Monday, March 31, 2014


A local artist invited Andrew and I to be a part of a show. The theme was "Circus Nerve"... hmmm...cue the brainstorming.

We came up with several ideas, but were only able to try a couple due to time constraints.

Andrew and I decided to knock two of the ideas out of the park one night. One involved me as the model, the other involved just him. Mine was going to be silly, his was going to be more on the somber side.

We shared makeup and the bathroom mirror at my house. He helped me crimp my hair. Both shots were going to take place in this bathroom as well. Interesting how the bathroom gets used so often in our shoots... Such a simple, small space.

We didn't have a whole lot of wiggle room for my shot--it involved water, which would screw up the makeup after just a couple shots. So while prep seemed to take a long time, we knew the actual shoot would fly by,

Fortunately that one wrapped up nicely. It was quite a bit different for me! Check out the sneak peak of my makeup... This one has not been released online at this point, as we wanted to keep it exclusive for the show.

Andrew's shot went smoothly as well. And it was fun to watch him do his makeup. ;) This one has not been released online either, so I can't share the final image with you. But keep an eye on his page or my page, just in case we release it in the future! ;)

One of the other ideas, we came up with needed two female models. Last minute, our second model was forced to cancel on us unfortunately, though understandably. Thankfully, there was another model that was nearby, who we have been wanting to connect with for a while now, Tammy. She responded quickly, I pieced together  wardrobe, and met her to start on hair/makeup. We each did our own look. This was our chance to try something crazy with the circus theme. I went for a clown mohawk. One of the craziest hairstyles I've done on myself yet, I think! Tammy rocked the 'fro, with some added color (dyed wool I had lying around).

The ultimate goal was a dark image though we had a few variations we wanted to try. We'd have to jump in and see what we could get with the time available.

After Tammy and I had our hair complete, we went to Andrew's to take care of makeup... since there was a chance Andrew would be the third model, we all wanted to be on the same page with the direction of the makeup.

The face paint Andrew and I had was causing some "issues" again (remember the green baby poop that was supposed to be gold?). Tammy had flawless nice theater makeup. We had to figure out which direction to take them. We decided to embrace the messy--as cleaning up two messy faces would be much more difficult than messing up one pretty face. ;)

We tried our first set up with just Tammy and I, to warmed up and get into the groove. Later, Andrew got into the mix. We really didn't know how or if any of these would in fact turn out, but the only way to find out is to give it a shot! Thankfully Tammy was very understanding of this and willing to play along.

Time was flying by, it was getting late, and we had one other idea we wanted to attempt--but it was going to be a HUGE experiment. Tammy was up for it, so we gave it a go. I won't go into detail on this one, as it didn't exactly turn out and was not released.

We ended up entering the first two images we took (in my bathroom) as they were fully complete in time for the deadline. It was awesome seeing how other artists interpreted the theme in various mediums at the show! Very lively artwork.

Since then, we've also displayed these pieces at a few other locations around town. Keep an eye out!

Stay tuned to or for BTS images or the potential release of the two images featured in the Circus Nerve show. ;)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Counting Crows CD cover contest - 4 photoshoots

Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
CD Cover shoot #1
Andrew Kufahl and I stumbled across a contest for the cd cover of the Counting Crows' newest album. We realized they may be looking for something more graphic design based, but we thought we'd give it a shot anyway. We knew we'd have fun and get something good regardless!

We were given a title and a couple preview tracks to work off of.

 We got to work brainstorming.

We had some big ideas, but due to the time we had available, we wanted to just jump in with something a little smaller scale to test out the waters, try a few techniques, get warmed up. We started at my house.

I think it was the very next day after shoot #1 that we found out they changed the album name. None of our ideas fit with this new title, unfortunately, so we returned to the drawing board...

The new title was "Underwater Sunshine"...and then later on, they threw in an alternate title. Talk about having to roll with it!
Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
CD Cover shoot #2

Again, we came up with a large amount of ideas.

We started with ideas that were not literally underwater. A while back, we purchased some face paint that we were waiting to use for the right idea. We decided this was the time--I'd paint my face gold (like sunshine!) and would style my hair in a sunshiney way, as well...those were all the details we had figured out...

