Katya, In the Wild

I've been keeping these images to myself for a while and its about time I shared them. These past few weeks have been dedicated to healing from a back injury that reminded me just how important it is to take care of yourself. Thank you to my rock of a partner, Becca for making sure I didn't die during the whole process. 

Shortly before my disks decided to slip, we had a photoshoot with the incredible Katya Aksenuk. And I'm so glad we did because the images and the experience were unforgettable. The image was in my mind for the shoot before we arrived at our magical location, but what ensued after the first few clicks of the shutter was much better than I had anticipated. Katya was free and daring. She told me upon reviewing the images that she doesn't see a picture of herself, but rather notices the light, shadows, texture and quality of the photo. What some might see as un unflattering angle, she notices the lines and strength of her bone structure, or the power of the pose. I deeply admire this quality and sincerely wish to emulate it within myself while somehow imparting it on everyone I shoot. It would be so liberating to eliminate the critical feedback loop we all get stuck in sometimes, where we weigh our positive and negative attributes only to be left wanting for something unattainable. We are what we are, and theres no changing it. Sure we can kill ourselves at the gym, but often that only raises the bar rather than allowing us to meet it. The transformation is most satisfying when we learn to accept ourselves wholly. Radical self love, as some call it, is something I find to be a beautiful daily practice. Katya manages it while looking at these photos, I practice it every time I encounter my reflection. I implore everyone I shoot to start embracing themselves as they are, because once we recognize our limitations, we learn how to propel ourselves beyond them. 

Thank you Katya for sharing your wildness and for inspiring me to do the same. Oh yea, I was waist deep in the water for many of these photos, didn't see that coming. Becca, my darling, helped in all the ways, making this shoot possible. It was remarkably refreshing to tell my subject not to get the hair out of her face, but rather make it go everywhere, and to wade through the water as my subject became completely submerged. Its also a fantastic way to battle the heat. 

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  

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.