Monday, February 8, 2010

A Perfect Accidental Umbrella

A day in the life of John Hildebrand... On this last rainy day, I posted on my Facebook to see if anyone was interested in playing in the rain and taking some photos.  Not knowing where this post would lead me to, I thought it would be a great test.  Within five minutes I was overwhelmed by people that wanted to shoot.  My model and friend Jai Greenlee contacted me right away.  Her being an model / actress was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do. 

I did something different on this blog post asking Jai Greenlee to write in her own words about the day, the shoot and her feelings.  So below is all provided by Jai Greenlee, which I can't thank enough. 

10:44am. Friday. I’m Bored. It’s raining.

Location: FaceBook.

John Hildebrand Posts: let it rain for sure. anyone want to go model and do a shoot in the rain today??

Oooohhh, I think, Rain + Photoshoot + amazing photographer = crazy fun afternoon.

10:49am. Reply to post, I’m in.

10:51am. Call Babysitter, she’s on hold.

10:52am. Call John, Leave message.

11:06am. John calls back. Game on.

11:08am. Call Babysitter, she’s on her way.

11:15am. Throw a red peacoat, galoshes, white dress, boots, a suit and a pair of shorts in a bag. Put on light makeup. Scrunch Hair. Raining hard now.

11:42am. Babysitter arrives. Kiss baby goodbye. Hop in Car.

11:50am.  Driving up the PCH.  In my overalls. Pouring rain the whole way there, listened to Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga. Got Pumped.

12:30pm. Get to John’s place. Meet Kyle. Cute and sweet photo assist. We grab the gear and head out. Still raining.

We find the first shot, up a winding road in the hills of Malibu. The setting is misty, sad, sort of romantic, the mood is somber, scared, intrigued, but fun. John creates the story to step into. I walk onto the road in my red coat and red boots and find my mark. It’s easy to be vulnerable, nature is weeping and so am I. To be seen through a lens is one of the most authentic things you can do. John and Kyle make it safe to be seen. My heart pours into the rain.
1:35pm: Head back to the car, I jump in a puddle, we shoot it. I’m a kid again.
1:45pm: Head back to PCH looking for a foggy hillside, change in car into white dress.

We don’t notice the cold, just the rain. Were making something, call it art, a story, a mood…from boredom it blossomed. Spontaneity. Standing on the hillside as the fog winds down the slippery slopes, I look out into the vast view. It is beyond beautiful and I feel strong. My hair is drenched. John directs some; I take his cue and spin. Spinning round, my heels slide gracefully in the mud. I haven’t done this since I was 8, maybe 9. I feel awake.
1:58pm: We hop back into the car. The flash has died, we can’t find the charger. Must go back, we need food anyways.

2:16pm:  Recharge. The equipment and ourselves. We are happy and dry. Order pizza-half mushroom (for me and Kyle) half Hawaiian (for John). Yum. Tea too, Warm again.

2:33pm: Flash is charged, we are amped with the first round of pics. Time to grab the last two shots. John plays Eminem and Kid Cuddi.

I’m relaxed now, not trying to be cool. Not trying to be something I’m not, Just me. You know that feeling when you want to do a good job, and you think if you act cool, you’ll be cool. I’ve never been good at that. I just end up looking like a dork. The lens doesn’t lie, I can only be authentic as the shutter closes... I have to let my ego go as Eminem shouts my angst. I leave it to him and step out into the next path.

3:18pm: Back on the road, back in overalls, headed to a bridge, I feel naked. Still Raining.

It’s pouring, the flash wont work. I’m cold but raw. We hover over the busted flash and hope our shot comes out. I step onto the bridge, trusting. John shoots without the flash, I’m just there, crossing over to a whole and more truthful me.
4:08pm: Head down the path to the ocean, across a pebbled stream and rocky cliff. We are all barefoot, carefully choosing each step as the rain falls down. John and Kyle trot easily ahead of me, while I tiptoe behind, careful not to disturb nature’s puzzle. We get to the sand and everything is calm. I lean against a limestone cliff and find that moment of inner peace. I breathe in and John shoots. Beauty unfolds around us and through us. We move into the water and it is warm, warmer than the rain, it envelops us for the final shot. John passes his umbrella as he changes settings. I hold it, the wind whipping and rain misting my eyes. He shoots that. Perhaps my favorite image of the day, an accidental umbrella. I love it.
5ishpm: We head back, satisfied with what we shot, happy to be dry. Fulfilled by creation.

Looking at the images, what came from being public, on Facebook… people connect, create, collaborate. Make something new, try something on, get out there, and be open, even in the rain.
Thank you John for your willingness to explore and continue to expand as a photographer. I felt honored to be a part of a surprise creative collaboration. You and Kyle are total professionals and the talent is apparent in the work.
  A sudden prayer,
  A rainy day.
  A winding path,
  A red coat.
  A foggy wind,
  A muddy boot.
  A Rainbow bridge,
  A tip toe hike.
  A Perfect Accidental Umbrella.

Thank you Thank you Thank you. Xo Jai

Photographer: John Hildebrand
Photo Assistant: Kyle Sparks

Gear used for shoot:  Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35mm lens, lexar cards, one Q-Flash and a lot of rain.

A Special thanks To B&H Photo where I order all my gear.  When you need new equipment go here.


  1. wow wow wow ...........................................

  2. You guys really captured the youthful playfulness of the rain, as well as it's sexiness. Love it!

  3. I love the photo where shes standing in the middle of the road! ahhhmazinggg! love it johnnnyyy poo you da besstt :)