Monday, January 26, 2015

Metamorph: A Conversation With Kendra, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my conversation with our model and the star of our "Metamorph" session, Kendra Scott. If you missed Part 1, including the introduction of Kendra, you may see it, HERE.

In 2013, I hatched the notion of a metamorphisis-themed photo shoot, with a slightly backwards twist -- a beautiful butterfly who only longs to return to the comfort of her cocoon.

Our particular story focuses on Kendra's emotional journey as she sheds those beautiful wings, strips away the gorgeous mask of makeup and protective armor of a stunning gown, and struggles to find the true self that lies where it all started, in the comfort of her "cocoon."

We covered a wide emotional and visual spectrum, reflected in a set of images that showcases Kendra's beauty, depth, and versatility. It's not easy being vulnerable and riding an emotional roller coaster in front of the camera. Kendra dug deep and faced a few fears on her ride, which you'll read about, later on.

Hair and makeup artist, Cynthia Rhodes, joined us, again, bringing her own magic to our vision.

In Part 2 of our conversation, we talk, in depth, about her inspiration, confronting challenges, and her personal thoughts about the session, looking back on it.

AB: What attracted you to our project?

Kendra: I love a shoot that tells a metaphoric story with an artistic expression. This idea for the shoot was birthed close to a year before the actual photo shoot took place and I never lost motivation for wanting to collaborate on it. Beautiful dresses, emotion, and an incredible team to work with -- I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

AB: I wanted to explore some very personal themes with our concept of metamorphosis and transformation, including stripping away superficial masks, no matter how beautiful, in order to find one's own identity. Have you ever done any creative soul-searching with your modeling, before?

Kendra: I wish I had some elaborate story but I never quite had the experience I had during this shoot. It was something that was brand new for me in the modeling aspect. It was so interesting to really channel those emotions and experiences I’ve had in real life, into a photo form.

AB: Who is your modeling hero?

Kendra: It’s really hard to pin point one person who inspires me the most in modeling. I follow many fitness models and I’m always so inspired and impressed with their dedication to the sport as well as incredible beauty and talent in front of the camera. Michelle Lewin in a big role model for me -- she is really an incredible model, beautiful personality and charisma, and very motivational.

AB: Was there an important transformation, in your life, that connected you with the theme?

Kendra: The past year leading up to this shoot was an incredible journey for me. So many changes and decisions in my life that really altered my path. I went through an engagement, a breakup, owning a business, closing the business, losing friendships, making incredible new ones, several surgeries, and a few long trips across the U.S. I hit bottom several times and I felt very much vulnerable and broken as portrayed in the photos. I also found my power and my voice again and came through it all stronger and more empowered. This shoot was an incredible expression of how I felt so many times in different areas of my life over the past year.

AB: How did you prepare for our shoot? Did you do anything special to get into character?

Kendra: There was a lot of mental preparation leading up to the shoot. As I mentioned, the idea was a year in the making, so I spent a lot of time mulling over the way I wanted to portray my own personal twist on the idea. The night before the shoot, I spent in my truck in a Walmart parking lot sleeping on and off. I’m a gypsy at heart so I like doing random things that people find weird! The morning of the shoot, I drove to the location and sat on the river bank playing my guitar and meditating. It was incredibly serene and relaxing and really helped me center myself before the shoot.

Also…FOOD! You can’t have a good shoot on an empty stomach and Allan was nice enough to provide a ton of healthy snacks before and during the shoot.

AB: What do you hope people feel when they look at and experience our shoot?

Kendra: I want people to get a little uncomfortable. I want them to go through the series and feel the mood shift -- feel the hurt, the pain, the torment, and also feel the pride and power. I feel if our photos stir thoughts and emotions in the viewer, then we succeeded.

AB: What was your favorite part of our shoot?

Kendra: Cindy made me feel like a Goddess with her incredible talent in hair and makeup. I wish I could take her home and have her make me over every day! Getting in the gown and feeling so empowered was a favorite for me! Also, getting Allan to crack up a few times was a highlight.

AB: You stepped out of your comfort zone, a lot, for our session. What was the most challenging part of our shoot?

Kendra: I might as well state the obvious…GETTING NAKED!! I swore I’d never do it but I am so proud that I did. I took a risk, stepped out of my bubble and I felt empowered and beautiful. I don’t think I would’ve done it for any other photographer -- I absolutely trusted my team and they didn’t let me down!

AB: What did you take away from our shoot and how did you feel when it was over?

Kendra: I was absolutely exhausted when it was over. I had wet hair and messy makeup streaking down my face and I felt totally accomplished. I slept great that night though! I had a long drive home so I reflected a lot about how the shoot was a mirror of me in real life. We all have moments of disaster and weakness, we feel sad, neglected, ignored, and abused. It’s not about how many times we fail, it’s about how we overcome those failures and become better people because of them. “Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.”

My sincerest thanks, again, to the wonderful, Kendra, for a very memorable experience and for taking the time to answer my questions. It was my honor to create this beautiful series with you. And, my sincere gratitude to Cynthia Rhodes for bringing her skills and talents to this special collaboration.

photographer: Allan Burch (
model: Kendra Scott
hair and makeup: Cynthia Rhodes
dress: Dream Shoot Rentals (
mask: Stellar Masks (

Friday, January 16, 2015

Metamorph: A Conversation With Kendra, Part 1

Transformation is part of everyone's lives, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It's a theme rich for storytelling, and one in which I wanted to sink my teeth into.

