Muse

Louiza Babouryan

What are the benefits in shooting with the same person over and over again? In this blog, I'm going to talk about my experiences photographing and filming with Brittabug over the last 2 years.

Let me also preface this by saying that I thrive with intimate relationships. I feel my best when I can have a deep one on one conversation with someone. I thrive when I feel known. So for me, creating with someone that I know well and they know me and all my flaws makes me feel safe. That's when I can create my best work.

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Many people ask me how I started working with Brit and to be honest, I saw her feed on Instagram and knew that she had the look and feel I wanted. When I look at a model's IG feed, I don't look at their physical beauty, (Although Brit is so beautiful) I look to see if they convey emotion. If there is something lingering behind their eyes, if their body language speaks, if I can feel them thru their images. And when I saw her images, I could.  And then, I just asked her if she wanted to meet me for lunch. She said yes, and we sat and talked for a few hours and I got to know her and the things that moved her. We decided to do a test video shoot and the rest is kind of history. 

When you find a person that you can work with that gives input to a shoot, the experience takes on new life. When you have an idea and then they have an idea and you can blend the two, magic happens. It's a connection you can't achieve by doing it alone. That person elevates you to new heights and hopefully vice versa.  

Here are a few perks to shooting with a "muse"

TRUST: When you shoot with the same person over and over, you gain a sense of trust. They trust you and open up to you. When there is trust, the walls come down. It's easier to show your inner self. And that goes both ways. I've cried at a shoot with Brit and with tear filled eyes, we continued to shoot. I wouldn't do that with someone I didn't trust.  Therefore, trust opens the door to create more emotional imagery.

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FEAR: When I work with someone new, there is a level of fear. It may show up as nervousness or it may show up as doubt but at some level there is an uneasiness for me. At least until I get to know the person a little more. With a muse, the fear goes away. You have already spent time getting to know them, how they move, how they see and feel the world. You learn to let go of your insecurities and just create. It's so freeing!

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RISK: When you aren't afraid of failure, you are willing to take more risks. If you photographed the same person once a week, would you care if the shoot wasn't a success? Would you be willing to try new things even though they might not work out? For me the answer is YES! So what if it doesn't work, we can try something else next time. With the risk factor low, I am willing to get out of my comfort zone and that almost always lends itself to beautiful things. 

INTIMACY: So many of my film projects have come about when I am struggling with something. The film "Breathe" was at a time when I was dealing with some anxiety and I felt like I was suffocating. Because of my experience with creating the PostPartum film, I knew that I had to make another film to free myself of this pain. I knew from working with Brit, that she would be able to take my feelings and put them into her movements. I don't think I could have done this film with anyone else and it's because we had established a level of intimacy over the time we had worked together. And by that I mean I felt safe telling her my struggles and giving her my pain so that we could make that come to life in film. To me, that's intimate.

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I have to say that I am so blessed that Brit came into my life. She is such an incredible person, artist and friend. She sees the world in such a raw and beautiful way. She has absolutely changed the way I create and I am beyond grateful for her friendship.

I encourage you to find someone that you can have these experiences with. I encourage you to find the time to create for yourself. It doesn't have to be every week, but maybe once a month. Go through your calendar now and find days you have free. Give yourself an hour or two; that is enough. See what you can accomplish and see how it changes you. 

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Can Work Help you Heal?

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When my second son was born, I suffered from Postpartum Depression (PPD). I was never diagnosed because I never went to the doctor. I thought I could shake it off. I thought it would fade away soon just like it did after a few months with my first son. But, it didn't. My second son never slept. 45 min at a time and then he would be up for 3 or 4 hours. That lasted a year. I was tired, trying to keep track of a busy tantruming two year old and a very crabby, colicky baby. It felt like hell.  I still have regrets of how I handled (or didn't handle) that time with my babies. 

I hid my PPD the best I could. My husband knew I wasn't myself but he didn't know how bad it was. I joke now that my dog was the only one that knew what was really going on. He sat near me during all my tears. My boys got the worst of me. And to this day, it still brings me to tears thinking of how I reacted to them on those hard days.

Throughout all of this, I threw myself into filming. It was the only time I felt like myself. I felt worthy, that I was doing something that meant something to people.  So I starting scheduling shoots, coffee meetings and planning meetings with friends. Anything to get away from the guilt I felt as a failing new mom. One of my friends Andrea, set up a dinner meeting with her good friend Ashley.  She was a previous Ford Model and knew we would love to work together.  We did, and we decided to set up a test video shoot.  I started looking for visuals and all I was drawn to were dark, emotional images. I sent them to Ashley and we decided to go for that vibe and shoot at her new apartment because it had floor to ceiling windows.  Our shoot went amazing and I made a short 60 sec film that set a mood.

Later, I met with another female videographer (there aren't too many) and I showed it to her. She said "I think you should keep working on this." She gave me some ideas from the stories I shared with her but I was really dismissive because I didn't really want to go there. You're not really supposed to talk and share about PPD, right?

