In Her Season
A BFA Exhibition by Whitney Justesen
The plan for my BFA project was set from the moment I knew I was going to have a final student show on campus--two semesters previous, as a matter of fact. I wanted to do a project based around the seasons of the year, and the two semesters I would be shooting my project made it perfect for that. I would start my BFA in the spring, work through the summer, and the next seemester offered me the two seasons of fall and winter.
I knew I wanted to shoot portraits for this project. I love landscape photography, but that is not something I am as passionate about as portrait work. My dream in life is to shoot for magazines and other publications as a fine art portrait artist, so this offered me the perfect chance to experiment with that side of photography.
I loved the idea of personifying the seasons of the year with models, makeup, and costumes, and I had seen it done by many of my photographer friends before. There is something truly beautiful about the passing of each season, and I was excited to see how I could illustrate the spells of the year in my own images.
I had an idea for each model, for each setting, for each costume, and now I only had to wait for time to pass into each new season, and trust my own imagination and creativity to bring it to life.
The first semester of my project, I started working on my spring series immediately. I was so excited to make the dress and the crown for my model, and I couldn't wait to shoot it! I found a model whom I knew would be perfect for personifying the season, and I solicited the help of my friend and talented makeup artist, Ariel LaFontaine! We met up early on a Sunday morning and went to an apple orchard nearby, which was thankfully still blossoming pretty white flowers for us.
It couldn't have gone more perfectly, and I was so happy with the results.
My model is the lovely Kacie Bowler.
Rebirth. Renewal. New life. These are words that we often associate with spring, as we watch the earth brought to life anew as the snow melts and trees, plants, and flowers awaken as though from a deep sleep. This season seems to bring with it a new fragrance to the world, reviving spirits and breathing life back into the landscape.
The summer series was one that I was not as sure what wanted to do. I first shot it rather last-minute while I was in Oregon for a photography gathering, and while I liked the images themselves, I knew I would not end up using them for my final project.
I thought I would include them in here as part of my process. My model is the lovely Kristian Irey--who also happens to be a talented photographer herself.
Summer is a time filled with beach days and warm sunshine. It makes us nostalgic for our carefree youth, for the times when we used to soak up the sun as the days stretched longer and the weather became hotter. The world seems to slow down for awhile, and we can appreciate the warm gentle breeze that sways the branches of the trees.
My model for the Summer series is the talented and beautiful Jessica Nguyen.
The air begins to chill, the leaves change to gorgeous shades of gold, orange, and crimson, and the scent of pumpkins, apples, and cinnamon seems to permeate the air. This season makes even the simplest landscape appear charming and beautiful, and it seems to almost bring a sense of reverence to the earth.
My lovely model for Autumn is Aubrie Smith.
There is something about the winter that appeals to us, when the gentle falling snow seems to bring a mystifying, poignant silence to the world. Winter brings to mind images of little cottages with warm lights shining through onto the bitter cold outside world. It reminds us of Christmases spent with family, with candies and presents and the scent of evergreens all around.
My model for the Winter series is my beautiful friend Nicole Maxfield.
The opening night for my BFA exhibition went off without a hitch! It took place on the 5th of December, and I was so pleased with the amount of people that came to show their support. Seeing the project itself up on the walls made me so happy, because I'd never seen my work printed so large before. I am so glad I was given the chance to complete this project this year, and I hope that my viewers enjoy looking through the images as much as I loved creating them.
I'd also like to give a special thank you to my BFA professors who helped me with this project all along the way this year! From left to right, Brian Atkinson, Darren Clark, and Scott Wheeler. You guys are amazing.