Steven Paul: Zen Awakening

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Photographer: Steven Paul stevenphotography.com
Styling by Kirsten Sylvester
Hair/MUA: Robbie Minjarez
Model: Christian @ Fenton Moon Models NYC
Frist Assistant: Carlo Smith Ramsa

“The whole truth is right in front of us, if only we can calm our minds enough to see,” goes a famous Buddhist saying, which served as the inspiration for fashion photographer Steven Paul’s latest photo shoot.

For Paul, this shoot was deeply personal, reflecting his own spiritual journey as a photographer moving closer to his creative ideal.

“We all experience defining moments in our lives,” said Paul. “While living these moments, it can be difficult to process their intensity. In a way, this shoot helped me do that with my own creative journey.”

Our model is experiencing her own transformation from starry-eyed innocent to empowered woman. Paul dresses her up and strips her down: she is both a seductive enchantress and a vulnerable ingénue.

To set the stage for our models transformation, Paul layers darkness with light, contrasting the rich wood paneling with bright windows and two walls of mirrors. He plays with color, too, adding bright pops of cobalt blue and red to an otherwise neutral, earthy palate.

“This shoot is all about the interplay of different elements: lightness and darkness, rich woods with lush fabrics, awareness and unconsciousness,” says Paul, who layered furs, sequins and leather for a rich, textural affect.

Christian, from Fenton Moon Models NYC, perfectly captures the mysterious, enchanting air of a woman who is both wise beyond her years yet also youthful and innocent. Christian’s vulnerability is her greatest gift, as it brings her to a deeper state of personal awareness.

Christian’s pixie hair is edgy and self-aware; the bold lip color and dark, seductive eye shadow punctuates her otherwise clean makeup. She’s both playing at being a woman and discovering that she has become one. As she gazes into the mirror, she sees herself clearly for the first time; it’s empowering for her to step back and reflect on this journey to womanhood.

“Awareness is seeing things for what they are with clear consciousness, and that’s what our model is experiencing,” says Paul. “To be present in the moment is not easy. But in the final photo, Christian lifts her face and throws back her body to the heavens; she embraces all that she is and all that she will be.”

“I seek to reach that creative height of awareness and presence in all my work,” said Paul. “As a photographer, I must not only see, but also hear and feel the light. To be awake, rather than sleep walking through life, that is the real challenge.”

Paul is passionate about collaboration, working closely with his stylist, hair/makeup artist and his assistant to bring his vision to life.

“A single idea may inspire the shoot, but the true vision is only realized through a collaborative, creative process,” said Paul.

Stylist Kirsten Sylvester, who has more than 15 years of experience in editorial, film, runway and commercial work, has previously collaborated closely with Paul. Joining her on the shoot was hair and makeup artist Robbie Minjarez, who is also experienced with editorial, print and fashion week work.

“Kirsten and Robbie understood my goal from the beginning,” said Paul. “Together with first assistant Carlo Smith Ramsay, we truly captured our heroine’s vulnerability and strength.”

Where will this Zen awakening take our new star? We’ll have to wait as Paul’s creative process unfolds…

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Owner and founder of Solis Magazine