A mega production in the wings…

The photoshoot is scheduled and a talented team assembled, my excitement grows.  Along with my excitement comes this anticipation.   I often wonder if it is self doubt –  and if that’s indeed what it is, where does it stem from?  Pre-shoot jitters?  Or is this just part of me pushing the envelope, moving out of my comfort zone that creates these feelings?  I consider myself to be somewhat talented with a good eye for composition and a creative flair.  My fine art photography has sold when I was exhibiting, I’ve won international photographic competitions, I get a lot of accolades from peers, I understand my strengths  and I work to overcome my weaknesses by learning from mistakes.

Once the noseam paper is in place, the lighting tested, adjustments made and I pick up the camera and focus on my model, those nagging thoughts fall to the wayside.  I think I equate it to waiting for the curtain to rise, but we’ve had no auditions, no rehearsal.  Just a group of strangers with a common goal, coming together to create.

The first thing I do even before reaching out to the players is develop mood/style boards of swipe images.  This project is haute couture Vogue style hats and head pieces.

I met with my 2 designers and gave each some materials that I had or purchased and gave them free reign to create.  Their designs will drive the direction of the shoot including the type of faces the MUA will create.

It is my job to orchestrate the shoot.  I set the tone, I give direction to models, most I will meet the day of the shoot…  I reviewed their portfolios, their level of experience varies but it’s their willingness to be a part of my creative process that seems to make things gel.  I am trying to establish a rapport, to build an ensemble, a team.

Working with me is a collaboration, a labor of love, with no money exchanging hands in hopes of building portfolios and having the work you’ve done appreciated so much that the next photographer / client will pay for your services.

Ara, is  Metro NY/NJ based MUA having trained at Media Makeup Academy, New York.  She worked with a photographer friend of my husband and came highly recommended when I was looking for a make-up artist.  She’s worked with me a number of times and I have come to rely on her to understand the look I’m trying to achieve and she delivers – flawlessly.

Helen, is a world traveling designer/stylist who saw my casting call and reached out to me. Not only is she creating hats/ head pieces, she is also playing the role of stylist on set.  I wish she would put her roots down in New York, but then she would probably be so busy with paid work, that I’ve never get to work with her again.  She has given me a sneak peek at some of her creations and fueled my enthusiasm to new heights.

Fatima, is a metro NY/NJ designer.  Her portfolio is more ethnically based, with vivid colors that caught my attention.  but this is a chance for her to create freely.  Some of her head wrap designs will be created directly on the model, and will give me a glimpse of a couple creations on Friday.

If only artists were given grants, sponsors or stipends to live on so that they may wile away their hours creating.  They could work at fulfilling their dreams.

A lot of time goes into a photoshoot,  so much more then the nano second it takes to turn a magazine page.

Yeah, sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true… (Aerosmith)


Mary Durante Youtt





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Filed under Fashion shoot, photography

Going out on a limb…

If you don’t take chances, how will you know if you will succeed?  You don’t!  So I am pulling together another fashion shoot but the main focus is on hats/headpieces with a “Vogue” fashion feel in mind.

Tuesday, I met with a young designer, Fatima.  I gave her some ideas of what I’d like her create and some materials that I had on hand or purchased at my local thrift shop.  Some of Fatima’s creations will be wraps and turbans.  She was excited to work this paper that I had.  The paper was used in a shipment I received years ago instead of foam peanuts,  I loved it and have saved it for years waiting for an opportunity to use it for something beside an overlay for wrapping paper.



Friday, I met with Helena Rose, a designer/stylist from Australia, who travels the world, creating and working with fashion photographers, models and HMUA.  Her portfolio is strong. Her personality is vivacious.

I’ve worked with Ara, my go-to make up artist.  She’s talented and so easy to work with.

Click on their names to take you to their websites.

I’ve a number of interested models with 3 scheduled (so far) for next Sunday’s shoot.  With Fashion week coming up in Feb, a lot of fashion models are busy with calls, fittings and just trying to get to strut their stuff on a notable runway.