I opened the paint and smeared a little on my face. Oh dear. This was not gold at all! This looked more like baby poop green! ON MY FACE! Gross. We debated for a while. And had to laugh. For some reason we thought there would be a chance that this color would improve if we continued applying it, or that we could figure out a way to photograph it that was better looking that what we were seeing right now...

A little ways into the shoot, the power in Andrew's house went out. Unexpected... I got a little freaked out, I don't know his house well enough to navigate in the dark! Not to mention I was not finished spreading this grossness all over my face. AND I still had hair.

Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
CD Cover shoot #2
Andrew problem solved by setting up one of his lights, using one of his battery packs. Sweet deal. And better lighting than before. ;)

Eventually, the power returned, and I finished my look. I had created spikes with my hair, like sun rays--which sort of made me look like the Statue of Liberty...a sick Statue of Liberty... I'm still not sure how I was able to make them stick out!

We started shooting. And as usual, felt the need to modify, to build. We wanted more layers. We played around with a few ideas. We stayed in the bathroom for the most part and used what we had.

I will spare you the details of cleanup. It wasn't fun, or easy...let's just leave it at that. But worth it! These shots looked almost painterly!

Several of our other ideas involved actually being underwater. How could we do this in winter? I had done an underwater shoot a while back, in a pool with a viewing window. We weren't sure this would work for us however, as we wanted to be able to communicate and make changes quickly. And I didn't need to be in THAT deep of water for some of these.

It hit me later than it should have: my parents have a hot tub! While it would be quite cramped for both of us and a camera to be shooting in there, and again, it was winter, it was easy, affordable and we would have no time constraints.
Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
CD Cover shoot #3-4

We ended up doing two full days of this. The first day was below freezing. If you popped your head up past a certain point over the water, you'd turn to ice. That made it difficult for Andrew to get out and adjust lighting-though he did it anyway while I scolded him about frostbite.

The second day we shot in the hot tub, it was almost spring like weather. What a difference! This may sound perfect, but in both situations, I was wearing clothes in the water, and the water was heated--to be comfortable for those in swimsuits outside. I had problems with constantly overheating. When it was below freezing, it was difficult to cool off without icing up. When it was spring weather it was difficult to cool off because the air was not cool enough. We had to be sure to constantly hydrate.

These shoots lasted hours and hours. Our skin was wrinklier than ever, our eyes burned, but we were lovin' it! We got so many awesome shots! And we just wanted to keep going. However, the contest had a deadline and it was approaching quickly. We still had to choose our entries, and turn them into a cd cover-including text.

Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
CD Cover shoot #3-4
As Andrew edited images, we'd make our selections and print off a rough draft. I hung them on his living room wall. We'd stand there and stare, analyzing which stand out the most...what would stop us when flipping through cds at the store... which ones communicated the title best... We loved all of them for various reasons, so it was a difficult task!

Eventually we made our choices. I messed around with the text for the cover, and we submitted them.

While we did not win--most entries were graphic design based as predicted, a that is what they chose--we walked away with some amazing experiences, great memories, and images to be proud of. Four different shoots for this project, and we wouldn't have hesitated to do more if time had allowed.

To see ALL of our entries (5 total) and a few other images from these contest shoots, check out my artist page: or  Andrew's artist page: 

Friday, March 21, 2014

If only you could have seen this process...

Andrew Kufahl
I had some lights in my bathroom that had chains connected--it was neat. I always liked it. There's got to be something that can be done with this, someday, photographically, I always thought.

That was the beginning.

And the day to use it was approaching. Years after moving in. After tons of self portrait shoots. After turning these lights on day after day. Waiting for the pieces to fall together... After meeting the talented Andrew Kufahl...

Andrew Kufahl and I had the itch to create. And we finally found the time to do so. We wanted to do a model shoot-these are quite different from the concept shoots. We wanted to play with lighting, techniques, poses, expressions, hair/makeup, etc. We wanted to practice getting into a flow with one another, feeding off of each other, letting the shoot turn into whatever it happens to turn into, and we shoot until we've got nothin' left. We wanted to simply PLAY and create.

