July 8th, 2011 I recently did a shoot involving a lot of location research, specifically targeting endless desert roads for a fashion editorial story titled, "The Mirage". The idea was that the viewer/reader was has the point of view of being stranded along a desert highway, in the middle of nowhere, and enduring incredible heat. Your (the reader's) mind starts playing tricks on you, and mirages appear through the heat. Instead of the mirages being water, or refuge from the heat, it's chic styling being worn by a playful and seductive model. She pulls you in closer, but becomes transparent and eventually fades away as you get within reach, only to reappear again further along the road, tempting you to continue. Essentially she's everything you want; beautiful girl, fresh fashion, a cold canteen or glass of ice water, but none of it is real. You can see the works in my editorial gallery
Finding the locations took some effort, even though the New Mexico desert has lots of great endless roads, it's almost impossible to know where they are since maps don't show you what they actually look like. Enter the iPad with Google street view. I could take my iPad and look around using Google satellite view, then zoom in to street view and see what the road looks like. Once I made my selections to what locations I wanted to see, I could take the iPad and use it for navigation for seeing where what roads go without actually spending time and gas driving down all of them. Although not all small roads in the middle of nowhere are available on street view, it gets you close enough to know whether you want to check it out or not. I chose several locations, mostly around the old abandoned Route 66 highway complete with cracks in the road and faded paint, stretching to the horizon. Theirs almost a magic in those areas, and when you're alone out there driving around, you can almost feel the history still existing, and the spirits of those who used to be there watching you. Very cool.
What wasn't cool was the tremendous wind that showed up on every day that we wanted to shoot. I needed sunny skies to produce the heat on the road and horizon, and on those days the winds were around 60 mph, gusting and blowing sand in everything. I brought along a really sweet, patient and talented makeup artist named Stephanie Walsh, model Shannon Murphy whom I've shot with several times before, and my assistant Sarah. We had to make use of every day as best we could, and the wind caused a one-day shoot to turn into a four-day shoot. Once it was all finished however, we were pleased with the results. Here's some behind the scenes shots from that shoot. Enjoy!
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