Behind the Scenes: A Journey Ended in A Land Unknown

A few weeks ago I attend one of The Wild Ones workshops, this one was held in D.C.. I was really happy that we had a very overcast sky to work with that day, though it was a bit more damp than what we had anticipated, but we didn't let it get to us. A light drizzle never hurt... much, haha. 

After introductions and demonstrations, we headed off to a shooting location we scouted out earlier in the day. It didn't even feel life we were in the same park anymore, the tall jagged cliff's looked so amazing. If you seriously ever get the chance to visit Great Falls Park, DO IT! This park is enormous and has so many things to offer for almost any photographer! 

The day before The Wild One's workshop began, my friend Julie Belton came down to Philly, and I helped assist her on a concept that she wanted to shoot in a nearby park (her photo turned out amazing, just so you know). After we wrapped up her shoot, I decided just to have a little fun while we still had a little time to spare before traveling down to D.C..

Steph absolutely loves this dress, and I've never used in an image before, so why not give it a go. We walked over to the nearby skate park underneath the overpass in F.D.R. Park, and picked a spot to shoot in. I decided to shoot something totally different, so I had Steph lean up against this broken TV, and we gathered all the trash surrounding us and setup this little scene (don't worry, that french fry was something we brought from the diner beforehand, haha). I call it "Trashy Glamour."

Julie had a whole bunch of smoke bombs with her, so we chose to use this huge one that was called The Chainsmoker. Steph posed and we lit that sucker up! It was kind of crazy, the smoke bomb had 4 chamber, each lasting about 15-20seconds and went from purple, blue, green, to yellow. A bunch of nearby skaters came by to see what was going on. An audience is never bad, right?  

Well, here in this image we have the wonderfully kind soul, Joe (The Boy Wonder) Robinson - a true world traveler and creative spirit. I've been following Joel's work for years and he was one of the first photographers I found who introduced me to conceptual photography. I decided to use Joel for the first image I shot during the workshop that day. 

Down near the river, the cliff had a deep depression in one spot and could easily be mistaken as a cave. It was definitely a spot that me and a few others knew had great potential for a bunch of different concepts to be shot their. We each took turn shooting images there. 

I used an extra smoke bombs that Julie gave me to set off for the shot. It was larger than others I've used in the past and I was excited to see what it would really do. We got everything setup and Joel lit the bomb and got back into position. Slowly the smoke rose up from the depression and said straight up because of the windless air. It must have produced smoke for at least 45seconds, and there was so much! Joel got caught in it for a minute, and these things never smell pretty... ever. It's more like suffer-y eggs, yep. 

After shooting Joel in his pose, I began shooting the rest of the scene by panning the camera around. This is pretty tricky when it comes to smoke bombs, and I always will have to manually blend and stitch each image for the composite together. This is because as I'm shooting, the smoke is still constantly moving up and through the air. It's necessary to shoot a whole bunch of extra shots and making sure you've captured images of all the edges of the smoke plumes for the best believability. 

Stitching this image together was trickier than others I've done in the past, but I'm so happy with the final result of the image! 

As a special treat, here's a close-up of the next image I'll be releasing next week! 

Featuring Creatives - Interview No. 2

Against My Vows

Against My Vows

The End Is Nigh

The End Is Nigh

Turn Back Time

Turn Back Time

A Dance With The Devil 

A Dance With The Devil 

Self Portrait 

Self Portrait 

The Sky of The Sky of a Tree Called Life

The Sky of The Sky of a Tree Called Life

First, tell me as much as you can about yourself in a haiku.

The coldest winter 
thawed my heart, and I found love
in pictures of life

How did you get your start with what you do?

Amani- I started by just wanting to experiment with photo-manipulation and seeing what I can create on photoshop. I only started “officially” after I attended Brooke Shaden’s workshop a year ago. That’s when I realized that photography is the medium I’ve been looking for all this time to express how I feel.

How have you seen yourself grow as an artist?

