“It’s funny – normally we try to be so light and airy about this this thing called fashion, but sometimes it’s nothing but an outward expression of our mood. And we aren’t always a happy species,” photographer Rian Flynn says, introducing his debut story Last Day on Ben Trovato. At a modest lake view farm in Lincoln, CA, he teamed up with his girlfriend, art director and stylist Amber Mortensen, last month to create a dark story for us.
Last Day is about two sisters that become aware they are heiresses to an ancient dynasty. Everything is dark. For reasons only they know, the youngest must give her life for the sake of the law. Today is their last day together. At dusk, the time comes for them to part. But the eldest soon realizes she will never really be without her sister.
“I had a distinct vision of a girl in a long fluid dress walking across a stark background shot through a red filter to make the sky black,” Rian tells us, adding: “- Then I thought about putting two models in the photo and composing it so that when they were together, the sky was light, and when they were apart the sky would become dark.”
On location they had a 30ft trailer to do the staging in, but the beautiful nature gave more than few challenges to overcome: “- We soon discovered a wasp’s nest near the entrance! The poor models were terrified to change so Rian whipped out his vintage tobacco pipe and that seemed to solve the problem temporarily. Even with bare feet, both models somehow managed to avoid plentiful rattlesnakes, ticks and poison oak. We may have waited until they got all the way there to warn them about those things…” Amber tells us.
The models, Phebe Stanley and Kelsey Johnson from Cast Images, played their parts to perfection, and Amber says they couldn’t believe how lucky their were with the casting: “- We couldn’t believe two tall, seriously gorgeous alabaster redheads were available in a small town like Sacramento, but CAST Images were incredible to work with. Their agent Amber Collins has a trained eye and true dedication to editorial projects.”
While Rian and Amber obviously knew each other really well, the rest of the team was put together with a mix of people they’ve worked with before and new creatives bringing a breath of fresh air. “Amber and hairstylist, Crystal had worked together many times and she trusted her implicitly. I had loved and worked with MUA Tina and model Phebe before, but finding Beck and Kelsey was a dream come true,” Rian says.
When styling the story Amber turned to designer Jamaica Cole, and common ground helped them develop a strong mood and concept: “- When I talked to Jamaica about the concept and asked her what her inspiration was, we both realized we were on similar wavelengths. I had recently been inspired by graphic illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) who worked exclusively in black ink. She too had been inspired by MC Escher (1898–1972 ), another black ink graphic illustrator. We decided we wanted the photos to be more about mood, shape, line, composition and contrast, combinations of structure and fluidity – just like the wardrobe. We also had the idea that the accessories should contrast with the soft femininity of the clothes so when I saw the accessories by Stella Simone including spiked harnesses and chainmail headdresses, it just felt correct.”
Photography by Rian Flynn
Art Direction & Styling by Amber Mortensen
Designer – Jamaica Cole
Jewelry – Haati Chai by Stella Simone
Makeup by Beck Morgan and Tina Audisio
Hair by Crystal Candelaria-Carter
Models – Phebe Stanley & Kelsey Johnson @ Cast Images
Special Thanks to:
Article Salon, Matthew Burks and Spectrum Capture