Photo: This self portrait, titled “Cosmic Love,” is No. 42 out of 365. It was ranked No. 17 as Flickr’s most interesting photo of the day and is Arndt’s most popular online photo. Photo by Erin Arndt
by Matt Wahlgren, Brianne Strobel, and Sara Laurie, Kaneland Krier Editors
KANELAND—Senior Erin Arndt already had her photography equipment unloaded from the car and ready to go for a day of photos. By the time her friends and models had all arrived, it was closing on three in the afternoon at Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles.
In no time at all, they were already searching for a suitable fall background against which to pose the model, Kaneland graduate Chloe Bluml. Luckily, an old rustic barn fit the bill perfectly.
As Arndt’s camera clicked, Bluml tried different poses as directed. Like most photographers, Arndt takes huge numbers of pictures from new perspectives and keeps only the ones she likes most.
She gave Bluml directions to alter the pose to find one that worked the best, including tilting her head different ways, facing different directions, looking off into the distance and standing different ways.
Arndt is currently working on the 365 project for Flickr, a challenge where she posts a new photo every day for a year.
On the day at Leroy Oakes, while looking around for a new place to photograph after finishing with the barn, Arndt’s friends enthusiastically led her into the forest. She went out in search of an interesting place to photograph. There were a few photo opportunities that Arndt took advantage off.
“Does anyone want to take their shoes off?” Arndt asked, trying to find a model willing to lay barefoot under a fallen tree. Senior Taylor Buri, one of the models and a self-proclaimed best friend of Arndt since they were 3 years old, volunteered to ditch her shoes for the photograph. Arndt took plenty of shots from various angles to try to find the one that worked best.
Later, Arndt wanted to try having Buri balance on a tree branch. A lot of work had to go into capturing this. Buri had to try very hard not to fall and maintain the facial expression she was seeking at the same time.
Although this day was a group photo shoot with many models, group photo shoots are no longer the norm for Arndt anymore, as she has moved more towards artistic photographs.
Arndt said that most of her shoots for the 365 project are spontaneous—some being planned only 10 or 20 minutes in advance. When she suddenly gets an idea that she wants to try, she’ll sometimes try it right away.
Flickr’s 365 project encourages people to use their creativity and meet deadlines, which are not actually enforced. A lot of the pictures Arndt posts are of herself, but she also uses several different friends as models, including Bluml, Buri, junior Jack Grimes and seniors Shannon Wallace and Jake Rosko.
Arndt wants the photos to have a certain story or a message behind them, as opposed to being merely shots of people sitting there, posing and smiling.
Although she started out photographing pictures that were or resembled senior photos, Arndt said that is not what she wants to do. Her new photos carry out a purpose other than capturing a moment in time. They are creatively designed to have a specific meaning or to represent an idea.
She spends an hour or two every day editing the photos so she can post them. Her editing process involves using Adobe Photoshop to modify the color of the raw photographs.
“I use different Photoshop actions to give it a vintage or summery look,” Arndt said.
By using Photoshop, Arndt said she can make as many changes as she pleases to make the masterpiece she envisions. She can also change the brightness of the photo to make it more or less visible as she likes.
Arndt intends on keeping her business running as a hobby in the future after high school, even if she gets another job.
Buri said it’s amazing that a 17-year-old has her own business. She said that Arndt has always been creative and comes up with cool ideas that turn into amazing pictures.
Grimes, who models for Arndt only every once in a while, said that her photos are different and unique.
Arndt said that a lot more people know of her photography business, Erin Regina Photography, since the 365 project started. Founded in 2009 under the name Bits & Stirrups, her business has grown in the last two years. She changed the name after moving on from equine photography.