Motherland Chronicles #45 - Rusalka

Uncensored image can be viewed on my Tumblr.

Motherland Chronicles #45 - Rusalka

Photography: Zhang Jingna zemotion
Hair: Junya Nakashima
Makeup: Gregg Brockington
Model: Germaine Persinger
Photo Assistants: Ngoc Vu, Bitna Kim, Tiffany Liu
Necklace & Body Chain: Harlequin Romantique

At the beginning of last year I did a self portrait in water. Motherland Chronicles had just started and the only model I had was myself, sometimes I just edited old photos for weeks I didn't shoot self portraits. I've been meaning to reuse the kiddy pool and shoot a model in it ever since then, but at the same time, I'd been circumspect about doing it because the water gets very cold, first hand experience and all that.

Eventually though, I was just like, omg screw this I want to shoot in water again! And so I made as much preparations as I could, and did all the things I didn't do the first time -- lined the floor with carpet, tarp and blankets, turned up the heater, and hoped for the best. And with more assistants, we were also able to constantly add hot water to the pool and that definitely helped with the water temperature. So thank you my lovely team for the great effort in keep Germaine warm.

Besides water, the other key element here are the flowers. There's not much to say about it other than I just arrange them however I think will look good for the shot depending on the model's pose. But I do however want to share a random interesting thought that occurred to me the other day. :D

So pretty much every time I decide to use flowers in a shoot, I buy them from the deli/florist down the street on the day itself. And since the choices are based on the season and what they stock at the shop on that very day, it means the store's inventory kind of influences and decides how and what I'm shooting each time. Take a moment to absorb the significance of that.

It basically goes like, here is a complete stranger deciding on what flowers to sell at his stands on any given day, because he thinks they will sell, I go there, make an arbitrary selection, bring them home, shoot something that's kind of important to me, post it on the internets. That person literally set the direction for a part of my life for a day, and affects what you see in the end artwork. Isn't that kind of awesome and mind-boggling? Just a little bit?

So anyway, random thought is random! But it makes me really thankful for these guys selling flowers, cuz if not for them many of the pieces for Motherland Chronicles wouldn't have happened at all. Thank you deli market strangers, you're awesome.

And that's that! A really super random anecdote from doing the series and shooting at home. Hope everyone's having a great week so far~ 8D

Motherland Chronicles #34 - In the Secret Garden

Motherland Chronicles #34 - In the Secret Garden

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Kelsey Petersen
Makeup: Lindsey Rivera
Model: Kalli Keith
Photo Assistants: Andre Wijono, Tobias Kwan, Michelle Herbert
Dress: Michelle Hebert

We revamped motherlandchronicles.com! Do check it out! :D 

Shot this when I was in LA a while ago. I think the process was rather interesting, so once again I'll be sharing about the process from inspiration to final image! :D 

The start of making this shoot was rather stressful. I was in LA doing recording for the Motherland Chronicles' Kickstarter video, and Toby and I had been busy with finalizing our script the whole week, so I only got around to thinking about the shoot the day before it was happening.

At first I thought about shooting on location since I do a lot of studio work when I'm in NY. I'd looked around for potential places online and settled on one to scout, but when we got there, I found that I wasn't feeling inspired for it. So I scrapped the ideas I had in mind for the venue and began thinking about alternatives. The answer turned up with LA Flower Market. When I saw those marigolds, I was so elated I bought them all. :D

The rest of the day was spent planning out details about the concept like hair, makeup, etc. I'd already confirmed Kalli as my model and Michelle to provide her dress, so it was mostly a matter of how to style and fit the elements together. 

Hair:

My love for braids kind of exploded after I got my own hair done at Pennsic War a while ago:

So I kind of built upon that along with what we did for Ea, and came up with the hair in this shoot:

Temple Jewelry:

Also something that came from my time at Pennsic. Because Motherland Chronicles is inspired by the idea of Russia, I took a class at Pennsic about Russian fashion from the 10-13th century which was very interesting. One of the things that I really liked was the temple jewelry/kolts.

From Ancient jewelry headwear of Russian women on viola.bz

It's usually worn with or as part of a headdress, but with how detailed the hair was already, I didn't want to over-clutter or cover up the braids, so I pinned them individually into Kalli's hair instead.

Makeup:

Rather straightforward, the few times Lindsey has worked with me in LA has her set for exactly how I liked that painterly, rosy-cheeked, pre-raphaelite-looking girl. We referenced back to what she did for Porcelain: 

This remains one of my favorite pictures. ❤

The set:
 
I finalized the idea and built it in the morning of the shoot with Toby's help and Michelle and the rest assisting. When the it was completed, it felt as magical on set as it does in the photograph. It was beautiful. 

The smoke was the final touch needed to complete the image -- the element that made the scene magical. I worried for some time about how to properly execute the effect without a fog machine on hand, but thanks to Andre and some dry ice, we managed to make it happen. 

I'm somewhat inspired to do a series with this if time permits, but finding the perfect looks that would match from flowers to dress will be more difficult. We'll see how that goes. :D 

Overall it was a really fun shoot and the whole team worked very hard, so thank you everyone who helped out that day. ❤ 

To end it off, here's Toby's accompanying illustration from the same week: 

Motherland Chronicles #34 - Flowers by Tobias Kwan

Beautiful isn't it? I hope you enjoyed the post and thank you for reading. :D