The Moon – a Halloween theme photoshoot
Our favorite season is back! And with it, the 6th year in a row for our Halloween Passion Project.
We had toyed around with a few different ideas to bring to life this year, which is good because that means we will be pre-prepared with ideas for future pieces. This particular one had been hanging around, waiting for its opportunity to shine.
After deliberating back and forth, Bill and I decided to go with it.
Our 6th piece in this project was an idea suggested by our dear friend and always an amazing third set of hands on deck for these shoots, Jen Caudill. Both of us being superfans of Tarot, recreating one of our favorite cards in the deck was a special treat, especially because our dogs, Willow and Poppy (Jen’s Golden Retriever) are BFFs and would get to finally star together in one of these shoots.
The Moon is the eighteenth card in the Major Arcana in Tarot. Though its depiction varies from deck to deck, most interpretations of this card depict a night scene, where a wolf (the wild, Willow) and a dog (the tame, Poppy) represent the nature of our minds. In our interpretation, we see them stand on either side of a winding stream illuminated by a bright moon, a ruler of tides, she pulls on our emotions and lives both in shadow and light. There is a little lobster crawling out of the stream, it is a creature of water, with a tough armor that protects a soft interior. This lobster represents us, emerging from the subconscious and into an illuminated path. In the distant background, traditionally you see two towers on either side, which we chose to interpret a bit more naturally with the two distant hills across the water.
The description below is paraphrased from my favorite Tarot book by Liz Worth:
The Moon: Examine Your Illusions
The intention of The Moon: Things come to light in the dark that can easily be ignored during the day. I help to illuminate the shadows you might not wish to see. It is time to face them in order to find your path.
A mantra for The Moon: Though at times I may stray from my path, I can always trust that The Moon will help guide me back.
Ruling the night, the Moon also illuminates what’s in the shadows. The light of day can make everything bright and busy and we get easily distracted, but come nighttime, when the shadowy parts are illuminated, the Moon brings a process of honesty and often difficult lessons. But this is a journey we must take, into the “dark night of the soul”, in order to come out the other side.
That other side may hold a life free of illusions or deceptions that are dragging you down, a life truer to who you are, and one that’s moving closer to your own sense of fulfillment. Because what happens when the Moon disappears from the sky? The Sun comes out to warm your heart and shine its light on your newly awakened path.
That’s the energy that The Moon can bring: a deep shift that might feel uncomfortable at first but ultimately it’s going to push you into a better, brighter place–if you are ready to face your shadows and be honest about what you really want.
Recreating The Moon card with photography
Part of the challenge for this shoot was our drive to bring some magical realism to our interpretation. Every element you see in our rendition of it, save the toy lobster and minor tweaks to color for mood, is real. Each element was shot separately in the same location and then brought together with Photoshop magic.
We spent an entire day driving up and down the Sonoma coast looking for a spot that would fit our vision and one that would need to tick quite a few boxes: calm water, a stream that connected to a larger body of water, an interesting landscape, possibility for a clear sky and view of the moon, safe for dogs to be in, close enough to revisit if we ran out of sunlight to work in.
Amazingly, we found it, quietly tucked away in a slice of shoreline in Tomales Bay.
Bill did a lot of research around the moon’s phases, we watched the weather like our almanacs depended on it, learned about the tide times for our location, ordered a plastic toy lobster from Amazon (weirdest purchase I ever made) and rented a beefy 200-500 mm lens to properly photograph the star (or more appropriately, the celestial body) of our shoot.
We selected the perfect date on the lunar calendar to photograph the moon on a clear evening (we have had a pretty overcast October, so we were sweating that one a bit). While Bill set about to photograph the moon, Jen and I hiked the dogs.
Their roles would be relatively simple and short, but would require loads of impulse control: “What? you want us to be near each other, off-leash, near a perfectly swimmable body of water but staying still and gazing out into the landscape?? Without running around and playing with each other??”
To make that a little easier on the dogs, we photographed one at a time, with one person near the dog and the other giving them something to look at on the other side. Believe it or not, the most difficult part about this was to get them excited and alert without inviting them to run amock or frustrating them so much they sat in anticipation of a release cue. In the end, the girls rocked it as we knew they would.
Stitching everything together, in the end, can be tricky, paying attention to where the light should fall naturally, adding a touch of magic (the final color of the scene, the size and position of the moon) but still staying true to the real beauty of the elements in the scene and arranging everything in a harmonious composition, but that is part of the challenge and why we keep doing this project year after year.
But enough chatter. Hope you enjoy this year’s piece, may you have a very Happy Halloween and may the energy of The Moon pull you into a place where you feel happy and fulfilled!
This photograph is ©The Labs & Co. All rights reserved. Thank you for sharing our work! But please be kind and give credit.