One of those people is Anna Swihart, and it only seems fitting that she is my first featured model because she has been with me sincethe beginning. We actually met indirectly through a very creepy photographer whom I had done some modeling for. Our initial encounter was awesome. Anna was considering shooting for the same photographer and was checking his references and by a stroke of luck happened to contact me (no, that’s not the awesome part). I had to strongly advise against working with this guy but I let her know that I was a new photographer and would love to work with her if she was interested. At the time I was dabbling a bit into underwater photography, and even though she didn’t know how to swim Anna wanted to do some underwater modeling (I’ve actually worked with her in water more than I have with any other model to this day). That seemed absolutely insane to me, but if there’s one thing that I love it’s artistically driven insanity, so we set it up.
I should have known we would be friends for life when she didn’t roll her eyes at me for suggesting that she pose with a bunch of 5-gallon water cooler bottles that I had collected in my apartment (she rocked it, by the way). Nine years later, she’s one of my best friends, our kids also love each other and I simply cannot imagine my life without her.
Anna is definitely among the most creative people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years, we’ve made some incredible images. We have attempted some very complicated concepts and had have always emerged from the process with something worth keeping, even if what we ended up with wasn’t remotely what we were going for. She is constantly coming up with concepts that challenge and inspire me. I cannot imagine getting anything better out of a TF arrangement – a friend for life, a muse and a co-conspirator.
So, let’s take a look at some of my favorite moments of ours from over the years. And after nearly a decade, there are quite a few of them. Let me tell ya!
This is from our first shoot. It kind of turned into a weird pseudo-cartoon thing… I love it. I don’t know why.
Anna in Wonderland
March 2010 – This is the shot where I learned how to use colored lights! This is also the shot where I almost burnt down my apartment with studio lights… don’t make modifiers out of cardboard, kids.
April of 2010, first beautiful spring day, Anna and I grab some awesome shots on the outskirts of town by the Loch Raven Reservoir. Anna was beautiful, she moved like the breeze, she was expressive and happy. The results were stellar.
This is one of those shots that you love but you don’t know why. But yeah, I freaking love it. I wasn’t trying to actually replicate infrared or anything like that, just arrived at it after a lot of messing around in Lightroom 2 (you remember Lightroom 2, it was ALL presets, it was a bit insane) – c’est la vie.
A New Life
March 2011 – I hadn’t heard from my dear friend in quite some time and I didn’t know why. Creative people tend to go off grid from time to time so it took a few months for it to dawn on me that something was up (I’m a terrible friend, I’m sorry). Lo’ & behold, turns out she is pregnant! So, I got to attempt my second maternity shoot ever. She did fantastically, so energetic and sassy – when I was pregnant there was no way in hell I could have even attempted that. Of course, my favorite shot that comes from that set is pretty close to abstract but shit, it’s beautiful.
… and guess who got to be the first photographer to shoot Louie after he was born? Oh yes, ’twas I! This was July of 2011 – I would just like to point that out because in July of 2013 when I gave birth to my daughter there was a photo very similar to this one that was hung all over the hospital and every other facility remotely related to Labor & Delivery at every other place I went in the State of Maryland, that photographer was dated 2013. Just wanted to point that out. Yeah.
In May of 2012 we had a killer springtime shoot. This is one of my favorite outdoor portraits of all time. Anna looks like a flower here to me. It seems very natural.
And of course, we had to shoot on the trampoline (before it became treacherous).
I dig the retro feel to this one. Anna and spring are a very good duet.
A Little Bit Darker
This was in that same spring shoot, we eventually went into the studio and I grabbed two portraits that are completely different from each other that I absolutely adore. Duality, casual style.
October of 2012 was an epic outdoor fall shoot. Once again, outside with all of the colors, Anna looks very natural. But allow me to point out that she also rocks a black and white shot as well!
June 2013 – this time it was I who was pregnant. My mind went to mush during the entirety of my pregnancy and I lost the desire to do anything. At all. BUT I did manage to pull off one photo shoot (disregard the fact that it didn’t get edited until May of 2014… heh, parenthood and I are still trying to learn to function). Anna in summer – oh, we love it!
Winter of 2015 – nothing super special about this one, I just like it. And the dress – the dress is stunning, even though the Photoshop is… well, not. I’m still a fan.
All the World and Water
June 2014 – once again, Anna’s in the water. I’m not going to lie – this one made me nervous because we were at the top of Kilgore Falls, which is Maryland’s second highest natural waterfall… the waterfall is intense, Anna doesn’t swim – so, yeah, it made me nervous. But oh, oh, oh was it ever worth it. This is one of my all time favorite shots. Love!
Rolling in the Deep
October 2015 – Rolling around in the mud – if you’re going to do it, freaking do it. She did it! I’m glad we shot here when we did because this location doesn’t exist anymore.
On The Rocks
November 2015 – We nailed it. Once again, we went to a location that I wouldn’t necessarily call “safe,” risked our lives for two hours and got something incredible to show for it. The Ides of November.
March 2016 – Anna and a bag of flour on the side of a drainage tunnel. And yes, it was awesome.
May 2016 – This shoot was definitely epic, and definitely among my absolute favorites. I like to call the series “Fable.” And yes once again, we’re in a natural body of moving water. I really wish she would just learn to swim so I can stop having a heart attack every time we shoot on location. Just kidding, Anna, you know I love you. The interesting thing about this shoot – well, other than the shoot itself – was that, once again, I was pregnant. The second pregnancy didn’t do me in until I was about 6 months along, and this was right about that point. This was actually the last shoot I did before my son was born, but this time it was edited immediately. I had it together a bit more the second time around.
Funny little bit of info – I was pregnant during our last shoot as well, I just did not know it. Yes, your math is correct – I had no idea that I was pregnant when I was almost 5 months along. Heh, funny how that happens with gigantic babies.
In November of 2016, Anna was my first shoot after my son was born in September. After my daughter was born it took me almost a year to start shooting again, the second time it only took two months. Actually, this was November 16th, so it was exactly two months after my son was born. I am kind of surprised I was able to get my head together enough to pull this off. For some reason, I’ve been really feeling open fields for the past two years or so, and with the autumn colors and supermoon we encountered, we rocked Americana field style. I love this shoot. It’s not one of Anna’s favorites, it’s definitely more of a photographer’s shoot, but it means a lot to me.
And lastly, August of 2017 – after nearly a decade of shooting, I finally get to shoot some lingerie in the studio with Anna! She was stellar – I didn’t expect anything less. I actually still have some editing to do from this shoot, my bad. What can you do.
Stay tuned, because in another 10 years, we will undoubtedly have taken over the world. We have been discussing some pretty crazy things for the past few years – Antarctica, being one of those things – and the time where we can actually attempt to do some of the things on the longer photo shoot bucket list is fast approaching.
The future is ours, dammit!