Prop Perfection - Gas Masks

Last week, I wrote about the thrill of thrifting and how I hunt for props to use in my photo shoots. The responses I received from that article mainly commented on a small picture I included that showed a few of my gas masks from my collection. So I thought I would take the time to talk about gas masks, why I collect them, how I use them, as well as how they are used lately for creative purposes.

 (Below images are a combination of my personal collection, FALT images, and TV stills)

To be honest, I'm not exactly sure why I find gas masks so appealing. I do know that I really started to enjoy them after creating a few military styled pin-ups back in 2010. When I spent quite some time researching different military attire, equipment, etc..I found myself staring at gas mask imagery in a wide variety of art categories and medias. There is a lot of fetish, gothic, steampunk, and apocalyptic (just to name a few) styled photographs and paintings that use gas masks in many ways. Sometimes the mask is just a prop that is off to the side or in the background, other times it is an accessory or wardrobe piece. It is so common to see gas masks in these popular genres that many people find them to be a bit cliche. If my interest in gas masks only existed because I thought they where a good way to add "edge" to my images, then it is like I would also find them to be a bit over used. But to me, a gas mask is much more fascinating than something that stands out as an "odd prop" (which is a bonus). Something about the history of them, the purposes they had then and have now, and the story behind them. Something about the roll they played in some of history's darkest times, as well as the most revolutionary times, REALLY draws me to them. Like I said, I'm not exactly sure what it is (just an idea), and hopefully I will never find myself in a situation where I need one in order to live. I will, hoever, continue to enjoy learning about gas masks, their history, style, types, etc...
I will also continue to collect as many different masks as possible, and as my collection grows I'll be sure to share my newest additions (and what I've learned about them) here for you to see.

So far, I have only used a few gas masks in a hand-full of photo shoots, and I really wish the list of variety was bigger. Most of my images that feature a gas mask fall under the fetish genre with dark twists. In the beginning of my photography adventure (2010), I had the opportunity to work on an apocalyptic themed shoot, which featured a common rubber (I believe an GP-5 model) gas mask to add a feeling of a hazardous and dangerous environment. I very much enjoyed the theme and setting of the concept, it was definitely an "opening door" moment in time for me, a starting point into creating my alternative style.
I personally believe that the current popularity of Steampunk is a major factor to why gas masks are seen quite a bit in today's alt scenes. There is also the incredible popularity of the "Zombie Apocalypse" craze to consider for this. These two a major alternative categories use gas masks as a style staple, making them extremely popular amongst their fan base.Venturing away from the alternative categories; You can thank the famous Dr. Who episode "The Empty Child", for making gas masks a popular "twisted" costume piece, there has been many occasions where someone will respond to seeing my gas masks with "Are you my mummy?" - har har.

Also falling outside of the alt cult base is popular first person shooter games that feature a more modern gas mask model, as well as popular movies that feature raid scenes. There is no shortage of influences that involve gas masks for artists of today. I hope to have a solid collection of different models as years go by, and I cannot wait to share it with everyone!   


F.ALT Models - Scarlett River

Its time for another nifty post about models that I've had the pleasure of working with! On this fine Wednesday afternoon, as I sit here enjoying my third coffee of the day, I feel eager to do many enjoyable activities while still being productive. I have a list of to-do's to get through, like anyone, but right now it only feels right to expand on some positive experiences that I've had. Of course, when you work with a fun and fresh individual the experience is always positive, and that was how my time spent with Scarlett River can be described.

Scarlett works as a model, fashion designer, and stage performer in Los Angeles. Her dynamic posing abilities, long red hair, and legs that go on forever make this internationally published beauty one in a million. She has worked with many talented photographers from The United States, France, and now CANADA ( sorry for the inflated ego ).

I was very lucky to work with Scarlett River on a variety of concepts, after admiring her character packed portfolio for quite some time. We met during my trip to Los Angeles back in March of 2012, where we both combined our various skills to create many intriguing pin-up images. From 60's inspired space warrior to French themed boudoir, Scarlett River knows how to take an idea and turn it into something beautiful.  In total, we shot five different looks (one featuring a sweet latex outfit by Pretty Thoughts) each of which was beaming with glorious character that Miss. River so elegantly displayed.