After some thought though, I called Ashley and asked her if she was up to shooting some more. She said yes. I was now into planning mode to share a little more about my PPD and it was terrifying. I knew I didn't want to explain it with a narrative, but knew I needed to show the relationship between mother/baby too. I wanted to show that even though I had PPD, I still loved and cared for my baby. I still shared beautiful moments of joy with him. That was important to me. My friend let me "borrow" her baby for the few scenes and he was perfect.  He cried like a champ! 

I also wanted to show the isolation, the exhaustion, the tears. Even as I dreamed, I dreamed of sorrow. I couldn't escape the emotions. It completely swallowed me. Ashley was in for more of an acting role than a model.  She did such an amazing job. 

I finished the film and as I was uploading it, I got nervous. If I shared my struggles, who would want to hire me? Who would want to be around me? Would people think that I was broken? I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I just wanted others to know that they were not alone, because I felt so alone. (even though I didn't reach out to people for help) It's a viscous cycle.  I decided to hit POST anyway. I knew I had to do it. 

As it went out to the world, there was a HUGE wave of peace that came over me. I can't really explain it. For 2 years I felt a cloud or fog hovering over me, and then all of a sudden it cleared.  I was more vulnerable than I had even been and put a piece of me out there that was so private. And you know what? It helped me heal.

So, can work help you heal? I believe it can. But healing is a process.  It doesn't happen overnight and it comes and goes. Even now, almost 4 years after Travis was born there are days that I can feel it creeping in. I fight it with all I have. I don't want to go back there. I don't want to let it consume me again. 

Now when my emotions get the best of me, I push myself to go create. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It doesn't have to be a long shoot. It doesn't even have to produce something amazing. Just a connection with someone else, a chance to switch your brain from darkness to light. 

Much love-

 

Creating to Music

Building on my last blog about getting out of a creative rut, I want to talk about creating to music. Most photographers I know do create with music on, but I'm talking about intentionally creating to music. It's an amazing exercise if you haven't tried it.

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I didn't start doing this until I starting filming. Music is the universal language. It was the best way I knew how to convey to my model how I wanted her to feel.  So before my shoot, I would go to MusicBed and find the style of music I wanted, the mood and characteristics I wanted my character to feel.  I would then have that playing throughout the day as we filmed. It was much easier for my model to stay in character this way and for me to film in a consistent way that made my film feel more cohesive.

When I started photographing again recently, I put this idea into practice. It made such a difference in my work with film, it had to do the same with my photography too. Well, it did!

I don't always do this, but if I'm trying to pull myself out of a creative low, then this is the first thing I do. I'll pick a few songs, plan an hour shoot and send the songs over to my model beforehand. Then when we get together we can play them (putting them on repeat) and begin shooting. It's amazing to see what comes out of these shoots. Both you and the model have a common connecting ground and it's such a great way to open the communication up.  Work through the emotions you are both feeling and see where it takes you.

Be open to shooting in new ways. Have the model tell you her ideas instead of only directing her. Be open to not being in control. Be open to making a mistake. Be open to failing. I promise you that then you will create something amazing and that you are proud of.

5 Tips to get you out of a Creative Rut

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A few times every year I find myself feeling creatively low. It usually happens when I've had an overly busy couple months and no time to really let my brain wander and dream about shoots. Or sometimes it happens when the weather turns cold, the sun goes away and I have no desire to get out of the house. I feel as though I may never have another creative idea again. Do you ever feel this way?

Well, I'm going to give you a few ideas to get you out and creating again.  These have worked for me in the past and I hope they will help you too!

1. Just go shoot!

This sounds so simple but it works. Most of the time when I'm not feeling creative, I don't want to put the energy into creating a shoot. I want to wait until I feel inspired and have an amazing idea before I get a model and a location. But this is the time to push yourself.  I usually don't try and have an elaborate plan. I usually go into it with no plan at all. Have the model bring just a few items and make what you have work. This will force your brain to turn on and work!  

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Patterned light photography

2. Collaborate with another creative.

Is there someone in your area that you love to work with? Maybe they are in a different creative field than you. Maybe they are a model that you love, a musician or a painter. Contact them and see if you can meet for coffee and just start a conversation. These meetings always spark ideas for me. It's a good way to see someone else's perspective. If you're lucky, the two of you will get inspired and meet again to create something amazing.

3. Find a new location

In the winter in Michigan, we are forced to go inside for shoots. Even if you have a studio, I encourage you to find new indoor locations to shoot. I have found some amazing places on Airbnb. (I know what you're thinking...That's expensive!)  Yes, this can be pricey, but I always ask the homeowner if I don't stay the night if I can rent it for a lesser price.  Sometimes they will work with you, sometimes they will not. The other way to get around the price is to make it a creative day and invite another photographer and two models and split the cost. Either way, a new location forces you to think on your feet. Go through the home room by room and find the light and ask yourself " How does this room make me feel?" And then create that feeling!

One of my favorite places to shoot this year was this old farmhouse a friend of mine bought. And do you know where my favorite spot in the whole house was to shoot....the closet!  See you just never know what might inspire you!

