After we wrapped our Hamptons Magazine shoot, we decided to play around on digital and on film with our model muse Vita Sidorkina. There are whispers in the industry that she is the next “it” girl, and it says a lot that she just signed a contact with Victoria Secret PINK. I’ve shot a lot of people through the years from models to artists to friends and business folk so I’ve felt the differences in front of the lens. I do my best to make the sitter feel comfortable, beautiful (or handsome), and safe, even if that means helping them pose down to their pinky toe to get a balanced and aesthetically pleasing shot for both yourself and them. However, sometimes you have someone who truly knows how to move in front of the camera. You start a dance and dialogue together both giving to create. Vita does that and as a photographer, it’s my favorite way to photograph someone. It feels like watching a flower bloom in high speed through your camera box.
This was my favorite shoot from summer: I love the simplicity, I love the styling Kelly did on Vita that she picked up from how some of the “cool” guys in the Hamptons had been wearing their sweaters in the chilly night air, and of course, I LOVE Ralph Lauren which is all she needs to wear out East…
They say the light is everything in the Hamptons, so I say let’s put a gown and a girl in a garden and have a look. This summer Hamptons Magazine approached Kelly to style a sort of society portrait of some of the Hamptons “it” girls of summer and I was 100% on board to photograph it. The light out there is misty, in such a way that it dances with silver shiny felts of stardust. It makes everyone look ripe, the most beautiful versions of themselves. For this sitting, “When I Met You in the Summer“, I just leaned on what the Hamptons gives you so much of – beautiful nature, beautiful women, and above all…. beautiful light.
We shoot a lot of beautiful women here at the studio. The funny thing is…as I get older they seem to always stay the same age. What is it about youth we are so attracted to? When Kelly texted me images of these three incredibly beautiful, real women, women with businesses, with a history of past love affairs, and with a real friendship out in Montauk as a casting option for our Beauty + Truth story, I was in love.
Their grace, their confidence that only women who have lived a little can possess, their intelligence and peace were so inspiring I could have shot them for days. I could do a photographic study around the lines on their faces…the lines of life are signs of living, and isn’t life a beautiful thing?
As a photographer you have all the control. Whoever is put in front of your lens has to put complete trust in you: how you light them, how you make them feel when you’re shooting them; the crop, what you show and what you leave out; the direction, mood and feeling you set.
Our story began with three women, three mythical beings: Maat and her handmaidens, Beauty and Truth. In mythology and Egyptian heiroglyphics, Maat was represented by an ostrich feather. The equal-sidedness of the feather, with its division into halves, rendered it a fitting symbol of balance.
Feathers recur as a sacred talisman in many cultures, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, by Mexicans and by Native Americans, who used them in headdresses and in dreamcatchers. Just as Maat was trusted to control the daily path of the sun, so the moon controls the tides ~ and so people have believed for centuries that we can control our dreams.
Dreamcatchers originated with the Ojibwe nation, who believed that, when hung above the bed, only good dreams would be allowed to filter through their sinewy webs; they would pass through and slide down the feathers to the sleeper, while bad dreams would be caught and trapped in the net. The tides of today bring both nightmares and dreams, for along the shore we find countless cigarette butts and plastic bottles mixed in with natural treasures like seashells and driftwood.
In ancient Egyptian mythology, Ra was the sun-god, the creator of life, and Maat was his beloved daughter. She was one of the original goddesses, and when the boat of Ra rose above the primeval waters of Nu for the first time, she stood regally at its bow.
She sailed with Ra in his celestial barque, the ship that daily carried the sun across the skies, for it was she who had plotted its eternal path at the time of creation. She brought great joy to Ra, and thus to the world, and her presence was thought to be vital to the daily regeneration of the sun-god. The tides waxed and waned according to her measured axis, and there could be no tomorrow if one did not ‘live in maat‘ today.
The tides of our present-day tale began with three women, three real-life goddesses, three beautiful beings whose lives are lived in a very genuine pursuit of beauty and truth. Our central figure is embodied by the nurturing aura of Kumi Sawyers, our own modern Maat. I first met Kumi on the beach in Montauk, and was immediately transfixed by her staggering but unassuming beauty. As the summer wore on, I kept running into her, almost always with one or both of her friends Sian and Heather. The three were this bewitching little tribe of enchantresses, and like all really cool people they terrified me at first. All yoga teachers with gloriously siren-like hair and serious surfing skills, they’re those too-groovy-to-be-true kind of dream babes you usually only see in movies.
