A couple of months ago, during the height of home renovation, Seattle photography classes and taking on extra articles at our paper, I was asked to do the Fall cover for the Methow Valley Arts Magazine.  It’s one of my favorite assignments.  I love working with artists, hearing their story and doing my best to capture that story in images.  It’s always a unique and interesting exchange.

This issue was dedicated to a local folk singer named Hank Cramer. 

We met for coffee and got to chat for a while.  His wife Kit, a high country wrangler, even joined us for a bit.  They’re really sweet people that have learned over the years what it means for Hank to be a professional singer.  In the process of his successful career, he’s recently been able to help find and produce some other talent (“no egos!”), which it seemed like has been really gratifying for him.  

They live on a ranch in Winthrop, Washington, with horses, dogs and a cat.  

Living in the Pacific Northwest, you may have heard of our wildfire situation pretty much all over our state, coming from Canada and from neighboring Montana, Oregon and California.  The smoke has been thick and intense all summer.  The day we scheduled to shoot, there was an apocalyptic yellow haze that hung in the sky like nicotine clouds.  Not having seen real sunshine for days, we just had to go with it and I did my best. 

I had dreams of horses backlit by golden hour sunlight and dust in the air.  However, without any real light, I’m not going to lie, it was a real struggle to make things interesting. 

Hank serenaded me with his folk music almost the entire time.  It was so nice, peaceful and comforting and yet many times I’d have to make him hold still.  A face captured while singing tends to be what it looks like when you put a movie on pause- ha!  

I think this one is my favorite of the outdoor portraits. 

If you read the biography on his website, you will see that he has traveled all over the country as a musician. It’s pretty incredible. 

I was feeling iffy about the outdoor shots.  I was concerned the haze would feel more gas mask/ war torn than folk singer’s dreamy ranch life, and wanted back-up options. I asked him if we could go inside to get a few more.  I’m soooo glad I did!  He has a little guest house and for whatever reason, the light and the booth reminded me of a cowboy’s early morning cup o’ joe, when the world is quiet, the sun is just waking up to a big day of work ahead. 

Not to mention, I LOVE the moodiness of window light.  The contrast of dark and light can be really haunting and lovely to me.  This is probably my favorite of the indoor portraits. 

And this is probably my favorite of all the shots that day… I just love the light on a musician’s hands.

Since this shoot, I haven’t picked up a camera.  I haven’t edited a picture.  Between all that has been going on to get our home ready for the market, two Seattle photography classes that were within two weeks of each other, this shoot and editing, all while being pregnant with stress fractures in my feet (podiatrist appointment on Thursday- YESSSSSS)…Oh!  And taking on extra article at our paper because our poor editor was down for the count for a couple of months with some crazy back virus…  It was a LOT.  

Now that the house is clean, I pretty much spend all of my extra time meditating.  Ha!  No, really. No check lists, no to do’s, no hundreds of photos to edit… I’ve barely kept in touch with people.  Anything that feels like panic or work or ‘I have to’ has been shelved.  It has been the most amazing few weeks.  I would even use the word BLISS. 

I also packed up all of my baking stuff to make the house look less cluttered, so no baking 24-7 temptations there.  It’s like every instinct in me is saying, “It’s fall- you’re supposed to be making apple pie!”  No, Habit.  I’m really not.  I actually bought a pie at the store yesterday.  Ha!  I BOUGHT A PIE!!!  (Granted the pies at our bakery are kick ass, but still…)

Not to mention, the storage on my laptop is completely full with the photos I have on it. I couldn’t import anything new if I tried!  I bought a monstrosity of an external hard drive months ago in Seattle but the idea of spending time transferring photos right now sounds like a panic attack waiting to happen.  It sounds like death.  Instead, I’m just SO super enjoying the peace, resting in the quiet and recharging as best I can because I know when this house sells, our Relocate-to-California Adventure will require a lot of energy.  

Once we get there, I will be grateful to pick up the ol’ girl again.  Photograph my growing belly, our new life… But in the meantime, I’m focusing on gratitude for what I have right now, manifesting new owners for our adorable cozy cabin and taking in all the beauty our little place has offered us while I still can.  

The past year has been an education in putting away the Type A, 60 hours a week, money is everything, workaholic mentality to learn the joys of a work/life balance.  As dramatic as it sounds, it has been life changing. Now I’m learning what it means to be still.  In that stillness, I’m finding that who I am isn’t defined by work– or even more so, creativity or the projects I’ve finished, it’s who I am in the quiet that is actually me.  The crazy thing is that in doing nothing, I’m not even remotely bored.  I’m just in utter gratitude.  

I’m curious how this all plays out when our little one joins us, crying at three in the morning, needing constant attention.  Maybe the angels know how important this time is for me– to really know and recognize the spiritual being in this physical body bag before our lives flip upside down.  Whatever happens, big changes are ahead and I feel like I’m looking on a future that is so different and incredible than one I’ve ever lived, I literally have tears of gratitude and I don’t even know why yet. 

