I challenged myself to do something really tough, and Saturday I pulled it off. VICTORY!
Ten days before this shoot, I had only a gown and an idea. I had no model, no styling, no props, and no location. All I had was the knowledge that it had snowed in the Sierras, and the dedication to do this shoot before all the snow melted. I refused to wait another year to do a film shoot in the snow, which I’ve always wanted to do. I’m the kind of person who accepts pretty much any challenge. I’m a get-up-and-do-it type of tenacious person. The best compliment I ever received was when a close friend told me, “The reason you’re successful is because it never occurs to you that you CAN’T do something.” Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
So I was off and running to pull together the infamous Ice Queen shoot. I advertised on Facebook that I needed a model, and I had a ton of responses. The issue was that I had to have someone that was a size four or six and not taller than 5’4”, because the gown had been custom made for the model I had lined up last year. (There was no snow last year, so no shoot.) When Geneva messaged me and I looked at her photos, I was super excited! She photographs beautifully and has light skin and raven hair. Originally I had planned on using a blonde, but Geneva’s dark hair added a new, mysterious element to the shoot – a beautiful contrast that had a Snow White appeal.
I immediately started thinking about props, which I was going to keep very simple. Three days later Geneva came over for a makeup trial and gown fitting, which you can check out HERE. Things were coming together VERY quickly, which was good, because we only had a matter of days.
The most nerve-wracking part of this shoot was not having a location. We were flying on 100% faith, and hoping that there would be snow in Long Barn (5,000 ft elevation), where we were lent a cabin for the day. (Thank you, Campidonicas! You made things so much easier! See about renting the cabin here.) Geneva arrived at our house with her hair already done (thank God), I did the makeup on her face, McKenzie arrived, we packed up the truck and Jetta, and we were off!
When we arrived in Long Barn an hour and a half later, there was very little snow – just tiny patches here and there. While we got Geneva into her gown and I did the body makeup, Mark talked to the neighbors, who told us there should be plenty of snow at Pinecrest or Dodge Ridge (ski resort). We ended up all the way up to Dodge, another twenty minutes up the hill (which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “get out of Dodge”), where we found a GORGEOUS clearing of snow surrounded by amazing moss-covered trees.
The families playing at the edge of the clearing were packing it up for the day as we arrived, the sun sinking between the trees and throwing gorgeous light. “Piece of cake,” I thought when I looked at the location. It was flat, it was beautiful, no problem. We grabbed our props and gear and started tromping through the snow. Then my right leg sunk all the way up to my thigh and I couldn’t get it out. Mark tried to pull me out but I couldn’t stop laughing. “Wait… hahaha! Ok, help me… WAIT! HAHAHA!” That went on for several minutes before we could dislodge my leg.
Don’t worry, that continued to happen to all of us throughout the entire two hour shoot. We were like the Four Stooges in that snow, constantly stepping in holes and sinking, and me falling flat on my butt, then shouting, “Photographer down! Photographer down!” (Not to mention the challenges with the constantly changing lighting and Geneva’s body makeup coming off due to the moisture.) We’ve never laughed so hard at any photo shoot. Poor McKenzie kept losing her shoe in the snow. Her feet were soaked through, and the attempt to dry her socks in the cabin’s microwave was a stinky failure. In the car she kept saying, “I hate you, Dawn. I hate you so much right now.”
“What?!” I exclaimed. “You wanted to come!”
“You said you needed me!”
“I said, ‘I’m doing an Ice Queen shoot in the snow, and YOU said, ‘YAY!’ Therefore, this is YOUR fault!”
“Whatever. I hate you. You’re buying me shoes.”
We were going to eat at my fave place in Sonora (Diamondback) and she had no dry shoes, so we stopped at WalMart and I bought her and I matching Hello Kitty slippers. Yeah, she wore hers to dinner. No one was looking at her anyway, because everyone was busy staring at the weird girl with the crazy makeup.
Overall, a successful and ridiculous day. I put together a collection of photos that tells the story of our adventure. McKenzie took some AMAZING shots, as usual (marked “Cherry Photography). I can not WAIT to get the film back from the lab and see how my first shoot in the snow turned out! Enjoy, and stay tuned for the finished product!