For me, inspiration is often sparked within the pages of art books. Several months ago I was gifted a book of Whistler’s art. We’ve all seen the painting Whistler’s Mother but I didn’t know what else to expect as I flipped through the pages. I was so surprised when I found foggy morning landscapes that were practically abstract paintings, and when I came upon his Nocturne series I was instantly obsessed.
Wild brush strokes, deep shades of turquoise and navy accented with billowing smoke and gold flecks of fireworks. It’s a night scene but painted so freely that the landscape almost become inconsequential to the energy of the painting itself.
The art I love is a delicate balance, a dance of light and dark and color and placement and texture, and when it’s really good – it radiates a feeling, and all the elements come together to communicate that feeling. Whistler accomplished that with his Nocturnes and more and more I want to do the same with my photography. I made the mood board above and sent it out to some of my favorite local artists so we could create our own work inspired by Whistler’s Nocturne energy.
For this Nocturne piece, I wanted to establish a painterly feel by using two hand-painted backdrops. The first, a dark blue that would extend to the edges of the frame, layered on top by this muted teal canvas I recently finished. For wardrobe, I invited Keisha Ransom of The Lotus Bloom Co to join the collaboration. She created two amazing gowns with cascading skirts, lots of texture and expressive layers and shape. I love how all the edges and folds reflect light.
Baltimore MUA Perryn Morris did a beautiful job with the makeup, I loved the color gradient they created on the eyelid and the little flecks of glitter/light on the undereye – just the right amount. Thanks so much to Letitia Enos for coming from NYC to model, she was so prepared and easy to work with, and really understood the mood we were trying to create.
I wanted the light to be a little dramatic and directional but still soft with plenty of detail in the dark areas, so I created lots of soft fill with a pop of slightly harder light. I used a medium Photek Softlighter for the first fill light and a beauty dish as the key light, both on the right side. The Softlighter was directed into a large white reflector on the left, and the beauty dish was directed towards the model. Finally, a bare bulb bounced against the back wall for a soft base layer of light – that really kept the overall light level from getting too dark.
I was so happy with how all the elements worked together. The RAW photos were beautiful, but editing is always an essential step for me in completing the vision, especially in this case as I wanted to composite in a bird (!) to some of the pieces. In pt 2 I’ll talk more about that process! Thanks for reading. x