Amani- I see inspiration everywhere now. At the beginning I separated photography from my everyday life, and it wasn’t something I was constantly doing. Now, it’s all I think about. I see textures everywhere, and whenever I come across an interesting object, my first thought is “how can I use that in a picture?”. When it comes to the technical stuff, I think I managed to develop my skills on photoshop with trying out different styles and just experimenting in general.

What's one art-related memory that sticks out in your mind?

Amani- I’d have to say that it was Brooke’s workshop. I remember going not knowing exactly what the workshop would be like - it was the first photography workshop I ever attended and I was scared. I was intimidated because everyone was older than me, and everyone had better gear. I went with my old Canon 550D and an old 50mm lens. It wasn’t until the second day of the workshop that I started being more confident - Brooke saw my work and told me it should be in a gallery. That’s something I’d never forget.

What are a few things on your "Bucket List?"

Amani- Oh my, I have so many.

  • Travel, as much as I can.
  • To have one of my images on a book cover.
  • Get a masters degree in Fine Arts and teach art and photography at a university, and also teach workshops.
  • To grow, as a person and as a photographer, to be kinder - to others and to myself, to love with all my heart.

What have you been currently up to?

Amani- I’m almost halfway through my 52 Week Project, and that’s always keeping me busy. But I’m also trying to get into galleries, both national and international. Nothing is set yet, but I’m determined to make it happen!

What fuels your artistic soul?

Amani- Everyday experiences and emotions- from love to loss, from betrayal to joy. I find inspiration in knowing that feelings are universal, it’s something we all have in common, no matter where we are in the world.

Who are three artists you're either inspired by or look up to?

Amani- I hate to sound repetitive but I have to say Brooke Shaden, of course. I also admire Lara Jade’s work - I prefer her older conceptual work but I still find her fashion photography inspiring. And Rob Woodcox - not only is his photography absolutely amazing, he seems like such a great person, I’d love to attend one of his workshops someday.

What would a 'perfect' day for you be like?

Amani- A perfect day would be: waking up before sunrise to do a shoot (either by the beach or in a forest), then watching the sunrise with a warm cup of coffee. After that, I’d spend a few hours immersed in a novel, then I’d grab lunch with a close friend and spend some time with my family. The rest of the day, I’d spend editing.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

Amani- I just want to say thank you. To you, Kory, for giving me the opportunity to share all of this with you and your readers, and to everyone who’s been following my work and supporting me this past year. It means the world to me.

Behind the Scenes: The Piano Remained There


I wasn't 100% sure if this photograph was ever going to come to life. I was losing light so dramatically during this shoot. After modeling for Joshua and Jenna's demos for the workshop and then posing for some of the other workshop attendees,  I explored the property and ended up traveling way to the other side from everyone. Walking being the main lodge/museum, I came across these rabbits roaming around, so curious me followed. Yes, Alice in Wonderland totally came to mind in hindsight. If it weren't for following the rabbits, I would have never stumbled upon this amazing piano hidden away in the back of the yard. I seriously wanted to take it home with me. 

Immediantly, I knew this would be where I would set up for my first shoot at the workshop. I ran back to the car with all my equipment and props and brainstormed some concepts. I just tried sitting first, and there wasn't much of a story there. Luckily for me, there was a nearby barn which had a table and chair inside. I dragged them over on the rocky landscape and climbed on top. I was going to try to make myself fly. 

From camera set up - changing my outfit - finding/carrying over the table and chair - the light beyond the mountains was going quick. Since I was alone for this one, every few shots I ran back to the camera and re-ajusted for the light and to look at my poses. 

Once I was happy with a few of the things I saw in my camera, I removed the table and chair from the scene and panned the camera over to expand for the final image. I was going as quickly as I could. I still had to make time to shoot a concept over on the other side of the property at the airplane, so there was still much more to do. 

I did rush through the expansion, by I was extra sure to overlap enough through each shot to make sure I had covered as much as the area in camera as possible. As I was panning, the rabbits returned back and ended up making it into the final shot, which I'm really happy about, since if it weren't for them, this photograph would most likely would have been ever taken.