Well here they are, my best images of 2014. I am a little behind in posting this year because I had such a hard time trying to narrow down my favs. I really felt I took my images to the next level this year, so picking my favs was really hard!
My goal for 2014 was to step up my game both in shooting on location and also with creating killer composite images for my seniors. I am super happy with the progression I have taken with my photography and hope you enjoy my favs of 2014.
As in the past, I have picked out images this year that may not necessary be the most awe inspiring images, but images that may have some personal meaning behind them. That is why with each photo below I also have a little bit about what is behind the image so that you all know why these images made the cut as my personal favs of 2014. Enjoy.
I actually shot the main image of Emily for “Arabesque” a few years ago during her senior session. I kept refining the image to make it better so I could enter it into the Wisconsin Professional Photographers Association (WPPA
) and the Professional Photographers of America (PPA
) print competitions this year. “Arabesque” ended up winning Best of Show at the WPPA print competition and helped me to also win Artist of the Year along with my other Artist entries. It then went on to go Loan at the PPA print competition which was a great honor for my first time entering in the Artist category.
2. We Must Protect This House
I love this image I created for a local training facility called House of Speed
. I have worked with House of Speed in the past by creating some killer images for them to use in their marketing. This year they saw all the composite work I was doing and wanted to take their imagery to the next level. I came up with a several images for them, but this one is my fav. The model is BJ, a free agent defense back and trainer at House of Speed. I photographed him in my studio and added everything else you see to complete the story. House of Speed and BJ loved the image and are currently using it in their marketing.
We Must Protect This House
3. On the Rocks
I purchased a very large parachute a while back and had my designer friend Twig make it into this gorgeous dress. After photographing Sydney for her senior pictures, I knew she would be a great model once the dress was finished. I knew I wanted to do the shoot up in Cave Point since I have worked there before and loved the rock formations and the crashing water. I wanted to wait and time out the fall colors to match with the red of the dress. Once the colors were peak, we made our journey to Cave Point. Once we got there however the place I wanted to shoot in was completely underwater. Plus the temperature dropped to a damp, frigid 40 degrees. I ended up finding a different location that was not my vision, but made it work and I love the image we created.
4. Bianca in Chains
Here is a composite that I did for my friend Bianca. Bianca was training for a fitness competition and wanted some pics to show the progress she made with all of her hard work. I photographed her in my studio with the chains around her, which were super heavy! I then added her into a grungy background and added some fog to complete the look.
5. Purple Ali
Ali is one of my assistants for the summer. I promised her that we would do a cool Funky Fashion session
before she headed off to college. I had this purple dress that I bought a while back that I thought would work great for the location I had scoped out which had purple flowers. Ali and I decided to tweak the look of the dress to make it more modern. We cut off the cheesy bows and 70s ruffles to turn it into a off the shoulder dress. I also bought some colored smoke and india powder to add a bunch of color to the image.
I created this image for one of my Senior Crew Models Alanah and her dog Kota during her Funky Fashion session
. For each of my models I wanted to create something for them that was super creative and also was relatable to their personalities. Once I met with Alanah and she said she had a purebred Siberian Husky, I figured a take on Little Red Riding hood would be a cool concept. While Kota looks pretty serious in this shot, he was a super friendly and really did a great job during the session. Since he was a pup I didn’t know how well he would sit for a session, but he did great and we got the shot within minutes.
7. Rising from the Ashes
This summer I photographed a lot of seniors from Preble High School and one of my Model Crew members Kenna wanted to have me design a cool banner for the senior volleyball players. During the summer we were discussing what type of theme they wanted to do. Originally they were going to go with a Queens of the Court concept, but in an unexpected accident the Preble gym started on fire and ended up burning down and causing damage to the rest of the school. The fire even delayed the school year because of the smoke damage! So after the fire, they decided to switch the them to Rising from the Ashes. I loved the idea and knew exactly what type of image I wanted to create for them. With a little help from a template I got from my friend Ben Shirk, I took his floor and dirt and tweaked the final image with 100s of elements and custom designed the fire type to create this final image for the Senior Preble Volleyball girls. They ended up ordering several 3×4′ banners for senior night and even have one displayed at the High School.
8. Steampunk Leah
I had my model friend Leah come in for a concept shoot I had planned. The original idea is still in the works for a composite that I might enter into next years PPA print competition so I am keeping that one hidden for now. In the mean time I created this quick composite for her. She is wearing a design that was made by my clothing designer Twig.
This was my favorite shot of Kenna that I got during her senior session. Kenna was one of my Model Crew members this year and she wanted some water shots for her senior session. I love this location and the color of her dress really looks great on her and in this area of the river. You can’t tell by this shot, but we almost got eaten alive by the mosquitoes. Well worth it to get a cool image like this.
