Last year, I found a really cheap and easy method to paint black and white prints (darkroom or digital). Every time I post photos I’ve painted I get asked about it, so I made a dumb and fun video explaining the process. Have fun!
This post is kindly sponsored by Blurb.
I’m alive and back with new work to share, this time in collaboration with one of my favorite services out there, Blurb. If you’re not a giant photobook nerd like I am and haven’t heard of Blurb, it’s an independent book making and self publishing platform- meaning that *anyone* can log on, drop their photos and text into a book template, and get it printed without a publisher or anyone to give you permission. I’m a big fan of just doing stuff and Blurb is perfect for that.
I’ve amassed so. much. work. that I’m proud of over the past few years, so when Blurb reached out to me about creating a book with all of it I jumped at the opportunity. I just turned 21 and I’ve been #reflecting on the past couple of years, so I was thrilled to sift through all of the work I’ve made since I’ve been in college (I started art school in 2016) and pick my favorite to put into a bound archive. I wanted a book that would showcase my work in all of its wacked out glory- lots of details, crisp punchy colors, and BIG- so that I can use it in meetings with clients and agencies in the future and also give one to my mom (because duh).
Now for the nitty gritty details…..
To actually design the book, I used Blurb’s free desktop software, Bookwright, which is super intuitive and quick to get the hang of. I had a super easy time with it and have already started another project with it since. Yay for computer literacy! Almost everything about the design of your book is customizable (I did everything myself), but if you’re not the type to sit down and design a book from scratch, you can use one of Blurb’s free/downloadable/professionally designed templates to make things easy for ya.
Blurb has a bunch of different options for book creation on their Photo Books page- I sifted through all of ‘em with those needs in mind to figure out what was right for me. I ultimately chose to use Blurb’s Large Landscape 13”x11” book to really blow up my images. I wanted it to feel substantial, and like something I’ll be proud to see my work in years from now, too.
You also have a bunch of pretty paper options. I went with the Proline Uncoated paper because I’m a strong believer in matte paper- it’s what I work with for my collages so it felt right to use it for the book as well. If you’re not a matte paper person, or if you just like to weigh your options IRL, Blurb also offers a $7.95 paper swatch kit (and gives you a promo code to apply the cost of the kit to your book purchase, which is cute. And helpful.)
Then I got the book in the mail!
I felt like I had given birth to my first child. Seriously. There’s something so special about seeing your work not only in the flesh, but bound and built to last 4everrr. As someone who creates a ton and rarely takes the time to sit and reflect, this was a really nice and needed reminder of the work that’s important to me.
Being the tactile mixed media nerd that I am, I left the center of the book cover blank so that I could collage on my logo (designed by the incredible illustrator Ruth Mora) to introduce the handmade feel that I love so much. I printed my logo on gold sticker paper and stuck it to the front of the book like a big ‘ol price tag. I wanted it to feel like one of those stickers on the front of a CD that tells you just how special it is. Feels fitting!
I’m so obsessed with this book and genuinely excited to spread it around in the coming year. I obviously highly recommend using Blurb to make a book, or at the very least just taking a minute to think about everything you’ve made recently and gah, PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK. #inspiring #HireMeOWN
If you make something gorgeous with Blurb, LMK! I wanna see it alllll ❤︎
A little over a year ago, trans activist and model (and now one of my good buds!) Iv Fischer reached out to me with the idea to create a series of photos inspired by an all-trans reimagining of the story of Adam and Eve. I was like "yesSsSssSs duh", we chatted about it briefly, got excited, and knew that it had to be big. And then life happened and a year later we finally decided that it was time. It was a whole-ass ordeal (in the best way) so I felt like it should be immortalized in...a blog post because that's what I'm workin' with. Here we go.
Preproduction & Set Design
I wanted this shoot to be super theatrical and detailed, in the spirit of depictions of the story in art history (specifically Durer's etching and Lucas Cranach the Elder's oil painting) but with a campy touch. I was also looking at photographer Paulina Otylie Surys at the time and feeling so inspired by her use of hand coloring, especially since I was in a strictly black and white photo class when I made these and was feeling a little (a lot) constricted sans color.
