Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The amazing Alan Piotrowicz had set up the gallery showing at the MGAC just before the Cinderella photo shoot.  I however wanted to get one more shoot into the showing.  After discussing many, many, many possibilities of fairy tales, I decided to go with the Nutcracker.  This was suggested by both my mother, and Roommate.  Although roommate had mentioned it right away, I either ignored her or didn't hear her.  So when about a week later my mother said, "Hey you should do the Nutcracker," and I responded with, "Why yes! That's a brilliant idea! Everything is already decorated for Christmas, it will save me so much time!"  I ran to tell Roommate who responded with a sour face and anger as she had already said it.  There were many apologies and soon I moved on.

I did a brief sketch of a dress for Clara.  I wanted to do a dress that could be worn around in the day, but have the look or suggestion of a nightgown as that is how the ballet goes.  I also picked a very simple fabric, muslin and more ornate trimmings, this results in a super comfy functional outfit.  At least in my opinion.

One of the more difficult things about this particular dress was the vine embroidery around the neckline and waist.  I had never really done embroidery before, certainly not on such a tightly woven fabric. However after hours and hours of work I finished it.  That was most definitely the hardest thing I've tried to tackle so far.

Then it was time for locations!  I had wanted to use the atrium of Grand Ave Mall for ages.  In fact I had tried to get permission in the past and just couldn't get a hold of anyone.  However this time, with lots of persistence and a couple of emails I finally scored a this really lovely backdrop. 

The other location that we were going to need was a really nice house.  Like mansion nice house.  So what better than an actual mansion.  The nice thing about Milwaukee is that is has a lovely selection of B&B's that are pretty flexible with schedules and letting us shoot for almost nothing.  I put out feelers to three Milwaukee Bed and Breakfasts, then all I had to do was wait.  With in hours the Schuster Mansion responded and were willing to work with us on our time frame. Also an really perfect location for us.

We move on to casting.  It's no secret by now that one of my favorites is Mr. Chris MacGregor.  However, what is a secret is that I'm not the only one that pushes to get him in my photo shoots.  I'm about to open a great big can of worms that I will get in trouble for, so I hope you find this amusing.  My mother has a great bit old crush of the Dreamy Chris MacGregor and when she suggested the Nutcracker, she also suggested Chris. P.S. Roommate enjoys the look of him too.

So with all this pressure Chris was definitely in, but as who.  The logical choice would've been the Nutcracker Prince himself, however I wanted to see if he could be evil.  So I decided he would play my version of the Mouse King; which to seem more badass in some way I call the Rat King.

Badass Rat King: Another Triumph
Then it was time to move on to The Nutcracker Prince.  I wanted to pull in an actor named Cleary Breunig that I had worked with at school, I had cast him in the aborted Hansel and Gretel shoot as an alternate for Hansel.  Granted half of the male Milwaukee actor community was asked at some point for the Hansel and Gretel shoot.  But that's another story for another blog. Anyway I wanted to use Cleary because he had this boyish quality that I felt fit the Nutcracker for some reason.

Cleary was more than willing to do the shoot, but had none of the clothes (except for a white button up and jeans) that I wanted to dress him in.  So it was time do a little shopping in the mens section of stores.  It's a scary place that I only go to when absolutely necessary, and this time it was necessary.  I went to my favorite store again, Goodwill and hit pay dirt a Banana Republic sweater that matched the matched the Nutcracker prop I had perfectly.  Then I hit up another favorite of mine Closet Classics where I found the hat.  On the day of he showed up  in this great overcoat that we used in a bunch of the shots.
I had sent out the confirmation emails to Perry, Chris, and Cleary on the Monday before a Sunday shoot.  Perry responded Tuesday morning to confirm.  Cleary Wednesday afternoon, and Chris... well Chris didn't respond.  I sent another email.  Still no response.  Then I started to panic.  Chris is the source of much of my panic, I think he knows this and takes some perverse pleasure in it.  So as Friday night rolled around and I still hadn't heard anything from Chris, I decided to take drastic measures. I phoned him (he didn't pick up) so I left message basically saying that if I hadn't gotten confirmation by 9pm I was going to recast.  It felt harsh and I wasn't proud of myself, but I did not want to go through a Wizard of Oz fiasco again.  Chris called back at 8:48pm to say he was going to be at the shoot, but he was going to have to leave by 10am at the latest on the shoot day.  Now to put that in perspective; a shoot starts at 9am, so in actor time that actually starts around 9:30am.   We were only going to have Chris for basically a half hour.  This now meant we were going to have no pictures of Chris at the Schuster Mansion.  I was a little disappointed, but I figured we'd make due.

Shoot day cam quickly after that.  Hadn't slept all night again and I really needed to.  The boys showed up at around 8:30am and I put them through hair and make-up as quickly as possible.  Then Perry met up at my apartment and we moved to Grand Ave.  It was on the way in when I saw this great Christmas Tree and I decided that we needed a picture in front of it resulting in my favorite shot of the whole shoot.

Then we moved into the circular stair case section.  We picked the shots we wanted for Chris and got them done really fast.  The whole time we were shooting, there were security guard pacing watching the pictures. No less than three stopped to ask if we had permission, to which I would respond yes.  Then they would ask who gave it to us, I would say Tracy and then they would move on. It wasn't a big inconvenience but I could've done with out it.

Chris left us, and so Perry, Cleary, and myself moved over to the Schuster Mansion.  The woman I had talked to on the phone met us with all smiles.  She told us a bit about the B&B and then left us to our work.  The place was decked out beautifully, and if given the opportunity I could've shot there all afternoon.
Another successful shoot and we were ready for the showing.  Well sort of.  We had enough shoots for the showing, but the work had just begun.  The following weeks were filled with picking shots, framing, menu panning, and such.

And now you're all caught up with the past shoots.  All blogging from here on out will chronicle the upcoming shoots and the process as it happens.  Hope you keep reading, see you soon.

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