I always enjoy working with a model that brings a strong understanding of design with them to a shoot. Not only does Scarlett have a solid grasp on posing, but she also has a wonderful ability to style herself between each set that we shot. Within minutes, she had a new hair style to match the newly put together attire, which she also perfectly improvised on in front of the camera.

Here are some questions that I asked Scarlett River to help you get to know her better as a creative individual.

How would you compare the modeling scene in America to the one over seas?
"Well, I think there is a big differences, it's actually almost astounding. And of course, there are positives and negatives on both sides, I suppose. I think in France, you have a lot more artistic photographer's, people whom live and breath art, who want to make beautiful imagery, for the sake of art, which I deeply admire. Having said that, the downside is that I feel like in France, not many photographer's make an actual living with their work, which is very sad, since I think many of them deserve it.
And on the other hand, here in the states, it's quite the opposite, many photographer's here will not shoot, unless it is for a definite publication. People here are more interested in getting their work exposed, published, and making money, as it should be. However the downside to that is, there is not a lot of room left to create personal projects.
It's very different, I can say that modeling in Paris was very easy, versus the states, you have a lot more models here, so you really need to do your best to bring something different to the table, to make you stand out, from the rest.

 What does the term "alternative" mean to you?
"For me Alternative means establishing and accepting different ideas of beauty, apart from those that the fashion industry has decided to rule as ideal. Not to beat up on high fashion models, I think they are wonderful, and there is a reason why their standards are the way they are, but alternative means that there are other alternatives to beauty than just the mainstream idea of beauty."

Aside from modeling, what are some of your creative outlets?
"Since I am a fashion designer, I really enjoy sewing and drawing. If I'm not shooting, chances are I am making something, weather that is an outfit for my next shoot, or making some new hair accessories, I always enjoy creating and learning new things."

(Above picture shows Scarlett in an eye patch she created. The image was also styled by Miss. River. Image by Fairy Tales Photography)

Who are some of your biggest influences, and why?

"I think Aprella was a huge inspiration to me, she was one of the first Alt models I started following, she has a very fashionable side to her modeling, and I really love how diverse and unique her look is, she is a remarkable beauty."

To keep up in the know with Scarlett River, be sure to follow her on:
-Model Mayhem


Pin-up Icon: Cherry Dollface

(Left Photo by Ama Lea Photography)

In my first blog post I talked a lot about pin-up influences and modern pin-up icons in the modeling scene, on TV, etc...Cherry Dollface was mentioned as one, and I truly believe she is one of the greatest alternative model's and pin-up personalities around today.

Cherry Dollface has worked with a long list of talented photographers, designers, and artists of other skill sets. She has been published in a wide variety of books and magazines for quite some time, and continues to appear in many popular titles. Her name is now well known because of her many achievements, but regardless of that, she is still a normal human being.

"I am just a normal gal that got lucky enough to have the experiences that I have had. I love pushing myself into new territory and discovering new things in the world that make me and the people I love happy."

Cherry is indeed quite beautiful, on the inside and out. Her gorgeous features, vibrant tattoos, and iconic (yet still unique) rockabilly style only play a single part in her highly successful role in the alternative scene. She has a very sweet heart that drives her to help others feel pretty in their own skin, and she does this in a list of various videos that she posts on her YouTube channel.

If you've never watched any of her videos, you are in for a treat! Her channel is full of helpful beauty tutorials, product reviews, cooking info, and much more. She also uses her channel to connect with fans on a more personal level, by answering questions and responding to other inquiries via Q&A videos. I highly recommend spending some time watching her channel!

Recently, Cherry Dollface posted a video where she talks about her new Instagram campaign: #Myfavoriteme. (watch it here)

So what is the story behind this campaign?

"I started #myfavoriteme because I saw so many girls in all of my social network feeds focusing so much on outer beauty and on trying to be "beautiful." Sometimes I think it is nice to focus on the other things that make you feel good versus how you look. Not saying that it's not open to girls that just feel smokin' hot one day and want to share. But I wanted to start a campaign that was about more than just the outside. The most beautiful people I know emulate beauty from other aspects of their lives. And it feels good to share a part of yourself that you are proud of-- whether it is an accomplishment, a best friend, a hurdle overcome, an amazing relationship, or even just a good eyebrow day. I find it really inspiring looking through and reading all of the tags."

