A few years back I met Bess Wyrick. She was doing a floral instillation in Gramercy Park’s Rose Bar — a giant hanging skeleton made from white flowers. I had always thought about flowers in the sense of arrangements but never really in the form of a live sculpture. There is something I really love about the idea of creating art that can only last and be appreciated for a short amount of time before its organic nature recycles back into the earth. An amazing example of that is in the whimsical work of Patrick Dougherty which blows me away.
Whenever Bess is in New York we try to collaborate. Most recently I asked Caroline to come by the studio and pose for me, something we have been doing together for years now. Bess, being the sculptor she is, created this spring garden nymph moment around Caroline’s delicate body which, to me, is reminiscent of the fleeting weeks when we get to dance under the pink shade of the cherry blooms before nature moves on to the green gardens of summer.
This May I’m going to be heading out to L.A. to spend a weekend retreat at Rose Story Farm (remember how we had roses shipped from them for this beautiful shoot?!) with Bess doing a workshop on flower arranging and creative expression. It’s going to be a lovely group of women, so think about joining us if you out in L.A.! More info on the workshop can be found here.
I am a woman. I am aware of my body like any normal human being. It’s not a surprise, just look at the images served up to us. Everyone is beautiful, happy, young, thin… they have the perfect (insert your own personal thoughts here) stomach, eye brows, waist, legs, hips- sometimes it feels like an impossible treadmill of perfect we will never really achieve because of genetics, because we have real life and real work and can’t spend the amount of time it takes to achieve “perfection”.
But really, what is perfect?
I’ve always be interested in shooting nudes. I started in college. The body is one of the most beautiful, natural things about life. The way it changes, the way it gives life, the way each is our own and that is what makes us special. I wouldn’t take my grandmother’s wrinkles away, or Dad’s loving soft hugs, or seeing my sister-in-law’s body change carrying the amazing twins my family adores. I would not say that I have had body issues all my life, but as I’ve gotten older I had to learn to look in the mirror and teach myself to stop judging the way I look compared to other people.
As a photographer I look for what is photogenic from people to places to the design of a still life. I’m not going to lie, I love tall beautiful thin fashion models. They are like illustrations of illusions of an idea of who we think we are or could be. Fantasy is part of the fun, photographing that fantasy is one of the things that I love most.
There is a place for curves too. Curves are incredible. When our model Jourdan walked in I was honestly first taken back by her personality. Her confidence. Confidence is the one of the greatest quality anyone can possess. She was cool, smart, comfortable in her own skin. She was one of the least self-deprecating models I’ve ever worked with. When we started making photographs a lot changed for me. Not only as a photographer but as a woman. Maybe even more importantly as a woman. Here was a human, not afraid to let me photograph her with nothing to hide behind, no character to portray, no fantasy story to tell, it was just her. In the moment. In the light. Just the way she is.
After this shoot I had a mix of emotions. Her body, so beautiful, so photographic in its shapes and contours was in one word: inspiring. She made me realize that the female form in any shape and size is incredible. To have curves, softness, confidence was true beauty. She represented to me what being a woman was all about. I understood why Renior and Matisse painted the way they did and I saw that beauty too. I was so proud to be a woman and in my personal life, more confident about the size of my chest and softness around my stomach. If wrinkles show the hand of time and the life that was lived, curves show the fertility of it and the raw attraction of humanity.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that women come in many fascinating forms and, at this sitting, I saw beauty in a way that should be more often seen.
Here’s to the beautiful form we call being a WOMAN.
I love to grow them, receive them, smell like them, and photograph them it’s no wonder the rose is considered the “queen” of essential oils. You can imagine my excitement when I discovered Chantecaille’s Rose de Mai line of beauty products made extraordinarily with a very special rose gown in Provence, France which blooms only once a year called Rose de Mai and harvested by hand. I love every morning waking up and applying the Rose de Mai cream which feels as if you are rubbing thousands of rose petals on your skin. What is even more special is that the scent is all natural from the actual roses that make up these products and take care of your face with the power of this floral ingredient.
There is something very calming about the smell of roses. When I’m feeling very stressed from a long day of editing and deadlines or after an intense photoshoot, it’s nice to spray Chantecaille’s Pure Rosewater on my skin not only to re-hydrate it but lift my spirits. Rosewater has an interesting history dating back the the Ancient Romans who not only drank Rosewater but bathed in it… obviously I wish I had more Rosewater baths in my life, right?! Aside from just being incredibly luxurious, Rosewater fights depression, insect bites, inflammation, sunburn, and signs of aging. I guess this is as close as we can get to the “fountain of youth”.
Sometimes we are incredibly fortunate enough to get clients we are personally fans of. Last December we were brought into the Chantecaille offices in Soho and briefed on their top secret newest member to their rose collection, Rose de Mai Face Oil, which was just released a few weeks ago. They asked us to come up with an idea, some visuals, on what the Rose de Mai line means to us and how we would visualize Chantecaille into a body of work. You can imagine, I was beside myself- a total dream job! We got to work right away concepting everything from stills, to videos, to cinemagraphs. Later this spring the work we created will be rolled out around the world in Chantecaille’s in-store displays, website, social media channels and in press such as WWD.
After the creative was signed off on by every member of the Chantecaille family(this is a family run business) we got to work. First step. Find the perfect roses in the middle of winter which we did through Rose Story Farm and had as many as possible shipped overnight. The studio has never smelled so beautiful! There were roses everywhere, in the windowsill, refrigerator, work table, kitchen counters! Over the course of a three day shoot we made beds of roses, flower crowns, flower hats, flower petal showers, you name it. It was a pure delight.
I have a very, very deep love for roses that goes all the way back to my childhood. It first began in with my grandmother’s rose bushes, trimming them, cutting the flowers to take to my elementary school teachers. Growing up in Texas my father would always bring me a dozen yellow roses on special occasions and now from time to time when I come home from New York to visit.
This past summer I put a lot of love and attention on the terrace at the back of our studio in Tribeca. It’s a small urban garden but in a city this compact I feel pretty lucky to have the amount of outdoor space I do. I grew my first rose garden, the flowers in these shots I cut from these bushes. I was so proud every time a new bud would emerge and in the mornings when I sat outside with my coffee I would touch the petals and remember the sweet lingering memories of my childhood.
Tending to a garden, making sure that someone is there to take care of it when you’re traveling or working the hours away was a lesson for me. A lesson in care, patience and pride. I realized, it’s not unlike relationships. If you don’t tend to them, take care of them, they too can wither and die. It’s not much that we need, just some sunlight and water and it’s amazing what things can blossom into and make your life a richer place.
So on this Valentine’s Day I give you roses and I hope your own gardens are full of love.
Visual storytellers Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg unfold tales of fashion, travel, truth and beauty. Through photographs, videos, and their own invention, Cinemagraphs, they create new worlds — from their New York City workspace, Ann Street Studio. May you find something here to inspire you.