I am certain that, by now, most of you have heard about Suzanne Heintz and her mannequin family. Our own Colorado Public Radio recently did a story on her last week, which is pretty awesome. She’s been getting some pretty far-reaching attention for her “family” portraits with her fiberglass husband and daughter. The premise, as it has been repeated by Heintz as well as the commentators who have written on her work, is a questioning of values and presumptions behind the pressure put on people, especially women, to settle down and get married.
Rewind to January of this year: I was working with my good friend, Lindsey, at a wedding venue. The Grant-Humphrey’s Mansion, to be specific. She’s the assistant director there; I was simply filling in for her co-worker, who was out for surgery. One morning, Lindsey sends me a link to an article with the subject line reading, “can we see if this woman wants to shoot her “wedding” at the mansion?” [Here is the original link: http://www.featureshoot.com/2014/01/suzanne-heintz/]. Apparently a mutual friend of ours works with Suzanne Heintz at Starz and thought Lindsey would enjoy the article and the photographs. She did, obviously. We both did.
Scrolling through the article, we were immediately enamored. Heintz’ photographs, deadpanned aping of domestic bliss and family trip exploits with punctuated moments of absurdity (dog sledding and convalescence in a hospital), are brilliant. They exude an earnestness that even most actual family photos lack, and Heintz expressions are brilliant. As a project, it seemed, to me, simple and thought provoking. At least, wryly funny. So, we e-mailed her. What could it hurt? As soon as we hit “send”, we lamented that she likely would never e-mail us back.
Forty five minutes later, we received an emphatic, “Yes! Can I come by tomorrow?!” from Ms. Heintz. We were ecstatic.
(And, I should say, we still are.)
So, now we’re helping Heintz plan and organize her wedding.
On Sunday we shot her “engagement” photos. This involved ingeniously strapping her mannequin husband to the back seat of a tandem bike and riding around the park. PBS joined us for that escapade, as well as Suzanne’s good friends and another documentary video crew. You should have seen it— there were three separate parties taking video of the whole ordeal, along with a handful of other people with cameras just there to shoot. We all looked pretty important, out there in the park with studio lighting and a life-size fiberglass man wired to a vintage tandem bike.
[Special thanks to Zak Karinen and Mike Lasswell for all their help filming! <3]
So excited and so thankful to be a part of this project. Stay tuned for more shenanigans.