March 3, 2009

Trash the Dress: Jen + Joda’s Excellent Adventure (in Vegas)

Finally. We’ve been talking about this for so long that I am breathing a sigh of happiness as I type up this post. We are so excited to share the images from a really extraordinary photoshoot we that got to do while we were in Vegas. If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that Tim and I are primarily documentary in our approach to wedding photography but are also into fine art/creative portraiture. This shoot was more of the latter with a bit of fashion thrown in – definitely a different kind of shoot and a fun project for us. 

It all started with a crazy idea. Back in January, we started thinking that since Vegas and the Nevada desert were interesting landscapes that we don’t see often we really ought to go out and do a photoshoot. I contemplated joining some other group photoshoots that I heard about being organized or even hiring our own models but we then remembered Jen and Joda, acquaintances we knew through friends who got married two years ago. They had gotten in touch with us back in the late summer inquiring about doing a Trash the Dress type photoshoot and I always kept it in the back of my mind as a project we could try out this year. 

So we shot them an e-mail in mid-January, floating the idea of having them fly to Vegas for a photoshoot – to which they excitedly agreed. We were totally psyched – because one, we knew that they were uber-cool, creative-minded, up-for-anything individuals that would give us free reign with the shoot; two, they’re a cute, good-looking couple; and three, we would get to shoot in some pretty fascinating spaces. 

Although Tim and I were in Vegas for more than a week, our schedule was such that we really only had Saturday and Sunday free to shoot. And in the week leading up to that weekend, the forecast called for rain on BOTH days. I remember reading the forecast and saying to myself….seriously? It’s the freakin’ desert which only receives maybe 2 inches of rain a year and it’s going to rain on the two days we have to shoot? Our visions of a glorious clear blue sky over a desert horizon were slowly dissipating – but as luck would it, the weather turned out to be beautiful.

Then Jen and Joda arrived in Vegas a couple of days before the shoot….sans wedding dress, thanks to an airline snafu. Which kind of made us start to wonder how we were going to pull off the whole Trash the Dress concept – without a wedding dress! We didn’t panic too much though – the dress did show up the following day – but its hard to trust the airline industry these days. These were moments that you didn’t want to remember reading about statistics on how many millions of pieces are luggage go lost/unclaimed/stolen/mangled every year. 

And then…our lovely would-be models suffered from a bad, bad case of food poisoning the night before our big shoot. I mean, full-on fever, chills, praying-to-the-porcelain-god in the wee hours of the morning bad. Neither of them got a full nights sleep and were unsure if they were going to be in any condition to be out and about the next day. 

Very fortunately, by the morning of the shoot, both had recovered enough to head out although I think Joda was running on one hour of sleep. They were incredible troopers and I think they excitement of the day carried us through. The very last hurdle (this torrid tale of misfortune isn’t over yet!) came as hair and make-up for Jen started to run late meaning we were going to miss our one-hour timeslot at the Neon Boneyard. And so our photoshoot was prefaced by a wild, careening high-speed ride up Las Vegas Blvd, pushing the rental hybrid car to its limits. Taking some pity on us and resting on the fact that there was no one booked after us at the site, the curator gave our full hour time to shoot. 

Enough talking…onto the images! The first part of the day was at the Boneyard, where the neon signs of Vegas past have been saved from destruction and stored as historical pieces, awaiting funds for restoration.






A little behind-scenes-look – I am appalled to discover that my mouth hangs open when I’m concentrating. Yikes.












A peek behind-the-scenes of Tim in action:



And the resulting image:



Jen and Joda burst into a spontaneous song about the woes of eating pheasant (the chief suspect in the food poisoning episode):



We left the Boneyard to grab some lunch at Capriotti’s, where we sweet-talked the staff into letting us run into the kitchen for some quick images. Here’s one of them:



Then it was 45 minutes drive into the Nevada desert to shoot right by the Colorado river. The landscape was breathtaking and the sky was an incredible deep blue:




Doing what it takes to get the shot:








We even ran into a couple of guys on their motorcycles who let us use one of them for this shot:







And then we finished off the day at the abandoned ghost town close to Nelson, a former hotbed of mining activity before crime and lawlessness shut it down. Romantic, don’t you think? 











The next day and an outfit change later, we ventured into a sketchy part of town (unintentional) and then to Fremont Street (intentional):











And a third segment of our shoot, taken mostly at night close to the Bellagio and also in hotel room in the Encore:








And a fun shot to cap off our gigantic photosession:



Phew. I know its hard to believe but I had a heck of time plucking out the highlights of this shoot for this post. We really want to thank Jen and Joda for coming down to Vegas for this shoot and are happy that we can now call them friends! Getting hours and hours of time to shoot whatever we wanted was a luxury and also a good opportunity to kick it up for ourselves in the creative portraiture realm. It really enriched our time at the WPPI convention. There are more images in the slideshow below if you want to check them out (warning – it might take a while to load because of the insane amount of images currently on the blog so grab a coffee and wait OR sail on over here to see it on its own.)