WCBF gobo

Windy City Burlesque Festival Thursday night show

We’ve made it to June!  And June means only one thing: The Windy City Burlesque Festival.  Full disclosure:  I’m on the production team for WCBF.  I coordinate all the volunteers, including the photography and videography staff.  That doesn’t stop me from deciding, last-minute, in addition to all the other things I’m doing the week of the festival, to jump in and also shoot the Thursday night show.

The festival typically runs Wednesday through Saturday, which means that my schedule looked a little bit like:

Wednesday: Assist Trixie Sparx with her act.

Thursday: NOTHING.  SERIOUSLY.

Friday: Shoot the 8pm show, appear in Vallery Dolls’ act in the 10pm show.

Saturday: Perform my solo (and the V! group act) in the 8pm show, shoot the 10pm show.

And yet, somehow, I decided that I just couldn’t do nothing on Thursday.  So here we are.

 

Auralie Wilde at WCBF 2016We already had a photographer for this particular show (in fact, we had two) so I forewent sitting in the house and climbed up to the balconies overlooking the sides of the stage.  Auralie Wilde, from Iowa, is a stunning aerialist and all-around bendy, wonderful human.

 

Marie Curieosity at WCBF 2016Marie Curieosity is a Chicago-based performer, specializing in Nerdlesque.  She was one of our featured performers for the night.

 

Titty Perkins at WCBF 2016I’m sure you recognize Titty Perkins from my past posts by now…

 

Dahlia D'Luxe at WCBF 2016I got to see Dahlia D’Luxe perform this act at the Michigan Burlesque festival in 2015.  It always helps to have seen an act before I photograph it, but most of the time, I don’t have that luxury, particularly in festivals when most performers are from out of town.

 Audrey Deluxe at WCBF 2016

Last but not least, Audrey Deluxe, our headliner from New Orleans, closed out the  show with her beautiful floral gown.

Stay tuned for WCBF Friday and Saturday night, coming soon!

Save

Save

Save

Poppy Le'Pousse and her flamingoes

Chicago burlesque performer Poppy Le’Pousse

We’re starting to catch up here.  Slowly.  This shoot with Chicago Burlesque performer and Vaudezilla student Poppy Le’Pousse happened in May of 2016.  (When I started trying to play catch up, I was a full year behind!)  Poppy Le'Pousse and her flamingoesPoppy, Titty Perkins, and Shimmy LaRoux joined me on an afternoon in May for one of my infamous studio days.  It’s not often that I get to rent studio lights, so when I get them, I make the most of the time I have.  Lucky for me, Poppy had made this costume for Ms. Mister Junior’s 4.20 “Green Queen” burlesque show, and it was too beautiful not to photograph.  She surprised me with the flamingos, which added just the right amount of whimsy.

 

Poppy Le'Pousse and her flamingoes

 

Poppy Le'Pousse and her flamingoes

 

Poppy Le'Pousse and her flamingoesFor this shoot, Poppy’s hair and makeup were done by Alexandra O’Neal with Fix Hair Chicago.

 

Save

Save

Starryola

California burlesque performer Starryola

Next up in my “woefully behind” series, Santa Cruz, California-based burlesque performer Starryola.

StarryolaIt’s been so long since we shot these images, Starryola still lived in Chicago when we did.  If I recall correctly, this was the first model shoot she did.  If you check out her Facebook Page, you’ll see that she’s got some really fantastic newer work there too!

 

StarryolaThe aesthetic we were working with in this shoot was sort of a punk-pinup fusion.  She wanted to acknowledge her rougher, rock-n-roll side, while still getting images that were dynamic and beautiful.

 

Starryola

 

StarryolaI think this one looks like the cover of an album, don’t you?

 

Titty Perkins in Taissa Lada cocktail hat.

Taissa Lada hat shoot

Continuing the theme of being terribly behind on updating this blog… this week, we have a VERY overdue selection of images from a shoot for Taissa Lada Designs.

Titty Perkins in Taissa Lada hatThe model for this shoot is Vaudezilla’s Titty Perkins.  She is sponsored by Taissa Lada, and gets all kinds of beautiful new headpieces and cocktail hats for her modeling and performances, in exchange for images like these.

