Artist Spotlight: Wesley Kirk

The beauty of collaborative projects are how they allow multiple creators to become a part of something bigger than themselves. Working with other talented creatives is something that continually propels Wesley Kirk of the Vision Beautiful toward adventurous photography. His current work in progress is a seasonal fairy tale series inspired by Alphonso Mucha's The Seasons panels. Kirk has teamed up with various models, makeup artists, and prop designers to piece together a cinematic vision.

Excerpt from  Winter Fairytale

Excerpt from Winter Fairytale

The idea was formed in a discussion of a collaboration with Joseffa Naomi Trip. The two have worked together previously in various short films and photography shoots. For their next project, they knew they wanted to do a fairy tale shoot around December. Texas may have a reputation for 10 month summers, but there isn’t going to be lush greenery and vibrant flowers available to serve as a backdrop during the coldest months of the year.

They adjusted and adopted a winter fantasy setting with a barren landscape. As he does with all things, Kirk set about directing a very thorough process. His attention to detail and preparation complementing his creativity is a big reason why he draws in skilled collaborators for personal projects. At this point, Mallory Chokas was the makeup artist and hairstylist he repeatedly teamed up with. They built their aesthetic around light colors in front of a dreary background.

Why not make it a series?

With the winter session completed, the illuminated path led towards continuing the series with a shoot for each of the four seasons. The spring one would be a cursed one on the verge of disaster. After all, what's a fairy tale without a curse to break? 

Excerpt from  Spring Fairy Tale

Excerpt from Spring Fairy Tale

Kirk approached the site at Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens with dark and gloomy clouds looming in the distance like a scene out of Sleeping Beauty. They took advantage of the dramatic lighting to get a few shots in with a red dress purchased from Free People (although, the dress wasn't quite the correct color as advertised). Then Kirk looked down to adjust his camera when a cold wind and eerie silence hit the scene. An instinctive run led to them reaching the car just in time to avoid a torrential downpour. Not only was the camera equipment saved, but they avoided damaging the expensive dress as well as the floral arrangement designed by Deryk Poynor of the Greenhouse 817.

The group took refuge in Poynor’s nearby house as they waited out the storm. Patience proved to be a virtue as they were left with a rainbow shining with around 30 minutes left before sunset. Furthermore, Poynor was able to lend an additional dress so they wouldn’t have to worry about getting the recently purchased outfit muddy. 

Excerpt from  Spring Fairy Tale

Excerpt from Spring Fairy Tale

Props and Technique

A small detail that pays big dividends are the use of props in Kirk’s series. The lack of attention to detail in a set design can betray a well-written film, and with Kirk’s background in film-making he understands the importance of uniting multiple elements to form a cinematic image. In Winter Fairy Tale an old-fashioned lantern provided by Hannah Bishop is an element reminiscent of tales from the Brothers Grimm. For Spring, the floral arrangement is magnificent and transcends that series into an otherworldly realm. For the summer series, an hourglass and wheat crown are used as the chosen symbol of fantasy iconography.

Some of Kirk's photos utilize a frame of broken glass to provide a practical special effect. He uses a wood frame with broken glass adhered to sticky material on the edges. When placed in front of the camera the effect can result in dreamy vignette or the sunlight reflecting a strange bokeh(visible in bottom right corner of the above photo) into the image. 

Summer Fairytale

The Summer series is expected to be released soon on Kirk’s website for The Vision Beautiful. The makeup and hair artist for the previous two photo shoots had moved away, but Megan D’von Funk was recommended as a great talent. The next model would be Jana Renee, who is also a prolific and excellent painter based in Ft. Worth. On the day of the shoot, there were worries there would be similar storm problems that affected the previous shoot.

While approaching the lakeside location Kirk was checking multiple weather apps to get a sense of how the weather would play out. Toss in some extra tension on the nerves due to the fact that Kirk was working with Renee and Funk for the first time. The rain kept at bay, but they found an inordinate amount of litter that needed to be picked up. To quote the little known rave culture film Grooves, “there are no obstacles, only challenges.”

“He who stops being better, stops being good.”

The above Oliver Cromwell joke is a motto and explanation for why it’s important to pursue personal endeavors even while doing commercial work to pay for the bills. There can be a sense of anguish and lack of fulfillment when an artist isn’t stretching the boundaries of imagination and skill. It’s a quote that Kirk holds dear. Even as a working professional there is an amount of portfolio building that has to be done so there is an opportunity to show potential clients the possibilities of creative direction that are able to be accomplished. 

The Dentonite is honored to present a sneak peek of Wesley Kirk’s Summertime Fairy Tale series by providing three images. Visit his website on Monday, October 3rd to see the full extent of his wonderful summer photo series. We are excited for the advent of the Fall Fairy Tale that comes next. We also strongly encourage looking through the portfolios of the wonderful artists that have been a part of this project.

Winter Series
Spring Series

Makeup artist and hairstylist:
Mallory Chokas (Winter and Spring)
Megan D'Von Funk (Summer)

Joseffa Naomi Trip (Winter)
Olivia Simons (Spring)
Jana Renee (Summer)

Deryk Poynor of the Greenhouse 817 (Spring and Summer)


All images courtesy of Wesley Kirk
Header images design by Jason Lee