The Making of Joan of Arc

February 17, 2014  •  2 Comments

Joan of ArcVirginia Hankins as "Joan of Arc" shot underwater by Photographer Brenda Stumpf Title: Joan of Arc
Model:
Virginia Hankins
Armor: Mike Gould
Makeup/Topside Assistant: Mindi Combs
Underwater Assistants: Mike Varga, Dan Johnson
*Special thanks to the Combs Family for the use of their pool. 


The "Joan of Arc" image has become one of my most popular.  I met Virginia on Facebook, and when I approached her about doing an underwater session in her armor, she thought it was a great idea, so we picked a date, and I started to assemble my crew.

I was a bit concerned about how to deal with the weight of the armor.  When you ask someone if they want to model underwater, you don't usually have them also wear 40lbs of weight.  Talking it through with Mike (safety diver), we decided the best route would be to shoot in the shallows, allowing Virginia to then take control of her submersions - and Mike would make sure there were no slips or mishaps.  

Mike assisting VirginiaMike assisting Virginia as we begin the shoot
The side effect of this approach was that Virginia's comfort level was very high, as she retained control of her assent, and I (as the photographer), had to lay on the bottom of the pool to 'shoot up'. Shooting 'up' would give her this greater than life angelic quality... that I really wanted.   But it wasn't exactly the most comfortable position I've been in.  

My tendency when I shoot on breath holds, is to exhale to sink.  Each round would start with all parties on the surface. We'd breathe together and drop on count... me exhaling and making bubbles, Mike playing double duty as safety and stylist, and Virginia settling into her poses.  This shoot, we were getting about 45 seconds or so before we had to surface to breathe.  Not bad.  
 

Everyone with a job to do. Mike moves hair away from the front of Virginia's face so I can get the shot.
We went through a lot of different ideas, and two sets of backdrops.  The weather was really working for us, nice and cloudy - not bright at all, so I could remotely fire strobes not attached to the camera housing via optical slaves. It was fantastic.  This allowed us to really play with the lighting underwater.  Mindi then became the 'top-side' strobe master - creating sun flares, halos, and dramatic lighting for each shot.  

Is the remote strobe firing? A good time had by all.
We took a lot of images, because even though it was cloudy, there was just enough brightness to throw off the optical slaves from time to time - an annoyance, but workable.  I was probably getting about 1 out of 5 strobe fires at the worst point.  I think we spent about an hour or two trying different things before I felt we got the shot.  But everyone was such a sport,  and the time really flew by.  

At the end of our session, Virginia decided to try to 'swim' in her armor... with Mike at about arms reach.  Well... 'swim' she did... and ohhhhh... did she sink.  Right to the bottom.  I watched her for a while... at the surface... breathe... all... the... way... to... the... bottom... KICK UP... Mike's help... breathe again and repeat. 

I knew right then that I would have to get to know this woman better... it was the start of a great friendship.  

 

More images taken above and below the water that day.





 


The Mermaids Are Finding a New Home...

January 31, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

This coming Saturday (Feb. 8th), I'm installing 4 HUGE framed prints from The Mermaid Project at my friends Salon - Envy Beauty Studios (http://www.envybeautystudio.com/)  They are going to live there for a while, and I couldn't be happier about that.  

I love Stephanie's salon.  She's crazy talented and if you're looking for quality salon services in the Long Beach area, really... you gotta meet this woman.

Moreover, this coming Saturday (Feb. 8th) we will be having a gathering around 5pm at the salon. (314 Elm Ave, Long Beach, Ca. 90802).  I'm actively recruiting models, stylists, and costumers to work with over the year, and if you want to come down to meet, I'd love to get to know you!


New Website Launch!

January 26, 2014  •  1 Comment

So 2014 is here... unbelievable.  I'm amazed at everything that was accomplished in 2013... new friends, the launching of The Mermaid Project, home renovations, weddings, travel, and a new found sense of where I want to take my art this year.    Last year was a whirlwind... I only feel like I am coming up for air now...  Apologies to everyone that I have been 'hiding' from during this time.  Rest assured, I missed all of you.

For the first time, I'm going to be opening my prints up to the general public, and I'm going to offer bookings for both portraits and events.  I'm determined as well to do some exploratory personal pieces this year.  With that in mind, I already have started to collaborate with some of my favorite artists on some ideas that I'm just dying to do!  As the pieces fall together, I'm going to do my damnedest to keep this blog up to date.  

This year will be an adventure... I hope I'm ready for it. :)

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