Levity - Stephanie Parsley - Castle in the Sky

I recently had the privilege of photographing my friend Stephanie Parsley, who is an extremely talented photographer. I connected with her because I loved her work and after meeting her realized one of the reasons why she's become so successful; she's a sweetheart. Anyone who's worked with her knows it. She's kind, genuine, and eager, which in a time notorious for indifference, is so refreshing to encounter. I knew immediately I wanted to work with her, though I wasn't sure what we could do as we both typically spend most of our time taking the pictures. I essentially called dibs and asked her to be my subject for a shoot. To my relief she excitedly agreed with the predictable amount of self doubt as those of us who hide behind the camera experience when the ominous gaze is focused on us. I knew the shoot needed to be special though the substance of it hadn't occurred to me until after a few weeks of images floating through my mind. 

My daughter and I have become somewhat obsessed with all the films made by the incredible Hayao Miyazaki, thanks to the invaluable influence of my lovely partner Becca. We giddily snuggle into bed to watch these epic stories that regularly have strong female protagonists, a detail of which I'm very grateful for my daughter to witness. In one of our most recent movie time adventures we watched the film Castle in the Sky which features a young woman with a magical pendant that saves her while falling from great heights. The pendant glows a beautiful emerald and she becomes weightless. 

After some time of deliberating over the theme of Stephanie's shoot, it occurred to me that a Levity shot inspired by the imagery of Castle in the Sky would be so much fun to create. Stephanie was excited but wary as she wasn't sure how to contribute to the scene. From my own experience I know that floating in a Levity shot looks cooler after the fact than it feels while you're doing it. But Stephanie was fantastic and gave us everything we needed to put together not one, but two new images for the Levity project.

A huge thank you to Becca for making this shoot possible. She is my eyes when I have none. She styled the shoot while also doing countless other things to make the images better. You can see her brilliantly curated shop here https://www.etsy.com/shop/Wenojean.  

And thank you to Stephanie for letting me photograph you floating through the air and for being an excellent subject. I'm so happy with what we created. 

I love taking multiple Levity shots in one location because it visually builds this reality around the images. Somewhat like stepping into another world. Below you see her floating a few feet from the surface of the water. 

When I showed Stephanie these images, she was a photographer's dream client. Excited, surprised, and so evidently pleased with the outcome. I love hearing, "How did you do that?" when showing someone the levitation shots, because I often like to forget the process and just be swayed by the magic in the photos too. Its simple enough to do, but the final product is so much fun. I look at other photographers work with the same intention. Maybe I can break it down technically to figure out their technique, but mostly I just want to experience the mystical feelings the images inspire. 

This guy was so eager to be in the photograph he jumped into the water to say hello. 

Of course I had to take the opportunity to capture a few stunning portraits while having Stephanie in front of the camera.