Daniella Fishburne Photography

Daniella Fishburne Photography

Conundrums and Curiosities

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"Cosmic Encounter"


It's been awhile . . . 

I lost that fire in my belly, and for a moment, I thought it might be gone for good. 

Over the summer, my external hard drive died and, long story short, I lost most of my work. Four years of hard work and all those long hours spent toiling away in front of a computer were thrown out the window. Everything was gone. Or at least most of it anyway. My only saving grace was a thumb drive where I had saved a few jpegs for printing. But all of my early work, including my Charleston photography and over half of my digital manipulations have completely vanished.

As you can imagine, I was pretty upset about it . . .  and I ugly cried . . .  hard.

After I mourned the loss of my work, I seriously considered walking away from it all. I have a full time job and a family. Why am I even doing this anyway? Do I really want to start all over? What is the point? 

Honestly, if I hadn't already accepted an invitation to a group exhibition in Venice, Italy by this point, I probably would have walked away. I was exhausted and it seemed like a good reason to give up.

But then I went to Italy and it changed everything. There are no words that can truly explain it. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. Seeing my hard work hanging in this beautiful old building, in this beautiful city, in a foreign land that I never in my life thought I'd ever be able to visit. It felt like a dream.

Sometimes I question whether or not it was even real. It all came and went so fast, like a blur. And as time passes, my memory grows fuzzy and the details begin to fade. But I'll never forget that night, after leaving the gallery . . .  when I looked up at the stars and for a moment I felt as though those stars were within my reach. My DREAMS were within reach. And I knew . . .  there is no walking away from this. 

So now I move forward. There will be a lot of changes coming soon, including a complete overhaul of my website and social media presence. And for now, I've decided to focus on rebuilding my two current series, Portraits of Wonderland and Mannequin Madness, which I've lost a few pieces to and will need to reshoot.

I'll also be focusing on a new series that evolved unexpectedly . . .  Conundrums and Curiosities. A visual tale of a young woman's journey through strange lands.

Who knows where this new road will lead . . .

"Fork in the Road"


Running Out of Time

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Unfortunately, my art has been placed on the back burner for awhile now. I've been working on a lot of fun side projects with other people lately, which has left little time for my own artistic expression. Even though I was still being creative, creating for someone else isn't quite the same as creating for yourself. There's something incredibly therapeutic about taking your own thoughts and feelings, and interpreting that into a visual story.

 A couple of weeks ago, I told my husband I was feeling seriously art deprived and it feels like time is getting away from me. So I thought about that for awhile.... Time. 

I tried to interpret that thought several different ways and nothing seemed to work out. Maybe this project wasn't meant to be? But just when I decided to give up and scrap it, I thought...  No time is ever wasted as long as you learn something from it. So I decided that, even if it looks bad, I'm still going to at least teach myself something I've never done before. 

Dispersion is a Photoshop technique that I've always wanted to try, so I googled how to do it and spent a good chunk of time experimenting with it.

This is the end result of something I almost tossed, but I'm so glad I gave a second chance. Maybe it's not a grand masterpiece, but I learned something new and I know from experience that I'll only get better with practice. Nothing is ever perfect the first time around, but I love the way it turned out. So all those hours of frustration were totally worth it. ;)

Inside the Creative Mind

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Someone once told me, "I wish I could live inside your head for a day, just to see how your mind works." And my first thought was, "Girl, you don't want any part of that mess!" (You have to say that with a sassy southern drawl and a finger waving in the air to get the full picture) lol


Organized chaos is what I like to call it. Random thoughts floating around, trying to organize into some sort of form or idea, until eventually spilling out of my brain in the most chaotic way. I really don't know how else to describe it. This is what it's like inside my head.

The inspiration process is very random. You never know what will spark a new idea. So when people ask me where my ideas come from, I usually crack a joke about having one too many glasses of wine and thinking entirely too much. Which is true to an extent, but the truth is, there's so much more to it than that. 

Honestly, where the ideas come from really isn't all that important. I have a notebook full of ideas and inspiration.... from lyrics, to phrases, to sketches of dreams. But they are simply ideas.... written in a notebook. Nothing more.

Implementing the dream is so much harder than simply dreaming it.  I can sit on my ass all day, coming up with all of these amazing ideas but they mean absolutely nothing until I get up and do something about it. 

I don't think there's any truer statement than that. It's a lot of hard work to turn a dream into reality.

