I recently got a chance to photograph Fiona again before she got married and moved to Canada. I worked with her a while back on a couple of images and we always said we’d do something again but it just never happened. We ran into each other at an event and she told me she’s moving and I knew I had to work with her at least once before she does. She’s such a wonderful person, so much fun to be around, and she’s just so kind. I’m sad that she’s gone, but she’s starting a new chapter in her life and I’m so happy for her.
I’ve had an idea in mind for over a year now, and when Fiona and I decided to create something together, I knew it had to be that idea. Fiona’s features just work so well with it.
The whole thing is based on a song that I heard on the show Nashville. It’s one of the most emotional songs on that show, sung by the character Scarlett (played by Clare Bowen) as a dedication to her mother. Scarlett’s relationship with her mother was a toxic one. She loved her mother dearly, but couldn’t get past the emotional and physical abuse she went through growing up.
I wanted to create a wall of black roses. And I started making some out of black crepe paper, but it took such a long time. I made a bunch of them but then decided to use fake flowers and paint them black. I was running out of time (because for some reason, I like to leave things till the last minute) so I only made one board that’s around the same size as A0 paper. I ended up compositing more of it into the background to make it look like an entire wall.
I can see your eyes staring into mine,
but it’s a battlefield and you’re on the other side.
You can throw your words, sharper than a knife,
and leave me cold in another house on fire.
I lay low, lay low and watch the bridges burn
I lay low, lay low. What more could I have done?
Now you only bring me black roses,
And they crumble into dust when they’re held.
I also wanted to have black roses falling all around her.. but I wanted them to be on fire. Which wasn’t doable because it was too windy.
Setting this up was hilarious. Issa assisted me on this shoot, and I’m so glad he did because he came up with awesome solutions and easier ways of doing things. This is our makeshift studio, and funny enough that wall that we used – it’s a cemetery wall. There’s a cemetery right behind where we shot. That’s not weird. Nope.
We used Issa’s light stands to hang a net that I picked up from a halloween store in the US, and hung the flowers with thread. I so wanted to set them on fire though. I like setting things on fire. I’m not a pyromaniac, I swear.
I’m also making it a habit to shoot portraits of whoever I’m photographing for my conceptual images. I wanted to keep the paper flower theme going and I used a beautiful painting by Amy Judd as reference.
I’m falling in love with simple portraits.
I also wanted to try something a little more experimental.
And of course, silly pictures are a must.
It was so awesome working with Fiona. I love this girl. I regret not photographing her more but I’m hoping our paths cross in the future and we can work together again. Fiona, I wish you the very best. You deserve it. You have such a kind heart and I so appreciate you letting me make you sit on mud and freezing water. You’re incredible.
p.s. I also did a spontaneous shoot with her on the same day, before we lost the natural light. Will share that one soon!