Andrew Kufahl
I had an idea for hair/makeup-a lot of my self portraits stemmed from some sort of vague idea, like a really vague hair/makeup idea. I wanted to use this gold headband, and style the hair around it...That's all I knew. I wasn't sure how... As I mentioned, I start with very vague ideas sometimes, but once we committed to doing a shoot, I rolled with it real time, getting Andrew's feedback along the way.

Oh how I wish there was behind the scenes video of this shoot! I don't know if there's ever been a goofier set up in my experience-for me as a model, or for the photographer.

I climbed on top of my bathroom counter, straddling the sink. I had to squat or bend some how, to avoid the ceiling. My space was quite limited. Making this look good was going to take some effort! As silly as it sounds, it was completely necessary due to the position of the lights/chains that inspired us to begin with. I was set!
Photographer: Andrew Kufahl

What's even better was the position Andrew needed to be in.

He wanted to be around my height. How could we do this in a bathroom? There wasn't much room to bring anything in to help him out.

So without a second thought, Andrew climbed onto the toilet--my toilet seat was quite flimsy, and I'm renting...we don't need to break anything... so the seat cover and seat had to be up. Yes, Andrew was balancing on  an open toilet, while holding a camera (above toilet water) and dealing with lights and chains and angles, oh my.

We added a few more chains for depth and interest.

Andrew Kufahl
I wanted to push my expressions again. He helped me push 'em. Look! We even got a smile! We wanted PRETTY, but we still wanted emotion as that is a huge part of our work-our work together and our work individually.

It was awesome getting into the groove of things. I have no idea how we were able to make it work so well. While the we didn't have much space, and we couldn't move very much, and none of this was terribly comfortable, the shoot felt limitless.

When I saw some of the final images, I was blown away. I'm pretty sure with the first image, my response was just pure awe of how pretty it was... I couldn't believe that was ME! These were some of the prettiest images I have ever seen! And the prettiest I have ever felt! That seriously can't be me... And the colors! All while we straddled a toilet and a sink.

To see more of these images, check out my artist page: or Andrew's artist page:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

LIVE Hair and makeup competition, Chicago

Ok. I'm just going to talk honestly about this experience. This is not to complain about anything or sound down on myself. Just raw honesty.

I was asked to model for a hair/makeup competition in Chicago. Holy crap.

It was a live event, with judges, models, and some really amazing hair/makeup people.

I can be quite shy. And a live event took away my ability to control my poses/expressions to make sure whatever the outside world saw looked as good as possible. Heck, it took me a long time to just feel comfortable with regular photoshoots! In real life, someone like me is not going to look perfect at every angle, in every lighting-how many of us really do?! Well.. there were some really gorgeous models there that seemed to not have that issue. And seemed to have far more experience. But what do I know? We're far more critical of ourselves, everyone has flaws but we can see ours much more clearly than we can see them in others.

To top it off, I was going to have to walk, in heels. Oooh boy.

Shall I remind you that for a large part of my life I was a tshirts/jeans/tennis shoes kind of girl? Who's talent is not necessarily walking pretty or graceful? And outside of modeling, has very little experience in heels. At least for a photoshoot, I just have to stand there (yet that simple task can still be trickier than it sounds at times ;) ).

But I got back in the mindset that has helped me out immensely throughout this modeling thing: I just tried not to think about it, I had to just jump in. What is the point of worrying and freaking out about something when you have NO clue what is going to happen anyway?! And I had to remind myself of the fact that I was given the honor of being one of 3 models for this team. That's pretty darn cool! Not to mention this was one of my first modeling things OUTSIDE of my home state.

It was a struggle to maintain this mentality throughout the event, I'll admit. It was intimidating. I'm no size 0 and I was reminded of that quickly. There were size 0's. And they were tall. And pretty. And confident.

Stop thinking so much brain! This was an honor. And fun!