This particular project took three weeks to complete, longer really if you think about it. The hallway of books was shot in Portland, Oregon at Powell's Bookstore a couple of months ago, but the idea was floating around inside my head long before that. So this project has been in the works for quite some time.

The key is to never give up and keep an open mind.  Sometimes things don't work out exactly like you plan. I had this idea planned out in my head and I was recording my edits to create this video, but at a certain point, my original plan wasn't working and I honestly didn't know where this was going to go.  So I had to stop recording towards the end because I had five different versions going at once. I really had a hard time making a decision, which I often do. I'm so indecisive! But if you keep yourself open to new possibilities and allow yourself to go with the flow, it will always turn out better than you expected. I realize that now more than ever. 

I hope you enjoy the video! Cheers!

Mannequin Madness: History of Fashion

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1940s Fashion

Mannequin Madness is making a come back!

A few weeks ago I received my first portfolio review and the positive feedback I received was just the push I needed to move forward with this series. I've been thinking about exploring the history of fashion for a long time, but I wasn't sure if this was the best way to do it.

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by fashion. To tell you the truth, I'm not very fashionable at all (I'm more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl). But if I could go back and do my life over I would have gone to school for costume and set design. I absolutely adore period movies and the 1940s are one of my top favorite eras because of its classic elegance. 

The clothes women wore during this time were not designed by the fashionable and wealthy, but by patriotism and practicality needed during times of war. Women's clothing were simplified due to the lack of fabric, which was being used for the war, so the hem length was shortened to the knee. Accessories were all the rage during this time, so it wasn't likely for a woman would leave the house without a pair of gloves and jewelry. 

I don't know how long this series will go on. I guess it all depends on what I can find on a limited budget. But for now, I'm just happy to play dress up with my quirky mannequins again. 


Gathering My Thoughts

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It's been awhile since I've written a blog for my self-portraits. Over the past two years, I wrote something for each and every piece, but this year has been different.

My style seems to be changing a bit, from quirky dream-like images to something more personal and deeper. With exploring some of these emotions it has been difficult to express my feelings with words and I've lost all motivation to write. 

Lately, I find it's better to say nothing and let the work speak for itself. I didn't want to sully these images with heavy handed words, so I only shared them on my Facebook page without saying very much. If you haven't seen them, I added them to the bottom of this post. 

Maybe one day I'll get back into my writing groove, but with everything that's going on in the world lately, I just want to escape into my own little dream world and pretend everything is beautiful again. This is where I gather my thoughts and let my imagination run wild.

Fun facts about this image: I used pillow stuffing to create the clouds or "thoughts" and painted a piece of cardboard black using acrylic paint to give the sky the painted feeling of brushstrokes. I had to tone it down quite a bit in Photoshop so that it would blend better with the rest of the image, but I had fun creating this miniature stage on my bookshelf. I just might have to try this again. 

The Queen of Hearts

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Off with their heads!

I'm jumping back in Wonderland again, this time with the Queen of Hearts, and I literally thought I was going to lose my head with this one. This image took four weeks to complete, and for a moment there, I didn't think it was going to come together.

Initially, I had planned to create a card army to accompany the Queen, but that didn't work out like I had hoped. When I found this stock photo of a flamingo, the image started to evolve into something entirely different from what I had originally imagined, and I'm glad it did. As you can see, there is a lot involved in this one. Here are some of the pieces that went into this image.

I used this beautiful Victorian sofa to create her chair by cutting out the middle and blending the two ends together and the heart shaped picture frame became the top part of her scepter. The roses were the tricky part. First I had to make them white, then I hand painted the red brush strokes using various Photoshop brushes, then added a bit of dripping paint on a few of the roses. 

The dress is by far the best part though, and I am so grateful to my beautiful model, Joella, for creating it. She made everything herself, from the stunning card corset to the crown and skirt. I can't even imagine how long it took to put all those cards together to create that corset. I am truly impressed with Joella's costume design skills! The only thing I changed was the skirt, which was an accident. I was trying to smooth out some of the wrinkles with the smudge tool and, well . . . one thing led to another and I ended up painting the entire skirt. I love the waterfall effect it created though, so I'd say it was a happy accident. 

From here, I plan to take a little break from the main characters of Wonderland to focus on some of the more obscure characters, and possibly some of my own creation. So the next Portrait of Wonderland might not be at all what you'd expect. I hope that Alice will stop by for a visit sometime soon, but I've yet to find the right dress for her, so it might be awhile before we see her.