 

Titty Perkins in Taissa Lada cocktail hat.Fun fact: You may be wondering “what IS that background?”  It’s the back of the large mylar mirrors at Vaudezilla’s studio space.  Shortly before this shoot, the supports for my seamless backdrop broke, so we had to get a bit inventive with what we used as a background.  I wanted something that was somewhat unobtrusive, without resorting to using the studio’s own purple walls.  They look a little industrial, and I like that!

 

Titty Perkins in Taissa Lada cocktail hat.

 

Vida Ambrose and Kitty La Royal

Beauty Parlor Chicago 3.16

This post requires a tiny bit of explanation.  I was *supposed* to partner with Beauty Parlor Chicago to shoot on Valentine’s Day.  And then I ended up deathly ill and didn’t get out of bed the week of Valentine’s Day.  So we rescheduled.  We ended up hosting “Gal-entine’s Day” in March instead!

Vida Ambrose

 

Vida Ambrose

 

Kitty La Royal

 

Kitty La Royal

 

Rosie Quartz

 

Rosie Quartz

Miss Vida Ambrose, Kitty la Royal, and Rosie Quartz came down to have their hair and makeup done by the Beauty Parlor, and then get a mini pin up photoshoot from yours truly.  Revisiting these images, I have mixed feelings about them.  Some of them aren’t up to my standards now, but this was also one of the earliest shoots that I used more extensive photoshop editing techniques for.

Beauty Parlor Chicago holds events of this nature periodically through the year, where you can get pampered with hair and makeup styling, and also have a fun photoshoot!  Contact Beauty Parlor Chicago for booking.

 

Trixie Sparx in Strawberry headdress

Chicago product photoshoot

Next up in my series of “catching the heck up”, I shot a series of product photos for Annie’s Red Hots. You will probably recognize the model as Vaudezilla’s Trixie Sparx.  Yes, we do all do everything together.

Trixie Sparx in Vaudezilla Tee

 

Trixie Sparx in fringe panty set

 

Trixie Sparx in cancan skirt

As you can see, these are my unedited shots.  You can see the edits (and buy cute burlesque costume items) at Annie’s Red Hots

 

Mz. Mister Junior

Vaudezilla Burlesque 1.23

Can you believe it’s been almost a year since I updated my portfolio?

I’ve still been shooting, of course, but I haven’t had internet access in my house since February, so I got quite lax in updating my blogs.  The last shoot I documented was a party at the I/O Godfrey Hotel, so I’ll be hanging out trying to catch you up on what I did in 2016.

Hot Lunch and Red Hot Annie

Hard to believe, but this was our improv show last JANUARY.  Vaudezilla is on break for the holidays, but will be coming back to Stage773 in a month with this very same theme.

Zara Estelle

Shirley Blazen

Trixie Sparx

Vallery Dolls

Andrea Varela

So many things have changed with the troupe since I shot these images.  And so many performers have grown and developed.  And I’ve grown and developed as a photographer right along side them.  But I’m sure we’ll see all of that as we move through the next several posts.

 

Tables in the I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge

I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge party

I don’t get a lot of opportunities to shoot events (with the exception of Vayda Rhynstone’s swank Burlesque Tea Party), because I’m usually performing on Friday and Saturday nights, so when Candace from Oomphotography contacted me with a job she was unavailable for on a rare Saturday off, I jumped at the chance to get another fancy party under my belt.  This one definitely didn’t disappoint.

 

Glass of wine on napkin

Due to the high-profile nature of my client and some of his guests, I’ve been asked not to publicly share images containing clear views of faces, which will go a long way to explaining why I seemed to have a preoccupation with drinks and mirror selfies that night.  The only clear face you’ll see (aside from mine… sort of) is of a member of the waitstaff.

 

 

Fortunately, everything about the I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge is insane and gorgeous.  Even the food:

 

Plate of mini crab cakes

 

 

plate of chicken satay and peanut sauce

 

Event guest selecting crab cake from server's tray

 

ferns at the window of I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge

 

Voss water bottle and pink cocktail

Voss water bottle with napkin

 

Menu page from I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge

 I really was kind of preoccupied by the lighting fixtures.  They were all so shiny and made for a lovely photographic challenge!

weird disco lighting at I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge

 

Floral light fixture at I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge

 

Red glass light fixtures at I/O Godfrey rooftop lounge

 Oh.  And, of course, my stable of mirror selfies.  If I can’t show pictures of other people, you can at least have a few of my pretty mug.

