Snow Kidding! The Photo Shoot That Almost Didn't Happen

The Making Of a Christmas Album, Part 4



I first met the photographer, Stefan Falke, in the restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien, near Grand Central Terminal, about five years ago. Needing some photos for my first album, "I'll Be Seeing You," and not knowing any photographers, I found Stefan's name on an album of a singer I admire, Catherine Russell. He had photographed all of her album's photos.


So I googled his name, discovered his website, www.stefanfalke.com, and contacted him. It turned out he lived in Brooklyn, NY, happened to be in town, and was interested in my project. But we decided to meet first, talk about it and size each other up. With Stefan, that would be a lot of sizing, as he is around 6'6" tall!


It was an instant liking on my part. I found Stefan easy to talk to and soft spoken. There was a kindness in his demeanor and a warmth of relating which put me at ease. And he had a gleam in his eye and a curiosity about the world, which of course a photographer must have!


So we did that first project together and when I began working on the Christmas album I reached out to Stefan again. We talked in late December about a possible "snow" shoot and agreed, based on the last few years of winter weather in New York, that there would be plenty of opportunities for that. We decided to keep watching the weather report and stay in touch.


January went by -- no snow. February was going by, with no snow, and I began to lose hope for the snow shoot. I thought, well, it's into a studio I go, with a fake Christmas tree, fake snow, a few wrapped presents lying around - probably shot in July.


But one Friday in late February I looked on my weather app for the umpteenth time that month and this popped up: Heavy snowfall beginning Saturday night into Sunday morning. Fourteen inches or more expected. Sunday morning clear and cold. Warmer temperatures beginning Sunday afternoon. Rain on Monday.


I grabbed the phone, praying that Stefan was in town, and called him. Yes he was. Yes he could come up to Tarrytown, where I lived, on Sunday for the shoot. We had a small window before all that snow melted with warmer temps and rain.


Now what to wear? I'd had some vague ideas but began furiously going through my closet to choose some outfits. Black coat with red scarf and mittens. Check. Brilliant blue sweater. Check. Long red coat. Hmmm. Almost 30 years old with shoulder pads and not particularly stylish now, but it'll have to do. Reluctant Check.


Sunday morning I woke up ready to go. I'd not had time for a hair trim. Oh well... Didn't really know how to do the makeup for outdoors. Well, do the best you can, I thought. Still not crazy about that red coat..."Hey, don't you have another red coat in the third floor closet?" this little voice whispered in my ear.


I ran up the stairs, opened the closet and pulled out this other red coat I'd completely forgotten about. It was newer, definitely stylish. It just might work!


Stefan drove up at 11 and we walked outside into the winter wonderland (first song on the album) in our backyard, and he began shooting blue sweater shots.


I was singing as he was shooting and generally acting silly. The fun was just beginning. We took some by the front door with the wreath for another backdrop.



Then we piled into his car with my two coats and drove to the Rockefeller Nature Preserve about a mile away. The Preserve has 26 miles of trails with many scenic views and there we discovered a stone bridge (see the top photo) where we stayed a long time shooting coat shots, both black and red. In the red coat I also walked through the snow as Stefan fired away.



Five hours later, tired but happy, we made our way back home where Stefan took one last shot with his iPhone for posterity. It is still one of my favorite shots of the day.




As Stefan drove away I said prayers of thanks - for the snow that lasted long enough and for Stefan's availability and skill. I hadn't even chosen the songs for the album yet, but the photo shoot was a wrap!

71 views

© 2019 by Valerie Cullaton