Devilbliss In The Land Of Lestat – August 16, 17, 18

The following is a brain dump of the highest order. If you have no attention span this is not for you.

lestatAll of my life I have been drawn to cemeteries. It’s not about death though. For me it’s always been something about their appearance. The statuary, the architecture. And I don’t consider this morbid at all but I’ve always found myself wondering about the people, their lives, their loves, the world they lived in. I’d see the dates and read the names and imagine who they were. Before I focused my photography on people it was old buildings, cemeteries. I actually had 2 posters that sold online via various poster companies called The Doors of Eternity, made up of vault doors from cemeteries in New York and Philadelphia.doors_of_eternity_2 doors_of_eternity_maxSomewhere in the  early 90’s I had seen a television program, I forget what it was about specifically but there was a moment where it was talking about and showing cemeteries in New Orleans. I’ll be honest, up until that point, that city was not a place on my mind. That changed with that program. A few months later I was in Washington DC with friends and made them let me visit some cemeteries there for photos and I happened to mention New Orleans… My friend gasped about wanting to go there. An Anne Rice fan he was a devotee of Interview with a Vampire. This was before the movie was released. Hell before it was even slated to be a movie. So we all decided to drive to The Big Easy.

When it first came into sight there was something of an aura over it. I’m not a spiritual person but when we got into the city something came over me.  The air. The color of the light. The fragrances that were foreign to my northern nose. Now granted New Orleans also has some smells that rival any big city at being “unpleasant”. It’s also not an earthly paradise. I found decay and ruin mixed among the old world splendors. The city is not kind to all of its inhabitants. There was also the unusual, no strike that, the very unusual. It was unlike any place I had ever been before or since.

I fell in love.

Over the next decade I would visit again and again. So moved by it I actually wrote a song called NOLA, that my band Advent Sleep released on CD that ended up being something of a popular track in the goth clubs in the late 90’s. A New Orleans college station would actually play the track with some frequency. Once while visiting with my guitarist and sound man to shoot some video, we actually had the wild experience of going to a club to see a band who was friends with a local DJ of note (She often DJ’d Anne Rice’s Halloween Balls and was a big fan of the band, she claimed to spin my music at Anne’s Mansion in the Garden District though I was never invited so I have to take her word on that), anyway, while at this club the band at one point broke into another song of mine. Quite a thing to hear another artist playing your music in the city you love. Another trip there my guitar player and I ran into most of the band Marilyn Manson on the streets and handed Twiggy Ramirez a demo tape of ours.

This is just a portion of that song, for those of you who speak French,  please forgive the faux, French Gibberish I included in the lyrics.

Another strange connection for me came when a friend of mine urged me to get to a comic shop to obtain a specific Vertigo title. He told me “get to such and such a shop and buy The Girl Who Would Be Death”. He would not tell me anything more.  So within a few days I managed to get to a shop and seek out this book.  Getting one in my hands I noticed it was written by Caitlin Kiernan. 961This struck me as she also reviewed my band’s CD (favorably) in a magazine some months before (this being before print on demand so it was an actual mass distributed magazine in the traditional sense) . AHA, This I thought, was why he urged me to buy this… I then began to flip through it. Immediately the art on the first pages showed me my beloved city… New Orleans. This too I thought was a reason my friend suggested I need this. Then about the 3rd or 4th page I saw some panels showing St. Louis Cathedral towering over Jackson Square. Then a close up of the cathedral. Then my eyes dropped to art of a street scene. Punks along a seedy brick walled alley and to the right a poster….. It was for two bands… it read “The Changelings with Advent Sleep, March 23rd”. It was a surreal moment for me. I’m holding a comic of a major imprint (Vertigo is a “hip” brand of DC Comics, yeah DC Comics). A comic, set in my city with art that included my band. Incidentally, March 23rd is my birthday, not something Caitlin would have known, cue the creepy theremin music.  It’s still oddly one of my favorite things ever. Caitlin was a fan, she’d heard my song NOLA and when she worked on this graphic novel had the artist include this. You can click on this to see it larger:

The_Girl_Who_Would_Be_Death_Vol_1_1_001Near the time my activity with my band waned I met someone who I would eventually marry. We would honeymoon in New Orleans.  While she and I got divorced I am still married to the crescent city. I’ve gone another two times since then but in recent years I’ve had a bit of a lapse. It’s been too long and a few weeks ago I decided this must change. So I return in August.

