Every now and then, the opportunities for creativity can be found right under your nose, or in your own backyard, in this case. I turned my backyard into a photo studio to create wild conceptual images.
My husband, David, and I are set designers and conceptual photographers. Our passion for creating unique sets for each photoshoot has led us down a path of innovation, sustainability, and a relentless pursuit of artistic expression. We build one-off sets for each of our shoots and then break down the wood and repurpose it into future sets. Working this way is cost-effective and more environmentally friendly, and I just love the fact that our sets only exist in real life for such a short period of time.
However, the story of our yellow submarine set took an unexpected turn. We originally built this yellow submarine set to take to Nashville for a series of shoots at Paul C. Buff’s headquarters. While in Nashville, we did four amazing shoots on our submarine set. Then, we brought it back to our home base in Richmond, VA, and it just sort of sat there. We weren’t ready to be done with it quite yet.
The desire to incorporate water into our set had lingered in my and David’s minds for some time. Yet, the complexities of executing such a vision within a studio, without a substantial team for assistance and cleanup, were daunting. Then, we had a stroke of creativity. Why not do the photo shoot in our backyard? Genius. Why hadn’t we thought of that before?
So, we bought a 10-foot inflatable baby pool that was large enough to fit the set inside. We built the set inside the baby pool and lit it exactly the same way that we had done in the studio. Then, we pulled out the hose and flooded the set with water. Because the baby pool was shallow and our backyard is on a slight slope, we couldn’t get quite as much water into the set as we had originally hoped, but the idea still came across.
With the set as waterlogged as we could manage, I had my lovely model, also known as my sister, Holly, hop into the set. The water was freezing, and she was slightly irritated with me, but I felt that only added to the overall shoot concept.
I always make up a storyline to go with each of our shoots to help guide the posing and ensure that there is clear messaging behind each shoot we do. We began with Holly dry, conveying stress and fear as the water encroached. We explored sensations of dread and impending doom, painting a vivid picture of anxiety and vulnerability. Then, Holly plunged into the water, and I directed her through a series of scenarios designed to evoke raw, authentic emotions. By the end of the shoot, Holly was completely soaked.
It’s so fun to see what you can create when you break the rules and push your creative boundaries.