As always, thank you for following along in this fun little journey. I hope you enjoy watching it unfold as much as I enjoy creating it. Until next time, my friends! 

Back to Wonderland with the White Queen

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It's a new year and time to jump back into my Wonderland project! 

The white Queen is one of the first characters that Alice meets in the story, Through the Looking Glass. She first appears in the drawing room just beyond the looking-glass as an animate chess piece. The White Queen tells Alice that, in her youth, she could believe "six impossible things before breakfast" and counsels Alice to practice the same skill.

I'd like to give a very BIG thank you to my dear friend, Christy, for playing the part. It was such a fun experience and we had a grand time, drinking wine and dancing around the living room to the tunes of David Bowie. Of course, once we got down to business, she was a trooper with three costume changes and a few hours of sitting and waiting, while I experimented with smoke machines and lighting adjustments. She was so patient and I can't thank her enough!

I hope you enjoy this short video of a click through of all the Photoshop layers that went into the making of this image (to the intro of Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie).  

Portraits of Wonderland will continue next month with the Queen of Hearts!

Carnival Madness—The Fortune Teller

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This is the final addition to Carnival Madness and the initial inspiration behind this series. I envisioned this image two months ago, but it took some time finding all the props needed to create it. It was totally worth the wait though! And really, it's the perfect way to end the year. The tarot card she's holding is the Wheel of Fortune and I'm predicting good fortune for all in 2016. Or so I hope!

It's that time of year to make resolutions and mine are quite simple.... to continue growing as an artist by trying new things and to not be such a perfectionist. That last part is going to be hard! But I've realized this year that I put WAY too much pressure on myself, so I'm going to work on that. What is your New Year's resolution this year?

Here's to a very happy and healthy New Year!!! Cheers!!

Carnival Madness—The Performer

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To anyone who has ever said, "I would love to see inside your mind."

Well, trust me, you don't want any part of that mess! 

Sometimes I wonder how I haven't driven my husband crazy yet. Hell, I don't even know how I've managed to hold onto some glimpse of sanity myself! I have obsessed over this image for far too many hours to count, and yet, my husband remains patiently supportive, as I click on and off layers that seemingly do nothing (at least as far as he can tell). But I notice!

I finally think I'm happy with it though and wrote this incredibly insightful blog post about it, and of course, my web browser crashes. So I lost everything. All of it. I had to laugh though. That seems to be the story of my life lately. Computers crashing, losing hours of work. Sigh. But life goes on and the reality is, none of it really matters.

What matters most is the people we love and spending all the time we can with them. So I'm going to sign off now and snuggle up to my husband on the couch, unless he talks me into wrapping presents. Which he probably will and some how I'll end up doing all the wrapping while he holds the tape. That doesn't seem fair now, does it? Haha! Oh well. It must be some sort of Jedi mind trick. ;)

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

The Cheshire Cat—Portraits of Wonderland

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Most everyone’s mad here. You may have noticed that I’m not all there myself.

The Cheshire Cat is one of my favorite characters. He's magical and mysterious, turning words into read-between-the-lines poetry. And how can you not love that big grin? Every time I see a crescent moon, I always think of the Cheshire Cat.

Like all members of Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat is mad, but unlike the others, he admits it with pride. I think that's why I like him so much. If you're going to be mad, then why not embrace it? I know I'm weird, and perhaps a bit off, but I embrace it wholeheartedly.  After all, if I wasn't, would I be able to create the things I do? Probably not. 

Now for the big question. Who should play the part? 

Behind the scenes shenanigans with Brendan and Henry.

Like the Cheshire cat, he always has a smile on his face. If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting Brendan, a.k.a. Danny Dynomite, lead singer of Glamnation and Wicked Love, then you're familiar with that wide eyed grin. His light-hearted spirit is magnetic, and if he was ever heavy hearted, you'd never know it.

So, what was it like shooting such a charismatic personality? A lot of fun and full of silly shenanigans, of course! 

Before image.

After all that silliness, we finally got down to business and I got the image I needed to build from. This was not an easy project and I admit, I procrastinated for a few days after the shoot because I was totally intimidated by it, and rightfully so. The file size ended up being so large that I had to separate it into four different files before my computer would let me save it. As you can see, it changed tremendously from the original. 

Fun fact: There are four fish swimming around the smoke that's swirling around the disappearing head. See if you can find them. ;)