Now since this is a website for my photography work, some of you reading this might be wondering why such a personal thing might be posted here. While planning this trip I invited someone to join me. Someone who has been quite busy with life and the last few times we’ve been able to chat about what we are each up to I’ve heard things that told me she needed something of a vacation as well.  So I asked my good friend Claire Marie if she’d like to tag along. Last year she was among a group of us who shared a room in Nashville during an event and was in the car on that 12 hour trip back. We’ve worked together many times in a number of capacities and when the timing is right, she’s also my barber. My notion is we can spend an extended period of time together for something like this and remain good friends. As a model I’ve shot Claire many times. She’s worked with many photographers, been published countless times and has been featured on the cover of more magazines than I probably know about. So this would give us both a chance to work together in one of the most picturesque places in the country. As a makeup and hair artist she’s also done an impressive amount of work with a number of photographers and is well regarded in this capacity as well. So though this is a vacation, I suggested to Claire we consider offering a very select number of sessions while we were in New Orleans.  She agreed and I began searching for the perfect places to shoot.  While scouring websites for lodging I was not finding quite what I was looking for, be that large national chains or even the various B&B’s until I came upon one that had the word “Castle” in the title. Below are some images of what will be my 2000 square feet studio away from home. It isn’t classic Antebellum styling but it is quite remarkable all the same. The location is terrific and, well just look:
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And all the leaded glass…Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.28.11 AMDid I mention leaded glass?Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.28.31 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.28.22 AMAnd this bed with windows on three sides is a boudoir coup d’etat:Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.28.41 AMThe bathroom has some great possibilities as well:Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.29.00 AMFor a city that has it’s own cuisine that surpasses that of entire nations and more amazing restaurants than there is plastic debris in the oceans, a kitchen seems insulting but there is a kitchen as well:Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.28.52 AM

Can’t resist the thought of shooting here?
Join us. click this link for shoot specific information.

 

Christmas in August Calendar Sessions!

 

xmasaugust2It may seem crazy to be thinking about 2017 calendars an it’s only July. But tell that to the people who are shoot with us in July for 5 different calendars already.

We get it though. It actually made us think we could offer such sessions at an incredible price for early birds.

There’s a lot of details you’ll find below but the set way to put this is like this; If you never shot with us before and booked two of our classic seamless based specials you’d be talking about a $250 session that included makeup and hair, several hundred photos and 4 edits of your choice (along with ALL the images and YOUR CHOICE of custom edits). If you then shot with us again with a similar session you would get a $25 repeat client discount so your price for that would be $225.  You’d have spent $475 for two unique makeup and hair stylings and a total of 8 edited images.

OK, got that?

So, our Christmas in August Calendar promotion includes this:

  • Weekday Session with 2 completely different makeup and hair applications PLUS a hair change for what most people would see as a 3rd styling treatment
  • 12 total edited images (4 more than those 2 sessions above)
  • Layout and design of a custom 2017 calendar with 26 pages, this is 12 months, 12 image panels for each month, cover, back cover depicting each month in a collage as well as a centerfold image at about 11″ x 17″ in size
  • One of those very calendars delivered straight to your door

Price on the Christmas in August Calendar Special? $600 or $575 if you’ve shot with us before. Put a $100 deposit on a shoot by 8/15 and take an additional $25 off. Calendar sessions are being added to our price list at $800 year-round so this offer is at a significant savings as compared to later in the season

For clients who have already shot with us more than once in the past who may have several other images they would love to include in their calendars (it makes sense no?) You can use up to 4 other images you’ve shot with us and take $10 off the price per image used.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

We are also including use of our classic aluminum Christmas tree and newly acquired Giant Valentine’s Box so these 2 holidays will be well represented in your 2017 calendar. To keep this in perspective our classic tree shoot is offered ahead of the holiday season at $250 itself. The heart will be a similar price. You could think of this as adding these two classic themes to your portfolio and getting an entire calendar thrown in for free!

