This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on the photoshoot. You can find the other parts of this series here:
Part 2: Facing the Dark (“Trapped” set)
Part 3: Facing the Enemy (“Warrior” set)
Part 4: Facing the Sun (“Flower” set)
I will add links to the other posts once they are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.
In June, 2013, an eclectic group of eight descended on a seedy extended-stay hotel outside Council Bluffs, IA. Their mission: to transform a weedy vacant lot into a magical wildwood, and to transform a geeky fantasy novelist into a goddess.
This is the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot, a fashion photography editorial by Hooton Images.
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the Fellowship of the Ring, but it was darn close. We had among us the following:
- The Photographers: Heather and Jameson Hooton, the talented force of Hooton Images, creating kick-ass fashion photography in Omaha, NE.
- The Wardrobe Stylist: Cora Leigh, designer and stylist, with a knack of finding the most amazing stuff on Etsy and vintage stores.
- The Hair and Make-up Artist: Michelle Beran, who took me from “just got up” to “Wildwood Goddess” in the space of an hour. She spent the afternoon battling uncooperative hair extensions and racing the clock so we could get the perfect sundown shots.
- The Intern: Uh…what was her real name? Everyone just called her “Intern.” Oh, that’s right–Hannah Kerr! (Just kidding, Hannah–we adore you!) Hannah is an emerging photographer of fashion photography in her own right and she was an essential part of the team for this shoot. She’s got the most adorable pink taser–and at one point nearly had to use it! (Creepy guy in elevator–eek!)
- The Supportive Spouse: My husband Jason, who did everything from hanging birdcages from trees to chasing away dodgy-looking men. He couldn’t have been more wonderful.
- The Creative Daughter: My then-12 year old daughter, Catrin, came with us for the day to take behind-the-scenes videos and snapshots and to help in any other way she could. It was a long day and she was fabulous.
- The Novelist-turned-Model: That’s me! For a day, I got to be the model. It was harder work than I expected, but nothing compared to how hard everyone else worked.
Such a nerd! Kissey, kissey!
I am the last person I would have ever thought would do a fantasy fashion photography editorial shoot. In high school, I was the geek, never the fashionista. My strength has always been my mind, not my body. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a geeky, flawed, and odd-looking girl with crooked teeth, spotty skin, glasses, and a less-than-Hollywood figure.
But over time, I learned that my feet could dance, my voice could sing, and my hands and my eyes have artistic ability I never knew about. I could tell a story with color and shape and texture, not just words.
As I became an adult and grew more confident about my own style (yes, it took well into my adult life for that to happen), I would see beautiful fashion photography in magazines, and I thought–why shouldn’t that be me? Why not give it a try?
That’s Michelle Beran, make-up artist extraordinaire, putting in my hair extensions.
It was an intimidating thought: Me? Model in a fashion photography shoot? Just having professional headshots done for my book covers was stressful enough. But I realized I needed to do this–needed to challenge myself and my commitment to accepting and celebrating the gift of my body. So that settled it. I may not be what fashion designers are looking for to model their next line of clothing, but dammit–I’m worth photographing anyway!
My husband used to say that he wished I could see myself as he sees me, just for a minute. By facing the dark eye of the camera, by letting go of my fear, that finally happened. Far from being the judging, revealing force I always had run from, the camera showed me a version of myself far kinder and more profound than I had been able to see with my own eyes.
I am beautiful. I am flawed. And some days, the beauty seems to be deeply buried somewhere (maybe in the same place all my missing socks are). But my body is a gift and worthy of being loved and cared for. And yes, even photographed, like art. Because it is.
Heather and Jameson told me that fashion photography and editorials should tell a story. Being a teller of stories already, that worked great for me. I took that advice more literally (pun!) than probably most people would, and actually came up with a simple narrative that we used to group the photoshoot into sets.
The Wildwood Goddess photos tell MY story, and the story of so many women. A story of feeling trapped–by fear, by insecurities, by the expectations and repression of our culture. A story of learning to break away, to fight, to find our inner strength, confidence, to become the people we were meant to be. And a story of finally reaching that place of peace and rest, of knowing who we are and being able to live in that knowledge without striving.
Over the next three weeks, you’ll get to experience that story for yourself. For now, if you’d like to see the series of headshots we did or find out more about the photoshoot, take a look at the Wildwood Goddess photoshoot page.
If you enjoyed this post, you should try my fiction, too! My latest project is a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad.
All professional photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description.
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