In 2013, I hatched the notion of a metamorphisis-themed photo shoot, with a slightly backwards twist -- a beautiful butterfly who only longs to return to the comfort of her cocoon.

Change is hard. Even when we appear the pillar of strength and beauty, on the outside, we are often feeling our most vulnerable, on the inside. Our story of metamorphosis shows that emotional journey; stripping away superficial masks, no matter how beautiful, to find one's true identity, regardless of the dark places it may take us.

I contacted model, Kendra Scott -- a fellow-Cancerian, and frequent collaborator -- to help me realize this vision. I knew she was going through several personal transformations, which would be helpful for her to connect with my theme. But, I also know she is a thoughtful and perceptive spirit who would personalize this creation and make it her own. Plus, we tend to create magical images when we collaborate.

Hair and makeup artist, Cynthia Rhodes, joined us, again, bringing her own magic to our vision.

After about a year on the incubator, the stars and schedules aligned, and we made it happen. Kendra stepped outside of her comfort zone, in many ways, to help make this visual story so special and powerful. You'll read more about how she stepped outside her comfort zone, in our Q & A sessions.

Because there is so much to talk about, with Kendra, we're breaking our discussion into two posts. The first part, below, introduces you to Kendra. Part two delves into her thoughts behind our our shoot.

Without further delay, here is part one of my insightful conversation with the lovely, Kendra...

AB: How long have you been modeling?

Kendra: I’ve been modeling just a little over 3 years.

AB: How did you get started modeling?

Kendra: A bit of a personal story, but I got into modeling after my divorce as a way of rebuilding my self-esteem. I basically threw myself to the wolves and although I did receive a lot of rejection, I also landed my first runway show which was the foundation to everything I’ve done since. I literally cried from happiness when I got the casting call!

AB: What do you love most about modeling?

Kendra: I absolutely love the freedom of expression and creative possibilities.

AB: What advice do you have for young girls who aspire to model?

Kendra: Do your research!!! There are a LOT of people out there who will take advantage of you or tell you that you’re pretty. Be safe and be smart.

AB: Where do you find creative inspiration?

Kendra: Anytime I’m lacking inspiration, I go outside. There is so much beauty that inspires me -- the movement of the trees, a rain storm, and animals. Sometimes all I need is to go barefoot outside to ground myself and spark some creative inspiration.

AB: How do you describe your modeling style?

Kendra: Eclectic! Heavy on the sassy and saucy, too.

AB: What is your favorite non-modeling hobby?

Kendra: Lifting weights -- it’s a bit of an obsession, really.

AB: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Kendra: A glass of Riesling with Will Ferrell movies is my go-to guilty pleasure. Also, white chocolate Reece’s cups. Those things are ungodly delicious.

AB: What 3 words best describe you?

Kendra: I put this question on my social media to help out…let me tell you, I got some colorful responses! haha I think the following ones do it best, though. Bold. Passionate. Catalyst.

AB: That's interesting. Can you explain what you mean by catalyst?

Kendra: I am a catalyst in the sense that I make change happen, I set out to make a difference even if that means it causes an uprising and makes people uncomfortable. If a change needs to happen, I'm the person for the job.

AB: What is one thing people do not know about you?

Kendra: I have always secretly wanted to be a writer for SNL. Unfortunately, I find myself funnier than most people do. ;)

AB: Tell me about your interest in fitness and working out. It's been a metamorphosis, of sorts, for you. What got you started working out?

Kendra: I have always been one of those girls we like to call “treadmill bunnies” and ran several miles a day and absolutely hated it. It works great for some people but not for me. I wasn’t happy with my body or the results I was trying to reach. I started researching ways to increase muscle mass and tone and came across the beautiful world of weight lifting. I’ve been hooked ever since! I’ve put on a solid 25 lbs since switching to weight lifting and I’ve never felt or looked better.

AB: Your hard work is evident, in our images. What do you enjoy, the most, about going to the gym?

Kendra: As a mom, I don’t get a lot of alone, adult time, So the gym is my escape. At the same time, I have so many friends at the gym that really push me to be the best version of myself -- so I get my adult time and see my buddies all at once.

AB: What is your favorite exercise?

Kendra: Without a doubt, Deadlifts! I love to deadlift when I’m having a bad day and take out all my frustrations with the weight.

AB: What are your fitness goals?

Kendra: I would eventually like to do some competitions -- just looking for the right trainer to assist me.

AB: What music gets you pumped for a gym session?

Kendra: Anyone who knows me, knows that I have an obsession with Eminem. I can rap just about any of his songs and I always listen to him before or during a gym session to really get motivated.

My sincerest thanks to the very kind, brave, and talented, Kendra, for a fantastic experience. You'll want to stay tuned for part two, where we get a glimpse inside the transformations that influenced her, and how she prepared for this special experience.

photographer: Allan Burch (
model: Kendra Scott
hair and makeup: Cynthia Rhodes
dress: Dream Shoot Rentals (
mask: Stellar Masks (