These sessions will take a minimum of 4 hours in studio and as a result we are ver limited in the number of sessions we can offer. Currently our July calendar is over 50% filled so don’t wait. There’s only a handful of dates available.

Want to add more variety to your calendar? We can add in some natural light boudoir for just an additional $50. Want even more varied makeup and hair? If you had the time additional looks are just $75 each. Want a deluxe layout with additional images included with the dates page? (See samples below) I can do that too, just ask!

Below are some of the calendars I produced for 2016.

With regards to the custom layout and design, there is no shortage of places you could simply upload photos and have a calendar made but what this session includes is a custom layout unique to you. With your name, possibly autograph or in the case of renown model & burlesque star Ludella Hahn did your kiss imprint added to the graphics. Incidentally Ludella sought me out specifically to design  her official 2016 calendar.

Have questions? Message us on Facebook but don’t wait, this will likely max out our calendar for July!
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Deluxe Layout (Additional cost):MIKA CALENDAR_Page_27

Below is the Valentine Box I just added to the studio prop collection. This photo of Miss V was by Relentless Photography used with permission. V’s makeup and Hair was by Nicole of Making Faces Professional.

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Devilbliss Princess Series: Ariel – Little Mermaid AVAILABLE ALL OF JULY

arielDue to the tremendous response some of the first sample images for Ariel has caused we are making this shoot available for the entire month of July.  We originally offered the session as a special over the weekend of June 25 & 26. The shoot included makeup and hair (or wig styling) wardrobe, which is 2 different mermaid tails (sizes)  and tops. ALL PHOTOS on SD card the moment we finish shooting (several hundred images) 6 edits of YOUR CHOICE (some studios decide for you what would be your favorites never showing you all the images, we want you to pick YOUR FAVORITES) plus a full release on all images, they are yours to do with as you please!

This shoot is being offered as a private session for those interested at $350 + tax. Repeat clients get a $25 discount on all our sessions over $250 and if you brought a friend, you’d get a $25 referral discount.

Want to schedule your session? Contact us via our FB page to see what dates are available.  Or head right over to our deposit form to get a reservation. We still have room in July but this session in particular is filling it up quickly.

My Art, Your Photos

This past weekend I experienced something I have many times before. It is what has guided how I do things with our sessions.

I had the great privilege to shoot a young lady I have known for a few months now. JoJo attended several of the events we sponsor through the studio and when she saw our Arabian Nights theme she just had to book her first session. Not just with us. Her first session period. That’s quite an honor. She was visiting the area for Pinup Prom 2016 and asked if she could shoot this theme the next day. The studio was buzzing that day as we had a friend of ours, Ryan Armbrust from Boudoir Louisville, visiting and working in a few of our spaces. JoJo had her guy along and by the time she was finished with makeup and hair we were ready to shoot. Nervous, she asked her guy to stay behind in one of our waiting areas. Sensing some first shoot anxiety I asked JoJo if she’d like a lady friend of ours, Melanie Marx to join us in support. Melanie ran a very well known and respected lingerie shop and herself had acted as a stylist for photoshoots in her shop. Melanie was well versed in helping women look and feel their best through her attention to detail. Jo Jo agreed and away we went.   I lost track of the time but several hundred photos later we had finished the session.