10. On Pointe
Hannah had seen some of the cool dance images that I created in the past and wanted something special for her senior session. I had this idea of putting her on pointe on top of a old rusty car. I searched for some locations that I thought might work. None of them were what I envisioned in my head, so I created it in photoshop. I photographed Hannah in the studio and then added her to the scene I created for her.
11. Preble Dance Team
I was contacted by the Preble Dance Team about doing a cool poster for them. They had seen what I had created for the Preble Basketball Team last year and wanted something cool for themselves. I photographed each one of the dancers doing a few different poses and leaps. I then took the best image from each girl and composited them into this iron factory shot, added the fire and loved how it all turned out. The ended up qualifying for State just before I released this poster. Ironically this image was created way before the fire happened at their school.
12. Colorful Cowgirl
Ashley, like many of the high school seniors who come to me for a session wanted something creative and different. I met with Ashley and her mom a week before her session like I do with all my seniors to get to know them and see their outfits they plan on wearing for their session. When I saw Ashley’s cowboy boots I was in love with them and knew of a cool location where they would fit perfectly with the color tones of this old rusty truck.
13. Musical Whirlwind
I have done several musical theme of images for seniors in the past. I wanted to challenge myself to create something totally unique for Bri’s senior session. When I met with Bri for her clothing consultation I asked her to bing along her music sheets so I could create this image for her. I had her Dad and my assistant Joelle tossing the music sheets in the air for several shots. I then took the best images and created this composite for her.
14. Leaping Syd
Sydney is an amazing dancer and she wanted something super special for her senior session. I created several images for her that highlighted all of her incredible dancing skills. I could have easily put everyone of them in this post, but I decided that this one was my fav. I ended up only taking one shot of her doing this leap with the red fabric in the studio. At the time I didn’t think my idea would work so we decided to finish the session outdoor so we had more room to work with the fabric. The outdoor image ended up working as well, but I really loved this image the best. I decided to take this shot from indoor and create a composite. I wanted a longer trail of the red fabric to go out of the frame. I ended up adding to it by using a shot of the same fabric that I had taken for a senior a few years ago. I then finished the image by painting it for more drama.
15. Path of Destiny
Most of the time my favorite images are captured right at the end of the session. No image says that more then this one. We were all done with Heidi’s senior session when I grabbed this image of her walking away. Her hat, dress and the path of vegetation just looked amazing with her auburn hair. The minute I took this image I said to Heidi’s mom, “That was the shot of the day and reminded me of a Monet painting.” I remember getting goosebumps when I looked at the image on the back of my camera…always a great feeling! I did end up painting the final image and it looks even better on the 30×40 canvas gallery wrap in their home.
16. You Spin Me Round
For the past few years a few photographers from the area get together for a fun, creative weekend in the Fall. We usually meet at Dave Junion’s studio and brainstorm ideas on how we can be more creative and better in business. We also take a day to just shoot something creative. We each take a turn with a model and an area and show what we would do in that situation. It is a blast to see how each of us interrupts an idea and creates something totally different with the same things to play with. Then we each make suggestions on how to take the image to the next level with either posing, lighting, clothing or how we interact with the subject. This image ended up being my favorite from that weekend. It was a blast to play with the industry’s best photographers and how we each help each other grow.
17. Aviator Fashion
This image of Carlie was taken during her Funky Fashion session for her Model Crew mini session. The gown is a handmade original by my designer Twig and the Hair and Makeup is done by the super talented Stephanie Duaime. We were running out of daylight for this shoot, but I love how this final image of the day turned out. The cobalt blue tone from the twilight mixed with the pink smoke bomb really adds a drama feel to the image.
18. In Yo Face
“In You Face” is my sequel to the image I did a few years back titled “The Aftermath
“. Both images were inspired by the movie Fight Club, which is one of my favorite movies. I loved the cinematography in Fight Club and especially loved the gritty, bleach processed look that really added to the story. For “The Aftermath” I called upon a female friend to model for me, this time I wanted a more graphic story so I called up Chris who I just met and pitched the idea to him. He was on board and brought his friend Chris so that we could act out the fight scene in the studio. Yes Chris and Chris. It was a little confusing at times to direct them when shooting, lol. I did all of the makeup and bloody goodness on them myself, then I had them grease up with some baby oil to give them a nice sheen. I joked that I hope that none of my regular clients stop by as the scene we were staging probably looked pretty suspect! I had Chris who was received the punch put on a red bandana because I wanted the red to play off of the red blood and create color harmony within the image. See even hardened rules like light and color harmony can work with dark imagery. I then broke a rule by using a wide angle lens to capture the action. I wanted the image to look almost 3D and coming right out of the camera and well, In Yo Face. Using the wide angle lens and shooting very close to the actual punch helped bring that to life. I then composited them into a warehouse background and designed the matte to have Chris actually come out of the presentation to further sell that the action was coming right at the viewer. Final touches were to make their eyes bloodshot plus I also added blood, yellowed and chipped their teeth a bit since they were too perfect and didn’t fit the story. This image helped me win the Wisconsin Photographer of the year for the 3rd year in a row. It also went on to PPA and earn the prestigious Loan award which made me a Gold Photographer of the Year nationally.