With the help of my incredibly crafty and DEDICATED mom (thank you love you), we built a set that made all of my bible-but-make-it-camp dreams come true- mom made a giant paper mache tree out of concrete tubes and butcher paper, we sourced (and promptly returned post shoot) lots of greenery and silk flowers from craft stores and mom's collection, and opted to use a draped sheet as a backdrop to further that theatrical feel for cheeeap.
Gear & Technical Stuff
The entire series was shot on black and white Kodak Tri-X film on a Mamiya RB67 (my best gal and tbh the only camera I ever care to shoot with anymore)-- I also shot a few polaroids (FP-100C with a polaroid back on my Mamiya). I was very, stupid lucky to have multiple people on set saying "dark slide!!!!!!!" constantly so that I wouldn't waste any film when switching backs- thank you! Polaroids are so handy to be sure the lighting is *right* and your light meter is giving you the right reading. It's also nice, especially in shoots like this that take a couple weeks on the back end to finish the final images, to be able to show models/people on set what they even look like through your camera, in the world you've made. I learned this from watching a million Tim Walker BTS videos. Invaluable!
I had so much fun shooting these and it was maybe 30% because the photos were looking RIGHT and 70% because I had a perfect crew. Iv and her pal Marie Snider modeled as Eves, and drag thing Mystery Meat (an Atlanta fave of mine!) played the serpent. Kristen Hamby, a goddess among women and one of my best buds, assisted, along with Molly Rimswell who is honestly just a gd joy to have on set. Love all of them for real. Kristen took some BTS video footage for another class I was in last quarter and I'm using a bit here because it's FUN to see yourself working on cool stuff, hi! #narcissism
The real bulk of the time invested in this set was on the back end. The entire series was shot on black and white film, which I hand developed (I only shot 2 rolls, so 20 photos total) and then hand printed in the darkroom. I printed 7 images at 11x14 on RC paper as it works best with the hand coloring process I used, and then hand colored each image. To do this I used a white vinegar-food coloring mixture and meticulously mixed and tested each color on the borders of the prints/on test prints until I figured out what I wanted. I did each layer of color separately, so it went something like this: paint skin, let it dry, paint trees, let it dry, paint flowers, let it dry, etc etc. It took a hot minute and kept me up until 4am the day before I had to turn them in. But it was totally worth the lack of sleep and turning my kitchen into a photo-painting factory for a couple of days.
Then I scanned the dried prints in and boom! There you have it. I'm so excited about these- they feel so different from the work I've been making lately and it was honestly much needed. I also love collaborating with Iv every single time, especially when queerness is at the forefront and we're highlighting how seriously beautiful and magical queer people are.
You can see the full set and read Iv's essay on Into. Thanks to Mo Wilson for the write up as well! Legends only.
I finally got around to scanning and editing some film from this summer and fall and am self publishing because I wanna post them NOW! These span over a few months and cover a family trip to New Orleans (my first time!), an NYC trip for DragCon and friends, and a bunch of other fun rando moments. Shot half on a disposable and half on a Canon Rebel G.
Captions show up when you click on the pictures and mouse over 'em. Enjoy!
Long time no talk! I'm so so excited to share some new work with ~the world~ in collaboration with Gucci Beauty.
I was so thrilled when Gucci asked me to interpret their newest fragrance, Bloom, in my style— so of course I made a zine. It’s called “In Bloom” and it’s an homage Gucci’s fragrance, Bloom, which “celebrates authenticity, vitality and diversity” (and also just smells really, really beautiful). I photographed 5 femme-identifying people, including myself, and collaged them in the regal style of 1800s miniature portraits. There’s a lot of serious detail in these and they’re all made from craft store materials- sequins, paper, lace, etc, so zoom in and enjoy!
Thanks to Gucci for helping make this happen, to Armando Maldonado for graciously helping with hair and makeup, and to my PERFECT MODELS Ro, Noelle, Scarlett, and Jax. Yay!
