The creative process is all about transformation and, at its best, revealing hidden truths. This month’s subject for the I’m a Original Project uniquely embodies the spirit of both creativity and change. Iris, a young transgender woman, worked with our team to bring to life her personal avatar, Ashilynn, whom she had created over many years. Iris’ intimate and specific vision for her portrait brought with it both challenges and opportunities. The IAO team, consisting of Photographer Carolyn McCarthy, Makeup Artist Heidi Bowden-De Meester, and Original Moxie, worked closely with Iris to build a concept that would both complement her natural beauty while channeling her more fantastical aesthetic. The result is truly magical.
Working from Iris’ drawings of her character, the team began by crafting a digital image board of possible looks, moods, and styles. Overlaying these with Iris’ physical attributes, we ultimately focused on a cool palette with dramatic, moody sets and long, flowing lines.
Clip-in and braided extensions were added to Iris’ hair, leaving out her natural hair in the front and bang areas. A temporary silver color to her natural hair to blend it with the silvery grey and black extensions.
Makeup included face ornamentation to mimic Ashilynn’s under-eye markings and beautiful long lashes. The wardrobe selected not only flattered Iris’ physique but also mimicked Ashilynn’s flowing and graceful lines. Staying close to the spirit of her drawing without slavishly attempting to recreate it allowed us to more effectively blend her inner vision with her outer self.
As with most photo shoots, the process was long and painstaking and involved a fair amount of improvisation (such as the crown Iris is wearing in her portrait, created on the spot by Original Moxie team member Sophie Waggoner). While we all Through it all, Iris remained calm, providing feedback as to what poses and styling options she preferred. The final set (shown below) was one she set up and directed almost entirely on her own and became one of the groups’ favorites.
As a transgender woman, Iris has traveled a difficult path in coming to terms with her identity and in manifesting her inner sense of self with her external appearance. Bringing her avatar to life with the support of our artistic team allowed her to express herself in an entirely new way. As she explains:
“I never feel more myself than when I am assuming the persona of one of my characters. When I write them, I do more than simply place words on the page–I immerse myself in their being, and their thoughts become mine. Exploring my characters has shaped so much of who I am today that I could not imagine living without them. I have poured all of my love into them, and now they complete me. My name is Iris, and I’m an Original.”
For more information on how to book your own transformation visit http://bornoriginal.cmcphotos.com or contact Carolyn McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org.