Jamie by Carmen Heller-Chariton

We were so excited to find out that Denim+Grace magazine would feature us in their magazine! Not only as photographers behind the camera but also model in front of the camera. We were asked to write an essay and we took the opportunity to put our thoughts to paper...we knew it was too long to get published but here is the full version!

We met 4 years ago through another photographer Edda Taylor. Jamie took one of her classes and I was working for Edda at the time. Edda said “ You have to meet this girl in my class. Her name is Jamie and she is just like YOU!”

I came to Crown Point, Indiana from Germany and felt lonely at times and I was craving a friendship with somebody who is passionate about photography and would understand my world. Well, first time I met Jamie and her big bright smile, I knew this will be something grant! You don’t meet people like this every day and I always say, for a woman finding a girl friend is just as hard as finding a husband. We were just a match made in heaven. We each had one child at the time and we began to get to know each other on play dates with our children. The conversations always turned to photography and anything that inspired us. I quickly realized Jamie has what it takes to become a good photographer, although our ideas mesh and our taste level is the same, we each bring something different to the table. We compliment and inspire each other. I had been doing weddings by myself for years and more often than not, Jamie now was helping me and we realized how well we work together. You need a partner in this business! So, since we consider ourselves Dreamers telling stories, we came up with Tales of a Dream…

We became pregnant with our second children and gave birth 6 weeks apart. Having kids similar ages helps us to stay connected because our kids want to play together, that ensures we have time to hang  out and talk. There is always chaos with our kids running around and trust me they know how to cause a little trouble when the mommies don’t pay attention!

Jamie is like a muse to me. A beautiful person inside and out and I just love photographing her. Photographing her and her family has given me great pictures to show my work. We click as artists and we click as friends. We are women, wives, mothers, ARTISTS and photographers – there is many unspoken things between us…we feel the same way about certain things because we are all of the above.

As a teenager I dreamt about being a model but not because of the model lifestyle but because of the pictures I would have of myself. I envied those models and their gorgeous pictures. I never had the model measurements or the skin for it and never pursuit it. But I picked up a camera very early on and never put it down since. I realized I would feel just as happy to photograph others and give them the model experience I never had. Whether it’s a mom to be, a bride or a high school senior I try to make my clients happy but also try to give them something they might’ve not dreamt of having. Because there is something within me that thinks everybody wants to have those artistic images of themselves they see in magazines because I guess that’s how I feel.

Jamie and I are inspired by movies, magazines, pinterest and it gives us ideas about our own photo shoots with each other. We are the director, model, photographer, editor - all in one. It gives us the utmost control to be part of all aspect of our shoots. We know how to give direction and how to work with direction given. This helps us to pose our clients and work with our clients as well.

Our lives are not glamorous and once in a while we escape for a little…. Our creative minds are never at rest. Everything is created in the mind first…we just dream and imagine.

We don’t have the pressure to deliver a product to a client…the customer and client is us. We want to express ourselves and it’s a great way to practice our craft and discover…and who doesn’t need a new profile picture on fb once in a while?!

A concept can just be one item, such as the top hat, bowler hat (not sure what kind it really is). The hat inspired us a few times already. It just fits our personal style…Jamie is more girly and I guess I wear the pants in our relationship…lol! The lines are blurred when it comes to ideas and honestly we don’t keep tabs about who comes up with what. We only have one goal, and that is to make ourselves happy and grow as artists!

The hat has a certain kind of feeling and it’s own story to tell. Jamie’s was passed down from a relative and means a lot to her. I knew that combining it with the white dress, would make it read less wedding and more whimsy.

I had just been to that abandoned church (Methodist church) in Gary a couple days ago and I knew I wanted to take Jamie there. We hadn’t returned the vintage Elvis microphone that we used for a recent shoot and when I saw the stage at the church again, I thought maybe Jamie could pose with it on that run down stage. I wanted Jamie in a long black dress for the stage with the mic. Then for the cathedral part we thought it would be cute to have her in a suit with hat with different accessories and maybe some balloons, but basically a spinoff of my shoot. Once we started looking into balloons online we came across the giant ones we never used before I just couldn’t help but imagine how amazing this would look with the big white dress!

The church is so big, we needed something dramatic. So far warm days without rain have been hard to come by and when we saw the weather forecast for that day, we knew we had to make it work.  That’s how I started thinking about it…talking to Jamie we just bounce ideas and one thing leads to another. Everything felt right…although it was a morning with harsh sunlight, the columns of the church allowed for her to stand and be perfectly lit. Even the wind worked with us and moved her hair gently to add to her pose. The architecture and feeling of abandonment were just in such a lovely contrast with how beautiful Jamie looked. I love opposites…I will pose an edgy person in a soft surrounding like a field and I will pose a beautifully dressed person in a rundown place. It makes it stand out more and makes it visually interesting! I love working with natural light and seek it and show it in my photographs…we discovered the balloons acted as soft light boxes and almost acted as a hair light or illuminated her face! We are just like two kids in a candy store! Getting giddy and have the best time. Insecurities left at home!

The surroundings tell a story and I look to see how my subject fits in…I forget about metering light, white balance and all, I just DO…it’s in my blood. My soul knows my vision and my eyes and hands just follow without a lot of thought at this point. Doing this for over 10 years now, I have so much instinct about it. It comes natural. When I just have my camera and no big lighting set up I feel free…I have the freedom to move around and position my subject here and there and discover. Let’s face it we don’t have a team, no assistants, no hair and make-up people. We don’t thrive to have technically perfect photographs that are boring…we just want a certain feeling when somebody looks at it. We want people to get to know us through our photography. That still means we educate ourselves on a daily basis and have so much more to learn but that instinct is there and we have our own style and nobody can teach you that. It’s something that is already there and through experience gets manifested. Passion is my number one equipment.

So in the end we never changed her outfit…we never used the microphone and the photo shoot took on a life of its own. We felt that nothing could top what we just captured. Sometimes you don’t know the outcome of the shoot until you are there doing it, you get inspired by something you didn’t even know was there.

We used a Nikon D700 and 85mm lens, and d7000 with 24-70 mm. For a few of Jamie’s I used my speedlight sb-700 off camera.

Our photo shoots are always a little bit rushed, highly depended on the weather and a babysitter (usually our husbands…lol)…we are just happy to escape for an hour and do what we love to do and then we get sucked into the real world until next time!

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for more images, view our gallery!