Sunday, August 5, 2012

Don't Breathe A Word

Don't Breathe A Word
This photo was inspired by the young adult novel Don't Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala. The novel is about a girl, Joy, who decides to runaway from her emotionally and physically abusive home in Seattle for a life on the streets. This book is much, much more than that simple description, so I suggest checking it out if that's a topic you're interested in reading about.

The scene I'm depicting here is Joy's first day on the streets. She's still clean, still has her stuff with her, but there's an immense amount of paranoia and fear plaguing her. Can she survive the streets? Did she make the right choice leaving home?


So for this shot, I did an entire day of location scouting. Many of you know I live in NYC and I do all self-portraits. Ver rarely does anyone help me out, so doing an urban/homeless shot in NYC, I needed to find a location that was visually appealing to me but also safe enough and isolated enough that I'd feel comfortable leaving my Nikon D7000 on the tripod without fear of it being stolen. I walked all around my Brooklyn neighborhood, and sadly because it's summer, every single location I went to was just packed with people. Frustrated, I went to my "go-to" location for photos, my roof. I hopped buildings, and shot this on a neighboring building, actually quite close to where I shot the Divergent photo.

The second most difficult aspect of this photo was nailing down the expression. I needed to show fear, uncertainty and a touch of sadness. I was lucky enough to get this shot (1 out of many, many).

The final obstacle for this shot was turning my naturally reddish/brown hair white. HOLY CRAP! I assumed it would be easy as hell. I mean, I've turned red hair into blue and purple, so how hard could white be? Way harder than I thought. I had to spend about 2 hours tweaking about 10 different layers to get my hair to look natural.

This was as close as I could get it. It's not quite white, more like a really bleached blonde but hopefully readers of Don't Breathe A Word won't mind that detail too much! And yes, making my hair white was worth it, because oddly, Joy's hair color does play a bit of a role in the story, so I'm glad I stuck with it and got it as a place where I was satisfied.

Hope you enjoy the photo and definitely check out Don't Breathe A Word - it's a great, short stand-alone novel that deserves to live on more shelves.


  1. I freaking love this. The contrast of the black clothes against the white is amazing. I've been wanting to read this for a while and now it's at the top of my list.

  2. I love this shot, and your facial expression is perfection! (Also, lol, I recognize that backpack. I still use mine too. ;P) This definitely makes me want to check out the book.

  3. I love all your pics! 2 hours on the hair - such dedication.