Photoshoot with Adrian Buckmaster

Sometimes I am down on social media for creating a false landscape of “everything is perfect.”  With everyone wanting to share their best emotions, accomplishments, filtered photos and happy occasions, it can be a place of appearance over substance.  It does, however, have its good points.  Reuniting with long lost connections, fostering community, raising awareness of important causes, networking for job search and, (as you’ll guess from the title of this post), finding talented photographers.  This is how I came to find Adrian Buckmaster’s work.

Strolling through my news feed one morning I saw some striking photos of a dear old friend that I had lost touch with until very recently.  Keep in mind, the world of bellydance photography is often very “safe” in terms of its’ need to cast a wide net and have mass appeal for potential clients.  It’s only natural that the trend would be smile and look pretty in one of the following 5 poses – it’s commercial photography with the intent of being hired.  I’ve done it myself on occasion.  In any case, this particular photographer jumped out at me for having a unique aesthetic with a lot of honesty and heart.  I wrote to my friend, told her that her photos were captivating, and asked for the photographer’s info.  I wanted to take some risks!

I am honored to have collaborated with every photographer I’ve worked with and while I have some of the “traditional” stuff, I tend to push the boundaries a bit.  I’m proud of this.  The shoot with Adrian was certainly no exception.  My objective was to be less concerned with “looking pretty” and to practice the delicate skill of revealing myself as opposed to tacking on a layer for the camera.  Adrian helped to guide me to that place.  It’s not always comfortable to go there, nor is it a skill I have mastered, but I am less interested in saying “Hi, I’m your friendly bellydancer.” I’m far more interested in saying, “This is me.”

I arrived at his studio with no makeup on (at his request).  We started the shoot this way and then it evolved — first in a simple white top and then it graduated to my most elaborate costume.  Deity Delgado did my makeup and was on hand to help with styling.  She would adjust my hair to match the feel of the lighting and costume, add a bolder lip when it was called for or added high drama for the last leg of the shoot.  They are both masters of their craft.  Sharing a project with fellow artists is the stuff I live for at this phase of my dance life.

I hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor.  Photos by AdrianBuckmaster.com with makeup/styling by Deity Delgado.

Note: If you do not have the rights to an image, do not use the image.

Image

photo by Adrian Buckmaster
makeup/styling by Deity Delgado & custom veil by Silkdancer.com

Image

photo by Adrian Buckmaster
makeup/styling by Deity Delgado

Image

photo by Adrian Buckmaster
makeup by Deity Delgado

Image

photo by Adrian Buckmaster
makeup/styling by Deity Delgado & custom veil by Silkdancer.com

photo by Adrian Buckmaster/makeup by Deity Delgado

photo by Adrian Buckmaster/makeup by Deity Delgado

 

Photoshoot with Bill Winters

It starts several days before.  I make sure I am eating well, properly hydrated, and schedule extra time to sleep in the morning.  I lay out all of my costumes and accessories in separate garment bags, filling two suitcases worth of props, hair flowers, makeup, veils, etc.  The morning of the shoot, I am well rested and take the dog on a long walk to wake up and get the blood flowing.  Breakfast, which I am too excited to eat, becomes a bit forced but I do my best.  I listen to my favorite music on the car ride to Bill and Aleksandra’s house, and arrive in a delicious mood.

Bill and Aleksandra Winters are a couple with many talents.  He, a sought-after Cinematographer who circles the globe on a regular basis.  She, an amazing artist and art teacher (her paintings are currently on display at Zitoune Restaurant in Mamaroneck, NY).  When I arrive at their house, Bill has already packed the car with camera lenses, ladders, and more “tools” that I don’t understand…all designed to help me look good I assume.  Aleksandra has a bag full of additional props that I hadn’t thought to bring.  She has masks, fan veils, another sword, jewelry and more.  Furthermore, she has packed snacks and coconut water to keep us fueled.  I think to myself, how did I get so lucky?  Bill tells me he has mapped out the day and scouted the locations to determine how much time we have in each place.  Immediately, we get to work (after a few moments of adoring their beautiful cats).

Location 1: A beautiful park in Tarrytown.

