Behind the Mask

Many of you know I have a very beautiful, successful sister who lives in Seville, Spain.  My sister, Cristina Hall has been dancing flamenco for the past 14 years throughout the world. I have had the honor to watch her grow over time, both as an artist and as an amazing and passionate young woman.  It has been a journey indeed, at times very strenuous and complex on her uphill climb to success….one that has been filled with tears and pain along the way.  In her dedicated endeavor to reaching her goals as a dancer, Cristina has always been a seeker of self knowledge and truth.  She has always been very sensitive emotionally yet embodies a controlled fire that is unleashed when performing.

Whenever Cristina and I come together to create a concept for a shoot, its like that feeling you get after having way too much coffee.  You know, the anticipation and nervous excitement that takes place where you can’t focus on just one idea….because with her, there are always hundreds!  It’s like she sees the world in lines, shapes and colors that are tied to movement. She analyzes things with her heart and a story can always transpire.  We sat and conjured up about 4 looks, then had to break it down to just 2 for timing purposes. Cristina had the idea of using masks as a prop …..what happens when the mask comes off?….our true nature is exposed. If you ask her about it she will tell you that she feels she is heard the most when she is on stage. It’s where she can drop the disguise and really be her authentic self.

During her last visit, I noticed a confidence in her that was stronger in both her dancing and in the way she spoke.  It made sense in my mind that the looks for our shoot had to be both intricate in detail and bold as well as incredibly sexy.  If you ask my sister, she will tell you that sexy is just not the way she would describe herself…however, I wanted the photos to show strength of her femininity as well as the seriousness of her art.

Cat Nguyen, our master of Photography, found a performing arts warehouse with built in stage lights to create the mood for the shoot and we put Cristina on a ladder to shoot her “Bata De Cola” (a long flamenco skirt) that we shot in some of the photos. Styling her was fun!  I weaved in extension hair pieces to create a Victorian hair style. This was complicated because it was almost like wig making, which felt a bit pressured and unrehearsed. For cost purposes I used synthetic hair, which means no heat styling, so it was all molding with product and verbally coercing the hair to stay in place. (meaning lots of cuss words when things didn’t go right…hehe)  Cristina has beautiful pale skin and I wanted to enhance that in the photos. For the first, look her makeup  was a fun red smokey eye that made her intense green eyes pop and a classic blood red lipstick that took on a 19th century vampire-like character. The second look was a bit more relaxed. I took her look into a more Bridget Bardot direction. I had fun with the 60′s winged eyeliner and pale lips, and although I have done this look a hundred times, it looked very different on her.  I took out the extensions and teased the crown of her head for height and thickness.  This gave her free slow movement and added a very sensual vibe to her look.  Her movements were soft and snakelike with a modern flare, allowing Cat to capture the poses as her subject would shift.  Although she may never admit it….yeah, I saw her working the camera! =)

Check out the photos….

Cristina Imgaes

Cristina’s Facebook

http://www.catherinenguyen.com