Like I said, Cherry has a sweet heart. So lets get to know her a bit more!

What does the term "alternative" mean to you?
"It's funny, when I was growing up, "alternative" music was invented. I remember telling my dad I was really into Alternative and he told me it made no sense. I really thought about it and I realized that back then it was all top 40 hits on the radio. And "alternative" was just that, and alternative to the normal, boring mainstream. I have always felt that the alternative to anything (fashion, makeup, music, lifestyle) has always been more interesting than the norm."

(Right Photo by Andy Hartmark)

What would you like to see change in the alternative scene today?
"More creativity. I feel like a lot of people that try to be different all end up following the same alternative trends-- in essence creating more norms. I feel like the whole point of being alternative is to be brave enough to do something new and be unique."

Who are some of your biggest inspirations and why?
Most of my inspirations are people in my personal life. I am inspired more by courage, strength, and intelligence in the people that admire personally than I am by some strangers outfit in a magazine. My future husband, Trevor, has been one of the most inspirational people I have ever known since the moment we met. It's important to me to surround myself with people like that.

Aside from modeling and make-up, what are your some of your creative outlets?
My YouTube channel is a HUGE creative outlet for me. I can totally be myself and express myself and the amount of support I get is overwhelming. Every time I come up with a new video idea, I get so excited to share it with the world and in general the feedback is awesome. I am also planning my wedding right now, so that has been a fun new project as well.

What is the story behind your favorite tattoo(s)?
I feel like my favorite tattoo is always changing. Each new one becomes my next favorite because it is new and fresh and exciting. Right now I am working on my back piece and that is my favorite artistically. I have some funny inside jokes as well that are my favorite just because they always make me laugh.

(Above Photo by Travis Haight)

Along with her YouTube channel, you can find Cherry Dollface on:
Model Mayhem


Prop Perfection and the Trill of Thrifting

Prop Perfection and the Trill of Thrifting

I might be new to blogging myself, but I've been reading a wide variety of different blogs on a daily basis for...however long blogs have been a big thing. One thing I have learned, and I'm sure any blog explorer has, is that thrifting is an incredibly popular topic to blog about. To me, that makes a lot of sense. In my personal experiences, good thrifting finds are difficult to keep to yourself. Finding love in second chance stuff'n'junk can occur in a variety of ways (finding something that you know the history of, that you know the value of, or even makes you feel nostalgic), and its a thrill that you have to talk about.

Everyone who finds joy in thrifting has their own good reasons for loving it so much, even if its because of how trendy it is. Like most of my hobbies, my love of thrifting stems from my passion for photography.
Yes; I also experience the joy of treasure hunting, the excitement of the find. Its hard not to get giddy over a good bargain or seeing purpose in something that was once considered useless and undesired. But my drive to try and thrift with success (yes, there is many ways to insure successful thrifting, but that is a topic for another day) comes from F.ALT. Props are a huge part of the design portion of my work, and I have always found the BEST props during my adventures in thrifting.

For this series the model is wearing a dress, jacket, and belt that I thrifted. 
The yellow case was also found during a thrifting adventure.

My most successful prop hunts (what I sometimes call thrifting adventures) have never started with me walking into a shop and looking for something specific. Picking something up and asking myself "how could I use this to tell a story?" is much more fun. I know lots of fellow thrifters who do something slightly opposite, when they find something and ask themselves "what is the story behind this? But again, there are many reasons to love thrifting so much, everyone has their own.

I'll wrap this post up with a few other examples of props that I've found through thrifting (trust me when I say its just an itty bitty part of my collection). I hope to have more detailed post about particular prop finds in near future; including how I used them in my photo shoots, along with those photo series. I also look forward to writing a more in-depth post about picking the right props when thinking about my concepts, thrifting methods, and my journey through a newer store project (lots of details about that to come). Until then, happy hunting!

This small part of my collection shows a few of my favorite findings; Some vintage decor, a French radio from the 30s, a copper plated scale, 4 pieces from my gas mask collection, 2 military hats from my large military attire collection, a couple of my vintage cameras, and a cottage style key holder that I'm using to display some of my studio necklaces.