This is another image from my new Senior Funky Fashion session
that I added this year. After meeting with McKenna, I wanted to create some images that where soft and ethereal. I again when to my clothing designer Twig to create a flower headdress to go along with the idea I have in mind. I helped coach McKenna to give me soft, vulnerable look and she pulled it off beautifully. I finished the image with a vintage, dreamy look to compete my vision.
20. Family – Tradition
I love creating Artistic Montages for my seniors, especially the guys. This Football Montage of Hunter was my fav of this year. I loved the emotion and power he gave me for his session. His Under Armour shirt was also pretty cool and added to the final image by having the words “Family” and “Tradition” printed on the sleeves.
21. Pink Hunter
Kelsey wanted a few shots of her in her prom dress for her senior session. I always love photographing girls in their prom dresses since I can create a professional image for them which they don’t always get the day of prom. Plus what girl doesn’t want to put their prom dress back on for a photoshoot! What made this image even more fun is that fact that Kelsey had a pink bow, of course I suggested we get some shots of her with her pink dress and her pink bow. The clouds were pretty awesome just outside my studio, so that is where we took the shot and I love the dramatic sky mixed with her pink dress and bow.
22. Frozen Maria
It’s no secret that the move Frozen
was a huge hit this year. I don’t even have kids and I know how Frozen crazy the whole world was, so when Maria had the idea to do a Frozen themed session for her Funky Fashion
mini session I was totally on board! Maria had the perfect dress and I suggested to Stephanie my Hair and Makeup artist that we create a more fashion foreword take on the look. I picked up some crystal gems from Hobby Lobby to put in her hair and Stephanie did her magic with the Hair and Makeup. I then finished the image by creating the Frozen background with several images that I combined in Photoshop to create the winter scene. To see a behind the scenes video of all my Senior Funky Fashion mini sessions click here.
I am always on the look out for very unique and beautiful locations. Finding these locations take a lot of time, but I find it very rewarding when the right time comes to use each cool place. That was just the case when Sarah came to me for her senior pictures. I saw this dress and I knew just the place and time to take her when the light would be perfect. The soft glow of the sun setting mixed with the yellow wild flowers where just divine with Sarah’s outfit and expression…so soft and innocent.
The Meltdown was created when a few photographers and models got together for a fun shoot at the AL Ringling Theatre in Baraboo, WI. I found this cool location in the basement next to this old mirror and wanted a sort of haunted feel to the image. The dress was made my Rachel Frank and yes the candles were real! We had a fire extinguisher nearby for safety and I had to shoot pretty fast because of the hot wax dripping on the models arms. I finished the image in Corel Painter
to give it an overall melting look. This is another image that earned a merit and helped me win the Wisconsin Photographer of the Year award from the WPPA.
25. The Kick
I had this idea for a soccer player for some time now. After meeting with Vince and describing my vision, he was all in to make it happen. I photographed Vince in the studio, he had to do some serious kicks and some pretty awkward motions to get the look I wanted. I then composited all the elements together to create this pretty killer soccer image that he loved.
The Tributes: So I saved these last two images for the end because of the stories behind them. I knew I would be tearing up writing about the creation of these images because they are both tributes to those who are unfortunately not with us anymore.
26. Tribute to Brady
This tribute image of Brady was something that I created as a surprise for Kenzie. After I met with Kenzie for her clothing consultation, her mom Jessica sent me an email and asked if I could create something that included Brady who was no longer with them. She wanted to keep it a surprise for Kenzie so that she could enjoy her senior session. I knew that Brady always like to cheer on the Kenzie and the girls during the basketball season. I shot a couple different things of Kenzie so that I could add Brady into the image later. I love how it turned out and I am thrilled that Jessica trusted me to create something so meaningful for her family.
27. Tribute to Kaitlin
This was my second tribute image of the year that I created for Hannah. Hannah’s sister Kaitlin passed away and she wanted me to create an image for her like I did for Kenzie. Being Native American, Hannah wanted to incorporate a feather that was an important part of her heritage. I came up with the idea to photograph Hannah looking down at the feather and adding images of Kaitlin in the background on the brick. Again I was honored to create an image that incorporates loved ones that have unfortunately left this earth far too soon.
Well that is what I choose for 2014. I can’t wait to see what people and stories my photography brings me next year and how I evolve as an artist. Thanks for taking the time to look at my work. Dan