A BTS photo of our team's models. Photo: Ladie K Mraz
Event photographers were everywhere-another new thing for me... candid shots, ugh. And what are the chances they're going to edit these like a photographer would edit images from a regular photoshoot? And can I trust that they won't release the horrible ones?!--thinking TOO much again. That is out of my control. It was great practice to just be aware, however--to be aware of your face and body. Nothing wrong with practicing self awareness.

I looked around in awe. Watching these people work, as teams, to CREATE in a way that I'm not super familiar with--hair/makeup pro's can do some crazy schtuff.

We had a time limit. The hair person had to work at the same time as the makeup person. Now THAT is talent folks. My head is being jerked in one direction as makeup is trying to be placed in detail, and music is blaring to the point where there is no way for me to be loud enough to communicate to the hair artist that I think the hair dryer is actually burning my scalp-until I simply move--oops. However, outside of that, we all seemed to be in sync with each other. We all have our own tasks to focus on, yet we have to work AS A TEAM.

This wasn't so bad after all, why had worry tried to sneak in there so often?! A better question: why did I LET it?!

As I mentioned, there were 3 models on each team, for the 3 categories. My category was "natural"--my hair and makeup had to creatively be done in a way that was very natural. And I was in the very first category.

After hair/makeup was complete, we had to line up to take our turn in front of the judges. The way the venue was set up made it difficult to see our route and to see what we were walking into. But I was much more relaxed at this point, and enjoying myself and the event...

...Until my team had to be the very FIRST one judged, meaning not only was I in the first category, but also the first model to have to walk out there! Oh goodness. I had NO idea what I was doing and was reminded of that oh so quickly. Cue the high speed butterflies in my belly. So I awkwardly walked into the center of the room, PACKED with onlookers, photographers shooting my every awkward move. I tried to guess how to walk, where to turn, how long to linger and where. It felt like forever before the judges asked for a closer look. Finally, some direction! It is an interesting experience to be stared at more closely than ever by strangers, who's job was to judge--not to judge me necessarily, I reminded myself. I'm showing off the hair/makeup. That's my job here.

By the end of the event, the models in the following categories blew me away with their confidence and the personality they brought to their time in front of the judges.

Crap, I started worrying again. What if the fact I was so clueless made me so boring for the judges that I ruin this for the team?! Ah!

Scratch that, let's think about this I could approach it in the future to do better? All kinds of ideas! The past was past and I made it out alive, with lessons learned and experiences gained. ;)

And guess what? We came in 2nd!

Although I was guilty of over thinking and second guessing myself quite often, I am thankful I was able to get out of my head enough to actually just DO this, to BE there, and to stumble my way through as best as I could-even if it was awkward and not as good as others had done, or as good as I wish I could have done. I DID it! And I am so proud and thankful to have worked with such a wonderful, inspiring, and talented team who gave me this amazing opportunity.

A huge thank you to Colour Law for asking me to be a part of this. And my teammates! Ladie K (our category 3 model) was also so helpful when it came time to socializing--thank you for helping to push me to network and say hello to people when I got in my head again!

Check out the screen shot of the winner's below- I was on team Colour Law.

For more photos:


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The kiddie camera shoot!

Tiffany Lindemann
Tiffany Lindemann

Have I introduced you to my goofy side yet? If not, hello. I'm a goofball. :)

Amazing how well that trait fit in with this shoot.

I had another shoot with All-Star Studios. I arrived at the studio ready to go like we usually do-a large amount of "wingin' it"...spreading my wardrobe options all over the room, hair/makeup materials hogging the bathroom, the usual.

This was an all day project. There were a few things he wanted to play around with.

Photographer: All-Star 
Part of the shoot was turned into a photo lesson for his wife--which was so much fun! To watch her learn and get a taste of what he loved to do was a pretty neat thing to be a part of. And to top if off, she was a natural! She was able to get some really great shots.

Then he and I shot a bit. Always fun and we got some more great shots. He used his photography gear to create a set--umbrellas. It was dreamlike on camera.
Photographer: All-Star 
Kiddie camera

Suddenly a new camera peaked through this "umbrella land"... a bright blue child's camera. I couldn't help but giggle! How awesome! How fun! We were going to do a surprise shoot with this- I had NO idea about this prior, but he knew I'd be up for something so silly. The purpose was to emphasize lighting, primarily, but also touched on connecting with your subject, and emoting.

