Forums > Critique > 2008 Year in Review


Stephen Melvin

Posts: 16334

Kansas City, Missouri, US

It's that time of year again, and what an amazing, crazy, year it's been. One of my goals for 2008 was to shoot more fashion, and things didn't quite work out that way. But I had a wonderful time this year and worked with an incredible group of models.

January 5

Naturally my year began with Jessalyn, who has become MM's best known model and a very good friend of mine. We ventured out on a warmish January day and got some terrific stuff, of course. She's at the top of her game right now, and probably the best poser I've worked with to date.

Aja Erhardt, Melissa Lynnette LaDiva, Raelyn Mouse, The Empowered One and Laura Michelle
January 5

Later the same day, I had my first group nude shoot, and it was a total blast. Raelyn was in town, visiting me for the second time, and I decided to see how many people I could find to join her. The result was one of the most memorable evenings I've had as a photographer, and a series of really fun images. I got to meet several people I'd been wanting to meet, and found out the infamous LaDiva is actually a very nice person. Was I not supposed to tell?

Alexandra Courson
February 3

Alex and I had been playing phone tag for months, and we finally shot again on Superbowl Sunday. You see, the Superbowl is always boring, so I figured it would be a great day to schedule a shoot. Alex and I had a great time, and I turned on the game shortly after she left, about halfway through. We did have a great shoot, but boy was that a game!

February 7

Boy, what a treat! Titania came to visit and we had a fabulous time. She has so many wonderful talents, including hair and makeup and a gift for comedy. Her personality rings through in so many of our shots together, it was a perfect match. Hers was a very memorable visit, and we've become good friends.

She was joined by The Empowered One, Laura and Aja for another fun group shoot on February 9. This year got off to a fast start! The hilarity that ensued that night can't possibly fit into this recap.

Sarah Nelsen, Teresa Lavena, Meagan Colf and Victoria Helser
February 16

I collaborated with several MUA's, wardrobe stylists and hair stylists this year, and this shoot was an early experiment with this. I've shot with Teresa before, and she's absolutely wonderful and great fun. She has a wicked sense of humor.

I enjoyed shooting with Meagan and Victoria a lot. I'd seen Meagan before, so it was cool to get to work with her. Victoria was just starting out, and has a wonderful look.

Of special note is Sarah, who I met that day. The hair stylist had brought her, and unlike the other girls, she lives near me. You'll see more of Sarah later in this review.

March 16

I can't say enough about Anandi. She came down from Chicago, and we drove down to Oklahoma in search of warmer weather, as I was ready for some outdoor shooting after a long, cold winter. We stopped in a random town (seriously, I don't even remember the name) and stayed at a mom-and-pop motel that had a baggie full of water hanging from the overhead lamp. The next day, we took a detour onto a farm road and found some really cool random places to shoot, including a brick building that had apparently been destroyed.

Anandi is another art model who has a tremendous comedic touch. She's low key, doesn't complain and is up for about anything you throw at her.

Monica Jay
March 22

Candy Poses
March 25

Candy is a model who has a large and excellent portfolio, and I was very pleasantly surprised when she contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in shooting with her if she came town. I said "yes," of course, and we had an awesome two day visit with all sorts of locations including a seedy motel with wall-to-wall mirrors and an Atlas E missile silo. Candy is one of my dearest friends now, and I cannot recommend her highly enough to those looking for a great model to work with.

Engel Schrei
April 4

Vinyl Doll and Amo Morbia
April 15

Missy and AMO were driving cross-country and contacted me to ask for a place to crash. What fun these two were! It was a chilly night, but we ran around and shot outside anyway. Once it got too cold, we shot inside a sports bar that had just closed for the night. The staff was still there when these two had a water fight. The manager had a bucket of icewater dumped on his head, too.

Sometimes my life is interesting...

