Día de los Muertos {Day of the Dead/Sugar Skull} :: Styled Shoot

Sometimes as photographers we get in a rut- a creative rut…..  And sometimes if you don’t allow yourself some time and space, you will go crazy and become so physically and emotionally burned out that you are no good to anyone, including yourself.  Spring and fall are usually crazy times for me with my photography, but I really wanted to find a way to make this happen.  I have had an obsession with the beauty and art that comes with the celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, for a while now.  It is an annual tradition on the first of November that originated in Mexico.  It has been taking place for centuries where people celebrate the souls of their deceased loved ones.  Beautiful ornately decorated sugar skulls are created in their memory.  Alters are built and marigolds, candles, and sugar skulls are brought to the gravesides.


I had been dreaming up this “styled” shoot for about six months now, and finally made it happen (after MANY hours of scouring Pinterest for inspiration).  But not without the help of several people, mainly my friend Ashlyn.  I have known Ashlyn and her mom JonAnn for many years now, since she came to me for riding lessons when she was little.  I have watched her grow up into an amazingly talented, loving and beautiful daughter, sister, friend, and now wife.  I am so thankful for her to jump on board with my crazy ideas and help make this happen.  She spent several nights “perfecting” the makeup to get it just right.  I was blown away by the beautiful look she came up with.  I was thrilled that JonAnn could join us to help Ashlyn get ready and be my great light assistant.  Of course, being the horse girl that I am, we had to incorporate my most favorite steed, Sprat.  My sister Hayden spent the afternoon with me getting the paint job on Sprat just right.  And of course my other sister Lauren helped make sure my abstract equine skeletal system was pretty accurate, even though she couldn’t be there to help that day.  He is also wearing some great red Gypsy Tails in his mane & tail to tie the look together!  Carson was there to help assist- he made for a great light-test subject.  I can’t forget to thank my husband Tony for supporting me, even though he doesn’t always understand these crazy tangents I get off on 🙂


Since there were no changes of clothes or EXPRESSION for this session, I had to get creative with light (full sun, shade, backlit, and off-camera flash), lenses (24, 50, 70-200mm L series on my 5DMarkII), and various locations here at the ranch.  I have also edited a couple of these a little different than my standard “keep it clean and timeless” look to my editing style.  And the some of them were so full of color that I didn’t want to do anything to them….  So please know that these editing tools are just that, tools to enhance your art.  You will usually find more consistent editing style on my regular sessions….


We didn’t have many days to choose from to get this session done, so it was going to happen on this particular Sunday afternoon, rain or shine.  And it did just that!  It rained so hard about an hour before we planned on starting.  You can see in some of the early images there are raindrops.  Then the sun finally peeked through.  We shot right up til sunset, when we got the fun set of off-camera images at the end.  So, here are some of my favorites.  You can click here to see the whole session on a slide show to music!!!

Posted October 19, 2012 (05:01) in Commercial, Lifestyle Sessions ~ Portraits, Personal