Also, I love our little Baby Soul… I finally felt a real kick the other night.  WOW.  She was dancing up a storm on her ultrasound the next day.  I can’t wait to meet her… Yes, big changes are ahead.  I know it is going to be such a special time.  As backwards as it seems, it’s– strangely– making me insanely grateful for every moment of right… now. 

 

Wow.  Life.  Summer. Craaaaaazy… anybody else?  Damn, Gina!!

There are 4,598 things going on and while some days I feel like I am hanging on by a thread, most of it is exciting stuff– part of which, is what I am FINALLY sharing with you today.  🙂

I’d say the scales started to tip in my creative/exciting & time crunching/hair pulling favor, when I got to collaborate with THIS girl!

Everyone, meet Jess.  

She is ADORABLE.  

The fabulous Ms. Jessica DaCosta is an artist and ‘sculptress’ that specializes in copper, and more specifically, copper weathervanes.  So freaking cool.  You can check out her Facebook page here.

But she also does super fun stuff like pointed elf ears!

One of her sketches… 

And she does these fabulous masks… 

Jess was chosen by Methow Arts to be their featured artist for their summer magazine and I was lucky enough to get to do the shoot! 

A lot of her work is very magical which was a match made in heaven.  Some of her weathervanes have fairies or mermaids, phoenix (!!!) and so we decided to play with the whimsy and magic of her work… 

Her business is also called ‘CopperMaiden’ so I liked the idea of photographing her as such.  Those photos are later… In the meantime, we spent our time in some magical aspens and did our best to blow glitter.  Ha! 

I love the below photo… Not because it’s technically or compositionally great… I just caught her in this gorgeous moment laughing and you really get a sense of her girlish spirit.  

She also made this crown out of fantastic antlers… She’s such a sorceress!  🙂

Crystal balls… *swoon*

She was SUCH a trooper… We shot two days.  One was at her shop and the next day, we squeezed hundreds of photos into a few hours. 

This girl was up for anything and I think it really paid off.  

We had her wade in the river for some photos that weren’t my favorite.  But I wanted to include this one because you can see her fish weathervane below to the left and in her hand she’s holding a copper fairy!!!  I just love her work…

And then later, we got to transform her into the The CopperMaiden!  🙂 🙂 🙂

She let me put foil on her face and although you can’t tell too much, her face is covered in copper face paint.  We also through pieces of metal, glitter, crystal balls and God knows what else in her hair. Fearless!  It was so much fun… 

These turned out very Mid-Summer Night’s Dream to me… 

I really love to tell stories with my camera so I tend to gravitate toward documentary portraiture.  I looove to interview someone, hear their guts and really do my best to try and capture their story in a photo.  

The challenge with the Methow Arts’ shoots, however, is that I’m not the one doing the interviewing.  Jess and I had to get to know each other real quick, but she was so brave, fearless and trusting.   If these photos are successful at all, its all because of her! 

This is my favorite.  I love the light, the colors… it’s very summery to me. I think she looks gorgeous. 🙂  *swoon*  

If only she were prettier, ya know?  😉

And because I don’t get to do these more artistic, super creative shoots often, I really had a blast playing with any and every preset known to man. Ha! Presets are kind of to Lightroom/Photoshop what filters are to Instagram.  With documentary portraiture, you really want to stay as true as possible to the subject or the story you’re telling.  So I don’t tend to use them too much.  However, when a shoot allows for total, complete, chaotic and creative process? Presets can be SUPER fun.  🙂

This is super Lord of the Rings to me with her magical elven ears… *swoon*  🙂

It certainly doesn’t hurt that she’s a super gorgeous girl! 

She also had this gorgeous dress with all this COLOR… Ugh.  Makes the job so much easier.  🙂

I think this photo is interesting, too.  Technically, her foil is blown out but the dreaminess of it, makes me come back to it… (Sometimes ya can’t help but like what ya like!)

Also, Jess is TOTALLY a shapeshifter!!!  In this photo, I think she looks a bit like Jennifer Love Hewitt.  There are times she just looks like a Vogue model and other times, she was channeling Katy Perry.  I’m great at channeling Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, you know what I’m saying?  But I’ll take it…  😉

She took so many beautiful shots, and I had such creative fun, I had a really hard time which photos I liked most.  And even worse, knowing what to send to the magazine!

Our try at glitter again… Note to self:  Next time use strobes.  Also, who wants to carry around strobes?  😉

All in all, it was SUCH an honor.  You can read the Methow Arts Magazine article here written by Marcy Stamper.  

And while I’m saying a lot about how gorgeous Jess is, it speaks nothing to who she is as an artist.  And even moreso, just the fact she’s a doll of a human being.  

This girl is ALL heart.  I can tell she’s intuitive and connected.  She manifests her own magic… A ‘sculptress’ indeed!

AND TOTALLY ADORABLE!!!!

I hope you enjoyed these photos!  Please be sure to check out her work!!  She is currently taking orders WORLD WIDE!!!  I will say I knew her when…  🙂 

Thanks for the honor, Jess!  xoxo

 

JESSICA DACOSTA INFO: 

Instagram and twitter:  @coppermaiden.

Her Facebook page is @weathervaneartistry:  https://www.facebook.com/WeathervaneArtistry/

And her website is:  http://www.coppermaiden.com