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.