Running with the Ironwood Wolves

Carmen and I are constantly discussing future projects and dream shoot scenarios. A couple years ago we both agreed that we need to do a shoot with a real wolf and were going to make that happen. We keep exploring the red riding hood theme with our children and dogs. You can find those images on facebook in past posts. We've been infatuated with wolves all of our lives, due to fairy tales, movies and simply because wolves are fascinating animals.

Making our fairytale come true

Making our fairytale come true

We made one attempt to contact someone with wolves but it never came to fruition. We got busy and put the idea on hold for a long while. That is, until one day while on fb, we noticed a post from a mutual friend, Deanna Roberts (heyyy...shout out to Deanna Roberts, amazing makeup artist!). She posted that she just did a photo shoot with wolves from Ironwood Wolves.

Wolves!!! Available for a photo shoot?! We couldn't believe the luck that we came across that post and that we could book a session with them. In no time Carmen had arranged for our very own private shoot. We tossed ideas back and forth about who we wanted to be in this photo shoot. We decided to go for a modern warrior feel for myself. I had just come off watching the entire series of Game of Thrones and was feeling particularly drawn to the warrior aspect. And anyone who's watched the show knows how awesome the wolves are.

Carmen's favorite style is classic Hollywood glam and we thought that would fit well for a modern day red riding hood. And so the collecting and gathering began... (fake) fur, feather and body jewelry, fringe vest, long gowns... Carmen's mom Krystyna who was visiting from Germany made her the flower/butterfly skirt she wore with the corset top and of course a red riding hood cape.

Awww Lucian!! Ever since watching the movie  The Journey of Natty Gann  when I was 10 years old, I wanted to be friends with a wolf. Looks like I finally found myself a wolfish bestie! - Carmen

Awww Lucian!! Ever since watching the movie The Journey of Natty Gann when I was 10 years old, I wanted to be friends with a wolf. Looks like I finally found myself a wolfish bestie! - Carmen

Before we knew it, we were off to Ohio to run with the wolves. We made a very very long day trip of it. We packed up our make up, clothes, equipment and her Mom (our assistant for the day) and took off for our adventure. We listened to good music the whole time and since we are never short of topics to talk about, the time flew by and we arrived at Highbanks Metro Park.

We did our hair and makeup in the parking lot of the park. We got some curious looks, but nothing we aren't used to. Thank goodness we even had time to make the flower crowns before the wolves arrived. When Rachel and Matt got there, we were very excited to meet our furry models. Unfortunately Cana wasn't available that day but Lucian and Eddard were very excited and ready to explore. They were not quite as excited to meet us as we were them, but Lucian gave us a polite greeting and Eddard kept his distance as he is more shy and was way more interested in the butterflies fluttering about and putting his nose in the tall grass.

Eddard: "Can you still see me?"

Eddard: "Can you still see me?"

We came to learn that Lucian is quite the famous model already, having appeared in a Mountain Dew commercial and other fashion shoots. He was very used to being around people and cameras. We however had never posed with wild animals before, other than our children, so we weren't quite sure what to do at first.

We soon found out that much like trying to pose our kids, the wolves were not so interested in sitting pretty for long or at all. Although they are not pure wolfs, rather wolf dogs (Lucian for example is 3/4 wolf) they don't listen to their names or sit on command. What keeps them around is interacting with them, talking to them, touching them - if they let you. What we learned quickly was two things: 1. We were now more in love with these beautiful creatures than ever and 2. The wolf doesn't pose with you, you pose with the wolf. So any shot you see, just know that it was literally a second and then change of position. It kept it interesting and challenging and definitely fulfilling.

We had only booked them for a couple hours and time flew by and since Eddard only wants to be where Lucian is, it wasn't always easy to get him into our pictures. It took a long time for him to warm up to us, partly because Lucian really enjoyed the attention so much, he would growl Eddard away (in his own wolfish playful way) but trust me it can seem slightly scary at times if you are in the middle of it. Since both were kept on leashes and never stood still, we including the wolves occasionally got tangled up in them.

Jamie laughing but thinking 'Oh, sh*t' when Lucian tells Eddard to back

Jamie laughing but thinking 'Oh, sh*t' when Lucian tells Eddard to back

Hats off to everyone who has posed with (Ironwood) Wolves before, we look at all the pictures we've seen on their website or fb with different eyes now. It really wasn't easy since we had no experience. It took us at least fifty or more hours to weed and work through our pictures and see what can be done with them.Talk about putting our photo shop skills to the test. Look for before and afters at the end of the blog post! The sky was very overcast that day and it drizzled off and on, not ideal for our hair and make-up and to take pictures. Carmen and I are neither make-up artists, nor models but we are still artists and we tried to bring our vision to life. We just went with the flow and made the best of it. Although there is always room for improvement, we think our first attempt turned out amazing. We hope to work with Deanna in the near future and do a winter shoot when the wolves have their winter fur. We didn't even use half of the stuff we bought and brought, another reason to go back someday.

Lucian loves beautiful ladies! Kisses for Krystyna...

Lucian loves beautiful ladies! Kisses for Krystyna...

The wolves won our hearts and our favorite moments were when we were howling with the wolves and later Lucian laid on his back. He simply refused to leave the spot at the end of the shoot and just flopped down right by us and enjoyed the belly rubs. We found him so affectionate and he even bonded with Carmen's mom right away!

Matt and Rachel are such wonderful people, patient (!!!) wolf handlers and all of you should go and LIKE their facebook page Ironwood Wolves. Rachel is an amazing photographer herself, check out her website and get more info about booking a shoot with the wolves or booking her for a photo shoot next time you are in Ohio!

Also very important to note is that Matt and Rachel are available for educational presentations - "Our biggest mission is to educate the public on the importance and true nature of the wolf." You can find a lot of info on the Ironwood Wolves website - We also found this article in the New York Times very informative and it explains in easy terms how important wolves really are for our whole ecosystem - click here.

If you enjoyed our blog post please like it, share it and leave a comment! Thank you so much!

Jamie & Carmen

P.S. We really miss Eddard and Lucian