The Truth Behind “Ophelia in the Water”

The Truth Behind “Ophelia in the Water”

This is possibly the most popular image I’ve ever taken in my career so far.  The model is the lovely Jill Liebisch and pretty much everything from the hair to the styling to the makeup was a labor of love on my part.  I love dressing Miss Liebisch up and it makes me happy to see such a good friend feeling confident and lovely.

The interesting part about this image is that while it looks so calm and serene, the day we shot it during wasn’t.  Our conditions were miserable, and that’s putting it lightly.  For one, that water I have her in was stagnant and there were hundreds of mosquitoes swarming both us and the icky, watery muck the entire time we were shooting.  It was so awful, actually, that I shot the entire set in my underwear so that I wouldn’t get my clothes in the filth.

It was also hot.  That makeup on Jill didn’t quite have that look in the beginning and her hair had a bit more bounce and sass to it.  After spending a while in 102 degree weather, however, things began to wilt, colors began to run, and our moods began to plumbit.  I seriously thought that we’d have no usable shots in the entire series.

Luckily, we had several.  So where are they?  Well, I released a few to a post editor who played around with them, but mainly, all of the are in storage.  The image above is the only one that I personally edited and finalized.  Why just the one?  Simple.  I was so happy with this one image that I didn’t need to edit any of the others.  Sometimes, less really is more.  This one shot makes more of a statement than if I had presented it with 4 or 5 accompanying shots.  This one shot captured my vision and Jill’s performance summed up the mood and the story that I wanted to present.

Sometimes a picture can’t tell the entire story, but that’s not always a bad thing.  There’s a fantasy in the image like the one above.  It’s lovely to think that a moment like that could be captured in just the sort of setting and conditions you’d expect.  In this case, reality was quite different.  Still, in a moment, time stood still and the world, at least through my lens, was romantic and graceful.

Sometimes, you don’t always need the whole story.  You just need a fleeting moment.

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