Fortunately, Kumi and her consorts harness their powers only for good. Her professional practice is focused on creating equilibrium and unity inside the body ~ a powerful, modern manifestation of the principles of maat. Exuding a confident grace and an insightful sensitivity, hers is an energy that quickly encourages trust. She is a skilled and sensitive healer specializing in massage therapy, yoga instruction and nutritional counseling. Deeply intuitive, she possesses an innate but fine-tuned ability to contact the deep muscles of the body, to create space and allow for freedom of movement.
In the ancient world, myths were used as a means to understand the inexplicable, as a way to make sense of the great wonders and mysteries of the earth and to give meaning to humanity. Inspired by the cycles of nature, the mythology of ancient Egypt still holds our imaginations in its sway today. Ancient Egyptians saw time in the present as a repetition of the linear events of their myths; to them, this mirroring served to renew ma’at (or mayet), the fundamental order of all existence.
Myths were a way of passing down behavioral expectations, codes of conduct, and moral obligation. They were reminders that the actions we take today create the context for tomorrow. Today’s decisions are the gifts and curses we bestow upon our descendants.
Ma’at was the Egyptian concept of truth, balance, and order. Ma’at was personified as the goddess of the stars; it was she who conducted cosmic harmony out of the chaos of creation, she who maintained the equilibrium of the universe ~ the setting of the sun, the rising of the tides. She was justice and she was reason.
Ma’at was the central principle of Egyptian cosmology and ethics, and so the primary duty of an Egyptian king was to be the champion of ma’at. All the daily rituals and sacrifices would be deemed meaningless unless the king and his people were living righteous, balanced lives. The word itself indicated ‘that which is real’, and so for the ancient Egyptians, ma’at came to imply anything that was true, genuine or harmonious.
I have been thinking a lot about love affairs: my great love affair with photography, and how something that can bring you so much joy can cause so much pain. The thing about love affairs is that there is always a beginning and an end. Summer, for me, is the greatest love affair of all. The way its beauty and light hurt in your memory on cold winter days. How much you look forward to it when it blows in through the window and how sad it is when the light of day ends and golden leaves begin to fall. Summer is love. Summer was made for love. Leilani Bishop knows the bittersweetness of summer. She makes perfume oils that entrap the florals that dance through the long, hot, sticky afternoons. The single note scents of a delicate flower that rub off on summer lovers and reminds them of you long after the last petal falls. Here Leilani plays our muse who is trapped forever in an impossible love affair as the end of summer prepares to turn the page into fall…
Starring Leilani Bishop and Zach Lynd, styled by Kelly Framel, hair and makeup by Ana Sicat. Shot in Amagansett, NY.
There’s something magical and mystical about sisterhood…an indescribable bond forged by late night secrets, sharing dreams, and unconditional love and support. Sisters share a beautiful, sublime understanding and strength.
What better way to celebrate sisterhood than make dreamy, romantic pictures with the incredible sister duo behind Dannijo? Danielle and Jodie Snyder, pictured here in twenties-inspired pastel Armani, have been creative cohorts since they were young, but in the last five years have created a jewelry making business that has soared among celebs and citizens alike. It’s easy to see how sisterhood plays into their success: they clearly value each other and are incredibly close…they even live in apartments one floor apart!
Growing up, I always wished for a sister – someone with whom I could share secrets and giggles late into the night, someone upon whom I could lean when times got tough, someone who could see the dreams I had and help me build them into reality. In the last few years, life has given me the closest thing – my great friend and collaborator, Kelly Framel. Never before had I met someone whose ideas and dreams so closely aligned with my own, and who wanted to stay up late, laughing, drinking champagne, and planning for our future achievements. Kelly has become the sister I never had.
After all, remember, sisters make the best friends in the world.
Danielle & Jodie Snyder, founders of DANNIJO, Photographed in Amagansett, NY August 2013 / Styled by Kelly Framel / Hair & Makeup by Ana Sicat / Location & Props Zach Lynd
Remember what we shot LAST SUMMER? and more from our love affair with photographing SISTERS
He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about… like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Above & below: vintage hat, Rebekah Price necklace, Carolina Herrera top & ball skirt, Stuart Weitzman shoes