Chicagoland Photographer | The Cloud Catcher

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I’ve always loved clouds, almost as much as butterflies. I could watch clouds for hours! Clouds were the subject of many of my early landscape photographs. When Pinterest first started and I looked for cloud art/photographs I came across an image of Robert Parkeharrison, you can view it here. Although I haven’t looked at it again until writing this blog post, it inspired me greatly and I’ve always wanted to try to create an editorial image with a similar idea that fits my style. I didn’t want to just photoshop everything because were is the fun in that?! So, how does one make a cloud? Thank goodness there is youtube and I found some tutorials on how to make a cloud.

This idea has literally been floating in my mind what seems like forever. I told my fellow artist friend Vanessa about it and since she is awesome, she was up for the challenge. I knew I wanted Vanessa to sew me a tulle skirt for this and use her oldest daughter Anna as my model. We went shopping for the tulle and cloud stuff at Joann’s.

While chatting and drinking coffee I watched Vanessa make the skirt. Another thing I could watch for hours is somebody sewing. How many hours I’ve spent watching my mom sew in amazement. Watching Vanessa sew the pieces of tulle brought back treasured memories. Spooling the thread has always been a great mystery to me. One day I will learn it …

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Of course we are all super busy and by the time our schedules matched up, we had to do our photo shoot on an extremely cold Saturday afternoon after we had just lost an hour of daylight. We had less than one hour, due to the 500 other things I had going on that day and I had no clue if I was going to get anything I had envisioned.

Ideally I would’ve wanted to shoot this in a field on a dark and cloudy day to have an open sky and for the cloud to really stand out. But since the sky was plain and super sunny and time didn’t allow for a long travel time, we went to a park that I knew would have some nice backlight and was close by. Plus we wanted to make use of the remaining fall colors and cozy feel.

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Anna was ready to brave the cold. She looked beautiful in the dress I found that almost matched the tulle color and we wrapped the tulle skirt around her. We brought 2 ladders, one for Anna and one for Vanessa. I always joke that all of my photo shoots come with a free work-out. But it’s true … up the ladder, down the ladder. Vanessa had to hold the cloud up with a broom which we found highly amusing. The cloud was very stubborn and always wanted to turn itself to the side view. It was a difficult task…ha ha.

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The trees at the park were so high and made the background a bit too busy and I was worried. But it’s all about going for it, improvising and hoping for the best. When I downloaded the images they were better than expected. I always love an aspect of realism in my images and I could totally envision a girl sitting in the forest and pulling clouds through the trees. Well, I actually saw it with my own eyes.

The more I thought about this concept and talked to Vanessa, we realized how the meaning fits a teenager’s life. We try to teach our children to pursue their dreams, reach for the stars or clouds in this case. Even if there are obstacles in life, like not having the right location ;-), keep working hard and go for it. Behind every strong girl is a strong woman raising them!

I want my images to be inspiring to anybody but I love that Anna had just been inducted into the National Honors Society, so now they have deeper meaning. They celebrate the kind of person she is, a girl with high goals and who is not afraid to work hard for them. Good grades, Varsity Dance Team, and being a good friend and daughter … Now she can add Cloudcatcher to her résumé.

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The problem I always have is having too many possibilities on how to edit an image. I loved the original colors but wanted it more dream like and editorial. That’s why in my final image I cloned the right side onto the left side, made the cloud bigger, then added another etc. I took a hair flip from another image and put it on that one. It was difficult because it was shot in a different spot. Perfection is never my goal and I have to remind myself that this is not what my art is about. It’s about creating, about doing something that is challenging and staying inspired so that my creative soul doesn’t go bankrupt.

Initially I thought I’d only edit this one image that took me a whole day but then I wanted to write this blog post, so I looked closer and found more inspiration. Listening to Nick Cave while editing, whom I just saw live for the first time in Toronto, helped a lot and set the mood. I had to add some butterflies somewhere since that’s kind of my thing anyway. I could write so much more about the meaning but I guess everybody will find their own meaning and it will either speak to you or not.

 I couldn’t find a definition, so I had to make up my own and what it means to me.

I couldn’t find a definition, so I had to make up my own and what it means to me.

We had so much fun and it’s not only about an image, it’s also about making memories. I am thankful that I get to have play dates with my friends. And maybe one day the Seniors I photograph will reminisce about that one time their mom made their hair fly, when they were twirling in a dress at sunset, ran through a field, discovered an abandoned church, played with a parachute or whatever else. Then they will pull out the image and show their children. That is really what it is all about for me.

Carmen | CHC-Photography, Inc.