Earlier this summer Dark Beauty Magazine announced that it was running a photo contest in conjunction one of my favorite photographers – Lindsay Adler. The theme of the contest was Secrets.

Up to this point, I’ve never bothered with photo contests but the theme and the sponsor were interesting to me and so I decided to give it run.

II spent a couple of days thinking about the word “secrets” and what it meant to me. Eventually I jotted down some notes on the whole thing but the up shot of all of my thinking was this:

Secrets are things we that we keep because we are afraid that of other people knew them they would treat us differently.

In my family, and with our kids, we have  saying “no secrets only surprises”. The idea is the same – that secrets over time generally create problems for us. They are issues that are unresolved and in that sense they hold us back. They bind us to a decision or action that we made the past and we’re not able to resolve it because of our fear of how we’d be treated.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I then started trying to visualize what the theme secrets meant to me and how I could portray it. I settled on having a model holding a real heart that I would wrap in barbwire. The idea was that we hold our secrets in our hearts  thinking we control them but in truth they hold us back and can even rip, tear or puncture our hearts.

I knew that I would need a special model for this – someone with an open mind and sense of adventure and someone who would not be turned off holding a bloody cow’s heart. I talked to Contessa Oblivion aka Carey about this and she was very interested.

So we set everything – Kristopher Osuna stepped in for his usual amazing MUAH duties. We got things rolling and and started the shoot without the heart. When we brought the heart on set and began wrapping it in barbwire we noticed a pretty strong odor coming from it.

I had ignored my wife’s advice and when I had managed to finally track a heart down (harder than you might think) had not frozen it. Unfortunately Carey paid the price for my stupidity but I have to give her this: she made it work and did an outstanding job. I was really impressed with her professionalism and commitment to helping me see the concept through.

After the shoot, I went back and started working on the photos and thinking about how to put them together. In the end I created three different composites that were all variations of the same theme. We submitted the first version you see.

Later Dark Beauty announced the winners – and we didn’t win the contest but I was still very proud of the work that we created and I learned a lot on this project as well.