adar wellington: mirror project

adar wellington: mirror project

I met Adar in June of 2010 at a Discount Dance Supply catalog shoot in Anaheim, CA. She was one of the models chosen to wear the jazz and funky outfits. Adar was great for the catalog. Besides her endless energy she was professional and fun to work with. At the end of every catalog shoot I try to pick one of the day’s models as a subject for a personal portrait. Adar’s energy and beautiful features made her the natural choice.

I photographed Adar in her own clothes she wore that day and the portraits were wonderful. I needed to do more with her than we had time or energy for at the end of a long catalog day so we scheduled a few days later under the Santa Monica Pier.

I’ve been shooting in Los Angeles for over 25 years, often staying in Santa Monica, but I had never shot under the Santa Monica Pier. While taking walks on the beach I had seen so many photographers shoot there. Under the pier, with the sun reflecting off the sand and water, the light was beautiful.

Discount Dance Supply heard about my shoot with Adar so they threw together an outfit just in case we had extra time and something special happened. We put together a bra top and funky tutu. I always wanted to do some kind of dance shot in the water. And as always, I packed my usual bag of vintage dresses, fabrics, and tank tops.

We met at the pier and the light that afternoon couldn’t have been better. Adar was even more beautiful than I remembered from earlier in the week. Maybe it has something to do with the sand and surf. Her face was glowing in the light. The photograph of Adar in the tutu, waves crashing all around her became a DDS catalog cover. One of the portraits is among my all time favorites and was used on my promo piece and my website,

I sometimes wonder why it takes me so long to contact a model for a second shoot after the first one was so perfect. This is the way it happened with Adar. Time sometimes passes by so quickly. Finally, 14 months after our Santa Monica shoot I pull myself together and email Adar, setting up a shoot for this week.

Adar walks in the door and I’m instantly reminded how beautiful she is as a model and as a person. My apartment is trashed since I have my living room set up as a daylight studio but she still compliments my decor. I’m trying something new with the background and I’m not ready. It’s a complicate background setup for such a tiny space but Adar helps me pull it together and I’m ready to shoot.

Adar is great from the minute we begin. We shoot in various outfits (the tank top I bought in Harlem the day before looks especially great on her) and as the afternoon wears on the pictures keep getting better. My goal for the afternoon is to use Adar for my new mirror series and take the project to a new level.

The mirror photographs are complicated for both me and the model. The dual images and reflections of light from the mirror itself constantly change the look of the image. Focusing can be difficult and often I shoot at one tenth of a second to get the necessary depth of field.

After a minute Adar has the posing down and we’re playing with the shapes and reflections. Sometimes I don’t know whether to concentrate on Adar in real life or the Adar in the reflection. It can feel like shooting two different people moving in opposing directions with different moods and expressions. It becomes a four way dance between me, Adar, her reflection, and the mirror. I wonder if Picasso’s early abstracts began with the diffraction of images he saw in old mirrors.

I shot non-stop, each picture a sketch towards the finished image. Adar made perfection happen so many times while she manipulated the mirror, her face and body. I could hardly control my excitement while shooting. This picture is one of my favorites.

Adar Wellington photographed in my daylight studio on August 22, 2011.

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