I live in Alaska, and have lived here my whole life. Okay, I did move to Arizona for a hot second but it wasn't for me... Creatively, it can feel like a total struggle. Alaska was basically colonized with a boom-and-bust mentality. Our current economy fluctuates and we will see steady periods of little growth. What that means is we don't often see updates to buildings and businesses and things get pretty rundown around here. What that also means is that this town can be bit of a time capsule if you just adjust your eyes and see the *magic*. Three years ago I started a little personal project. I began to search out Wes Anderson-esque environments and locations around my town. Last week I went to our old bowling alley. At one time the alley served as a terminal for Pan Am. I love how weird modern Alaskan history is... I also took advantage of our (totally empty!) railroad ride last summer. That was unplanned but when I stepped on the train I was ecstatic.
Most people have LOADS of these locations around them. Trust me. If Alaska has them, you do too. You just have to have a keen eye and know what to really look for.
What I look for in an environment is:
*Color theory! I pay a lot of attention to color palettes...
Are the colors complementary? Monochromatic?
Do they have a vintage color palette? Sometimes I look up specific color palettes and try to match them!
*Lines. Oof. I love lines and linear perspective and Wes Anderson is great with lining subjects and objects up!
*SPACE. Anderson is also wonderful at using negative space and wide shots.
*Vintage build/furniture or any nod to nostalgia (like a bowling alley!)
When I add in a person to the environment, you can push that color theory more with their clothing and props.
After I take a photo I generally add my Margot or Holly preset and add warming filters. Sometimes I may adjust my colors until I love them.
Personal projects inspired by music videos, novels, and films is such a good way to push yourself creatively. I love the adventure of searching for totally weird industrial backgrounds and finding that magic in a world that I grew up in. Often we think we *MUST* travel to find this type of inspiration, but the pandemic and Covid-19 pushed me into a creative corner, and made me search out and find what I wanted where I was already at. Don't be afraid to push your colors and your image in Photoshop. Most importantly, have fun. This is by far one of my favorite personal projects. It's a slow process to find locations, but there really is no end in sight to what I can find and create.
Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Well, it's winter in Alaska (and deep into Covid culture). I decided to follow my heart, end my ennui, and create photos that were made just for the sake of fun. My daughter Daisy's favorite show is Anne With An E, and I thought it would be lovely to create portraits based around Anne as a general theme. I incorporate our rabbit and vintage books from around our house to make the photoshoot more "personal". I love to feel inspired by a film or book and take themes and ideas from those sources, and shape them until they reflect my own self and family. I try to stray from being "too obvious" or on-the-nose with my interpretations. I wanted to stick with a semi monochromatic theme with green, since green represents rebirth and spring, and nature is super important to Anne. Lastly, I bought some simple daisies from the store and pulled the petals off and had my son toss them down above my daughter Daisy. Actually the first photo was Daisy's idea and she stuck daisies in her hair and posed this way. I love letting kids lead the way in photoshoots and infuse their personalities into images. Don't get too wrapped up in your own idea of the final project, and be flexible! I let my kids totally reshape a series and it usually turns out BETTER than I could have planned for. If your kids are having fun and enjoying the portraits, it shows in your work.
For editing, I used my cinematic palette presets for this series (my Josephine preset tweaked warmer) and I used a warming gradient filter and paper overlay (for a vintage look as well). *All photos were taken with my 35 Sigma and D780. All photos were edited in LR.
If you are ever feeling in a slump because of winter or hey, just because, I would recommend trying to recreate your favorite show or book in a way that is more personal to you!