The camera made silly noises... tough to keep a straight face as this brightly colored camera is making "boing" noises!

What ended up being a nice touch was the one thing we kind of feared- that the images were very low res... for this purpose however, this lower quality added a very artsy touch to the images. They looked like a painting!

Photographer: All-Star Studios
Kiddie camera
Photographer: All-Star Studios
Kiddie camera

As I mentioned, this was a full day shoot. While I was having a blast, I could feel a massive headache coming on. We still had playing to do, however! So I tried to tough it out.

Photographer: All-Star Studios
Eventually, every flash hurt. I was actually wincing in pain, and could barely keep my eyes open. Not to mention, it was getting late and I had a long drive ahead of me.

Photographer: All-Star
I decided to try something else before calling it quits... I used that pain I was feeling. I'm so glad I did, because I was able to try out other expressions and poses I may not have tried otherwise! And just for funsies, we through in a couple experimental shots... one included tinfoil on the ground, which created some neat effect.

To see more from this shoot, including additional kiddie camera photos, check out my modeling albums on my artist page: 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Where did I leave off... Oh yeah! I had hair again!

Photographer: Dan Frievalt
One of the first shoots after the "hair butchering" where I sort of had a weird realization of just how much hair I suddenly seemed to have back was with Dan Frievalt and Shanna Koltz. Dan had some new backdrops to play with and contacted me to model. You know this is going to be fun...

Alissa Kristine did some killer hair/makeup-dark and edgy, gotta love it! I got a mohawk! at the time, I didn't think much of it, except "Sweet! Let's do it!" Let me tell ya, every part of this really drove home the fact that MY HAIR WAS GROWING (I'd occasionally forget, considering the circumstances...just waiting for it to be where I had originally wanted it). It was interesting navigating myself around walls and mirrors and people, with hairspikes a foot long. And don't even get me started on the drive home or cleanup. Ok, ok, I HAVE hair. ;) 
Photographer: Shanna Koltz

As if the hair/makeup wasn't cool enough, Dan and Shanna went to town on creating my outfit. It has always blown my mind how good Dan was at things like this... thinking on the spot, using whatever he could find, to create an awesome look. So standing in the middle of the studio in a tank, tights and boy shorts, totally open to whatever their creative brains came up with, they went to town...wrapping me up in all kinds of stuff...leading to the rockin' chicken wire skirt. This was by no means a practical outfit. ;) 

Shanna and Dan each had their turn behind the camera... both brought something different to the table. I even got to model a few shots with another model at the shoot, the beautiful Tiffany Lavender, who also was sporting another amazing look created by Dan, Shanna, and Alissa. 

Looking through the other photoshoots around that time, I am pretty happy to see a handful of edgy shoots. 

There was the other super dark shoot with Dan: Dark, emotional, edgy, expressive...

Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
And a fun shoot with Andrew Kufahl in my basement with my guitar, purple/blonde hair, a layered outfit we put together, and a pierced lip. I loved being able to play around with my inner rock star, trying out new expressions and poses, and shooting with my guitar for the first time since my self portraits. Andrew was moving all over the place, playing around with motion, lighting and colors. With so many factors to balance, we also had to figure out one of the most important parts to a successful shoot: how to get into that "flow" with one another. It is easy to forget about that--you each have your own job, and what you want out of the shoot... you get your own idea of what you're going to do, while the other person has their own idea... it can be a disaster when no one is really "directing" anything. But that is one thing I LOVE about working with Andrew, we always seem to find that connection and flow. 

To see more from any of these shoots, check out my artist page: 

Or for more from my shoot with Andrew, he also has the images posted on his page:

My long lost blog

For a while now, I've felt like I SHOULD get back to blogging... it had been a while... more time passed... I reminded myself that next time I had a computer with internet access, "Just jump back in!" More time passed...