BANN0174e2 BANN0289e BANN0424eJoJo asked if we could review the photos right away, she was anxious to send one to her mother. As I had the time she, her boyfriend and I made our way to my editing area and began pouring over the hundreds of images. Now this is the part that fascinates me, three of us reviewed the images. Periodically we would encounter photos we all noticed and felt were excellent, but there were as many times where one of the three would really like an image where the other two did not. To the point where I would hear JoJo’s guy talk up what he liked about an image to have her rather firmly express that she didn’t.  With me, you the model has final say. With regards to what I edit for a model, it’s ultimately their choice. I like to think, and I’ve been told I have a great eye but there are many works of art, be it photography, music, paintings, sculpture, you name it, that I value as some of the finest examples there is, that other people consider worthless. It’s subjective. I can’t even begin to tell you how many songs I’ve ever heard and marvel that it’s even on the radio. But I won’t say it’s good or bad or not valid. It’s just not my cup of tea.  Now maybe if I were psychic I could choose a model’s images for them and know they would be their favorites. But I’m not. So I prefer to share with a client every single image I shoot so they can decide which ones are their favorites.

As we were sitting with JoJo we got to one photo that was the very first one where we had just changed the pose and position in the scene, this meant I had moved lighting to follow her, even more I had just done some shots with ambient light which totally changed how I was using the camera. During the process of returning things to what we needed I took some test shots. The very first one of these was significantly over exposed as a result. But when JoJo saw it she exclaimed about how she looked. She loved it. Loved her face and pose. I think she may have even used the word “favorite” to describe it. I immediately opened it to inspect more closely. I told them what was challenging about the file from technical standpoint but that I would work on it to try and get her an edit of it that she would be happy with and proud to share.

Here’s the original shot:BANN0710

A lot of her features are over exposed, some highlight details are blown out, exactly the sort of image many studios would delete and likely never share with the model. There’s all kinds of behind the scenes background stuff you wouldn’t see if I was actually composing the shot, but alas here I was tweaking the lighting, this was a test shot but she loved the way she looked.

Here is the edited image I provided JoJo:

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This wasn’t just a matter of adjusting levels and exposure, there was a lot of balancing, creating background where there was none. A challenging detail (and one many clients wouldn’t even stress over) was her necklace. Much of it’s detail was gone by being too brightly lit. Below is a crop of the original with the edit inset. My solution to this was to find another similar image that was properly exposed and borrow some of the necklace which was added here.

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It would be easier for me to remove images from a session that might take more time to edit. There’s usually no shortage of great images I could pick that would also be quicker to polish and present to a client. In the case of this test shot that Jo Jo loved I would go on to spend as much time on it as I would 4-5 regular images  (I average 20 minutes per photo as I do each one individually).

This is my art. But they are your photos first. Part of my art is serving you. You hire me to take great images for you and you likely valued my style and abilities, but I want you to love your images and love how you look in them. I have heard from friends who’ve shot with other studios that the photos that were selected for them depicted them in ways they didn’t feel comfortable with, didn’t like the pose or some feature about themselves. They wondered what images may have been taken that they would have loved more but never got to see.

JoJo used the word favorite when she saw this photo. How many favorite photos have clients been denied because a studio decided what’s best for them? Ultimately JoJo picked most of her photos to be edited but she then did tell me to choose several myself. I’ve done this many times for clients. I’ve fully selected all images that were edited. YOU HAVE THAT CHOICE. You tell me. I work for you.

Spend your birthday with us!

Over the past 3 months we’ve had 3 great ladies spend their birthday with us.  And it wasn’t just coincidence. Well I know 2 specifically chose their shoot date to take place on their day.

Last night Georgia Storm was here and it was her birthday! She came to shoot our Arabian Nights tent and was greeted with a birthday cake from Momma Millie’s bakery just up the street. Afterwards she was treated to dinner and drinks at a nearby pub and was joined by photographer Ryan Armbrust of Boudoir Louisville, Nicole of Making Faces Pro and myself and we were later joined by Sheri Baby of Fredericksburg VA and her guy who were in town for Pinup Prom 2016. Interesting fact, of our party of 6 we all hailed from 3 of the 4 commonwealths in the US. We only needed Massachusetts represented to complete the set.