New York is a hard town to break into for any industry.  Fashion is no different.  Most designers have day jobs in their fields. Some are pattern makers, others work for designers in hopes of getting their work seen.  Working directly with photographers is another avenue to success because in collaborating we are also networking.  And the final credited images hopefully will become part of several portfolios and websites.

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Recipe for a photo shoot…

  • 90 lbs  of beauty
  • a heap of talented MUA (make-up artist)
  • a dash of photographic technique
  • 30 gallons of warm water (reserved)
  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk (reserved)

Blend dry ingredients, mixing in some flair

Click the shutter until desired outcome


Add water as needed for effect



Then add milk




My underwater photography sessions ended in September when the cooler weather entered the scene.  It was time to come indoors again.  It took a little scheduling magic to finally get a shoot date that worked for my model, Charlotte, make up artist, Ara and me.  After having a beautiful baby in May, Ara was ready to start up again in Nov.  Charlotte is juggling graduate school, dance and modeling in her spare time.

I had a few concepts that I wanted to create and having worked with both Charlotte (underwater) and Ara before, I knew that I would get what I was looking for.  They did not disappoint.

What I like about Ara’s work is that she isn’t only about beauty make-up but theatrical looks which includes using latex, blood and gore.  She’s so talented. Charlotte is simply beautiful (inside and out) and so easy to work with.  She strives to bring a bit of magic to any shoot.  What a wonderful collaboration with these lovely young women.  They make it look easy.




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Without art, earth is just eh…

Standing Rock, I am standing with you in solidarity.  Tomorrow November 15th, I will be a part of a greater cause.  I will be counted among others who believe in saving this planet. NO DAPL.  I will not be silenced by my government.  Lives are at stake and I thank you for the sacrifices that you have made and continue to make to save mother earth.


To my friends, I urge you to call your state representatives and tell them that the Army Corp of Engineers must stop construction of the pipeline that will run through native American lands and under the Missouri River.  Urge them to open this discussion with President Obama to look towards renewable, sustainable sources of energy instead of fracking and drilling fossil fuels.  We have seen the devastating effects of oil spills and the striping away of mountain sides.

I will be at 26 Federal Plaza, NYC tomorrow 4:30 – 6:30pm in front of the Army Corp of Engineers Building.  PLEASE join and make your voice heard.  NOTE:  Assemble at the fountain in Foley Square – 111 Worth Street South (end of Thomas Paine Park)

Our water and lives are at stake.  The infrastructure and our aquifers are in danger.

I’ll just have a tall glass of ice cold oil, please.  Said no one EVER!

Pilamaya, lila pilamayaye (thank you very much in lakotha/dakota)




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Filed under photography, Standing Rock, DAPL, Our earth

Femmebot fashion show

I’ve only done one other runway fashion shoot for the ArtInMotion charity event held in a club in the city.   Ford Model, Monica Watkin’s charity benefiting a Haitian orphanage .  There were numerous designers and dozens of photographers.  The photographers were crammed onto the tiny stage in a club environment.   Trying not to elbow each other was a challenge.  The front row of shutter pushers were crouched down under the lenses of the photographers behind us.  The designers had some terrific creations and the models strutted their stuff.


A text from HMUA, Nicole Pigott asked if I was available for a fashion shoot the next day.   The scheduled photographer had gotten a paid gig and apologized for the short notice, but $$$ takes precedence, because we all have bills to pay.    A quick look at my calendar, yup!  I met and worked with Nicole on a fashion shoot when model, Kimber DG needed me for  House of Sadia‘s  2017 spring line fashion shoot.   That’s also where I met model Caitie one of the runway models for this shoot.


Femmebot  hosted a fashion show at  Ave ~ Clifton, NJ, on October 20th. 


I had no idea what the venue looked like, how the runway would be lit, how many models or photographers would be there until I arrived.  I was the only one.  I am a far cry from an event photographer but always willing to help someone out when I can.