Mirror selfie of the photographer

 

Fancy mirror selfie of photographer

All that aside, there were some small challenges shooting this event.  I (correctly) predicted that the space would be very dark, and came prepared with a diffused flash.  What I did not predict was the fact that the space was lit completely with a landscape of colored lighting which would have been completely obliterated in photos had I used my handy diffused flash.  I responded by pretending this particular event was much like any theatrical production I’ve photographed, cranked up my ISO, threw open my aperture as wide as it would go, resigned myself to a little more graininess than I had wanted, and went to town.  I’d say they turned out pretty alright, don’t you?

Vaudezilla studios burlesque students

Vaudezilla Student promo

Recently, I returned to Vaudezilla’s studio to shoot a promo for their December student showcase.  (I say recently, but this was basically before Thanksgiving.  Winter is, far and away, the busiest time of year for me, with photoshoots, performances, and, this year, nightly rehearsals for a holiday play and a number of costume commissions on my docket!)  I had the chance to bust out my new lighting equipment, but I discovered a few things.

A) I was only sent one power cord!

B) The fine folks at Calumet had literally no idea what I was talking about when I asked them about compatible radio triggers for these lights.  I’ve inherited a pair of Calumet Genesis 400 strobes, but Calumet seemed to think I was talking about some kind of speedlight, so I wasn’t about to commit to buying an expensive piece of equipment that I couldn’t end up using.

The end result of this little adventure was that I ended up using Vaudezilla’s two modeling lights and the modeling light on one of my strobes (turned up to full power) to light this shoot.  Not the most convenient lighting setup (nor remotely enough light), but I’m doing my best to embrace the 70’s glamour style of this particular shoot, and telling myself that if Halston could sell thousand-dollar gowns with images like this, I can’t complain.

The goal for this shoot was to get several group shots that didn’t necessarily show faces (so they could be used regardless of which students were participating in which student showcase), which resulted in this glorious tower of butts above.  (Not shown, the fact that the gal with the top butt is standing on two chairs.  Whee, camera magic!)  But I also got to shoot individual promo shots for the gals involved, as a thank you for participating!

Pin-up perfection!

This should be a Christmas card!

Barb Wire, one of my favorite subjects.

This shot was the one that inspired me to call the entire set 70’s Glamour.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this in an old ad campaign somewhere.

All in all, it was a challenging morning, but I’m still pretty happy with the results.  What do you think?

Other Vaudezilla photoshoots:

Vaudezilla troupe headshots

Willy LaQueue

Ms. Mister Junior (and Mia D. Vine)

 

 

Creepy skull makeup

Beauty Parlor Chicago 10/31

Right about now, you’re probably starting to get the impression that the only people I ever shoot with are glamorous showgirls.  And, well, for the most part, at this juncture, you wouldn’t be wrong.  The vast majority of folks I’ve been working with in the past year *have* been sparkly showpeople!  But I do occasionally get the opportunity to do some other neat things.

Case in point:  This is the second year I’ve gotten to shoot Halloween portfolio shots for The Beauty Parlor Chicago!

Halloween with Beauty Parlor ChicagoThe Halloween setup, at Vaudezilla’s studio space.

 

Creepy demonAwesome demon makeup, courtesy of Mr. Krist Neumann

 

Skeleton with fab hairAnother fab makeup job by Mr. Krist, Hair by Ashley of The Beauty Parlor

 

Creepy Bozo the ClownYet another makeup job by Mr. Krist!

 

Captain Jack SparrowCaptain Jack Sparrow makeup by Ashley of The Beauty Parlor Chicago

 

Raven Gemini as GenderBen…And this was *my* Halloween look.  I have a genderbent Benjamin Linus cosplay that was just low-maintenance enough for me to spend 10ish hours in.  Apropos of nothing, this is also how I test my lighting setups.  With awkward selfies.