F.ALT Models - Chevvy Piston

F.ALT Models - Chevvy Piston

When it comes down to what makes me feel accomplished and satisfied overall with a photo shoot, a lot of it happens to be the little things. So when I'm lucky enough to work with a model who brings all of those little things and more to the table, those feelings become something else. They derail from the common feelings of "simply satisfied" and "accomplished" and crash into fields of "beyond thrilled" and "over-joyed". At least that is how I felt about working with Chevvy Piston.

Chevvy is a hard working gal from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her edgy features, curvalicious bod, and beautifully unique tattoos make her one of the best alternative models in The Great White North. She has modeled for a wide variety of fashion designers and can successfully rock latex, corsets, lace and nylon like no one's business. Of course, Chevvy doesn't have to pose in any attire to look so damn good (and sometimes that's they way she does it ;D).
I am very lucky to be on Chevvy's (impressive) list of photographers that she has worked with. Back in the spring of 2012, I received an email from Chevvy that told me about her idea to do a tribute shoot to Elvis Presley. We chatted back and fourth about the concept and I though "hell, lets do this!". A few months past and our photo shoot date finally happened in the following summer. Well, I can truly say is was a BLAST! Not only did we shoot Chevvy's Elvis tribute (which featured a sexy latex outfit by Abigail Greydanus), we also took our time creating some spooky pin-up images, and some visually scrumptious nautical latex shots.

Like I said, shooting with Chevvy left me feeling beyond thrilled. The feeling of over-joyed came from our images being published in Missy Ink Magazine's Halloween issue, as well as Le Purr Magazine's Feb 2013 issue. She's a great addition to the alternative scene, and I highly recommend any photographer looking to create some fierce work to consider her.

So what does the term "alternative" mean to this gorgeous woman? Here's what she has to say;
"Alternative to me has always been about pushing the boundaries of what common society deems "normal". It's always been about the outsiders and the people who push "d.i.y" and do! I really love being a part of the alternative scene and bearing witness to the interactions between it and the so-called "normal" scene."

When it comes to what she loves about the alternative scene, as well as what she would like to see change;
"I really love that we're a universal group. There is alternative culture everywhere, and no matter where my travels take me, I always find a home. I think it's important (and hopefully it will change) that we remember the focus is about being yourself, even if that make you different. Not every style or every person will be liked by everyone, but respecting that there are different styles is super important. Just respecting each other in general is of huge importance."

I asked Miss Piston who some of her biggest inspirations are. Its always interesting to know who drives such a creative woman like Chevvy.
"I'd have to say that my biggest inspirations (modeling wise) have been gals like Bridget Blonde and Kerosene Deluxe. Two vastly different models image-wise but both blazing trails and making shit their own. I think it's extremely inspiring when a woman does the things that speak truthfully to her--whether that's modeling at a size 14 or starting up a skateboarding clothing brand when most of them are owned by men. Pushing boundaries and working hard to set a strong example is just really motivating for me."

When it comes to other creative outlets outside of modeling, here is what Chevvy likes to do to be creative:
"I have really been getting back into the groove with make-up and hair. I've been planning a few projects and expanding on my work for the last 3 months or so and I'm feeling very inspired. It's a nice feeling!"

(Left image by: Tiffany Ireland Photography)

Be sure to keep up with Chevvy's latest work, as well as other projects, by checking out her facebook page: Chevvy Piston's FB page.

You can also find her on:
Model Mayhem


Aim for the head - zombies and how they inspire me.

In celebration of The Walking Dead returning tonight in its mid-season (3) premier, I have decided to write about a topic loved by myself and many other: ZOMBIES! AAAAAH!

Unless you work very (VERY) hard to avoid any sight or mention of horror related subjects, there should be no need for me to give an overly detailed analysis of zombies or the undead and what the topic has done for pop culture.
The idea of the flesh eating, brain craving, monster has become so popular that The Center for Disease Control (CDC) wrote an detailed article on how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. This was done as a fun approach to raise awareness on how to be ready for a major disaster, but the large zombie culture fan base had quite the response to it. You can read the CDC article and other tid bits that they've posted over time here.

