The Swan Queen | Creative Collaboration

Kimberly Lester | The Swan Queen

A few months back, one of my talented colleagues, Arina Izadi brought forth an idea she had for transforming a dancer into a swan via prosthetics and costume. She needed a photographer to capture the project. I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of her vision. Over the next weeks, Arina started sending me sketches and images of her prototypes for the facial prosthetics. We chatted about costuming ideas, and she created a feathered and bejeweled bodice. I provided the crown and the skirts from my collection to complete the look.

Our Swan Queen is a phenomenal dancer, actor and director working out of San Francisco. Kimberly Lester’s graceful presence and professionalism was the perfect fit to bring this to life. Arina also brought in her colleague, Leilani Norman whose hair and makeup skills worked in tandem with Arina’s. With the final week upon us, our shooting location was booked, our excitement was tangible.

Come the day of the session, everything flowed together as if we had all worked together for years. As Kimberly settled into the makeup chair, Arina and Leilani began their magic. It was fun that Arina is right handed, and Leilani is left, so they were able to work together at the same time. For me, it was amazing to see how the application, blending and finishing of prosthetics work. In the end, it did indeed look like these delicate feathers were a part of Kimberly’s face and collarbone.

Once the hair was styled and makeup completed, it was into wardrobe and time for some test shots. I set up a secondary camera for video, put on some music, and we were ready.

Working with a dancer is always a joy because they are very aware of their body and how it moves. I was able to give direction, and Kimberly took the idea and expanded on it through movement and emotion. We both had some specific shots we wanted to capture and then also explored others just for fun. We all used Arina’s original vision as a spring board to create a collaboration that was truly spectacular.

After editing the images, I intertwined the video to create this film as a narrative of our adventure. I hope you enjoy seeing our Swan Queen session take flight.