Ready, aim, shoot!

“Wear Confidence” is the motto of Femmebot owner, Tina Setia, who opened her second store at 494 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, NJ.  Her flagship store is at 201 E. Ridgewood Avenue in  Ridgewood, NJ


So if you are looking for some fun casual wear that can go from day to evening, you should take a peek at their fall styles and support your local businesses.   Visit Femmbot’s  website to see what, where and when their next event is.


Tina Setia (back center) with her bevy of lovely models.

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Filed under Fashion Night Out, Fashion shoot, photography

Sometimes all it takes is one shot…

Last week I played the role of Jene’s photo assistant.  He was shooting a Spanish flamengo dancer.  Of course “Carmen” came to mind.  Beatrix brought a few costumes and I helped set and reset the lighting so that Jene could concentrate on shooting.  His strobes were acting odd, not firing at every shutter click.   Although he invited me to shoot along side him, I really wasn’t terribly interested or inspired by the look the dancer wanted for a dance school brochure.   She struck and held dance poses.

If it were my shoot, I would have had her swirling around (which is normally what Jene would do if he was directing the shoot but he was trying to give Beatrix what she was looking to capture).   After every group of poses, Jene would pop the card into the computer and she would address the position of her hands or feet and strike the pose again.

I picked up my camera once, set it on bulb and clicked off a single shot.  (there was one modeling light on at the time).


A hand held fuzzy picture,  I like the ethereal feel of it.

Soon she will be heading back to Spain.  Hopefully happy with the images for her brochure.  (She said she loved them all).  This one of mine she has not seen.


Mary Durante Youtt


Filed under performing artists, photography

Shooting my brains out…

I was hoping to shoot as many underwater sessions this year and had such a slow start.  Mainly because life got in the way.  I was in basement bathroom renovation from hell since April.  The pool I used opened in June but I had family BD celebrations and graduations parties.  A 2 week trip to Italy with 2 teenage granddaughters having us back home and jet-lagged on July 12th.  Mid July, still working on the bathroom and helping hubby with the remaining restoration of his 67 Mercury Cougar from a engine fire.

Finally got around to shooting the last week of July.  Zthebug, a 5’10” mermaid with blue hair.

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Charlotte a 5’1″ dancer was willing to try underwater photography the first week in August.


I even unsuccessfully attempted a night shoot with my cousin Michael.  That day they had tree limbs cut and the pool was full of saw dust, plus I was shooting almost completely in the dark, using a flash that would send the light bouncing across the waves that were made.  I couldn’t see Michael and Michael couldn’t see me.  We hope to experiment with a night shoot again.  Live and learn.

The weather was a tad unpredictable with clouds and lightning bolts in the forecast for over a week.  Some of the days were sunny and bright, but the storms rolling through were sporadic and how to tell where they would hit and when.  Hard to predict the forecast a week in advance.

Sunday 8/21, I scheduled Stacey, an actress, on one of those iffy days, with the thought that if worse came to worse I would shoot her in our studio/apt set up wearing the gown designed by Janel especially for my underwater shoot.   The early morning rain ended and turned to bright sunshine. We drove to Arlene’s pool in Jersey.

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Monday 8/22, I shot Mr 92, a student, at Pat’s pool.


Tuesday 8/23, Giordano and I splashed around Arlene’s pool.

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Friday 8/26, my beautiful niece wanted to give it a go again with me.

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Sunday 8/28, Stacey wants a second chance because she realized that in the majority of photos she had clamped her mouth shut.   A gal I shot last year twice, we became text friends, might join us in the pool.

5 shoots in 7 days, that’s a record for me.  Editing, minor retouching, sending images to models, uploading to my port and blogging in my spare time.  Whew!!!!  Sometimes I think I’m too old for this, and then hmmm, maybe this is what keeps me young.

Endless summer – my dream



Filed under photography, underwater photography