The leaves are in full color and it’s remarkably warm for November (in the 60’s)!  Bill has decided that I should wear red to contrast the yellow in the leaves and Aleksandra convinces me to be more bold with my color choice for props.  I tell her purple, teal and gold fanveils won’t match my red costume.  She says in her adorable Polish accent, “Trust me.  Don’t worry about matching.”  Here is the result:

Copyright: William Winters

I am in awe of how the colors have come to life and blended with the beautiful Fall colors around us.  The light, the breeze, the shadows, everything just worked.  I decide that smiling is not the way I want to go with these shots.  I take on a different persona, inspired by the environment, and adjust the body lines/pose to reflect a quiet but empowered confidence.  Aleksandra is bouncing the light perfectly, and  Bill is hiking, contorting his body, crouching in bushes, anything and everything to get that perfect angle.

Location 2: Croton Reservoir

Here Bill has scouted 3 spots for their unique beauty and has decided I should wear the fuchsia/gold costume to pick up on the colors around us.  We first shoot in front of the dam, with it’s high white walls.  He uses a wide lens for a very cool effect and shoots on his stomach, (thank you for making me appear so tall).  I decide I want to pose with my Riq for it’s beautiful simplicity and round shape to contrast the heavy wall.  Here is a behind the scenes photo of Bill in action:

behind the scenes photo of Bill in action (taken with Aleksandra’s cell phone)

Next we walk down to the water which is so beautiful I can hardly concentrate.  By now, a small crowd has gathered on the bridge above to watch.  I am not dressed for hiking so Aleksandra loans me her boots and they both take great care in guiding me down a hill on slippery rocks to make sure I don’t fall.  I feel like I’m made of porcelain and they are made of steel.  Clearly, they do this sort of thing more than I do and I turn brave for the sake of getting the right shot.  It was quite a sight, a $1,000 costume with hiking boots and the skirt held up in my arms so I don’t trip.  Here, magic happens.  The wind seems to take us under its’ wings and say, “I see what you’re going for, let me help you.”  Here is the outcome:

Copyright: William Winters

Aleksandra is there to advise me on whether or not the hair has blown into my face, bounce the light accordingly, while Bill is balancing on equally slippery rocks to get these shots.  When we hike back up the hill, I am wishing my husband could have seen this.  He is used to me staying on the path and not taking such risks and I know he would have gotten a kick out of seeing us all by the waterfall.  I am getting tired, but smiling the whole way to the next location, beaming with gratitude for the day so far.

Location 3: The beach

Bill told me that the sunset would be perfect for my turquoise costume and he was (no surprise), 100% right.  I change in the car, under a fort of coats, and Aleksandra loans me a beautiful necklace and veil for these shots.    We are losing the light, but gaining something very special.  Silhouettes are happening and I am getting a 3rd wind just playing in the sand, enjoying the breeze, even though it’s freezing by now.  I decide what my “character” is for this location and somehow this one feels like I’m on the set of a movie.  The photos start out as playful and become more meditative as we lose more and more light.  Here is one of my favorites:

Copyright: William Winters

We have developed a tradition of Chinese food post photo-shoot and we were full of aches, fatigue, sand in our shoes, goose poop on clothes, but very happy with what we created.  Bill and Aleksandra are amazing people and I love us as a team.  Each brings a brand of artistry, and we eat our Chinese food mostly in silence …partly because we are starving and partly because we’ve said everything that there was to say to each other during our full day.  After we eat, we sip tea and pull up the shots on Bill’s computer.  There are so many, more than 1,000.  We pick our favorite 75 and call it a day.  I drive home, pet my animals, hug my sleeping husband, and drift off very satisfied.  I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  My hope is that people will see bellydance in a beautiful environment and shed any negative stereotypes that linger about this dance.  It is empowering, beautiful, and ancient.  My colleagues continue to raise the bar with how they showcase this dance in photos and video clips, and I want to do my part as well.

Bill, you rock.  Aleksandra, thank you for all of your awesome help.  Thank you both for being such amazing friends.

Here are more from the shoot:

Copyright: William Winters

Copyright: William Winters

Tava is a professional bellydance performer, instructor and choreographer in NY and CT