Sarah Nelsen
April 20

There's something about Sarah... She has such an amazing natural beauty to her, and she knows how to move and create excellent photos. She's really a wonderful fashion model, and I enjoy working with her a lot. She's become a good friend, too. MM may not be a dating site (uh huh), but it sure has expanded my group of close friends.

May 2

LaLa and I had been talking for months, becoming good friends, and I'd really been looking forward to finally meeting and working with her. But due to some bad choices (on my part) and bad luck (she got sick when she was here), we didn't get to work together nearly as much as I'd hoped. Still, I really enjoyed meeting her and hope to get to see her again before she moves to Florida.

Ratchet Stardust
May 13

Ratchet came over from Columbia, a college town about two hours away, to shoot with me one evening. We drove all over the place, looking for good locations. One of the more memorable ones is a warehouse we found. One of the loading docks was open, and we could see tens of thousands of aluminum cans. We went inside and asked the guy who was there if we could shoot. He wanted to "think about it." He was by himself, and it was only his 2nd week on the job. I told him it was okay for him to watch. He agreed and we shot.

Amazing what asking will get you...

Jenny Lea
May 18

What a tremendously fun girl Jenny is. She's daring, loves exploring and is up for most anything. She and I headed to an abandoned grain elevator, which has since been torn down. What a wonderful, s.cary, dangerous place that was. There were holes in the floor, big enough to fall through, with a 150' drop. We managed to survive and get some of my favorite pictures of 2008.

Brooke Lynne
May 24

What a whirlwind Memorial Day weekend Brooke and I had! First, we drove down to a wind farm in Kansas, shooting most of the day. Then we drove the opposite way to Illinois, to a location another photographer told me about. Brooke was a wonderful traveling companion, which is good, because we spent about 18 hours alone in a car together that weekend. Brooke is an excellent model, possessing a kind of beauty that I find very appealing.

Wendy Lane
May 25

As I said, a photographer I know showed me photos of this amazing location, but she couldn't locate it. I managed to use my high level Google prowess and figured out where and what it was, so I was determined to have an awesome shoot there.

A Kansas City photographer I know told me about Wendy, telling me to shoot her before some lesser photographers ruined her, which seems to happen a lot where she lives. (His words, I swear). Wendy joined Brooke, Laura Ann and me at an old Catholic boarding school which had been destroyed by fire. What an incredible place to shoot, and it's now gone.

I enjoyed working with Wendy a lot, and hope to work with her again in 2009.

Raelyn Mouse
June 8

If you hadn't noticed, I really like Raelyn. She's a great house guest, and she visited again in June, making it down for my gallery opening. She gives the most wonderful scritchies...

June 10

Jessie was living near KC last summer, and the grain elevator was starting to be demolished, so I called her up to see if she'd like to come down and shoot. She was up for it, and we had a quick, light-hearted shoot which still produced some very memorable photographs.

Amaya Solace
June 15

Amaya and I had a quick shoot one afternoon. It had been raining a lot, and we wound up shooting near the river, which was as high as I've seen it in ages. We were shooting nudes and were, of course, wary of being seen. We met a grizzled, bearded old man and asked him if he'd be our lookout for us. He agreed, telling us that his friends would never believe him.

Jenny Lea
June 25

Jenny and I headed to the new Power & Light District, a very expensive new entertainment district that my fair city built to revitalize downtown at the expense of other areas of town. There is a heavy police presence there, and photographers are frequently harassed down there. So naturally I wanted to shoot there. A lot. This photo was taken a few minutes before the one that made it into my portfolio.

Rebecca Lawrence
July 7

Rebecca was in town to shoot with some other photographers, and I invited her to stay with me while she was in town. She was eager to shoot, and it shows in our photos.

Titania, Rebecca Lawrence and PXE
July 8

Titania returned for a game of Topless Twister! She was joined by Rebecca, and I finally got to meet PXE, who is just the sweetest soul you'd ever want to meet. What a beautiful face she has, and she's an instinctive model who always knows just how to pose.

We shot in a great old theatre and just had a blast.

