Friday, March 26, 2010

How'd I Do That? Olympia the Lamb in her Floral Lei

Thought I would let you in on the behind the scenes on taking the photos of Olympia in her Floral Lei. The idea began as I thought about images of lambs that I have seen in old Victorian postcards. Lambs are often depicted with flowers around their necks in the springtime grazing amongst a field of flowers or green grass. I thought it would be fun to portray this image in actual photos using a real sheep. It took me a while to knit and crochet the floral lei and then felt it. Olympia's birth and subsequent arrival in our farmhouse because her mama didn't want to take care of her made my project possible. Most of our lambs are not very tame nor friendly. Olympia is particularly good looking too - she's half Romney, half Coopworth and has a dainty face - perfect for my photo idea.

After taking the photos of the other lambs in coats, it became clear this wasn't a job for one person. I would need a photo assistant. When you're on the type of budget I am, you have to be resourceful. If The Farmer were more willing and patient, I would have asked him but he thinks I'm a bit nuts, if not a slight bit creative. I don't like to order him around in his barn and that's what I knew it would take to get the photos I had dreamed up in my head. He hasn't been on many photoshoots and doesn't quite understand the process, nor have the interest in it.

Enter our friend
Stuart Kenney, Dad to Matt and Bridget (models from Color by Kristin and good buddies of Julia) and a friend of ours. Stuart is a musician (he plays upright bass and the banjo) so he doesn't have to run off to a day job. He used to be a glass blower too and understands art and loves the process. He's also been the subject of many photoshoots for the various bands he has been in. Stuart is always supportive of my work and curious to see what I'm up to. He also happens to drop his kids off at the school at a similar time to Julia's arrival (late...). I asked him if he was busy that day and if would mind helping out for the sake of art. He said he could help me out.

We met up at the barn. I had given Olympia a bath the day before in the kitchen sink (she didn't mind). I wrapped the Felted Floral Lei around her neck and told Stuart what I was thinking of. I had brought with me one of my large painted pieces of masonite I frequently use for backdrops for my photos.

We climbed into the creep feeder. It was the perfect place because the large sheep can't get in and the little lambs didn't want to be near us. We set up the backdrop and then hoped for the best. The light in the greenhouse barn is really nice - filtered and soft.

Olympia is very tame and wasn't interested in the other sheep. It took about an hour and probably 400 photos to get the 3 images I printed onto the postcards. Stuart would hold Olympia until I got into place (on the ground laying in the straw and manure - the glamour never stops here on the farm). Then he would slip Olympia in front of the pink backdrop.

We tried all kinds of things.... making funny noises, calling her name. The best was when Stuart started clapping to get her attention. The rest of the sheep thought it was The Farmer calling them for dinner. All 200 adult sheep came roaring into the barn baaaahing away - it was hysterical.

It is hard to know what you are getting when you are shooting animals. Every millisecond of their movement and expression is different. I knew I needed a lot of images to get the perfect one.

Stuart was a great assistant. Unbeknownst to me, Stuart starting doing cranialsacral massage to Olympia to calm her down. In between takes, I got up out of the manure and there's Olympia asleep in Stuart's arms. Amazing. He calmed her down, then set her down in the set and I clicked away. Awesome.

It was a fun morning and the images were what I was looking for. Thank you Stuart!

So that's the story folks. Good weekend everyone. Postcards available in the shop here.

Hope to see some of you tomorrow at the Knit-a-thon at the Wellesley Booksmith. I'll be there in the afternoon.


Molly said...

I love this saga. What sweet pictures and I love imagining how you were laying in the manure! Sounds like a fun project and Olympia is a beautiful and sweet model.

GodfreyKate said...

Cranialsacral massage! Your assistant is worth his weight in cashmere! Nice shoot, Kristin. Vogue has nothing on you!

mitchowl said...

This was so fun to read. I was laughing when I read about the 200 hungry sheep. That's hysterical. Thanks for giving us a peek behind the scene.

Manise said...

Olympia is the cutest! What a nice man to give her a craniosacral massage. Nice to know what goes into a photo shoot. Cracked up at the hungry 200!

Doodles said...

Cute lamb...but I think the assistant is cuter...Is he

Karen M said...

Great "tutorial". Now we can all go out and do it. OK, maybe not. You must have amazing patience. And, what a beautiful sweet face Olympia has.

Joanne said...

This is such a fun description of a photo shoot! Really good...and also a great example about how some animals react to people and vice versa. I find it endlessly fascinating to watch how people interact with animals. Farmers and vets--there are certain people who can make any animal at ease (and don't mind manure...) It's a gift. My favorite example of how this isn't universally the case was when a big NYC photo editor said how surprised she was that my husband's animal photos were so good. First, we laughed. (by ourselves...) Then, we told we thought that maybe the PhD in Zoology (and the lifelong love of animals and nature) had something to do with it!

Deborah said...

Just precious!

Whosyergurl said...

omg! That Olympia is too adorable! Then, add the floral lei...oh my. I would have liked to have seen a pic of you bathing her in the sink!
Hoosier hugs,

Unknown said...

Thanks for the morning warm & fuzzy! So sweet!

grace lovelace said...

just loved it ...your blog is wonderful...i so look forward to it !! i have a farm... sheep & goats
you are like a friend who knows!
the farmer is like so right on with his ideas

Anonymous said...

Olympia is the cutest lamb ever!! Such a little darling.

Laura said...

Baa baa white sheep
Have you any wool!

Absolutely precious.

Bainbridge Island

Laurie said...

Not sure who is cuter - Olympia or your assistant. What a dear a lamb craniosacral massage. Love the story and the "outtakes"!

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Hi Kristin~ ~
Isn't it enough that a lamb is just one of the cutest things on earth but you had to go and make her sweet too. She looks like a piece of cotton candy.

I would love to put a picture of Olympia on my blog this week with a little blurb about you and links to your site and shop if I get the OK from you. This is the cutest Easter picture ever! Please stop by for a look.
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

Diana Troldahl said...

One of your most fascinating posts yet. I LOVE learning the process of art. I also enjoy reading about how authors work, their schedule, idiosyncrasies, their working spaces, etc.

K said...

Found you through Heidi Bears - and am MOST sad that you are in blasted EAST instead of out here in the desert with us in the WEST. I want to take your class. Am enjoying the pictures, the farm, your spirit and design. As I told Heidi - I am aggravated with physics; WHY does the earth have to be so big?

Virginia G said...

Cute! Love the pix. So beautiful.

I'm also digging the idea of giving a lamb craniosacral massage. Heh.

custom made prom dresses said...

Love that you actually made the floral lei and lay in the manure to take these. I was worth it - very cute photos.

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