Call of the Familiar

(fa·mil·iar – noun – a spirit supposedly attending and obeying a witch, often said to assume the form of an animal.) 

I love photographing clothing and costumes that are a little over the top and I guess this is why I love the Halloween season. About three years ago, I started creating an annual Halloween poster designed to push myself and the people I work with to try something new and different.

It’s a fun project for me and one that I always look forward to each year.  I’m not interested in creating anything that is gory or related to the horror genre. Instead, I’m am interested in creating a dark drama with a fashion flare that is  photographed in a slightly unsettling or atmospheric way. I want it to be beautiful, dark, mysterious and hopefully slightly unexpected. I want the Halloween photo to tell a story and make you wonder what is going on. 

I was browsing around on Instagram one day when I found an incredible designer from Poland named Agnieszka Osipa (@agnieszkaosipa). I was blown away by her work and the intricate detail that went into her costumes. Looking at what she had, I knew that I would love to work with her. The costumes, headpieces and gloves were just striking and I knew immediately that her style would be great for what I had in mind for this poster. I got in touch with Agnieszka and she graciously agreed to let me photograph some of her clothing.

With the clothing lined up, I turned my attention to finding the model for this project. I settled on Hillary Ingalls because she’s got a very expressive face and can bring that sense of command and authority to the photos. I had worked with her before on another demanding shoot and she had delivered in spades so I had a lot of confidence in her.

I called on my long-time friend and collaborator Kristoper Osuna, of Perfection Artistry, to take the lead on the make up and hair for this. Kris is very talented but I think he’s exceptionally talented with this kind of work. Rounding out the team were Christine Bartfai who helped with props and styling, and my assistant Daniel Ford who keeps me on track.

In the end my goal was to create a beautiful witch  carrying a light outside – what is she doing? Where is she going and what’s the story with her familiar, the jaguar? One of the things I really appreciate about Hilllary’s work is her enthusiasm and willingness to “go all in” on the part I’m asking her to play and I felt she really helped sell this story. 

I think this comes out in the final photos. In the end, thanks the hard work of of the team, I think we achieved  the goal of creating something that is beautiful in a dark and slightly eerie way.

Happy Halloween!

Model: Hillary Grey Ingalls
MUAH: Kristopher Osuna of Perfection Artistry
Designer (
Dress, headpiece and glove): Agnieszka Osipa
Wardrobe & Styling: Christine Bartfai
Photo Assistant: Daniel Ford