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  • Writer's pictureSelima Smith-Dell

Part II: An Ode to Black Women Fairies

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

This photo series is an ode to every magical Black winged fairy floating through their earthly existence lighting up the world with their luminescence.

To all who lived before. To all who are currently living. And to all who have yet to live.

This is for you. I see you. I am you. You are me. Together we are we.

Happy Black History month. I am grateful everyday I am a Black woman.

So, I am going to talk about this look but I just want to take a moment to talk about how amazing Olivia Edvalson (the photographer) is, how we met and our journey together thus far. Cause I love this woman and she is so wonderful. Olivia and I met back in 2014. I was living in Boston (I grew up in Cambridge, MA) and I was a new graduate of Boston University's prestigious acting conservatory program. I was setting up photoshoots left and right with full creative teams including the photographer, hair stylist, make up artist, stylist and/or designers. I wanted to expand my creative portfolio and collaborate with some rad artistic folk. One of the first shoots I set up was with a photographer named Tim and that was the shoot I met my my dear Olivia. She was Tim's assistant. She had an eagerness and excitement for the shoot that I loved. When I got the images back I was so amazed by Olivia's photos that we stayed in touch. We were both young and eager to create.

We have managed to do 8 shoots together in our 8 years of knowing one another. We've done a shoot in the Boston Arboretum, Brooklyn Prospect Park, and multiple shoots in upstate NY (Rochester, NY) amongst other locations. We've done photoshoots in a cemetery, an outdoor castle, on the beach, and in the water. Both of the shoots in Rochester we managed to shoot 8 to 10 looks in just one day. Which is truly no small feat. I've never been able to shoot so many looks with any other photographer before. There is nothing two Earth signs (I'm a Virgo, She's a Taurus) can't accomplish when it comes to work. We have collaborated with vintage + thrift shops as well as done shoots with other models. What we have never done together, if you can believe it, is a shoot indoors. So to be able to work together indoors was such a treat.

I am always so amazed at how magical and other worldly Olivia's photos always come out. From the beginning her work struck me because it's always full of so much color and character. Her photos look like film stills. Her photography is cinematic in tone. As an actress and tv/film lover I think that's why I was drawn to Olivia's photography initially and as the years go by it's why I absolutely love continuing to work with her. I can be all of the parts of myself as a creative. I can be a model, actress, stylist, and creative director.

I am so honored to have seen her grow and blossom into who she is today. I am stunned by the elaborate sets she has created. She is a lighting connoisseur, creative director, vintage clothing collector, visionary, and photographer all in one. It's rare that you can find someone that can do it all. Just take this shoot for example. We wanted to bring the outdoors inside with us for our shoot and Olivia literally created a mossy forest magic in the studio garage space mixing artificial moss with real moss, branches, rocks, flowers and mushrooms. The set alone for this was so cool and just one example of the kickass environments Olivia creates or finds to bring the magical world she envisions to life. She's also got an eye for the most magical outdoor locations. She just seems to attract these fairytale locations to her.

What I love most about working with Olivia is how much vision she has, how much play she allows in her work and with whomever she is working with. I always have so much fun working with her and feel free to play. Oh and her editing is unreal. She's just fabulous and I've sent two friends over to work with her and they absolutely adored her too. One last development that she's made as a creative visionary and photographer that sets her apart is she has a closet for her clients to use full of vintage pieces, armor, swords, crowns, and so much more that you can choose to work with. Okay I've done enough gushing about how amazing Olivia is. Y'all just have to see for yourself.

Now to chat quickly about the dress you see in this shoot before wrapping up. Don't you just adore this dress? It comes in so many colors but I decided to go with green because it's like my new favorite color and also green always makes me think of Tinkerbell and Princess Tiana. Both of whom feel like parts of my very soul's essence. It's so light and and perfect for a playful shoot. And the back is a corset back so it can be easily adjusted and fit folks of multiple sizes. The sleeves are billowy and totally to die for. The bustier is snug and pretty. And the skirt is beyond floor length and so fun to toss around in the open air. I paired the look with a leaf crown and green fairy wings.

I hope you enjoyed part II of this photo series and come back for more. There are two more parts to come. Farewell for now.

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