Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Lady With The Camera: Havi Frost

Havi Frost has dumped trash all over my body, dripped tiny drops of water in my eye, and covered my head in blood and gore. Why on earth would I allow someone to torture me so viscously?

Well, you see Havi Frost is a photographer, and a damned good one. Her shoots are always fun and clever. None of us really mind the techniques she uses to get her shots (the blood and gore are fake... though I hear the snakes are real), especially when they involve pizza and renting out bars.

Her witty sense of humor keeps even the most grueling photoshoots (ie. the drops of water that kept getting in my eye) alive and energetic.

Havi's a pro at directing models and assistants (and her husband/fellow artist Mark Nelson, who assists from time to time), and getting that perfect frame.

A fairly well known photographer in the DFW area, she's shown in numerous local galleries and New York. This Saturday, September 15th, Kettle Art Gallery will be showcasing "Another Little Piece of My Art", an all-female show curated by Havi.

Havi's introduced me to many great local artists and photographers, given me tons of advice and tips on photography and glue, and her wedding photos make me cry. She's also been kind enough to answer a few questions for The Sub-Rosa.

SR: How did you become interested in photography?

When I was a munchkin, my grandfather gave me two old school cameras. I don’t even know what they were, now, but at the time I shot enough film to drive my mom into the poor house.

I didn’t decide to pursue photography as a career until later .. being influenced by Erika Warbington, who has passed away, and Sil Azevedo, who is a fantastic wedding photographer.

SR: Tell me about your first shoot.

HF: I honestly have no idea what my first shoot even was! I probably was chasing Mark around trying to take his picture…

SR: Tell us about the shows you've been in.

HF: My first show was at 14th Street Gallery in Plano. I went in to get prices on prints and they asked me to hang what I had brought in. I thought that was pretty cool.

One time, my friend, Autumn, and I decided to throw a guerrilla-style art show at her 8 plex apartment. Most of our friends are artists and we wound up with more art than we could hang. We had pieces covering her walls, lying on tables, on the walls on her halls… just… everywhere!

Her neighbor across the hall from her didn’t speak to us for months!

Other than her neighbors, we all had a great time, a lot of people came out, and a lot of art exchanged hands. I would love to do another apartment show someday!

Recently, I was with Kettle Art Gallery for an art fair in New York. That was a really awesome experience. It was great to see what artists from all over that world were doing.

I have been really fortunate to have done shows in the DFW area. I have done a bunch with Kettle Art Gallery and some at F6, 9 Eyes, Brazos Gallery, Iris Advertising.. I’m not sure where else off the top of my head..

SR: Any special (or not so special) techniques you like to incorporate?

HF: At the moment, I only show my conceptual work. I use symbolism, iconography, numerology, colors, and lighting/shadows to create a story. I try to leave enough clues that if someone chooses to take the time, they can figure it out.

Sometimes people will create a story of their own and I’m always intrigued when they feel like telling me what they see. It makes the piece their own instead of just mine. My momma always told me to share..

SR: Who are your favorite local photographers?

HF: I have a ton! I love Sil Azevedo’s art and wedding photography. He was an architect when he lived in Brazil and I feel that his pieces really show that side of him. He captures a side of reality that I find kind of… well… unreal.

Frank Lopez is another wedding photographer that really inspires me. His wedding photography and his art work are very dream-like, to me.

There are so many more! Greg Daniels, Erica Felicella, Tim Boole.. I could go on for hours!!

SR: How do you come up with your concepts for shoots?

HF:They just walk up and slap me. Really.

SR: How is a Havi Frost photo executed? (From your brain to the final pic.)

HF: For my conceptual shoots, I have to have a story or an emotion that I want to express. I have a “little black book” where I jot everything down. I figure out what puzzle pieces I can use to create the image – maybe some green for envy or jealousy, maybe overexpose the image by a half stop or a whole to create intensity, maybe a number to represent something, or shadows placed to hide something just a little…

Then, if the piece requires it, I hunt for people. Typically, I use tranquilizer darts that I buy online. Anyway, I go to malls and places where there are a lot of people, find someone that has the look I want and.. well.. you get the picture..

Heh, I just said “picture”….

But that’s how I do my conceptual stuff… I do a lot of side projects with various hair & make up artists and usually my models for those kind of depend on what we’re doing. Sometimes we have open shoots, so we con people with the promise of pizza.

We usually make them buy us pizza.

That’s pretty much it. After that it’s all that technical stuff.. You know, like, where to put lights, Photoshop the huge zit out, put someone here…that person there…tell people what to do as if they’re assisting you… make your models dance on command… It’s kind of cool…

SR: Tell us about the Sept. 15th show "Another Little Piece of My Art".

HF: I’m really excited about this show at Kettle Art Gallery. Frank let me curate the show, so I hand picked all these talented female artists from all over DFW who do all different mediums.

A lot of them have never done a show at the Kettle. I can’t wait to see what everyone brings. It’s always really exciting, for me, to watch all the new art come in the gallery. Especially when I can get other people hang it all up for me.

SR: What shows/shoots do you have planned for the approaching art season?

HF: Well, I’ll be in “Another Little Piece of My Art”at Kettle in September. In October, I’ll be putting work in shows at Kettle Art Gallery, Pawn Gallery, the Soda Gallery, & the Relapse Theater in Atlanta. I’ll also be apart of a show in Miami in December. I try to keep my website updated with upcoming shows and such.

As far as shoots go, I think I’m doing “one last” zombie shoot with Bizzaro & Dawn the Butcher doing hair & make up. We have the models selected and location and all…We just have to coordinate our schedules.

I have some portrait shoots coming up.. I’ll be collaborating with another local photographer, Shanda Kerr, on a portrait shoot later on in September. I have some more conceptual shoots coming up, as well, once I find all the props I need.

SR: How does a person become a model for Havi Frost?

HF: First they have to be willing to lay really still and let 4 people put screws all around their eyeball…

It really depends on the shoot. Some shoots require a specific look, which is where the tranquilizer darts come in handy. Other shoots are more open in which case I resort to nagging the closest person to model for me.

Typically, if someone likes my portfolio and wants to shoot, they’ll just shoot me an e-mail or call me. But, as every photographer knows, the BEST way to become a model for me is to HIRE me!

SR: What's it like living with another artist?

HF: It’s horrible! We’re totally getting divorced!

Well, ok.. not really. It’s awesome. I’m a huge fan of his artwork and he’s liked a few of my pieces. He’s a big influence on what I do. Sometimes he even assists me on photo shoots!

We share studio space and we’re always getting each other to critique our work. We give each other ideas pretty often, as well. We did a collaboration about two years ago and are planning on doing another one pretty soon. We’re a really good team.

At this point I asked Havi to ask me a question, any question she wished, and I promised to answer it. Of course she had to ask me:

Tell me your deepest, darkest secret.

Jerk. I read vampire romance novels.

Don't forget to stop by Kettle Art Gallery while you're touring Deep Ellum's art spots during the DEEP Gallery Walk on Saturday. You'll get to see art from a highly talented group of gals (myself included), and the crafty Havi Frost, who deep down secretly loves to torture me... at least a little bit.

-Photos from and Havi Frost's myspace page.
-1st wedding photo of Havi and Mark taken by Luke Fritz
-2nd wedding photo of Havi (with the boots) taken by Andre Azevedo


Clayton Wright said...

Havi is amazing! Love her work!!!!!!

KH said...

I love Havi and Mark can watch too.

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