How we did the Black Pond Shoot

I’m up on the roof tonight and it’s starting to rain, so I may have to move inside soon. I love it up here though. I’ve grown to love coming up here to write, talk with visiting friends, have a bottle of wine, under the stars with the skyline as the backdrop. Quite lovely.

And speaking of lovely, I’ve gotten such amazing and positive responses from the recent Black Pond shoot. It was a year in the making and it turned out just as incredible as I hoped it would in my head when I began thinking about it.

So I’ve decided to pull back the curtain on this one. And talk about how it came to be.

I knew I wanted to try something in very shallow water in a black environment. Nothing but a model and the reflections. Originally I was going to build the set in my studio, but as I was explaining it to my friends Mark and Melissa when we were out to breakfast months ago, the looks on their faces were at once both intrigue by the concept and mortification that I might flood my studio and the neighbors space below me if something went wrong.

They had a point.

So we decided it might be best to build it in their garage. So over a three day period a couple of weeks ago, they moved their cars out and I moved my studio in and Mark and I built the pond set. It’s actually very simple as you can see by this photograph before we moved all the lights and equipment in. And a lot smaller than most people imagined.

Ah the magic of photography. With the right lighting and lenses we turned this small space into a huge black cavernous pond.

Since I needed to control the lighting and we didn’t want to give the neighbors a show, we had to work with the garage completely closed. And a garage in August in Chicago is hot. But the good thing was since we were filling up the pond with the garden hose, the water was cold. So Frances eased herself into the couple of inches of water very slowly each time. I have to admit I was a little jealous having to work outside of the cooling water in the heat!

But it was great fun. A really collaborative creation on both of our parts. I had rented the headdresses from Chicago Costume the day before, hoping they would look as amazing in the reflections as they did.

We shot with studio strobes, but I left the shutter open for two seconds and moved the camera as Frances also moved in time with each exposure, creating the ghostly blur you see in the photographs.

And while we were shooting, Mark and Melissa we preparing amazing snacks and drinks for us when we would take breaks to clear our heads, and finally dinner as we finished for the day around 10 that evening.

Quite the incredible shoot day. My great thanks to Frances, and Mark and Melissa and everyone who listened to me work the concept and execution of the shoot out over the past year. It was one of my favorite photographic experiences I’ve ever been a part of!

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