• Mae

Bringing to Life my 5-Year Daydream

I can't believe the Taiga is finished! I received first draft paperback manuscripts of the book. To hold them in my hand was incredible. I'm overwhelmed. I'm anticipating the Taiga be published Winter 2020 as a hardcover coffee table style book. (Currently in contact with the Decemberit's manager to work out being able to print some of the lyrics!)

For those of you new to my work:

My book, the Taiga, is a fairytale told through digital photography throughout the cycle of the seasons in New England. The initial inspiration came from the Decemberist’s album “The Hazards of Love”. The album is an archetypal tale of destructive love drawing from northern European fairytales. The story takes place in an ancient forest in which dark characters dwell, and reminds us that nature will always get her way. I designed and hand-created each costume worn by the characters and photographed the story throughout the cycle of New England seasons.

Holding it for the first time! SO COOL.

I wanted to share some stories from the 4-day photo shoot leading up to the completion of the story. I got to work intensely with the main characters of the series: Lena Vani as Margaret, Skyy Ramos as William and Charli Summers as the Rake. I took 4 days to stay in Western MA and work almost non-stop on these shoots. It was exhausting but 100% worthwhile.

The photos from my book I will not be sharing online because they will be published later this year (I want to save some surprises!) but I thought it would be fun to share some of the fun outtakes from these shoots. I'm so lucky to have worked with these wonderful actors/models.

The Taiga: Outtake featuring Lena Vani

We started in Easthampton, MA. Special thanks to Meryellen DiLuzio and Steven Nietupski for letting us stay the weekend. You guys are the best!

The Taiga: Outtake featuring Lena Vani

I am astounded by the beauty of Western MA <3

The Taiga: Outtake featuring Charli Summers

This photo makes me laugh every time. We called this look on Charli the "Summer Rake".... if only it fit into the "dark" vibe of the story. (this also gives you a great look at the costume!)

The Taiga: Outtake featuring Lena Vani

The Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown, MA.

One of the most special parts of visiting the Quabbin was running into a duo of real deer wandering through the woods. We got close enough that one of the photos made it into the book! I took it as a sign from the forest, a little blessing on our project.

Next up was Photographing the underwater "drowning" scenes with Lena. I won't share those photos as I think they add a lot to the book (Sign up for the email list to be notified when they go on sale this winter!)

The Taiga: Outtake featuring Lena Vani

This photo, an outtake from the book as well was used as promotional material for my gallery show, so you may have already seen it - I think it shows off the dress I made really well, and I always love photographing water.

The Taiga: Outtake featuring Skyy Ramos

Skyy as William crossing the wide river!

The photos at the waterfall took my breath away. I remember sitting in a college class daydreaming about this project five years ago. I had a false start making costumes for this project the next year, but I am weirdly grateful that the costumes ended up getting destroyed. It feels like things happen for a reason, because until this year I did not have the time and energy to make this project what it was, and to spend so much time working closely with Lena to bring the story to life.

It's crazy to me that this album sparked such a life-changing work and lead me to meet all these people. The first time I heard the album I didn't really like it or know what to make of it (obviously it grew on me). I hope to share the book with Colin one day.

Seeing readers get emotional and talk to me about the music and my art was really moving but also terrifying. Putting your art out into the world somehow makes it feel less like "yours". When I tried to explain this project to my friends and family I had no word to explain what it was, it's not a format of book that exists right now and it was a long and complicated process, like my own film that I was costuming and directing. To see it finished as a physical object that I can hold in my hands is an incredible feeling but it's bittersweet.

The Taiga: Outtake featuring Lena Vani and Skyy Ramos

I'll leave you with our heroes Margaret and William. Thank you thank you to Lena and Skyy for this adventure. I can't wait to share the Taiga book with everyone. I'm already nostalgic for the start of this project and the feelings of braving the new England weather for these photoshoots.

Lena's Website

Follow Skyy

Remember to subscribe to my email list if you're interested in the Taiga book and share my work on social media.

Until next time,



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