Wouldn’t receiving just a picture of a champagne bottle on Valentine’s Day fall a little flat? Texting your love just isn’t good enough. As creatives, we’ve got the possibility of exorbitantly elaborate personal art (and fun) at our fingertips. All you need is a little ingenuity to surprise your lover with a memento that will be cherished for years.
Every year, amid much secrecy and chuckling, I design a photographic Valentine for Karl. It’s a family tradition going way back to my grandmother, a school teacher and principal, who was born in 1889. She collected Valentines, as did my mother, an international musician, who arranged them in scrapbooks which I received on the holiday, whether she was in town or not.
And then there’s the our annual Valentine’s party for women artists only, mostly members of a group called Colorado Colors who exhibit together. We lunch and gossip about what each other is doing, and then the eagerly awaited entertainment starts. Each guest brings a handmade Valentine, in the medium of her choosing. Drawing numbers, the first person selects one of the wrapped art gifts and opens it. After that it’s a free for all, a “Chinese Fire Drill” party where the next person can choose a wrapped gift or “steal” one of the items already opened. As you might guess, this hilarity goes on for some time.
For Karl’s gift, I search all year for images and ideas to salt away for use in early February. In January 2009, we were the official photographers for the Professional Photographers of America convention and trade show in the beautiful new exhibition halls in Phoenix. We had just gotten our first Canon 5D Mark IIs. We knew we were going to work insane hours to cover six or seven events simultaneously. Planning in advance, I booked us two days following the convention at the famous Camelback Inn spa and resort in Scottsdale.
Fabulous fun to decompress, dine, and like all photographers, take pictures of each other in the beautiful hotel grounds. Karl shot my lead PR image there on the terrace of our bungalow. At sunset I got a a portrait of him that emphasizes the alpha male, director of photography. A handsome shot straight, I had a crazy inspiration to make it into a memorable piece that says love can turn even prickly cactus into hearts!
Manipulation recipe: yellow cactus color changed, sunset on Karl’s face made less red, background partly desaturated so he pops out of the environment, grunge overlay made out of a low opacity black and white of a single cactus leaf showing spines and eyes, border treatment by OnOne.