The end of the year is rapidly approaching and you know what that means…time to get your new calendar! Every year Dengrove Studios in partnership with Makeup by Sam D publishes our Wearable Art series of calendars. The theme for this year’s calendar is Nature. It is the first time in the series that we are leaving the studio behind and taking to the great outdoors.
As I write this blog post, it is exciting to know that final preparations are being made to submit the 2014 Calendar off to the printer. But how did we get to this point?
Well it wasn’t easy, we dealt with many hurdles along the way including scheduling conflicts, inclement weather, dismal locations, and the setting sun, but I can honestly say this was the most fun we’ve ever had producing one of these calendars. And lucky for you folks, we documented the whole thing! Join us now as we take you behind the scenes of the 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar.
Each Wearable Art Calendar starts with a theme, an idea that will tie each of the 12 months’ photos together. The inspiration for this year’s theme, Nature, came from a photo shoot we had done earlier in the year with Model and Makeup Artist Samantha Dugan of Makeup by Sam D. It was just about the start of Spring with the weather getting warmer that we chose to do a photo shoot celebrating the beautiful flowers that would soon appear in fields and gardens across the Northeast.
As you can see the photos turned out amazing and it got us thinking…wouldn’t this make a great idea for the 2014 Calendar. Of course these photos were shot in a studio vs outdoors.
Working in a studio is always easier, you can control the weather, the lighting, the location, basically all aspects of the shoot are under your command. For our previous calendars, shooting in studio afforded us the opportunity to work quickly and efficiently. Believe it or not, in the past, we were able to shoot the photographs for all 12 months over the course of just 2 Saturdays.
This year would be quite a different ballgame. We decided that the best way to truly capture the essence of our Nature theme would be to combine our beautiful models, with actual gorgeous outdoor locations. For the first time ever the Wearable Art Calendar production was leaving the studio…and taking the show on the road.
We had to move quickly however, it was already the beginning of July and we needed to get everything coordinated and photographed before the cold weather moved in. Locations had to be found and scouted, models had to be secured and scheduled, and most importantly each individual months’ idea needed to be finalized.
Here you can see a rare look at some of our initial production notes for the calendar. Lots of items have changed between these initial ideas and the finished product. For example did you know that Azaleas and Rhododendrons only bloom in the early Spring? That’s right, consequently when we showed up to photograph with them…they were all gone! Want to see which ideas actually made it in to the finished calendar? Well then you’ll need to get a copy of your very own, click here for information on how to purchase.
Once we had our ideas sorted out it was already the end of July and we were ready to photograph our first month, although it almost didn’t happen.
For many years now I had heard about Buttonwood Farms in Griswold, CT, and the amazing work they do for the Make-a-Wish foundation with their breath-taking sunflowers. They have 14 acres growing during the summer and it certainly is a site to behold.
However, the Sunflower Event at Buttonwood Farms only lasts just over a week every year, when then sunflowers are at their peak. With just 4 days to spare before they turn the cows loose in the field to munch on all the leftovers they don’t sell, we decided that would be the perfect place to shoot our first month.
As I said before, we knew shooting on location would present some challenges, but we didn’t know they’d be presented to us all at once!
We were already in a time crunch having just a few days to coordinate everything before the sunflowers got munched up by the cows, and to make matters worse it was a 2 hour trip to Buttonwood Farms from our studio. With such a long distance to travel and the hungry hungry cow countdown looming (thankfully it wasn’t hippos) this was really going to be our one and only chance to get the shot.
Naturally, to compound matters, the forecast that day called for rain. Knowing that this was our only opportunity we decided to push ahead for the 2 hour drive anyway, hoping that perhaps those fancy dancy weather apps were wrong. Along the way we did pass through quite a few storms, but it seems we got ahead of the rain as once we arrived at our destination everything was dry, though still quite overcast.
Certainly not the best weather to get a great summer sunflower shot, but we were determined to make it work. Since the sun wasn’t cooperating we made our own light. A couple of Nikon Speedlights did the trick, you’d almost never know that it was a gray rainy day when we shot these photos.
Some people got quite a surprise that day while strolling through the sunflower field and unexpectedly finding themselves in the middle of a photography session, but everyone was very supportive and excited to see the photos.
In fact we were so engrossed in what we were doing that we hardly noticed when it actually did start drizzling. If you look carefully enough you can even see the water droplets on the top of Sam’s head.
We didn’t mind too much though because it gave us the perfect opportunity to take a break and sample the other thing that makes Buttonwood Farms famous. The Buttonwood Farm Fresh Homemade Ice Cream! They have tons of flavors and if you’re lucky enough to find yourself there during the Sunflower for Wishes event like we were, you can sample their seasonal specialty flavor Sunflower Caramel. Let me tell you, that alone is totally worth the trip!
Once the rain subsided we thought we might try to get a really dramatic shot. There is a cool hill overlooking the sunflower field and we thought it would be a great idea to get a photo with Sam holding a colored drape fluttering in the breeze across the sunflowers.
Despite being slightly windy all day, with our luck of course when we were ready to shoot the wind had completely subsided; not a breeze in sight. We waited around a bit, but had basically given up and let our guard down when all of a sudden a giant gust came whipping across the field just as I clicked the shutter. Gusty enough that it even blew over my light stand mid-shot.
Although we weren’t able to get the drape fluttering photo we were hoping for, this one is definitely an awesome runner up. And as a testament to the amazing modeling skills of our stylist Samantha Dugan you can clearly see that she’s able to hold her graceful pose and perfect model facial expression no matter what the situation.
I’m pleased to report that with her help the light stand was saved and the umbrella suffered only minor damage, that was easily fixed.
All in all it turned out to be a very successful photo session for the calendar and a heck of a fun day. We ended up getting some great shots despite the universe throwing all kinds of obstacles in our path.
Want to see the finished photo that ultimately made it in to the calendar? You’ll just have to buy your own copy to find out! The 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order. Hang it on the fridge, bring it to to office, or give it as a gift.
And just in case you’re wondering as a thank you for letting us shoot in the sunflower field that day Dengrove Studios did make a nice donation to the incredible Make-a-Wish foundation. We hope it helps them to continue their very important work of helping our children.
Stay tuned for more great behind the scenes posts about the making of this year’s Wearable Art: Nature Calendar.