Taking on a personal project is a daunting proposition. It requires a huge investment of time, money and talent and, to be honest, it's kinda scary. You commit yourself to something big, and all of the sudden you've created this expectation for yourself which means that, if you fail, it's gonna be in spectacular fashion.
The first step, for me, was to have a clear idea of what I wanted the final image to look like, that way I would know how to approach making it happen. To do that, I threw together a conceptual image as reference, just a quick smattering of pieces that would give me something to work off of, and an destination to work toward so that failure becomes less of an option.
Here is the concept image.
Once that was done, I knew the task was still large enough that handling it on my own was almost an impossibility, and I needed a team. What I've discovered, is that if you are able to get an amazing team of people behind you, who believe in your vision, the road becomes, if not a lot safer, a lot more fun to travel. To make things even better, a team of talented artists help you expand and refine your vision into something far more grand than you believed it could be.
For The True Magicians, I was lucky enough to get to work with cinematographer Kevin Davis, of HiKoncept Image Branding, and Kim Clay, of Kim Clay Makeup Artistry. Having those two on my team brought the entire production up to a whole new level, and allowed me to explore new areas of the concept that broadened my ability to showcase the artists I'm celebrating, and that's something I'm truly excited about.
Once Kevin was on board, I got to work up a story board for the video that would accompany our "hero shot." It's the first time I've ever done a story board, so don't judge me, haha! But, you can see how taking the time to create the story board gave Kevin a solid foundation to build his shots on, and kept the whole feeling of the video consistent with the final portraits.
Here's the first page of my story board:
Photographing 'The Author' required a lot of imagination, since we knew we were going to be working on location, and sourcing a writing desk that fit the theme of the shoot. I searched for a desk for weeks and was so close to giving up hope before finding the perfect desk on OfferUp. I approached the lovely owner, Shawn, who was gracious enough to let me rent the desk and drag it two-and-a-half hours south and out into Great Sand Dunes National Park.
That required an evening of packing, a 5am wakeup and hauling my 3 kiddos out of bed, loads of patience from my long suffering husband, a nice, long drive south, and a couple of hours of scouting to find the perfect location for the portraits.
I knew the sand dunes would present their own unique challenges, and shoes absolutely full of sand was one I was expecting. What I wasn't expecting, or not quite fully expecting, was the wind. I wanted to wait to shoot the portrait until the sun was low, since I wanted very clear highlights and shadows on the dunes, but most of the day had been only mildly windy, so I didn't expect the wind to gain the speed of an indy race car by 4 in the afternoon.
That made getting the kind of light I was planning to use for the portrait a task of herculean proportions. Or, at least, it took 3 people to stop my light from flying away and getting filled with blowing sand.
By the time we hauled the desk back to the truck, loaded up all the gear, and started home, everyone was completely wrecked and also hopeful, excited about what we had just created.
This is the fun part, where you get to see how our plans stack up next to the finished product!
Concept Image vs. Final Shot
Story Boards vs. Finished Movie
I hope this glance behind the curtain gives you a little peek at what it takes to make the magic happen, and that you have as much fun checking it all out as we did making it! So, let me know what you think, did we succeed? And what do you think about the process?