Other ideas for locations. Rent a friend's studio.  Find hourly rentable studios or spaces. Call around to small business that have cool spaces and see if you can shoot there. Record Stores. A friend's home. A home that is for sale (call the realtor). Hotel Lobby. Parking Garage. Coffee Shops, Warehouse.

4.  Rent or borrow a new lens/equipment

Sometimes we get tired of our style and renting or borrowing a new lens will help us see things in a new way. I don't have a ton of equipment so I love renting different lens options. The key to getting your money's worth is to lock your other lens away or just keep them at home. This will force you to use the new lens even if it feels uncomfortable. (If you have friends that are willing to let you borrow equipment, ask them!  This will save you a ton of money too!)

Also, if you are a natural light shooter, try shooting with strobes or constant light. Talk about stretching your mind!  Find someone that can help you to ease the frustration of learning something new. 

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I usually rent from Lens Pro To Go

 If you usually shoot closer up, try doing your whole shoot full length. If you shoot mostly vertical, try shooting everything horizontal. Find new angles, walk around your subject, shoot from above, shoot from below, shoot just details....try everything. 

5. Give yourself downtime

When I am in a creative rut, I usually go straight for Pinterest to look for ideas... scrolling, scrolling, scrolling for days and days. This actually makes it worse for me. I don't want to create work that has already been done, I want to create something new!  So instead, I have found that I need to put the phone down and go take a walk, take a long shower or go for a long drive with a new album playing. Turn your mind off, and take the pressure off of finding the next idea and then the ideas will come. The more I push myself and stress that I can't think of the next idea, the more frustrated I get and less ideas come. 

If you have any ways that get your creativity going, let me know in the comments!  I would love to hear your ideas too!

 

 
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Collaborate and Create

It's almost the New Year and I wanted to reflect back on all the things that have happened.  This year I decided to pull back on traveling and video.  "Why?" you ask. The last few years have been amazing traveling around creating brand films for photographers. But the behind the scenes wasn't looking so good.  And not the BTS of the films...my family.  

While I was gone almost once a month, my family wasn't doing so well. And although I absolutely love what I do, I needed to find a way to do it closer to home.  So 2017 was the year that I took on way less and started teaching more so I could be closer to my family and less distracted while I was with them. Finding that balance of happy family/successful business is NOT easy. And I am still trying to find it.

Also this year, after a 5 year break, I started photographing again!  I had been a portrait photographer for 13 years before I went into video. What I found through video though was my style. Romantic, Simple, Moody and Dramatic. I had always had a hard time after I left portraiture photographing what I could capture with film.  For some reason I couldn't get my old style out of my head. But with the right people helping me along the way, things just clicked.  

So 2018, What will you bring? My goal for this year is to marry my two passions of photography and video and offer both to clothing brands, fashion bloggers, bridal boutiques and designers. I'm working out the specifics as we speak but I have faith that something great will come of it.

Mostly, I want to continue to work with great people that will share their passions and creative energy with me.  I want to meet up with more models, photographers, filmmakers and creatives to support each other. I want to share the love that so many other people have shared with me. I encourage you to do the same. Happy 2018!

 

Louiza Babouryan

Taking a chance on someone you don't know takes a lot of trust doesn't it? Will they take advantage of you? Will they steal from you? Will they do as they promised they will do?  It's not always easy to take that leap of faith.  That is one of the reasons why I cried when the dresses from Louiza arrived. 

I had an idea. I wanted an amazing dress for a video shoot and I had no idea where to get it. Personal projects don't often come with a huge budget. Let's be honest, there is no budget haha. I was looking on IG a couple weeks before our shoot date, dreaming about what would be my ideal for this film when I came across Louiza's feed. And there it was...the perfect dress. It was the color I wanted, was really flowy and sheer. I nervously sent her a DM (knowing I probably wouldn't hear back as usual) and you know what?  SHE SAID YES!  SHE SAID YES!

When the dresses arrived; I carefully opened the box, pulled them out and held them up to the light...and the tears just started flowing. The realization that someone took a chance on me overwhlemed me more than I expected. Now some of you may just think...It's just a dress.  But to me it was much more than that. It was a beginning. It was a foot in the door. It was someone seeing my work and thinking..YES!  Thank you Louiza, for taking that chance. 

 

Farm House Bridal

I have wanted to shoot at on old house for so long but it's not easy finding one.  I'm not the kind of person that can go on private property to an abandoned property and shoot.  I get too nervous and can't create.  So following the rules makes you wait until the right place comes along. Sometimes that means waiting 10 years.  So when my friend Michael and his family invited me over to their new/old farm house and barn I about died. This is exactly what I have been wanting for all these years.  The light, the colors, the pealing wallpaper.  UGH I'm in heaven.

I've done two shoots in this house, and two shoots in the barn and all of them have been stunning. It's magical. It really is.

I want to thank Spring Sweet for letting me borrow the Ivy & Aster gown and Ashley for modeling and collaborting. These images would not be the same with out you girls.