There are a million excuses. But the simple fact remains, I never made my way back here. There were other priorities at the time, and I really didn't know what to write about! I've never been one who believed in forcing these things... Just like forcing a painting, if it isn't driven by passion, it will probably suck. Or if you at least have the talent, it'll be good, but will lack that "IT" factor. This blog started out as a way to tell the stories about my experiences. To document the things I've been learning. It was another creative outlet, it was for me... parts of my life, of my passion that I wanted to share. It started getting to some difficult parts of the journey, where I questioned if I'd continue with this (modeling/photography in general), I lost a lot of trust in people, and all kinds of other struggles, blah blah blah...

The honeymoon stage was over.

And where I was in real time was so very different. I was over a lot of that stuff, yet going through the photos and trying to figure out what to write about them and how to do so, to be forced to reconnect myself to those things that I had let go of and did not want to be reattached to, it was a strange and uncomfortable  place to be.

So... where am I now? vs Where did I leave off?

Now (nearly a year?!): I'm still creating. I've been fortunate enough to have a gallery show with a photographer. I have also been able to find my way back into other creative outlets, such as painting, some of which have gotten into a few shows as well. I was painting and creating like crazy, basically! The show with the photographer was wonderful and included massive prints with custom made frames. More on that later. ;) Currently, I am sorting through the mess my lack of organization skills has left me with, taking inventory on the large amount of paintings I've created over the past year or so. I'm also building displays, so I can get these babies OUT there for you to see! These particular paintings are made of upcycled materials, and I've been creating the forms of display from upcycled materials, too. It has been a lot of work, but I love it all. I have also been traveling more than I ever thought possible-trying to enjoy this while I can and eliminate excuses. Every trip is life changing. These aren't vacations, as they are usually tied in with some sort of event/workshop/shoot. But I always make time to SEE something, to explore. I'm so thankful for these wonderful experiences that continue to help me grow.

Needless to say, I have also been learning a ton about life. How wonderful, seeing as that is one of my biggest sources of inspiration!

I've had some eye opening experiences. One of the things I've realized over the past few months is just how much I truly LOVE what I do. I mean, I must love it if I'm willing to put everything I've got into it, despite any financial return...despite what other's say...despite the struggles...despite the physical, mental, and emotional pain that sometimes comes along with it...despite the loooong hours... There are times when I'll run my body into the ground to the point where I'm about to collapse out of complete exhaustion and I'll hurt for weeks--thank goodness for a wonderful chiropractor and massage therapist! Yet it all feels amazing, because I'm doing what I love. And how incredible is that?

Another realization was that I was letting other people have an effect on me and my passion... I ran into a few who wanted to ruin it for me, or who used me, or who were selfish... I continue to run into those who don't believe in this or understand it... who don't value it... who judge it and me... who miss the whole point... There are those who tell me how it has to be done, and none of it fits with how I WANT to do this. Heck, sometimes what is suggested is completely against everything inside of me! And the fact I even let that sit in my brain for a while, I can't believe it. It makes this, what I do, exhausting... it takes the fun out of it. Who wants to have to cave into "selling out" just to have a taste of what they love? I want to be proud of my work, and I have been every step of the way! But what I realized is: it is not my art that is exhausting... it isn't my modeling, or any of my work... what is exhausting is listening to those things, and letting that distract me from the core of this... and what is at the core, is the fact that I simply LOVE what I do, regardless of how other's pursue their lives/passions or think I should pursue mine. I have always had a passion to create, I still have it. And I want to continue living it.

So not that this is any excuse for neglecting my blog, but I think it was necessary to let it slip away for a while... if I am not passionate about it, it isn't fair to you... it isn't fair to me. What's the point? I have to love it and want it in order to actually DO it. It can't be forced, it can't be fake. That just isn't me.

*deep breath*

I fought to clear all the crap away, so I can see things clearly and remember what was at the core of all the past, present, and future shoots--the passion of it, the art of it...and to let go of all the crap...but you know what? That "crap" is just as valuable, as there are a lot of lessons to be learned from it. I already knew that. For some reason I just needed a reminder. And I had to learn to take it a step further: Take that crap, learn those lessons, and learn to love it just the same.

Now...Let's see where I left off... ;)