Letting the Image Inspire the Story

Sometimes you get to go to Wales to visit your awesome friend Niall …. and then he takes you on a hike up a mountain where you turn a corner and BOOM, you’re standing in front of a giant cave. You know, typical Wednesday. (Disclaimer: I have zero clue what day of the week it was, because on vacation every day is “Saturday.”) It truly was one of the most fun and inspiring days of my photography career, and also just one of my favorite days of my life, period. According to my math, roughly once an hour (or more frequently, TBH) I’d have the, “holy shit, look at where we are right now!” realization. Over and over and over again. Wales is stupid beautiful.


Naturally, being a group of artsy-fartsy types (haha farts…), we did quite a few photoshoots that day. Loren had this wonderfully shiny-ish flowy lacy-pink dress with her (the very same one from these photos taken later that day on a different mountain), so I had her throw it on and took several shots in and around the mouth of the cave. This was one of those shoots that was like, “my mind is too entirely overwhelmed by the current location to really do a whole lot of story planning/ we only have so much time here/ it’s so dang beautiful/ LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE/ I just want to start shooting/ I can take some pics and figure out what to do with them later/ let’s be real how can you take a bad photo here? …” So I just went through the motions of having Loren fling the dress and look as magical as possible and took a ton of photos.

As I sat at my computer (almost exactly a year later) staring at the photos trying to decide which one to edit, and what exactly to do with it, I got inspired by a certain capture. There was just something about Loren’s pose/face/posture/movement that looked like she was leaving the cave on a hunt. When I showed the work-in-progress to Loren she said she did seem to be “channeling her inner velociraptor.” Then I thought to myself, “hey self, why would there be a lovely lady in a pretty pink dress leaving a cave like a glorious velociraptor?” My creative gears started to churn and I cranked out an idea that I’m quite pleased with ….

What if she was a “Cave Siren?” Unlike the normal Sirens of Greek mythology that stay put on their island luring unsuspecting sailors into the rocks with their enchanting voices, the “Cave Siren” ventures from her cave in search of hikers to lead back to her lair. (I assume she then drains the life out of them or something dark and sinister of that nature.) The Cave Siren seemingly floats along with perfect grace, humming and singing a haunting melody - Her dress gently dances in the breeze of her otherworldly movements, dispersing sweet smelling spores that settle on the ground and sprout stunning pink lilies. Almost like a trail of beautiful breadcrumbs that the bemused hikers use to follow her back to their inevitable doom. Pretty cool, huh? I thought so …

And just to make her a little more creepy and a bit more mystical looking, I decided to give her eyes a glow. I love to play with lighting and glowing effects whenever possible, even if just on two tiny eyeballs. In the grand scheme of things, other that lighting up her eyes, adding in the flowers, a subtle amount of weird dress-spore-trails, and some color altering, I didn’t actually do a whole lot to the images. It really was just such a stunning location that I didn’t have to punch it up in post with 200lbs of Photoshop magic like I normally would.

Thankfully that one photo spoke to me like it did and the Cave Siren was born. I was so stoked on the idea I decided to make it a series of images. (Hence the above image and that other one further up in the post…) Loren does a ton of little photo stories like this, so it just felt right. Go and view some of her photo series now please. Most times when I do a shoot I end up just editing one final image, so it was fun to create the same character in three different but similar-feeling images. Like I said, I did shoot A LOT of images so it seemed silly to only finish one of them. Thats all for this little series, but in the (hopefully) not so distant future I’ll find the time to edit more of the other shoots from that magical day!

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