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Hi lovelies! This week’s photo is my awesome Aussie author Garth Nix as The Merchant of Magic! I had SO much fun with this photo, and I can’t wait to tell you the story behind its creation. But first, don’t forget to grab a copy of the calendar; the proceeds go to charity, so it’s for a great cause!

Garth Nix has published a bunch of stuff, including The Keys to the Kingdom series and A Confusion of Princesbut he’s best known for his outstanding Abhorsen series. I was late to the game with this series, having only read it relatively recently, but it has quickly shot to one of my all-time favorite fantasy series. I ‘read’ them on audio, which was narrated by the fantastic Tim Curry, so I’d highly recommend them for many many reasons!

Garth has always struck me as a really cool guy so I knew I wanted him involved, and he came right on board when I invited him to be a part of the project. I was pleasantly surprised when he emailed me with ideas, saying that he fancied a 16th or 17th century Dutch painting look, and he included some examples, one of which was this:

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I was so excited, and thought, “If you’re willing to wear something like this I will totally reenact this painting.” And so we did! Most of my inspiration for these costumes comes from the Victorian era, so to try something different was an unexpected surprise.

I modeled the costume as closely to the painting as possible, and borrowed the living room of friend and author Zoraida Cordova to set the stage.

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Friend and shoot assistant Jeffrey West testing out the set.

Let me set the scene for this photo. Garth is friends with Scott Westerfeld, who is also in this calendar, and I did both of their shoots back to back on the same day. So me, Zoraida, Jeffrey (my friend assisting that day), Scott and Garth are all in Zoraida’s living room. Scott is beside me on the couch where I was set up, snapping away with his iPhone as Garth tests the set and then gets into costume. I had to add in a magic element, of course, so I did a simple twist and made him the Dutch merchant of magic and an elemental fire mage. Which meant I had fire. In her apartment. Burning a cheap ornate book. Surrounded by three authors. Yup, it was that kind of shoot!

Garth testing the set prior to getting into costume.
Garth testing the set prior to getting into costume.
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Fire test one!
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Nope! No flames!
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Time to add some lighter fluid!
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Success!! Perhaps too much.

Generally I would never do such a thing, but I bought this book specifically to be a prop for this shoot, and I knew it would be sacrificed in the name of art. Though I have added more Photoshop elements to my images for this calendar the core of what I do is to shoot real things. So I needed things to be burning. I wanted the fire to look real because it was real. So we moved forward, and I got a bunch of amazing shots that I was able to utilize for the final image.

Using the look of the painting as inspiration I added in some age cracks to the photo and played up the dynamic lighting, making the final portrait have more atmosphere. I’m really pleased with the results and I’m so glad Garth suggested this route!

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I’ll be posting a new blog every week for twelve weeks, going over the creation of the photos. Stay tuned for next week’s reveal; it will be one of my lovely ladies, though I’m not sure who yet. And don’t forget to grab a copy of the calendar! 

Did you miss the previous calendar stories? Be sure to check out the creation of Tony DiTerlizzi’s and Kami Garcia’s images!

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