A lot has occurred since the last time I blogged. My photography knowledge and artistry have progressed. I have implemented so many new techniques gathered from webinars and light-bulb moments (you know, those moments when something new occurs to you and a light bulb goes off in your head). I have a new and lovely little studio corner in my basement. I feel excited about photography again.
I've had some beautiful photo shoots in the last 6 months with some lovely friends. I am so grateful to these people who willingly let me drag them out and then shoot them repeatedly (with my camera) until their arms are numb and their backs hurt.
My dear friend Susan of Wellness by Susan came out with me early this fall just when the leaves started changing. She had taken me up on one of my model calls and we collaborated on an idea for the shoot. We decided on the location. It was getting close to Halloween and we had an idea maybe to do some spooky pictures. The old Seminary in Ellicott City dubbed The Hell House by locals was our final choice for a setting. Wow, what a gorgeous location. We talked about wardrobe and I had some crazy costume pieces I knew she would show off to perfection. We also decided to take a few pictures in her wedding dress.
Susan is stunningly beautiful (and totally unaware of it). She is also a makeup
and hair artist who does a fantastic job. She is probably the first person who pops into my head when I'm itching for a photography adventure. She is always up for my crazy schemes and I have to say my face hurts from smiling by the time I head home from one of our shoots.
So here we are at the Hell House, on a gorgeous sunny day and to my surprise there are tons of people hiking through. Now you have to understand that about 15 years ago this place was the kind of place that you were dared to go. It was creepy. One of the main reasons it was creepy is because there was (for real) a crazy caretaker with vicious dogs. If you went up there to explore you risked the chance of being chased by the dogs, the Police, or Crazy Caretaker with a shotgun. No joke!
Anyway, when I got there and realized how busy it was the whole spirit of the shoot changed for me. It was no longer dark and creepy. It was warm and full of light and life. Friendly dog walkers and happy couples were passing through left and right sharing warm smiles and asking about our project. It was wonderful and exciting.
This place used to be a deeply spiritual and holy place. The gardens and structures were originally erected there to help the students learn and meditate on God. Unfortunately in recent decades it had been reduced to a dark and perilous place when the building burned down and then later decayed. It was dead and dim and drew mischief and fear to its grounds. But now it has changed into something beautiful and spiritual again. Something holy and lovely, full of peace and light.
Now, the grounds still draw amateur horror film makers and ornery kids, but it's main draw is to hikers and walkers on a sunny golden day spending time communing with nature, soaking in peace, and hopefully even meditating on God and his glorious creation.
Instead of a significantly more Gothic costume and theme we wound up shooting much more of the session in Susan's wedding dress. The results I think you will find as angelic as I did. The sun glinting of her soft golden hair and the luminous quality of her gown pulled the light in and magnified it.
As we went up the steep and numerous granite steps we found ourselves surrounded by a small clearing. One of my favorite discoveries was the trees bending and bowing around the clearing like ancient bowers of a cathedral. It was almost as if in the absence of a sanctuary the flora became their own shrine to the holiness of this place.