Lions, and Mice, and Cameras! Oh My!

Lions, and Mice, and Cameras! Oh My!


I love my clients for so many reasons, but probably my favorite is that most walk into my studio seeking something “different.” That’s the word they use, and they use it so often that I’ve learned to simply integrate the word into my marketing. Seriously, almost everyone that comes to me says the word “different” in the first handful of sentences. So it was no surprise when I received a more-than-unusual call a few months back, a group of Western Washington University students wanted to put together a photo shoot project to showcase some of their makeup and design/styling skills. They wanted me to be the one to help finalize visual concept and photograph it.

Photo consults are always fun, and like a first date, people are hesitant to speak their mind as to what they really want, scared to just shout out their ideas, as if it’s too out of the norm or their idea is not logically possible within the realm of a photo shoot. By the end of the consult I’ve sent them on their way with ideas well beyond what they thought was possible. I want them to push me, and in a direction I’ve never shot in before, it’s my happy place. But during this particular phone call, I didn’t have to stretch anyone’s imagination, as the WWU students already had a great vision as to what they wanted to accomplish. However, maybe when I said “yes” immediately to everything they wanted to accomplish, it sounded all too easy on their end of the phone.

We set out to accomplish a story from the Aesop’s Fables – The Lion and the Mouse. Gist of the story is that a favor is returned for a favor. The mouse promises to return a favor one day if the lion would let him go after being caught. The lion smugly agrees, only to be surprised later one day when the mouse is indeed able to help by freeing the lion from a rope.

KateLynn Walker was the one spearheading the whole project, and the lead makeup artist for this concept. Other team members included Ruby Jones and Emma Seay Craig, who assisted (as well as Ruby modeling as the Lion for this shoot). They did a lot of prep for this shoot, including the pouring of face prosthetics ahead of time to form the lion and mouse final looks. It was an early morning for the makeup team, a handful of hours were spent on the looks prior to any shooting took place.

When KateLynn described the forest-like look she wanted for this shoot, I know of only one go-to place around here in Tacoma, and that is Point Defiance Park. It’s an amazing location, and I find myself shooting out there more and more. To have such a great wooded area in a large city like this is definitely a treat, and I do put it to use.

Below is a shot of our basic setup for the shoot. I was fortunate enough to find an ideal spot that was literally on the street side. There are a ton of great locations in the park, but most required a bit of hiking, and that’s not a fun task with a couple hundred pounds of gear and a team of people. Luckily, in the final shots, you’d think you were miles in the woods, and not choking on the exhaust fumes of the passing cars. It was an odd day too, as there was an emergency further back in the park and a dozen fire, police, and ambulance vehicles zoomed by. Just our luck, right? Normally a super calm place with the occasional car was now a chaotic mess of sirens for 30 minutes.


Below is a common sight at any commercial-based Matty shoot, showing the resulting images to ensure they look the way the client wants. In this case, KateLynn is checking to make sure the characters’ makeup and outfits look as desired under the photo lights.

Photographically speaking, I think we had 4 lights setup to make this main shot happen. 2 key/front lights, one back, and one side light, while utilizing just a dab of ambient light for the background.


It was a weekend, and with that, there is a lot more traffic throughout the park. I don’t know if a single car drove by without doing a double-take. Who wouldn’t?! Did I mention there is a zoo located at the front of the park? Then seeing a lion lying around in the woods about a mile later…. I’m sure it made some hearts jump. We even got a couple school buses full of people. Some people stopped to take it all in, mostly with smiles on faces.




These last two shots were not part of the concept, but I loved the look of this fallen tree’s exposed root system. The detail on the shot below is fantastic when viewed in a large format.


The girls did a great job on the makeup and outfits, right?! Definitely very talented and passionate about what they do, and I have no doubt they’ll do fantastic with careers in the industry.

There is SO much that needs to make its way to the blog, including another shoot from this weekend of Aesop’s Fables concepts, I just gotta find the time! Stay tuned!┬áIf you’d like to see a little bit more that went into this shoot, you can watch the recently published BTS showcase video below.