Monday, January 21, 2013

Shadow & Bone

Shadow & Bone, originally uploaded by margotwood. View the larger size here.

This fauxto was inspired by the young adult fantasy novel, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - one of my favorite YA fantasies ever!

I was originally going to tell you guys all about the ridiculously frustrating attempts I made to do this photo and all the crazy original ideas I had for it before settling on the one you see here.

But I learned a very important lesson while shooting this today that I think artists, writers and basically anyone in a creative field needs to know.


Yeah, whatever, I know it's a dumb Nike slogan but it is also incredibly good advice.

Before this, I hadn't taken a YA-inspired fauxto since Thanksgiving. True, I could easily blame some family shit or my busy job as a distraction, but those would just be excuses.

I think artists sometimes get hung up on their own success or creativity. They produce something that is so epic and so awesome that for their next project they feel stunted because they are worried they will never be able to achieve that same level of success.

I am totally guilty of falling into that dumb trap. I have spent the last two months stressing out over trying to come up with the next brilliant fauxto. Instead of doing, I was obsessing. And it is never a good thing to obsess. Obsessing over something like a photo idea can lead you so far down the rabbit hole that it's hard to make your way back out.

For this photo, I was bouncing around 8 million insane, wild ideas. I was going to rent leather wings and do double exposed photos layered with all this crap. Then I was going to go to the mountains upstate just to get to snow. The ideas were great, but they were grand and completely unfeasible given my resources and funds.

Once I realized my original ideas were never going to happen, that's when the artistic depression set in. I started whining and bitching about my project (to no one other than my very unlucky boyfriend), to the point where today he just turned to me while we were eating donuts (a great source of inspiration if you're looking for one) and said "Margot, just do it. Just start taking something, anything - and once you do, your creativity will start flowing again."

I didn't want to take his advice. I was scared. I didn't want to start taking anything without a plan in mind and just be continually disappointed in the results. But like he said, I just did it. My original batch of photos were awful, and I almost stopped right then and there but then, like the boyfriend predicted, the ideas started flowing and finally got a shot I was excited to edit.

So am I happy with this final product? Absolutely. No, it isn't as fantastical as the book and yes I could have included some more details from the story, but I still think this captures a moment from the book as well as the tone.

I think it can be hard to make a photo inspired by a fantasy novel look realistic. I mean, it's fantasy! But that's why I think people gravitate towards my photos in the first place - they look real. They bring the stories we love so much to reality and I think this photo achieves that.

So to sum everything up, if you're a writer or a painter or a photographer and you feel stuck and are afraid to produce something that isn't to your standards - just stop worrying and do something. Go back to the basics and start small and simple. You may be surprised and pleased with the results.

Shadow & Bone by Margot Wood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Basically, this means you can share this photo on your blogs or via social media but if you alter it in any way or don't credit me as the artist I'll hunt you down like a dog.  :-)


  1. I haven't read this book (surprising considering the amount I do read!) but this makes me want to!

  2. This looks great! It definitely captures the tone of the scene. Awesome photo and advice. (:

  3. Love it! Never let your own imagination and talent get you down--ever! :D

  4. love that picture! so good!!!! cant wait to see more! - Katie @ Inkk

  5. That is an awesome photo and great book!

  6. Margot, I LOVE THIS. Both the gorgeous photo (so honored that you were inspired by Shadow and Bone) and your thoughts on the creative process. I think we all struggle with this, and there's no antidote for it but action.

    fwiw, I think the results are brilliant and I'm totally in love with this image.

    1. Ditto what Leigh said.

      "Yeah, whatever, I know it's a dumb Nike slogan but it is also incredibly good advice."

      Also that, lol.

      Great job, Margot. And great advice for a writer who far too often *thinks* more than she *does*.

  7. love the book, love the photo! Great job :)

  8. This is gorgeous! Might be my fave of your photos yet! (Maybe tied with Beauty Queens...ok and Daughter of Smoke and Bone...)

  9. Looks awesome, love! And you look gorgeous!

  10. I love the photo, but I love what you wrote in this post even more. It's so true. Sometimes I feel frustrated and whiny about writing because I feel like I'm not up to par or meeting MY expectations. And then something pushes me into writing again and I relax and realize that it's okay to JUST DO IT.

  11. I love the photo. I love the orbs of light from your hands. And like you said, I love how you bring an element of realism to YA - especially some of the fantasy/dystopian ones. You make them feel more real to me.

    Was this the coat that you photoshopped black?

    And thanks for saying what you did about "just doing it" - I'm totally guilty of this myself, I need to take your and Nike's advice and stop whining about not having time to create. THANK YOU.

    Your boyfriend sounds awesome, btw - good for him for pushing you to go for it! =)

  12. Margot, this photo is AMAZING! I totally get what you mean about obsessing over things & falling into a depression because you don't feel like you meet your own standards. Even though the photo didn't end up exactly you wanted, it really turned out so fantastic and it's one of my favourites you've done!

  13. This photo is GORGEOUS and fits the story perfectly! LOVE IT!

  14. The lighting is great and I love that we only see half of her face. AMAZING WORK!

  15. WOW. I just wanted to say the feedback and reception this photo has received is astounding and to heartwarming. You guys are why I keep working on this project. I truly can't begin to express how humbled and honored I am that you all support my art so much.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  16. Adorable .......

  17. I love the photo. I love the orbs of light from your hands. And like you said, I love how you bring an element of realism to YA - especially some of the fantasy/dystopian ones. You make them feel more real to me.

  18. Okay, just finished reading the book, and HOLY HELL I LOVE THIS FAUXTO EVEN MORE NOW. I kept picturing it while I read (once the stag was explained). <3

  19. OMG so awesome I loved this book and Leigh seems super sweet.

  20. I always thought this was beautiful and even remembered it when I started the book a week ago. I have been wanting to read this so I could understand the beautiful photograph.

    And I now I do. And the photograph is that much more gorgeous. <3 <3

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