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A few weeks back Miss V with her hubby on her birthday and she also got a cake of her own though I am SUPER BUMMED we did not get a photo of that 🙁

Back in April Ginger DoGood came on her birthday and while that time I didn’t get a full on mini-cake for her I did have a sampler box of  Mamma Mille’s cupcakes and cookies. She got a custom label on hers though with her name color matched to her hair. After her session we also grabbed something to eat.13000458_10207796999496551_1777121502_o

SO, come, spend your birthday with us, we’ll make some cheesecake and send you home with cake!

6 Sessions, 7 people, 3 states, 13 hours

Yesterday was quite a day in the studio. We did 6 shoots over the course of 13 hours with 7 different people from 3 different states.

And what a diversity of images. I nearly want to post them and ask you to guess which was first and which was shot last since my day started around 7:30 and ended at 10:00 yet none of the sessions got any less attention or energy as compared to the very first.

Let’s stay chronological though.

First we had three adorable little girls visit us from the first state, that being Delaware. They came to shoot the Alice set before it was retired later that day.

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Aren’t they cute?

Next we were paid a visit by Eva Casablanca who we first worked with in her home of Nashville Tennessee, this time she drove the 12+ hours to take part in our Arabian Nights set:

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We had the best time with this and Eva left with an “I’m a Devibliss Girl” t-shirt in addition to a data card filled with over 700 photos.

Our next 3 sessions were all of the same lady. Jenny Jane first shot with us just a few short months ago but each time she joins us she schedules several different shoots. She too took part in the Alice set and was the last to shoot it, actually by this photo she was the last 2 people to shoot it:Next up she did our Sideshow Sirens shoot which was tricky for me because it is done in the exact same place the Alice sessions were set up… so… while she and Nicole began working on her next fully different look I scrambled to not only tear down the rather significant Alice set and clean up, but then had to erect the Sideshow itself. And I was nearly ready by the time they were. Here’s a sample:BANN1042eFrom here Jenny then did our Rago session. This is the one where you shoot in a custom to you, dyed Rago shape wear ensemble. I’m including a few samples because, well, because….BANN2044e BANN2163eAgain a completely different styling treatment with her hair and makeup, a different setting with my signature lighting treatment. Isn’t that shape wear bad ass? Jenny is too.

While we were still shooting this, our next subjects arrived. A familiar face to the Devilbliss family, Georgia Storm came with her friend John for some couples photos with a fitness theme. We shot some natural light images on our 3rd floor with the last bits of daylight to be had.BANN0930e2000 BANN1034e2Even though this sort of session was technically a one look appointment, and in spite of the fact we’d already put in an 11 hour day by this point, I had these kids join me on the veranda at the studio. OK in reality it’s a fire escape. It had become dark by the point we were ready, but I really am glad we took the time to capture these final images:BANN1235e BANN1240e2000

As long as I have been doing this, you’ve never seen me post that we’re fully booked other than our specials. It’s because we love what we do and will work hard to meet people’s schedules and themes to the best of our ability. We’ll start at 7:30 a.m. and continue into the wee hours of the morning if that’s what it takes and at no point, no matter how many sessions we’ve done prior to yours, will yours be any less important to us.

Alice

So, we put the finishing touches on the Alice set last evening and did some quick shots to have as examples. I was all set to do this blog post and send out a newsletter since we have some openings in the schedule next week. From a few samples making it online last night to this morning, quite a bit of next week has now been booked. We still have some openings but it’s getting tighter and tighter.

This is the first set we’re doing in the Devilbliss Princess Series but it is indicative of the “look” subsequent ones will have.  Next up is Ariel (Little Mermaid) and we still have openings for it. DO NOT WAIT!

Click these for larger versions.

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