Porsha

I have control issues.  I love the thrill of putting together all aspects of a shoot…once we’re finished with the photos.  Finding the right model, perfect location, choosing wardrobe and accessories, playing with lighting, selecting the right lenses, and perfecting the processing, I really don’t think anyone knows how many decisions go into each and every photo.  Or what photographers actually DO, which is so much more than pressing the shutter.   As intensely introverted as I am, the bigger the team we have to assemble the more stressed out I become.  Stressed that people will be late, or cancel or get sick, or just be off their game,  which is why it’s so intensely satisfying to complete a shoot like this one.

Porsha Terry is one of the best young models in Philadelphia.  With her strong features that totally transform in photos, to her body which is a perfect combination of long angles and feminine curves, she is not only one of the hardest working and committed young models I know, but a consummate professional in every way.  Porsha will never be late, will never be unprepared, and will always give 110%.  She answers all of my excessive messages and is totally a part of making our vision happen.  After 2 great shoots with her including a test shoot at Race Street Pier and a stunning nature Holi Powder shoot, I knew we had to step up our game.  I contacted our friends Tattooed Mom, one of our favorite indoor locations, covered in graffiti, vintage furnishings, and some beautiful diffused light from the upstairs windows.  In doing a little internet inspiration research, I came across some photos of Grace Jones in the 80’s, which reminded me of Porsha.  Psydde Delicious of Delicious Boutique instantly saw our vision, offered to style the shoot and put together some amazing wardrobe and accessories loaded with their signature leather, torn edges and hardware, bad ass short jackets, hip hugging belts and leggings that look as though you were poured into them.  Zarah Arlene did double duty as hair and makeup artist.  (And for the record, anyone who can do both is absolutely invaluable at shoots).   The blue, black and white wig she MADE by hand completely took the shoot into a whole surreal Studio 54 vibe that was just the bonus which makes collaboration the key.  And the ombre lips? Don’t get me started.  Makeup so flawless that you don’t have to touch it in post production makes me all giddy.  Psydde’s assistant, and corset maker Bridgett Farrell rounded out the location team brilliantly.  She took total control of all things clothing, helping Porsha change, draping belts perfectly on a hip, flaring out the hood on a leather hooding, a total pro who’s attention to detail allowed us to focus (literally) on the photography.

I’m in love with the photos Paul and I captured.  A young, fresh, modern take on high fashion punk, with a healthy nod to Grace Jones and CBGBs without being a bad imitation.  Porsha fearlessly transitioned from one look to the next, as Paul and I played with some of our favorite elements, urban decay, street art, nudity and fashion, while managing to create totally editorial and commercial shots,  even taking time for Paul to set up some totally cool composite photos and his first attempt at working with levitation.   So take a look and enjoy!  And please feel free to like and share.  We kind of live for that.

clown-mom-39

Every now and then you’ve got to revisit your creative roots, and do it, well, differently than you ever have before.  Take it a notch higher.  Bring all you’ve learned, all you’ve done, and all you love, back to the place where it all started.  Paul and I got our start shooting street photography.  For 2 years as we dated long distance, we would meet to walk and shoot, for hours and hours.  We shot the New York City subway, parks, streets, the worst neighborhoods we could find.  Not long afterwards we started shooting sideshow performers, then fashion and alternative models.  So when one of our favorite sideshow performers and model, Reverend MacKenzie Moltov, came to us with an idea to attempt a public nudity stunt which would involve breast feeding her clown baby naked…we were thrilled, if not a little petrified.

The plan was to go to Center City with 2 looks.  Lost Russian Clown and Hitler Charlie Chaplin, both naked.  We also seriously debated whether or not baby Ulee should be in clown face or not.  If naked boobs at a bus stop didn’t offend and shock, we were fairly certain a Hitler mustache and a clown baby would.   I warned my teenager to stay by his phone in case we ended up in jail, threw an old fur into the car to keep MacKenzie warm, packed up little Ulee with some toasty warm packets, and hit Center City.

We started with Swan Fountain.  Free of both water and people, Mackenzie disrobed and cuddled little Ulee.  Other than a few sideways glances and children being carefully turned away from our direction, no one seemed to care.  Endorphines racing, we decided to venture closer to the art museum, Mackenzie exposing herself along the way.  Still no shocked faces. I ran ahead as we reached a crosswalk for some candids.  Mackenzie stepped up her game, proudly opening her coat to pedestrians as we crossed.  On the other side of the street we met a mother and her young son.  With a broad grin, she laughed “Can you please do that again?”  We were doing it, and Philly folk were loving it.

Art Museum steps?  Could we do it?  Would we offend the same people walking by our naked clown to be surrounded by nudes at the museum?  We were treated like rock starts.  A group of tourist women from Dubai asked to take pictures with Naked MacKenzie, saying “We don’t have this at home”, as I’m thinking “We don’t really have this in America either, so please hurry up before we get in trouble”.  Maybe it was too artistic a crowd of locals at the museum?  We decided to take Hitler Charlie Chaplin to love park.

Under the Love Park sign?  Still no problem.  A young boy decided Mackenzie must be someone famous and stalked us for her autograph.  His parents allowed it for longer than any of us felt comfortable with.  A bus stop?  People looked with a combination of amusement and surprise, and little else.  At the end of our shoot, Ulee finally decided to breast feed, which we had wanted the entire afternoon.  What would be better than the “Your Move” park at the Municipal Services building?  An art installation meant to juxtapose childhood memories with adult responsibility.  With Mackenzie perched on a giant parcheesi game piece and Ulee gently having her lunch it was a perfect moment, looking every bit like Berlin in the 1920’s.  As we snapped some classic black and whites, as some teenagers on bikes approached Mackenzie to take photos with her.  Mackenzie sweetly obliged as the young man asked…”Uh, could you move the baby?”  Game over.