Ali Layton
July 19

A friend of mine introduced me to Ali, who is one of the younger models I've worked with. Despite her youth, she really did remarkably well. She's a natural, and I think she could go far in this business.

Heather LeStabbityDeath
July 21

Possesser of the coolest name on Model Mayhem, Heather is one of my favorite people. She's a no-nonsense, "what you see is what you get" kind of person, with an evil and awesome sense of humor. We had great fun running around after dark, trying not to get into too much trouble.

London Andrews
July 26

London is a nomadic woman, living out of her Ford Mustang, driving from town to town. She took a very large detour to shoot with me. I'm glad she did. Super sweet, we had a really fun day of shooting. Shooting with somebody as well known as London (she's the second "Five Naked Model(s)" I've worked with), I really tried to do something different with her. The result was a fun day, and some fun photos.

Tracy Jordan
July 26

Tracy was traveling with London and came along with us. When we were driving around, I saw the "Back Door Lounge" sign and decided I must shoot there. Tracy got out and we started shooting. One of those guys came outside, so we ran back to the car. He waved to us that it was okay, so we got back out and shot some more. Then his friend came outside. The result was this image.

July 27

Courtney isn't on Model Mayhem, but she deserves special mention because I think she's a remarkable model. Her agent asked me to shoot her. She had sent along a snapshot taken with a digicam in her office, which didn't really show Courtney very clearly, but I agreed to work with her.

Courtney was very inexperienced, and I think I was the second professional photographer she'd ever shot with, the first being somebody she shot with in NYC at her agent's insistence. The results of that shoot in NY were apparently not too useful.

So on a 103 degree, very humid day, I spent three hours with Courtney. When I met her, I instantly knew the photos I'd seen of her had done her no justice, so I took the time to relax her and teach her a few things. The results were some of my favorite images of 2008.

She's moving to NYC next month, to stay for three months. I wish her all the best!

August 3

Kelly is a complete model. She's equally at home doing fashion, editorial or nudes, and she excels at everything she does. She really shows off how much easier it is to get fantastic imagery when your model knows how to move, is aware of her body and knows how to express herself visually. She was also a terrifically fun house guest. She really is one of the best. I'd recommend her to anybody.

August 31

Anandi made a return visit in August so we could shoot in warm weather this time, and we made the most of it! I think we shot in half a dozen locations, including this crumbling old hotel. She brought baked goods with her this time, and tireless energy.

Ratchet Stardust
September 6

Also returning was Ratchet, who had shaved her head since her last visit. I caught her mid-growth, and we shot on a day with kinda crummy weather. The coolest thing was finding this hobo home in downtown KC, hidden from view.

Fedora El Morro
September 14

The third of the original "Five Naked Models" I've shot, Fedora and I ran around on a rather chilly Sunday night after the end of a tattoo convention she had attended. We shot at a junkyard, after asking the guy who works there if it would be okay. He initally said "no" when I asked if I could take photos in there. Then I explained what we'd be doing, and he quickly changed his mind...

PXE, and Mischief Vixen
October 5

PXE came back to town in October, joined by her good friend Gumby (Mischief Vixen). What fun we had, exploring various abandonments, and being followed (I think) in a smallish Missouri town. And being seen by the owner of one of the abandonments, who had no problem whatsoever with what we were doing. That's him in the pickup:

Jess Robinson
October 25

Jess came up and stayed with me the weekend. What a remarkable model! Much like Kelly, she's equally at home whether doing fashion or nudes, but she really loves being naked. We hit a house that had burned to the ground, and a few other sites. When we started out in the morning, I was putting my gear away when a guy came out of a newly-renovated old warehouse. He asked what we were doing, then invited us to shoot inside the brand new condos.

Sometimes luck is your friend.

Jess and I got along very well indeed, and we're already scheming about our next shoot.

The Empowered One
November 9

The Empowered One and I got together on a brisk Sunday with the intent of getting the fall colors. The leaves had changed, however, but it didn't stop us from having a great time.

