In December of 2016 I was one of 12 photographers selected to participate in a year long styled shoot adventure based on a simple idea. Each one of us, all in different parts of the country, would have one month during 2017 to carry out a shoot planned around a stunning red sequined dress. I was given the month of November and I knew I wanted to incorporate the beauty of the Arizona desert, but beyond that I was really open to whatever inspiration came my way. I had just selected a new team of seniors to work with for Team18 and opened up the opportunity to my girls. My senior team member Katie was the first to raise her hand and express how much she wanted to be chosen for this project. I was very excited that she spoke up! Katie was one of the more quite girls on my team but I had a sense that there was a lot going on underneath her calm demeanor. Her Nordic coloring and the confidence and strength I felt were just below the surface served as the inspiration for our theme…a Viking Princess looking over the ruins of her castle, with determination and hope for the future. I asked Katie to share what the shoot was like for her, and these are her words about the process, along with my favorite images from our shoot.
“From the moment I heard about The Red Dress shoot, the sheer concept of it alone was enough to spark a strong initial intrigue. In my mind, The Red Dress Shoot was a platform for celebrating diverse artistic creativity: a compilation of twelve unique stories all crafted from interpretations of a single dress. It was truly an honor to be captured in Sandi’s story; her beautifully fabricated artistic vision not only resulted in gorgeous images, but it opened my eyes to parts of my individual character I did not know existed within me. Sandi’s vision for The Red Dress shoot was nothing less than magical; I was to embody a fierce viking princess, overlooking her desert kingdom with power and poise. This of course, while alluring to me, was quite a daunting challenge for one of my first experiences in front of a camera.
Despite my nervousness, I was eager to participate and try something outside of my comfort zone. The time to put together this vision was a shining November afternoon. My mom and I first headed to R Salon, where we were introduced to Laura, our wonderful hair and makeup artist. Laura was extremely kind and personable, and throughout the appointment we bonded by chatting about our favorite makeup artists and our aspirations for the coming years. First, I had my makeup done. It was really interesting to see and learn from the techniques she utilized to create the perfect look. To fit the style concept of the shoot, Laura skillfully wove tiny accentuated braids into the voluminous waves she curled, topping the style with a sparkling crown! I was ready to try on the dress itself. The dress was truly enchanting; cascading scarlet sequins flowed down its long form, and shining gold chains draped my arms and chest.
As I stood, a princess overlooking an empire, I was overcome by a pure confidence and an appreciation for who I was. In this point in my life I was yearning to shed previous insecurity and uncertainty, and The Red Dress shoot was the perfect platform to enable me to achieve this. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have done this, and I am thankful for what I have learned about myself through this adventure.”After getting ready Sandi, Jana (our videographer), and I took a small road trip to South Mountain, where we ventured into a small but historic nook called Scorpion Gulch. We shot within the rustic architecture and on top of the peering mountains, and I was a fixture of the earthy desert scenery that encompassed me. The burnt red sequins on my dress dazzled in the descending sunlight. The light glistened through the jewels of my crown. I no longer felt my initial nervousness as I personified a viking princess: fierce, royal, and powerful.“
This really was a magical experience all around! All of the confidence and strength that I sensed in Katie came to the surface in such beautiful ways during our shoot. Gone were her insecurities and hesitation and the quiet girl I first met months ago. I absolutely love the transformation power of stepping in front of the camera! Now that I’ve had the chance to spend time with her, both while planning and carrying out the Red Dress shoot, I’ve really come to appreciate her quiet strength, deep intelligence . Coming up next…Katie shines in her own senior portrait session!