Beauty and the Beast

A few years back I decided that I wanted to start photographing models. I was somewhat terrified that they would know I was a complete hack and point their pretty fingers at me and laugh at the pretend photographer. Ok, it’s unreasonable, but you have no idea what it’s like living with a creative mind…

So I put an ad on Craigslist. Megan was one of my replies. (this is a photo I took of her on Memorial Day 2009 at a shoot we did. I told her it was for the blog, and I needed her to be unfabulous and normal – well it didn’t work, she’s still pretty fabulous in my book.)

megan howell.jpg

We set an appointment, and she came by my studio. I was terrified as it was, particularly since I was new at using studio lighting, and scared of pretty girls in general.

Then she comes in and opens her portfolio and shows me her work. She’s got an agent! She’s been paid the big dollars to model for gigantic corporate ad campaigns, and she’s got photos to prove it! I’m in full-on anxiety attack now – palms sweating, light-headed. What have I gotten myself into?

Nothing left to do but shoot. So I started putting up lights and backdrops and acting like I knew what I was doing. Here’s what I found.

Megan is the most amazing person. She’s gracious, easy going and so down to earth. As we talked I found that she’s married to a guy that is deployed for the Air Force on a pretty regular basis. She has two kids, and goes for long periods of time raising them by herself because her husband is gone. Pretty amazing huh?

Then I found that not only is she a great model, she is fearless. She will try anything creatively. For instance. She had a cool cell phone, and I had the idea of having her act like she’s levitating it magically (where did the idea come from? My head! I don’t know!). So the only string I could find was some dental floss. We rig the phone up and hang it from a six foot piece of floss, and it’s spinning. No way to stop it. Megan holds her pose, and when the phone rotates correctly, becomes extra fabulous – and we make this image. (it was purchased for publication in South Africa through one of my stock agencies)


Another quick example. I wanted to try light painting. She couldn’t find a babysitter, so I told her to bring the kids. I set up a room for them to play in, but they had to be in the studio with us, they just wanted to be in the same room as mom.

This image was taken in pitch black, with me “painting” light onto Megan with a flashlight. Her kids are tearing around in the pitch black, crashing into stuff, getting tangled in in the set curtains, oh man it was crazy. But look at Megan. She had to hold that pose for 45 seconds while I painted! Her kids are going crazy, and still she delivers.


I have to say this light painting shoot is one of my favorite memories of photography. I smile so much when I think about it I almost hurt myself. I love the image, but I love the memory of creating it more.

So the model that I was so terrified of has become one of my favorite people of all time. I love the fact that she makes me look like a better photographer than I really am. I so admire her for the hard things she does in her life, and the cheerful outlook she has on it all. She is utterly dedicated to her family, and supporting her husband. Hard not to admire her on lots of levels.

She’s helped me more than I can really explain. That first successful shoot and her willingness to support me and my crazy ideas has lead to a lot of growth for me photographically. I’m so glad she’s been a part of my photographic journey.

More of my photography with Megan can be found in my Flickr account here.

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5 Responses to Beauty and the Beast

  1. George Bingham says:

    Beautiful lady. Doug I am ever amazed at your creativity and exceptionally beautiful work. Magnificient!


  2. James says:

    Awesome work Doug. She is a great subject.


  3. Tanna says:

    I went to school with Megan and she is a remarkable, God loving soul that is so sweet to everyone she meets. She is by far one of the amazing people God put into my life. She was always the smile that lifted me up.


  4. Stephanie says:

    What amazing photos! You are so talented!


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