Today’s story is one of the authors I was most excited to have on board: Melissa de la Cruz! But, before I dig into the crazy story behind this photo, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to grab a copy of the calendar; the proceeds go to charity, so it’s for a great cause!

Mel is an amazing storyteller, and one of the most prolific authors I know. She’s best known for her Blue Bloods vampire series, The Witches of East End series, and more recently The Isle of the Lost, which was number 1 on the NY Times bestseller list. Her stories have been turned (or are in the process) into TV shows and movies, and the books are great reads. Be sure to check her out, you won’t regret it!

This photo might be the one I’m most proud of in the calendar. It was a hard, complicated shoot and a challenging edit, but the final product is exactly what I envisioned in my mind. Mel was one of the authors that was the most excited to be in the calendar, so I wanted to make sure that it definitely had the fantasy feel.  She also changed the costumes up a bit, in that she didn’t want a long gown-y dress to the floor. So we went with something a little shorter, a little lighter, and it ended up working well for the final look.

Mel spends a lot of her time in Palm Springs, and so immediately I knew she was the photo I wanted in the desert. I had this idea in my mind for a while, the premise of creation, the magic involved, and how life can come in the middle of nothing. The photo is called Breath of Spring, and I really thing that captures the feel.

I happened to be in California, and we took advantage of me being in the area to do the shoot; problem was it was July. In the California desert. I believe the temperature was 106 or 107. Add in that the schedule was tight, so we needed to shift the time to the late afternoon instead of the slightly cooler evening, and it provided a big challenge.


To save Mel from heat stroke my sister Dana and I went out to the photo site to pre-shoot while Mel got ready. I ended up going with a composited photo for the final product (layering images in Photoshop). Instead of buying thousands of dollars worth of flowers I only spent a few hundred. Then, after locking the camera into place on a tripod, we moved them over and over again to provide lots of greenery that I could then layer in Photoshop. Dana and I managed to do it in a little over an hour, but between the heat and all the bending and standing in that sun we were both pretty beat. Dana almost got sick from the heat and I drank over 100 ounces of water in that hour, and still was dying. Anything for the shot, people. And it was worth it. The sun still being out really showed how barren the area was and highlighted the bright colors of the flowers.

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we’re dead from that heat!

The active element to this image are the little bubbles of life sailing off into the distance. I glued ivy to a paper lantern and then shot it ‘flying’ through the air to use later. I really love how they look, like colorful sky jellyfish swimming off on the breath of Spring to spread life.

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then it was just a matter of shooting Mel (which we did in like 10 minutes!) and then putting all the pieces together.


I also added some interesting textures to the final image to change up the color toning and the feel. I wanted it to feel a little hazy, like we were peering through the magic to see what was happening. I love how it turned out:



Stay tuned for the next photo, Lev Grossman (and guest author Lauren Oliver!).  And don’t forget to grab a copy of the calendar (remember, all proceeds go to charity!).

Did you miss the previous calendar stories? Be sure to check out the image creations for Scott Westerfeld,  Robin Hobb,  Leigh BardugoTony DiTerlizziKami Garcia and Garth Nix!


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