Flourish Pt. 2 (finally)


The results

I was really happy with my images from Day 2 of Flourish Workshop: the bridals and Lights Out sessions especially. I am hoping to do more of both of these this year. Taking bridal portraits is not really something that we do on the West Coast, perhaps because of the stigma of formal, stuffy, cheesy studio photography that the genre has endured. Yet brides out here put just as much thought into their dress, and their overall wedding look, as do brides in the South or East...sometimes even more so. With all of the cool location possibilities that exist in the Bay Area, I think it would be a no-brainer to reframe the bridal portrait as a way to express the individuality and real beauty of the bride on her own, without her partner in tow. And although these bridals were shot in the studio, the variety of set design and lighting gave all three women a very distinct look and feel:

Soft and classically romantic Erica (gown by Romona Keveza)

Clean and modern (and kinda sultry) Sarah (gown by Amsale)


Quirky, avant-garde Leah (gown by Paloma Blanca)


And one shot to convey the papparazzi-like atmosphere of the sessions:


The Lights Out shoot began with Kitty going over her approach and what inspires her to do this kind of work. Her work is very much about creating a fantasy...but not the cliche, bubblegum-fake Playboy starlet fantasy that currently dominates the boudoir genre. For her the illusion is not about altering reality; rather it is a place for a woman to find herself by becoming something else...by adopting a character (or caricature) and giving herself permission to play.

One of my favorite quotes from Kitty's presentation was, "Put a woman in a costume, and she will act. Put a woman in her underwear, and she will hide." It is because of the fantastical nature of these shoots that she finds the courage to be the beautiful, sexy person that she truly is; free from the limits and expectations that come with being "herself."

I am fascinated by this approach for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it shares a common inspiration with my wedding images. Showing brides how beautiful they are while staying true to who they are is and always has been a huge part of my wedding work. Of course the interplay between fantasy and reality is a huge part of weddings as well, and it is always interesting to see how each couple takes the tradition of the wedding day and makes it their own. I have shot many intimate portraits on request, but it's not something I ever advertised...mainly because I feared that it would be misinterpreted, and might put off some of my more traditional brides. But now that I've found a way to reconcile it, and a language to explain why I do both and what I'm trying to accomplish, I can see that changing. :)

Here are my images from the Lights Out shoot: (mature content ahoy!)

I love the way the shadow of the camera gives this shot a touch of voyeuristic thrill
this shot makes me think of Uma Thurman circa Pulp Fiction for some reason
I love that her red velvet shoes are just barely visible here

We also did an Engagement shoot at Flourish. I am very well versed in shooting E sessions, but it was fun to shoot one in a real winter environment for once!

Sam & Lizzie
and with a little extra flavor:
Angela & Luke

If Day 1 of Flourish dealt with all things practical, Day 3 dealt with all things artistic. We covered Photoshop first, specifically how (and why) to retouch images from the Lights Out and similar intimate portraits. Kitty again talked about treading the fine line between the fantastical and the real, and showed us how to do subtle body retouching to smooth imperfections while still retaining the overall natural look of the woman's body. Kim went over her Lightroom workflow for editing and post production. And Angela discussed creative album design.

Speaking of which, I am very excited to debut my new Couture Book line of albums for weddings shot in 2008; these books will offer an alternative to the straightforward flush mount wedding book that is made up solely of images. Each Couture book is the result of an intense collaboration between the photographer (me) and my handpicked professional graphic designer, combining beautiful storytelling images with elements of design, texture, color, and line art, all of which will be influenced by the look and feel of your wedding including invitations, monograms, fonts, decor, colors, flowers, etc. The result is an art book that is entirely your own, reflecting the intrinsic feel of the wedding and the couple themselves, that elevates your wedding story to a work of art. No two books will look anything alike...because no two weddings are entirely alike. More details and images on the new Couture book to come soon...

When all is said and done, the most important thing I took home from Flourish was a sense of how crucial it is as a photographer to be yourself. You can't be all things to all people, so don't even try...instead, find what you truly love to do, what you are good at, and do THAT. Once you do, you'll find yourself loving every aspect of your work...and surrounded by clients who support your vision.


Dresses courtesy of Bluegrass Bride
Makeup by Ana Crane-Simpson
Hair by Rodney Farmer, Salon Figaro
Studio lighting and set design by Angela Anderson and husband/cinematographer Gary, Kitty Maer
Kim Reed, Kitty Maer, and Angela Anderson for being so generous with their knowledge
And special thanks to all the women and couples, none of whom are professional models, who gifted us with their time and their permission to post images publicly.

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