Those versed in American history will be familiar with President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in the 1930s. They were American’s responses to the Great Depression and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: relief, recovery and reform. Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.
St Louis, Missouri received quite a few grants during this period from the New Deal initiatives. Of course, not all the products of that time would end up surviving to the fin de siècle; certainly many were important for employment only during those tough years and not needed as America found its prosperity again.
The location for this shoot was what remained of one of those programs. Situated along the Missouri River, not far from the starting point of the Louis and Clark Expedition, the site had several fascinating ruins that, although not terribly old, still retained quite a bit of character. The architecture’s original purposes may have become obsolete but they still remain an important and preserved part of US history.
The raison of the shoot was to create glamour shots for a personal fitness trainer to celebrate her triumph over life’s hardships. Jelena grew up in war but eventually found peace when she was able to emigrate to America from Europe. It was fitting that her spirit echoed those of the original builders of the ruins – that even in times of diversity, determination and strength can create beauty.
Jelena may not be a model but there is no doubt she is every inch a beauty.
This was an inspiring session in the outskirts of St. Louis. Our model is wearing a dress her grandmother wore to the prom in 1951 and make up/hair artist Marla Lebish recreated the look and feel of the era perfectly. Logistician extraoardinaire and fellow photographer Robin Orvis even managed to find a sweetly restored 1951 Chevy to complete the set up for the shoot.
We had equipment that refused to work, very heavily dappled midday sun, and a cat who was more attached to the photographer than the models (warning: don’t get on your knees for a low shot or you found that cat on your shoulders!). To say the shoot was a challenge would be an understatement. But you can’t call yourself a professional if you can’t compensate quickly an instantly for whatever a location will throw at you – and every location wants to throw curves.
Although we were going to work mostly with strobes, I couldn’t resist some backlighting in all that glorious noon Winter sun. And then some glamor shots later rounded up this fantastic shoot!
Some different processing:
And a little bit of 1950s Technicolor to finish the session