I’m often asked “what is it that inspires me?” Well, that’s a really tough question, there are so many things. Sometimes it’s a location, sometimes it’s a piece of clothing, sometimes it’s a person and, sometimes, it’s all three. It can also come from pushing myself and trying to do something that’s harder than I think I can pull off. Something that makes me think, or experiment with new processes.
This summer I decided I wanted to do an epic session, something that would be worthy of huge wall portraits. Something that would stop people in their tracks. We were doing some redecorating in the studio and I wanted to put a new wall portrait up that would really be a showstopper! So, I started looking around for what I could do and really thinking about how I could implement what’s around me. So what do we have an Oklahoma that’s crazy amazing? Well we have the Gloss Mountains, we have the Little Sahara, we have the Great Salt Plains and we have a heckuva lotta wind. We also have a gorgeous new wedding venue north of town called the 81 Ranch.
The wind in Oklahoma is always a challenge at a portrait session, so if you can’t beat them join them! So I rented a parachute dress from a company in New York City. Since it was only a three day rental I had to make it all happen in a short amount of time. It was also insanely hot so I knew the shoot had to go well so we can get what we needed quickly before everyone overheated. So I called on some of my absolute favorite people to work with, some of the most beautiful faces in Enid. I messaged each of these women and told them my plan. After that, it all came together quickly everyone was super excited and totally on board.
Our adventure started at the Little Saraha. A friend of ours from Woodward met us there with his Jeep and we loaded two photo assistants, two models, myself and all of the equipment we could carry. I believe it was 104 degrees out that day. We bounced around the sand dunes until we found the perfect, breathtaking location that you would never guess was in Oklahoma. Fortunately my models are cool under pressure and they photographed beautifully. Ashley and Summer took turns modeling for me and the images were simply stunning.
The next morning we left the house at 4am and drove to meet our model, Sydni, and her mom. Amanda Martin came along to do hair and make up. Fortunately they were excited and ready to roll bright and early. Every great session starts with an adventure. Like a flat tire on the highway at 4:30! Fortunately Amanda Martin is as good with a tire iron as she is with hair and make up! Even with our unplanned stop we made it in plenty of time to capture amazing images at sunrise. The green in the landscape perfectly accented the huge, one of a kind gown.
That same evening we met up with Rachel and her mom Lisa and headed to the Great Salt Plains along with my daughter Paige. The wind was insane. At least 30mph winds with gusts on top of that. We were literally holding onto the dress to keep it from dragging our models away. Paige started out rocking some very cool hair and makeup by Anne and Telisha at Twisted Scissors. I can’t help but think of Mad Max when I see these images. Then Rachel donned our gown and rocked it like no one else can. We finished the evening with a dance look from Paige. The deep lunge takes my breath away.
Needless to say by the next day I was tired and windblown. I wanted a location that was close and out of the wind and heat. The Grand Staircase and beautiful ballroom at the 81 Ranch was exactly what we needed. Donna Hallman joined us there and we created some incredible portraits that really highlight the grandeur of the venue and the gown.
At the end of my three days I had more than a thousand incredible images. Sifting thru them and choosing just the right ones to feature was a daunting but exciting task. Below are my absolute favorites from our adventure. Thank you to all of my models for going above and beyond on this one. It was hot, windy and definitely a challenge to hold a beautiful pose and not look like the wind was about to launch them to Kansas. And a huge shout out to the parents and assistants behind the scenes. Mary, Lisa, Jim, Doug and Chris, You guys are amazing and I truly couldn’t have done it without you. It really does take a village!
Thank you all for an incredible adventure!