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WINGS – Personal Project

In 2020 I took on a personal project that was really intimidating to me. Whenever I choose a project and start planning it, I try to ask myself why? I see the details come to life and I watch things fall into place and wonder what I’m going to learn from it all. What scared me the most about this one was the fact that I had NO idea how it would all turn out. I saw the end result in my mind, but didn’t know the road to get there. So my list making A+ addicted brain was a MESS!

Welcome to my B&W personal project.

I wanted to shoot in ONLY black and white and see what I could learn. I chose 2 women to come and model for me. As we talked through outfits and styling…color obviously didn’t matter. It was more about shape and texture. Weird, right?! I chose certain backdrops and outfits to play with, not knowing what would happen. I asked both of these amazing ladies to be patient with me and let me take my time learning a whole new way of viewing my photography.

NO COLOR. All shadows & highlights & shapes & textures.

Did you know that there is a setting in most cameras to only shoot black & white…there’s no going back now!

Let me introduce you to Bri & Mac. (Makeup by the incredible Nicole Toledo Makeup Artistry)

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” -Ted Grant

This quote got me thinking…what happens when we take away the details? When you look at those gorgeous ladies…do you even wonder what color their shirts are? Or do you just go straight to their soul in that moment?

Just to send your brain for a loop, Mac’s shirt in the photos above is a golden yellow. And Bri’s sweater below is a mauvy blush. But really, do you even want that information? I feel like I enjoy these photographs more without the details.

As the day unfolded, I found myself in awe of the new way I was viewing my photos. I was setting up the shots with my mind in a completely new place. I also fell in love with the way Bri & Mac played along. They were intrigued when my eyes lit up, they suggested things when I was unsure, and really, they helped me create magic. I love these shots of Bri cheering Mac on from the corner…are you kidding me?! Obsessed.

As I sat with the photos, it was fun to play with different versions of black and white too! Here is an example, which edit do you like better?

One of the sets I had in mind was just backlit and white. Completely opposite of where this shoot started (black and side-lit)! I had to pay attention to shadows in different ways but really I just wanted to take something so simple and capture these ladies’ souls.

Mission accomplished.

“To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell

Some of the most powerful moments of this whole project were all about connection.

I had never met Bri, there was a new connection forming. A trust. When I work with clients it is my job to make sure they are comfortable and feeling AMAZING. I warned Bri going into this project that I wouldn’t have the mental capacity to do that AND lean into being creative. She showed up and took up space in a way that was EXACTLY what I needed.

Mac is a long time client, turned friend. Our connection is deep and strong. Even in this new creative space, I could feel it anchoring me and pushing me at the same time. She never lets me back down from the unknown. Which again, was EXACTLY what I needed.

My connection with my camera, the photographs, all of the outfits and each set was insanely meticulous, seeing each detail in a new light. I learned to look through all of the color to photograph a different story, a stronger story full of highlights and shadows.

And OH the connection between Bri & Mac. Remember, these ladies are complete strangers. I found out that I had 2 writers on my hands. Both so passionate and patient. I can’t get enough of them!! And they couldn’t get enough of each other.

As we wrapped the shoot up I had one more set I wanted to try. I had something in my imagination and at the time I had no idea if we could even make it happen. I called this set “wings” because I really wanted to give these babes the freedom to move and capture their journey. I can sit with each of these photos and explain what they mean to me, ask me next time you’re at the studio. But for now…I’ll just let you sit with them and decide what they mean to you.

I finished this personal project back in 2020 and wasn’t sure where it would go. Recently, I revisited the photos and decided to print a MASSIVE Blush & Tease album. I chose most photos in black and white, a few in color. If you’ve ever heard me talk about our albums, you know my favorite part is the cover. I had NO idea what I wanted it to say. But then it came to me…

This project showed me just want I needed to see and taught me to trust myself enough to step off the ledge, spread my wings and fly.

Alright…just because you KNOW you want to see in color too…

Bri & Mac,

I can’t thank you enough for being a part of my personal project. Your patience is refreshing. Your creativity is inspiring. I’m keeping you both forever.

2 comments
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  • SheilaFebruary 12, 2022 - 9:31 am

    Love this so much! 🖤🤍ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly HollisFebruary 12, 2022 - 4:03 pm

    By the end, I am in tears. These photos are beautiful, powerful and fun. Much like the photographer. Thank you for sharing, Adena. ReplyCancel