Last Sunday I had a long time dream come true. I have always wanted to be able to photograph my own models to use as reference for the figures in my work, but for a variety of reasons (lack of money, contacts, confidence, etc..) I never allowed the seemingly lofty dream to materialize. So I would spend countless hours hunting through magazines, books, websites looking for just the right reference to use. And because I am so picky about the references I use in my work (and continue to get pickier and pickier as time goes on) this process was becoming more and more difficult to make work. So after years of dreaming and being told that I should just suck it up and shoot my own references, I finally took the leap and set up my first photo shoot, albeit with a lot of help from some really incredible people. The proverbial ball got rolling with a simple meeting of a one Jeremy Kaplan, who I met at my "Windows & Mirrors" opening last September at Thinkspace Gallery. I was talking with Jeremy about my work and telling him about how I would like to someday be able to shoot my own references and he told me about a photographer friend of his, a Myles Pettengill (for more info on Myles and his work go to www.mylespettengill.com) that I should get in contact with. Coincidentally that same night I met a model named Stephanie Shaw who expressed interest in working with me in the future for such a project. And at the time I was really glad to be making these contacts, but I still lacked that push that I needed to make it all come together. Well six months later it was becoming very clear to me that if i was to grow my work and progress the way I envisioned I would need to push out of that comfort zone and face my fears, so after a month or so of emailing and figuring out schedules and such the shoot came together, and I couldn't be happier with the results. From the start everything just gelled, Myles and I were really on the same page with how things should go and we were both really open and excited about each others ideas for the shoot and when we started snapping pictures the results just flowed so effortlessly, thanks in no small part to his keen eye and experience. He was very comfortable with directing, and throwing out ideas and he just knew how to get the shot that I wanted but couldn't always verbalize. But in this case it took three to tango, and Stephanie was the perfect fit for this shoot, she was SO supportive and so excited to do the project and her enthusiasm never wavered even over the course of the near six hour shoot. She was really receptive to all the ideas we were throwing out, but also knew how to take things into her own hands by offering up some really incredible and unique poses, costumes and jaw dropping make-up work. I also really loved that both Myles and Stephanie could sense that I was nervous about the shoot, and they did everything in their power to help me get the shots I wanted and make me feel as comfortable as possible. By the nights end, I was blown away with how amazing everything had turned out and by the kind of shots we were able to get. So many times during the shoot all Myles and I could mumble was "gaaaaawwwwwddddd, that looks gorgeous." A big lesson was to be learned from all of this, and its one of those that you say to yourself "I've heard this a million times from a million people in a million different ways" but i learned (at the risk of being completely cheesy) anything is possible, and more times than not its you that stands in the way of accomplishing your goals and nothing else. For the longest time I made excuses as to why I couldn't take this step, and thats why it never happened, I was focusing on why I couldn't do it. Cant help but smile when I think of all the others things I can accomplish with the proper mindset. I want to send a huge thank you again to Jeremy Kaplan, Myles Pettengill, Stephanie Shaw, Ashley Thorp, Rebekka Utermohlen and Christopher Polentz for all their wonderful help and encouraging words. Here are a few shots that I took during and in between sessions, and in the future I'll post some of the photos from the shoot.