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Lainey-10

Three years ago, when I was a relatively new Philadelphian, Paul took me to Sakura Sunday at Fairmount Park’s Horticulture Center.  It was like stepping into another world, with the most stunning display of Cherry Blossoms I’d ever seen.  For someone who always favors photographing darker and moodier images, no one was more surprised than I was at how badly I wanted to photograph a beautiful model in the cherry blossoms.  But the spring display is temperamental depending on the winter, the peak bloom time only days long, and difficult to predict in advance.   For the next 2 seasons, we tried to make it happen.  Models would flake and cancel at the last minute, and assembling a team willing to be flexible enough to shoot with only a few days notice almost impossible.  Models don’t always understand how true magic is photographed.  You have to be patient enough to wait for the perfect light, or in this case, fickle mother nature.

When makeup artist Wendie Heatherington approached us about doing a shoot, we decided to give it another try.  We reached out to dancer Lainey Johnson, who I’d wanted a chance to photograph forever.  Lainey is a true pro with a smile that conveys all the joy that we hoped to capture, as well as beautiful dancer lines that I knew would perfectly mimic the graceful arches of the trees.  We again called upon our friend and super stylist Joey Mason of Philly Aids thrift, who found some beautiful dresses from their racks for us to play in.  Danielle Harrsch rounded out the team with soft, beautiful hair styling, and my love Paul Cofield, somehow embraced my odd need to wallow in pink floral prettiness, and charted our course for several different areas around the city lined with the graceful trees.

And so we spent the next few hours, rattling around in our old truck, Lainey bravely changing dresses roadside, Paul determined to make her climb trees in gowns and pointe shoes, Wendie and Danielle on hand to primp and refresh, dropping in and out of fields of cherry blossoms, and captured Lainey as she danced throughout Philly, and it was absolutely as perfect as I could have imagined.  ‘Cause sometimes, it’s totally worth it to wait for the magic.

Click on individual photos to view full screen.  Slideshow can be viewed at Cherry Blossom Slideshow

 

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Abandoned amusement park porn.  I’ll admit it, we’re totally obsessed.  We’ve done three now, each journey completely different, and with each one we learn something new, we get better.  Our first abandoned park shoot with a newly pregnant Rev MacKenzie Moltov was fairly terrifying.  We found an old roller coaster and a beautiful atrium where an old carousel once stood.  MacKenzie was flawless, even having the nerve to  hang naked from her hand loop, tiny baby bump exposed, on the old, rotting Cyclone.  But fear grabbed hold, and we didn’t explore the entire area as we should have.  Our second park shoot with our clown babe, was a beautiful mess.  A carousel, which had collapsed under the weight of winter’s brutal snow provided a perfect backdrop for MacKenzie, but the area was totally exposed to a major highway and we were surrounded by more “no trespassing signs” than anyone should really feel comfortable jumping over with a half naked clown babe.  We had to be quick with that shoot, and in our haste, we didn’t attempt to get into the buildings or to change MacKenzie’s costume, which was a mistake we were determined never to make again.

And now our third and best abandoned park shoot to date.  We took our time to find the best, most private entrance.  MacKenzie assembled some gorgeous costumes, including a fabulous wedding dress loaned to us by ultimate thrift store guru Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou, manager and co-founder of  Philly Aids Thrift, which continues to be a treasure trove of costuming and prop finds.   With the help of  PAT  stylist Joey Mason, we found more wedding dresses than we had dreamed possible, and the perfect one for our fairy tale adventure.  This time we were determined to take our time, make costume changes and explore every building we possibly could get into.  And get into them, we did! Although the buildings had been vandalized, covered in graffiti, with broken windows and trash, each building held treasures from past decades of children’s scenes.  The buildings weren’t entered by visitors to the park, but families would press a button to see characters animated inside each one.

We used one building as a home base for costume changes.  Before we got to the wedding dress, we came dangerously close to getting caught by some men working at an adjacent facility.  Two  parks ago, we would have bolted.  Not this time.  We hadn’t gotten to our favorite look or to our clown tea party. We were determined.  We ducked from one building to another until we were out of sight.  We found a spot where they couldn’t see us, which was fortunately Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater’s giant orange house.  Perfect for our clown bride.  We stayed calm, clear and focused.  We got our wedding dress shots.  MacKenzie changed into several different outfits and had her own clown tea party, which Paul used to make a brilliant composite shot.

And this time…WE GOT VIDEO.  We want to take this further.  Go on the road, explore more of the US and hit some hauntingly beautiful decay around the world.  This is only the beginning of a fabulous new journey with our clown babe.  Stay tuned.  It’s quite possible that we’ll need help on our journey to shoot these beautiful remnants of childhood memories in a way that no one else has ever done before.  And we’ll need a strong team to join us in our adventure of making more beautiful art.