Earlier this summer, one of my favorite sites (and snap stories, TBH), Refinery29, asked me to shoot an editorial focusing on "extreme boots for fall" + Wizard of Oz. I clearly said YES (!!!!!) and ran with it. I'm so so happy with what we created (you can see the full set of images here) and wanted to share a little bit of behind the scenes info, because a looooot of work went into this one.
PREPRO! SET DESIGN! TERRIBLE RENDERINGS!
So the first phase of this shoot (and the majority of shoots I do) was sketching out sets/image ideas and getting them approved by R29. My renderings are...not good...but I think they get the idea across (one of my big goals for the next year is to really tighten up my sketches so please don't give me flack THANKS!).
I conceptualized and built three sets for this shoot, with the help of my mom, who has a really good brain for set building and the logistics of it all (queen!!). I'm going to leave you with that and just go straight into BTS set building images! A couple notes: power tools were fun, the gallons of glitter were not.
I also clearly needed to test all of this with the lighting I was planning to use for the shoot so that I wouldn't run into any surprises the day of, so I set it up once or twice for that reason. I took a timelapse of my mom and I assembling it all one last time to double check the light and make sure it would all stay up by itself (everything but the flowers are in the vid!).
DOING THE ACTUAL SHOOT
Annnnd then I actually did the shoot. I had a really great team for this one. My mom and younger brother came to help load in and troubleshoot set issues when we needed to, and Valheria Rocha, my photographer pal, photo assisted (and took these BTS photos!) and was a total life saver on multiple occasions.
We also had a really great team from R29 and beyond-- Toby Kaufmann photo directed, Emily Holland styled, Ebonee Tabb did hair, Zoe Simone did makeup, and Aiyana Lewis modeled, and THEY WERE ALL SO GREAT. I'm always so blown away when everything comes together for a shoot and this was no exception.
And then the last set turned into a photobooth.
It's never not fun for me to see photos of myself alongside a great team working on things like this-- I don't think I need to explain why. Just makes me super happy and grateful to be doing what I'm doing (read: ushering as much magic and pretty stuff into the world as possible. EEEEEH!)
Hopefully this gives a little bit of insight into how a shoot like this happens and how much work goes in on the photo end. Peek at the actual editorial and the accompanying story on R29 now!!!!
Recently, the Japanese edition of one of my FAVORITE MAGS EVER, Nylon, reached out to me asking me to shoot a six-page fashion spread. Obviously I said yes, recruited a bunch of friends to work on it with me, and did the dang thing.
This is probably the most work I've put in on a shoot thus far and I'm so proud of the way everything came out (not to mention the stupidly amazing work my friends and mom did), so I wanted to share a little bit of behind-the-scenes info to 1. let you in on some of the magic and 2. document and file away for my brain's organizational purposes.
So here we gooooo!
My mom is my photo wing-woman 4ever, so I ran home from college the day before this shoot to design the set. My mom has a KILLER eye for things like this (she found that tinsel, helped dye the sheet, and supplied alllll of those silk flowers), and is also somehow very very good at making giant clouds (not pictured yet). We were up until 2 am creating this in our foyer and obviously had to snap a commemorative picture before we tore it all down.
The next morning I hauled all of this PLUS the lovely clothes from Clothing Warehouse (my fav Atlanta vintage spot + workplace of a lot of rlly sweet people <3) in my lil car back to my school, where we did the shoot.
If you've looked closely at almost any of my photos, you know that I generally don't worry too much about makeup (LOL) because by the time that I'm ready to shoot, I'm thinking about the pictures. Hopefully that makes sense. But for this shoot I recruited my angel makeup god pal Armando (he put all of the makeup details on his Insta if you're into that sorta thang) to collab with me on the makeup, and he came up with some really beautiful #looks for Kristen (another litero angel who MODELED FOR ME AH!). They worked on the makeup in my dorm while Kenedee (my rooooommate who graciously assisted this shoot) helped me haul everything in and set up in the studio.
To make a long, exhausting, story short, we ended up shooting this in a classroom. Which was kind of perfect because of the amount of STUFF I had. Ken took that Instax shot of me #perched in the final set- which I'm obsessed with still. I told ya'll my mom is a cloud god.
