All you can do is make preparations, then you wait for that moment when all you have left is to make decisions.
When I take pictures it’s because I have an idea of what I want to achieve. I set a goal then I think about how I’m going to get there. I have a lot of goals stored up in my head just waiting for opportunity to be realized. One goal that has laid dark, dusty and dormant in the back of my mind for a few years is the idea of shooting nudity in the snow.
I’m excited about the concept because there is so much contrast and conflict in the composition. There is the clash of nudity versus outside. Then when you pile on working in the harsh environment it tilts the odds of it ever happening to almost right off the scale. Then there is contrast with the sleeping / dormant world under it’s blanket of snow versus the vibrant model rushing through poses.
Yeah, I really do think thoughts like this ;0)
Winter 2013 / 2014 was a cold and snowy one and it seemed like the right time for me to work on this goal. I think it was the day I got my car stuck in a snow bank at the bottom of my drive way and I was laying down in the snow digging out my car wheels that I really thought this would be a good time to try shooting snow nudes.
The high level logistics seem simple, I need location, model and snow. That seems pretty simple right? Serendipity Gardens was closed for the winter and it had at least a foot of snow cover. So that’s one and three taken care of. Now comes the human aspect finding someone who wanted to work on my project.
I used the website Model Mayhem to search availability notices, looking for people in the area looking for modeling jobs. I basically said this who I am, this is my idea, are you interested? After a couple of e-mails back and forth I booked Jillian R for two hours.
Obviously two hours out in a Michigan winter would be brutal for anyone, so I decided to break the shoot down into three sections.
- Warm up – inside shoot. I’ve never worked with Jillian R before and it’s a good way to see how we work together.
- The Outside part – this is where the main goal happens. Snow cold and everything.
- Cool down. – we actually warm up back inside with poses and ideas left over from the previous two sections.
On the day of the shoot I arrived early and scouted for locations and I see this huge old willow tree covered in snow and I love it. It’s perfect, a dormant form with writhing curves everywhere. This is where I want to do the posing. The background is a little cluttered but not horrible. The only problem I see is how to get Jillian R there without leaving tracks in the snow…
So I have a little walk around and decide I have to dig a path through the snow back behind some trees and have it end behind the willow tree. While digging the path I find a couple of rustic chairs half buried in snow. This is going to be my secondary location and practice location.
Working outside and in the cold snow has some challenges, like keeping the model warm and keeping the set clean and undisturbed.
My priorities as ever are Safety, Comfort and then Composition. My main concern was avoiding skin and snow contact. I had blankets to lay on and insulated platforms to stand on. We shot at the secondary location and learned a few tricks like what could be quickly donned between shots to keep warm etc.
What we gained in knowledge by shooting at the secondary location we lost in temperature. Jillian R was certainly cold. For the main shoot I had to set up across from the willow. so while I was doing that Jillian R got into position and tried to warm back up. I made a deal with her all I wanted was 20 shots in front of the tree. After the shots are done she could run through the set directly to we warming area.
When I was ready to take the shots I let her know. Jillian R stripped down hiding her stuff behind the tree. She began posing in front of the tree. I took pictures counting off the shots. When we hit 20 I shouted “GO! GO! GO!” and she wrapped a blanket and grabbed her stuff and ran for the warming area that had an electric blanket and two heaters cranked up.
By the time I had gathered up my equipment and headed back in Jillian R was feeling warmer ;0)
We finished off the shoot and checked out some of the images in the back of the camera. It was a fun shoot, and I feel I got what I was looking for .