With every great photoshoot, comes a great story. This particular one involves many bottles of wine, a delicious meal, a lovely makeup artist called Ashley Klich and her unsuspecting, but as it turns out, fearless friend Anthony. Oh! And me! I was there too.
I’ve known Ashley for years. As has been the case since the wonderful Lollapalooza weekend a few weeks back, I have been reuniting with the most incredible cast of friends and industry colleagues that I haven’t connected with in years. Something was in the air that weekend. I don’t know whether the planets aligned in some kind of reunion inducing way or if it’s just one of those coincidences, but my next three months are filling up with creative projects with many wonderful people who I’ve been bumping into non-stop since Lolla weekend, beginning with Jordan in the last blog post and continuing pretty much through my entire address book. An embarrassment of riches.
Ashley and I had worked together on a few photography projects years ago, but I hadn’t seen much of her since she moved to Los Angeles some years back. She’s now dividing her time between L.A. and Chicago. After Lollapalooza Day 2, we both found ourselves at my favorite nighttime hangout, Debonair Social Club, along with everyone else I can think of apparently. We agreed too much time had passed and we were overdue for a catch-up.
The first of our many plans was to have her come by the studio for me to photograph her, something I have wanted to do for years. As a makeup artist, she spends all of her time behind the camera rather than in front of it, but she agreed to make an exception in the spirit of the Chicago Reunion Thing that seemed to be happening. She arrived with her makeup case in tow, I opened the first bottle of wine and we both began preparing, her at the mirror and me setting lights.
Earlier in the day, she mentioned that her friend Anthony might want to stop by to say hello, watch our shoot and stay for the delicious dinner she had brought to cook for us. We were about an hour into our shoot when Anthony arrived and we took a break to open another bottle of wine and hang out in my studio kitchen as is usually how things go around here.
Suddenly, Ashley lit up with an idea! Would Anthony agree to be made up and join in the photography creativity that was transpiring? I have to give Anthony a lot of credit. When he agreed, I’m not sure he knew what was about to unfold as Ashley began compiling the color palette and describing what she had in mind.
This was the first time I’d met Tony. He’s a beautiful man both physically and in his demeanor. His arms are covered in art and his face would be covered in more in short order, courtesy of Ashley.
She began the process, Anthony, happily going along for the ride as she began the, not quite drag queen, but something in that direction, look. Anthony probably very wisely agreed to not look in the mirror until her work was complete. My job at this point was to make sure no ones wine glass was empty.
After about an hour, it was complete. Tony walked over to the mirror to see what he had been turned into. It was a masterpiece, in my opinion.
Then it was back onto the set. I told Tony I wasn’t going to over direct him. I moved an ashtray to a pedestal within his arms reach, filled up his wine glass once more and we began.
Ashley was giddily standing behind me as we adjusted the lights for his new face. He looked beautiful. With the tats and stubble, all man. But now there was something new and feminine in the mix. I couldn’t figure exactly what to call it, but it was amazing. I continued to shoot stills, occasionally telling Anthony to grab his wine glass, now complete with a bendy straw as to not spoil his lipstick. His piercing eyes, enhanced like never in his life, connecting with my camera in a powerful and… something…
The French expression, je ne sais quoi, is sometimes the perfect way to express a particular moment. I couldn’t think of a better way to express what I was seeing in my viewfinder. His bright red lips framed by days of stubble. His fully tattooed arms brushing past the bright blue eye shadow and false lashes on his eyes. Great attitude. Anthony most definitely had that, je ne sais quoi. Literally translated to, I don’t know what.
When I have something good going in any photoshoot, I always like to shoot some motion as well. I continued to give Anthony little suggestions and he continued to emote his new persona. Wonderful. Enjoy!
Finally we decided that he had performed enough for the camera in his surprise photoshoot and we headed back to the kitchen.He was an exceptional sport throughout it all. He kept saying, “I had no idea when I got up this morning that this would have happened!” I’m fairly sure we all felt that way.
More wine, as Ashley began to cook an incredible dish of pork chops with peach halves. I’ve never tasted pork chops with the unique sweetness of peach. Brilliantly delicious. After dinner, we reviewed some of the footage, all very pleased with what we had created. It’s my favorite kind of happening at my studio. Good friends, good wine, a tremendous meal and of course, making wonderful art!
So what about the photos of Ashley, herself?! They turned out beautifully of course! But that’s a photoshoot story for another time.