Desert Boho: Ghost Town Concept Shoot

When I found out that we would be shooting at the Nelson Ghost Town at the 2014 Seniors Ignite Event, I knew I had to do something unique for my winning model’s concept portion of the shoot. I’m no stranger to concept or theme shoots; I regularly incorporate them into my Senior Portrait business by offering these sessions to my Model Team every year – and we have a ton of fun. The problem with doing them so often though, is that it can get stale – we all know that feeling of being burnt out or feeling like we’re turning out the same old stuff…..and I didn’t want to just re-purpose an old idea for a location and event as cool as this. It had to be different. And it had to be authentic.


My original idea for this shoot came from piddling around on pinterest, glass of wine in hand. I use pinterest as a way to connect with my upcoming clients, and especially my model team – each member of the team gets their own private board that we collaborate on before their session. It’s a fun way to get to know them a little better, as well as get great ideas – and let’s face it, a perfect way to cultivate what seniors are into – keeping current with trends, etc. I had come across this pin last year that was so cool and unique – a tattered burlap skirt:

Pinterest Image

I knew it would make for a great concept at some point, but it wasn’t until I found out about the Ghost Town shootout that I came up with the idea to actually try and make something like it. In my mind, I envisioned it as more of a ballgown – but as I began creating it with bits and pieces of scrap material I had laying around, it sort of took on a life of its own….and grew… and grew.  This thing ended up huge and super HEAVY….so it was a good thing I drove to Vegas since there is no way this would have fit on a plane!


Although I’m always pulling creative nonsense out of nowhere, I’m nobody’s seamstress…. my mother could whip up a prom dress for me in ONE DAY (grandmother, too) but alas, I was too busy chasing boys to learn to sew …. which is why most of my concept outfits are merely glorified props – not what I would actually call costumes. But hey, they only need to last the length of the shoot and then I can turn it into something else if I want! NOTE: These concept shoots don’t need to cost you an arm and leg – I bought all this scrap material for $10 and then bought the burlap from Joann’s at 1/2 off, so the whole outfit cost me only $35.


During the process, I had Devan come by a couple of times to get fitted for it, but I knew I would end up making all the final adjustments the day of the shoot anyway. The top is literally just a piece of scrap leather, and we cut it and tied it on her the day of the shoot.



I really wanted this concept to be vintage and earthy but a tad glam as well…. I wanted to showcase the makeup by my amazing makeup artist Jami Cox (who is also our Seniors Ignite HMUA Lead) and I wanted to shoot to have a classy feel to it. Devan is beautiful – I wanted her to feel pretty but also get into the concept idea. We were also lucky enough to have a great hair team from Sam Villa at the event that day, and Hope Shoemaker took my idea of a big side braid to a whole new level – perfect for this look. It’s so important to collaborate with talented makeup and hair people! When I shoot concept shoots on my own for my own business, makeup and hair are essential.


We had so much fun getting these images! It’s incredibly rewarding to see something you dreamed up come to fruition in such an amazing way. Sometimes it’s hard to “see” it all until it comes together, but when it does, you suddenly forget about all those late nights spent hand sewing a metric shitload of burlap!


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