It is no surprise that zombies have become the most loved horror sub-genre of all time. With zombie based films being around as early as 1920 (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and being pumped out in the masses since then, it is easy for any of us to have a few favorites out of all of them. Like any popular genre would do, the zombie culture has influenced the art and creation of many people in MANY different ways. If you've never been to a zombie walk before, trust me when I say you are missing out on an experience like nothing else.

Because of its spooky history and gorey characteristics, zombie culture clearly falls into the alternative category. It is a subject I have had a lot of fun including in past photo projects; While it may be more time and detailed intensive versus other common alt genres, it is also the most rewarding in the end. It takes the creative talents of many to tell a good zombie tale (in books, images, or movies). Make-up artists, weapons specialists, directors, character developers, forensics and hazardous specialists, photographers, comic book artists, graphic designers...the list really does go on and on (and the inspirations are ENDLESS).

I am very lucky to have a sister that just so happens to be a talented special FX make-up artist. While there are many reasons that I love to do zombie photo shoots, working with her is definitely in the top five. Zombie culture isn't going anywhere any time soon, and neither is my desire to work on horror and macabre concepts. I may have plenty of work in that genre already, but it with shows like The Walking Dead, movies like Shaun of the Dead, Fido, "....of the living dead", 28 Weeks Later, and Zombieland (just to name a few), I will never get enough opportunities to make more.

F.ALT Photographics Zombies:


Pin-Up yesterday and today

Back in 2008, when I was still new to studio photography and trying to figure out how I was going to portray myself as an "alternative" photographer, ladies of all ages where finding new love in the vintage pin-up image. It was the steady start to something that was about to explode.
Old methods of curling your hair up became the newest must do, vintage patterns started being reused in modern clothing design, and the rockabilly scene strongly took over and evolved. Well, 2008 may have only been a few years ago, but fast forward to pin-up today and look around you.... It.Is.EVERYWHERE.

Pin-up style and imagery can be seen all over the internet, in books, television and movies. Now that it is considered a main photographic style of shooting, as well as a common artistic genre in general, all image sharing websites are flooded with pin-ups old and new. With television programs like Mad Men, Bomb Girls, and the many different tattoo based shows, pin-up style now helps establish a variety of settings in time, character development, and culture in the media. Not to mention the list of movies based in the 40s and 50s that have graced the big screen over the last 5 years, in which many of the female actors can be seen with familiar pin-up characteristics.
It is no longer limited to the love of Bettie Page fans or hot rod enthusiasts; Pin-up has become an artistic medium that can be used in almost everything. It has become a loved form of expression that involves a variety of feminine characteristics and makes them shine. Any life style, genre, theme, etc..can be featured in a pin-up, and any woman can have fun with creating their very own pin-up character through a variety of methods.

Many of the iconic pin-up artists and models of the past have made a huge comeback in today's pop culture scene. Artists like Gil Elvgreen can be found in almost any shop that sells posters, books, calendars, and any other printed medium. Models like Bettie Page can be seen on t-shirts, lighters, and even lunch boxes. The girl even has a collection of comic books and action figures!
Along with the classics, there are many modern day pin-up icons. Artists like Robert Alvarado and Tyson MacAdoo have both become well known artists with their own unique pin-up style. Models like Dita Von Teese, Bernie Dexter, and Miss. Mosh take the characteristics of vintage pin-up and make them modern in their own unique ways. Youtube personalities like Ashley Marie Rosas and Cherry Dollface provide fans all over the world with beautifully detailed tutorials on how to achieve your own pin-up look.

Yep, pin-up is everywhere. No matter who you are or where you are at, it is likely that you've had a moment of appreciation for the art form in some way. It is here to stay, as a forever growing culture that can always be applied to something new, but at the same time the core parts will never change. But that is okay, its one of the many reasons that pin-up is so great. It has become the bridge that links styles of all varieties (alternative or not) together in a pleasant co-existance.

There are many different ways to view the current existence of pin-up in today's world. This is just a brief personal view that comes from nearly 5 years of being a working alternative photographer. Pin-up is the most requested photo shoot genre that I get, and I've been lucky enough to work with many different women with many different pin-up themes. While there have been times of feeling cliche with the most common pin-up themes that have been done over and over again, I still see a lot of unique ideas and uses for the style. The possibilities are endless!