Like I said earlier, I'm very very very grateful to the Clothing Warehouse team for letting us borrow clothes for this (aside from like, the actual shoot, I felt very cool walking down the street in Little 5 Points carrying a dry cleaner's bag full of sparkly clothes), they were PERFECT AND BEAUTIFUL and totally brought my vision to life. Pretty clothes 4ever. The pieces in the above picture are actually mine (I don't know HOW, granted the CW picks greatly outnumbered mine, but you know)- the shirt was hand painted by moi the night before, sparkly dress from Goodwill (my home), and the star dress is from Little White Lies (by way of Hello Holiday) and I actually wore it to prom. Prom was bad so I was happy to give it a new, more glamorous life in this shoot.
I love this picture I snapped of Armando adjusting Kristen's clothes because 1. she looks like a doll, even from the back (HOW?) and 2. I think it encapsulates Armando's whole deal. I love my friiiiiends.
Lots of BTS makeup pictures were taken. (Top from Clothing Warehouse, shorts are mine from Buffalo Exchange).
I also love these of cloud-mom Kristen and frat boy Kristen. Get u a model who can do both.
These shoes from Clothing Warehouse were probably the stars of this shoot- look at those lil GOLDFISH!!! They're by a brand called Fantasma and they are everything to me. Socks from Target.
And everyone tried them on, because how could you not.
Not much to say here besides that we (Armando) really wanted this Walk-Like-an-Egyptian-but-Make-it-Fashion pose to work out. But sadly it didn't. (This is not to detract from Armando's posing skills- I don't know how he does it but he is really really good. He set up maybe 3/4 of the shots that worked out and I am forever indebted to him for that lol.)
We shot about three makeup looks for this and I love 'em all. Like I said before, Armando tagged all of the brands/products he used on his Instagram so I'd highly recommend looking at those if you're into doll-from-space beauty looks.
Aw aw group picture. We all look busted and tired because we were busted and tired- we worked for about 6 hours in total (which I know isn't a lot compared to most fashion shoots but like also...it was a lot of work for us, K?). After this we hauled allll of the props and set magic to my car, Ken and I went back to the dorm, stared into space for two hours, and then watched Gaga on the Superbowl. True!
I am so so happy that these photos are out in the world (my BABY!) and in like, an IRL print magazine. Thank you x1,000,000,000 to Nylon Japan for trusting me with 6 pages and a lot of creative freedom, and Clothing Warehouse for the perfect wardrobe. And THE HUGEST THANK YOU to all of my friends (and mom!) who helped out with this- I would've been toast without everyone's help.
YAY! You can grab a copy here, if you're so inclined. It says it'll deliver to the US, but I'll post an Amazon US link when I find one, too. I'm so excited to see it IRL, and will be posting about it on my Instagram, as always.
Shot some images (and some video that I'm working on! yay for trying new things!) with my new pal/killer musician JAXRENEE the other night, and I love the way they turned out. She has such killer style and was a great model so this was a real fun collab. Take a look at the photos below (doy) and listen to Jax's tunes HERE.
also, some technical stuff: I shot these all on a Canon 6D (as per usual) and the swirly lights were created by layering my trusty h0les lens, a weird tiny blue filter that I scored for $5 at a camera store, a sparkle filter and my prism in different combos. I also went nuts in Lightroom with colors because I can!
A few weeks ago I attended a sweet event called Ladiesnite at the Mammal Gallery in Atlanta- it was a 15+ (I believe!) band event showcasing female and non-binary musicians. I, as well as a bunch of people I'm sure, get super frustrated and honestly just tired of seeing show lineups that solely showcase cishet male musicians, so Ladiesnite was a killer way to get to know some amazing Atlanta-based musicians that I can relate to in some capacity (hi!).
My friends and I didn't get to stay for the entire event, but I did manage to snap some photos in the couple of hours that we were there-- I'll add in links to the artists' socials so that you can have a listen (just click on any photo of an artist to get to their page!).