White Magic

A photoshoot inspired by Native Americans, witchcraft, and nature reflects an ethereal world

By Mallory Passuite

I am an awkward person to photograph alone. I blink a lot. I don’t know where to look, or put my hands. But when my friend and roommate Samantha Tobias approached me about doing a photoshoot, she threw in words like sunsets, witchcraft, and wine. And I had to say yes.

Though Sam studies advertising design, she has recently toyed with the idea of styling photoshoots. She had a vision:

“For this shoot, I was really inspired by Native Americans, witchcraft, and nature. I wanted it to look feminine, and romantic, yet animalistic,” she says. So the fur coat (a vintage piece that belonged to our photographer’s mother) was as much a focal point as the bright yellow tribal face paint, she adds. “And I wanted it to be somewhere woodsy at sunset.”

She enlisted Dayna Carney, a senior, art photography major, and mutual friend, to photograph the shoot. And on a cold, February afternoon, we wandered into Thornden Park, with a camera, a fabulous fur coat, and a few props. Sam colored my face with neon tribal paint, and gobs of blue glitter.

We found a perfect little woodsy ditch, where Dayna spotted a special tree with throbbing wood blisters the size of basketballs bursting from the bark. Dayna asked me to stand by the tree art and to look off into the distance as she began shooting. The sky was white when we started. And as the sun began slowly setting, my camera qualms numbed with the rest of my body.

“The sunset cast this beautiful blue, purple, and pink sky, and gave the snow covering the ground this blue glow. The lighting gave it an ethereal ambiance,” Sam says.

We moved onto a branchy dead bush. I climbed it. I hid inside of it. Squatting in the middle of it, the artsy duo had me pouring speckles of hot-pink glitter from an empty skull-shaped vodka bottle into my hand. Sam asks, “what if you had the glitter covering your tongue?” COOL. I licked the pink glitter from my palm. The sparkly specks felt gritty in my mouth. I struggled to hold back laughter. Oh, how I love the creative process.

Dayna (who forgot to wear socks) snuck in at least one hundred shots before the cold forced us home. I swear I couldn’t feel my feet as I ran home, pounding my yellow wellies into the ground.

Once home, we uploaded the photos immediately, ordered Indian food, and bought a jumbo bottle of vino to warm up.

Styling: Samantha Tobias Photography: Dayna Carney