with canon 35 mm.
My idea came backwards with seeing the perfect model first and then coming up with the concept. E has been taking dance lessons this spring and her dance instructor is incredibly beautiful. She started dance in January right as we were finalizing the rotation of the traveling skirt. Stephany, her teacher at Dance FX, has this amazing dancers’ physique with long red hair and gorgeous high cheekbones. Originally, I envisioned doing these portraits on top of the Cooper River Bridge at sunrise, but first I couldn’t find a makeup artist willing to get up that early (haha). The next hurdle was figuring out how we were going to get to the top when it would be at least a 30 minute walk one way. I remembered this bridge from when Chuck and I lived downtown that the locals refer to as “the bridge to nowhere”. It’s a more convenient but private location so we decided on there instead. More sleep=yay! I got incredibly lucky that the morning of the session, we had this thick fog hover over Charleston for hours. I’ve always dreamed of shooting in fog, but it’s so unpredictable. The fog was super thick at the beginning BUT the fog gave this most magical feel to the portraits. It also blocked the sun allowing us to work longer in what felt like a giant soft box. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how they turned out.
Up next as Alex Baigas Photography out of Cumming, GA and of course I screwed up and sent it to the wrong girl. That was lots of stress and scrambling but in the end we were able to get it to her in time. Her model Kaitlin had her floral crown from the Special Event Factory and makeup by Alexandra Gault. Hair was done by Alicia Benton with the Hairpiece by Headpiece Heiress. You can follow Alex here on social media.
The challenges of this shoot went beyond what I’ll describe, but when I review the images we created, I am happy. I’ve known my model’s horse for a decade or more, and met my model for the first time the evening of this shoot. It was really special to me to combine my past career as a horse trainer with my present passion of photography, especially with a horse that I know very well. My vision for this shoot was a golden hour, ethereal dream, with sunlight pouring through the trees as my horse and rider made their way through their hundred acre field. Just as we arrived on the farm, the sunset was hidden behind a thick cloud cover. Light was fading fast, and we still had hair and makeup to do! As I went to take the first shot, my main camera fell to the ground and stopped working, so this shoot was shot on a brand new & totally different camera that I had brought to be a backup and test out a little if time allowed. It was a great lesson in “getting back on the horse” and moving forward with a positive attitude...so many people had come together to complete this project and I wanted to make sure they got to experience the joy of their efforts coming together. The best thing about this shoot was always going to be, and still is, that the young lady has images with her beloved childhood horse that she can treasure forever.
I had an idea of what I envisioned for this session before I had someone to photograph but sometimes mindless social media scrolling pays off -- I found the sweet, beautiful LaShawn randomly on Facebook and messaged her “Hi I promise I’m not creepy, but I would LOVE to take your photo if you’d be interested!” She wasn’t weirded out, thank goodness, and we were able to connect and make some magic on a chilly spring evening in March. We shot on top of a parking garage in downtown Omaha and so thankful we had some delicious golden hour light to work with! I have an entire other set of photos from this session with a delectable brown leather vintage trench coat and a moody orange smoke bomb so it was incredibly difficult to narrow down photos to share! But LaShawn was such a natural and an absolute dream to work with --just adore how these photos turned out.
I have to be honest…this next girl hit it out of the park. This whole collage is entirely film! Kamie Wittrock Photography out of Sioux Falls, SD is amazing and created something amazing with model, Karris. Find more of Kamie’s amazing work (which is going more and more film) at @kamiewittrockphotography Hair provided by Alyssa at Sola Salons and makeup by Paetyn.
I knew from the initial images of the skirt that I wanted to do something soft, romantic, and with an editorial feel. When I was initially planning my session, I envisioned a ballet dancer and the beautiful movement that could be brought to the dress. I’ve known Karris for about two years, after I took her senior portraits, and I knew she was a dancer and a great model, (as well as seeking professional model experience). Karris and I began planning her session and we both felt inspired by the beautiful lace body suit. I also knew I wanted an updo, but with soft loose curls, some greenery, and soft natural make up. My hair and make up artists, Alyssa and Paetyn, helped SO much in pulling it all together! When we got to the shoot date, my original location was closed due to severe flooding in our state, so I choose to photograph our session at a local lake.. About 99% of my session was shot in film, both medium format and 35mm, and only one digital image is included in the final images. I am very happy with how everything came together and the overall final product I was able to create!
Last but certainly not least came Talia Laird with Talia Laird Photography out of OCONOMOWOC, WI. This dear girl has become a real friend. L and I have enjoyed midday facetime chats with her and her cutie son more than once. She has a consistent style is one of the most amazing photographers I’ve seen at maternity and lifestyle newborn. You can follow her gorgeous light and airy work @talialairdphotography