This shoot was rather last minute and the original theme was "just really pretty simple field fairy type stuff". Unfortunately, i couldn't find a field of lavender like her inspiration pictures, but i did know of the Wichita mountains and have seen countless photographers use it as a backdrop for portrait sessions in the past. I scrambled to find a field that was closer to the city and maybe something a little less overused for a photo sessions in the Okc area, but ultimately i didn't find anything and i didn't have much time to location scout. Honestly, I'm so glad i went out there. I'll talk about this a little later in this post, but it can be really hard to not compare yourself to other photographers, or to feel like you're doing something new in a place where you know countless of people of been before. None-the-less i tried to block out everything i had seen from this location and just made it my own. I'd only been up Mt. Scott one other time in my life and it was brief and with no "photography ideas" in mind, so i'd say this was truly my first time there experiencing it for the opportunities it brought to the table for environmental portraits.
Anna is someone i've know for years. She's one of four siblings of my best friend who i've known for 8 years, so she is not just my friend; she is my family. She was already planning on coming up from Dallas to visit us here in Okc when she told me she wanted to get some portraits done for her boyfriends birthday. I gladly accepted the challenge in finding a field that matched her inspiration photos, and fell asleep that night trying to think of poses, locations and framing for the end product. We spent the next day shopping for outfits that would lend to a flow-y, dreamy, playful feel and then left for the mountains. We brought along her brother Paul, who also dabbles in photographer, and i quickly titled him my creative director as he scouted locations, fixed hair, picked flowers, and provided lame jokes for authentic laughs. We made our first stop on the side of the road on our way up the mountain. We climbed over a small fence and walked around on this shelf of rocks where i picked up my camera for the first time in a while and started to dust off my rusty skills. My professor made a comment one time that will probably always run through my head as i let my camera sit in my room day-after-day without picking it up. He said "photographers are the only artists who think that they don't need to practice" and it's so true. We seem to think that we can just pick it up whenever we feel like it and be great instantly. Every time you shoot you're getting better and evolving as a creator, but i know that i shouldn't be letting weeks go by without practicing. It takes an hour or so into a shoot before i feel like i'm in the zone and have hit a rhythm, but when it comes to shoots that aren't just for "practice" i can't afford for an hour to go by before i've hit my groove. That window of warm up time can only be 15 minutes maybe, and that takes practice. That takes picking up the camera every day or every other day, and that's something i'm working on. After the first stop, we go up to the top of the mountain and shoot at a few more locations, some more crowded than others. We climbed around on some sketchy rocks, got eaten alive by mosquitos (lesson number one: bring bug spray), and tried to beat the sun setting behind the overcast sky. As we headed down, we were on the hunt for a "fairy field", so i made some random turns and headed down a winding road before we pulled over on the side in hopes that this small hill with short grass would be just what i was looking for. As we climbed up this hill, in the wrong shoes (lesson number two), we found the plateau that lead down into a valley where there was a lonely buffalo grazing in the distance! I had joked just a few moments earlier about how there were buffalo in this wildlife refuge and how i was hoping we would see one, and then BAM he was right there! So we ran around the field, doing our best to avoid the rocks and cacti, and got some beautiful shots of Anna in her flowing pink dress. Images i couldn't be more proud of! Images i had stayed up the night before dreaming about. It was better than i imaged. The doubt in me makes me look back on that and think of all the other things we could've done, but even after the doubt settles i'm still so happy with how they turned out. In my attempt to get some Esperanza Rising vibes (anyone else read that in middle school??), i laid down in a seemingly bug free patch of dirt, only to get up and have my whole shoulder on fire with 50 little itchy bumps. I pushed through the pain for another 20 minutes until we finished the shoot and then we headed back to the car where we all got a good look at my shoulder. At first we were concerned because we didn't see any ants when we looked for the culprit to my pain, so my thoughts went immediately to something poisonous that could kill me. Of course. That's a natural progression of worry right? We got a picture for reference in case they were to grow in size or turn a funny color or something and then headed home. After an hour or so it quit itching and by the time we got home all of the bumps were gone.. so i can only assume that i laid in fire ants and i'm just an over-reacting hypochondriac.
If you made it past my long overview of our shoot, then you've made it to a place that i still struggle talking about. Everyone has doubts and fears and insecurities, but when it comes to comparing yourself to other people those things become infinitely overwhelming. Like i said before, i was so intimidated going to this location because i have seen photographers that i look up to and admire do some stunning things there and i just didn't know how i was going to live up to that. I open instagram everyday to see other photographers and all the things they are accomplishing with their crazy talent and it can make anyone feel inadequate, but especially me who is just starting out and hasn't really found my niche and style yet. There's a thin line between being inspired and copying someones style/work. I have this fear that if i look at too many artists work or if i become obsessed with one persons style that ill just end up copying them and not doing things my own way. On the other end, i've tried just ignoring other photographers work and not looking at anything new or making sure that i keep up with the current trends and styles, but that's not really the way to go either. There's no community if you isolate yourself completely from other artists. So i need to be somewhere in between that- obsessive and disconnected. I know that even if 10 photographers shot the same subject, at the same time, in the same spot that they would all end up with something different because we're all different. We see things differently, we create things differently, we have different vision, and style, and workflow. I think that's what is going to be so eye opening with these styled shoots and workshops i have coming up. I can't wait to be inspired by other creators around me, while still trying to find my place in it all.
Until i figure that out, here are some shots from my mountain shoot with Anna!