Autumn is my favourite season. Its arrival heralds the flight of summer from the slow, creeping fingers of winter and the long, dark nights that probe one’s spirit and strength.
Admittedly that doesn’t sound like much reason to rejoice but the endurance test it poses to the body and mind is a stern reminder that change is inevitable and time relentless in its passage – and, like the changing colours of the leaves, the spark of life is fiercest when it is tested.
Toronto-based NUIT has been producing some gorgeous dark fashions for several years now and while I’ve long been a fan of founder Ana’s work it was her stunning collection of hooded tournure pieces that prompted me to contact her and propose a shoot.
Taking our cues from the 70s-themed shoot with Shae that I posted earlier this year, this photo series at Mountain View Cemetery with Caitlin, Marlene, and Dahlia was an opportunity to frame NUIT in waning autumn light while Vancouver’s massive murder of crows made its customary flight east to roost for the night.
Much like that flurry of black wings overhead, the dramatic, swooping lines of these several pieces from the NUIT autumn collection – “Mythic” cowls in black black wool and jersey, black velvet bellbottoms, butterfly-sleeve kimono, bell sleeve hooded pullover, and linen ruff collar bustle top – beautifully allude to the whispering vibrance of encroaching shadows.
Thanks again to Ana for her collaboration on this shoot and to Marlene, Dahlia, and Caitlin for their participation!
This third installment of the Elemental Witch photo series has been a long, long time coming; it seems only fitting to finally publish on Samhain, a traditional Gaelic festival which marks the coming of “the darker half” of the year.
This series is as much about the land and people of British Columbia as it is about nature and magic – beginning in the forests of Surrey with Woodwitch, then following the coastline of Vancouver with Stormwitch, the “elemental” aspect of the theme provides frames within which to explore diverse landscapes and characters.
Originally I had planned to shoot the third installment in Osoyoos, not only for its arid desert landscape but also its history – Irish-born John Carmichael Haynes was an early European settler, local dignitary, and major landowner of the town – a familiar story in the history of Canadian colonization which also reflects model Caitlin’s Irish roots; but after a location-scouting trip to Kamloops this summer I found myself smitten with its similarly semi-arid landscape and opted to relocate the shoot for aesthetic and logistic reasons.
A lot of thought and planning went into this shoot and I’d like to thank everyone that helped to realize this vision, most of all Caitlin for her commitment to the project and enthusiasm for the character.
Rather than give everything away, I invite the reader to let me know what stories you find in these images. This series continues to generate a lot of discussion among viewers and we appreciate the feedback.
I first worked with Caitlin last year during the Gatekeeper band photoshoot, when she assisted with makeup and fire wrangling, but it wasn’t until I saw a selfie she posted on social media – looking like the very definition of a classic rock/ NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) fan circa 1980 that I realized she was the perfect person to continue my music-themed portrait series (see Shae’s Black Sabbath-themed gallery here.) Last month we spent several hours shooting in various locations throughout downtown Vancouver and, after many weeks of processing and consultation with Caitlin, who has the patience of a saint (and the enthusiasm of an ardent heavy music fan), here now are the results!
Separated into colour and monochrome galleries, these images are some of my favourite work to date. Admittedly I say that about almost every new shoot I post because I love what I do, but this series is the first I’ve shared that features many recognizable aspects of Vancouver itself. It may not be the biggest city in Canada, but its heavy music scene has a distinctive spirit that I am proud to portray visually in some small way.
Thank you, Caitlin, for your enthusiasm, feedback, and general badass self – you rocked this! \m/ \m/