She's been a very good friend to me, even helping me get a wedding that's out of the country next April. I'm looking forward to that!

Kea Samone
November 15

I met Kea at a gallery opening on First Friday. I'd seen some of her photos before and after meeting her, decided that most of them didn't do her justice, so I set up a shoot with her.

November 16

Ayako and I had been talking about a year ago, then she dropped off the radar. We started talking again about a month before we shot together. We shot at four different abandonments on a chilly Sunday afternoon and night. You'd be amazed at how many abandoned houses there are in Kansas...

Jessa, and Anandi
November 29

As these photos attest, this was a very cold November day. I drove up to Peoria with Jenna Huffman to shoot with Laura Ann. We were supposed to shoot at an abandoned mental institution, but it had been resealed by the time we got there. Fortunately, Jenna has an eagle eye for spotting abandoned houses, and she found a gem of a house near Peoria. We shot there until the sun went down, which happens ridiculously early in Illinois in late November...

Jessa and Anandi were great, despite the difficult conditions. We had a very limited amount of time, three photographers to get shots for, and it was damned cold. The models were terrific, and we all got some fantastic shots.

Jay Elle
December 7

Jay's MM profile hasn't yet been approved, but when it does get approved, it will be full of photos we took together. We explored an abandoned hospital that I had found (with some help -- I have amazing connections). This was her first nude shoot ever, and she was terrific, taking direction well and being up for anything. And I mean anything! Not many people would do what she did -- you can see what I mean if you visit my nude profile. I worked with her again last weekend, and in just a week, she's already learning and growing as a model.


The recap of this year would not be complete without a word about Jenna Huffman. A model I know put her in touch with me several months ago. She's a photographer who wanted to be my assistant and learn from me. She's become a very close friend and a tremendous asset, helping me at most of my shoots since October. Her ability to find and explore new locations has really helped me expand my photography. She has an excellent photographic eye and a very curious mind. Jenna is going places, I'm certain.


2008 was a remarkable year for me. I want to thank each and every model I worked with for helping make it happen.

Dec 16 08 09:20 pm Link


Candy Poses

Posts: 3380

Seattle, Washington, US

Dec 16 08 11:05 pm Link


Blue Ash Film Group

Posts: 10343

Cincinnati, Ohio, US

Your year in review is like a "Who's Who" of MM models. Every image you included is excellent. Is that bridge you shot Heather LeStabbityDeath on in KC? I will be in Lee's Summit from Christmas Day until after New Year's Day and would love to check it out.

Dec 16 08 11:31 pm Link


Stephen Melvin

Posts: 16334

Kansas City, Missouri, US

Candy Poses wrote:

Dec 17 08 08:36 am Link



Posts: 24002

Kansas City, Missouri, US

I can't believe it's been over a year since we've shot. sad

Very nice, though, of course. smile

Dec 17 08 08:43 am Link



Posts: 11969

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US

whew! Look at those hotties!! big_smile

Dec 17 08 08:59 am Link


Less Than Two

Posts: 23401

Ann Arbor, Michigan, US

-Titania- wrote:
whew! Look at those hotties!! big_smile


Steve gets all the awesome people.

Dec 17 08 11:13 am Link


Stephen Melvin

Posts: 16334

Kansas City, Missouri, US

Raelyn Mouse wrote:

Steve gets all the awesome people.

I do! I'm pretty fortunate that way. smile

Dec 17 08 05:17 pm Link


Garry k

Posts: 28708

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Courtney stands out

Dec 17 08 06:02 pm Link


Garry k

Posts: 28708

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Never met a Courtney that I didn't find attractive

Dec 17 08 06:16 pm Link



Posts: 1326

Palm Beach, Florida, US

i enjoyed viewing your year in review.  great images and looks like you had a great year of shooting and fun!  hope 2009 brings more models, more great shots, and more fun for us all!

Dec 17 08 06:35 pm Link



Posts: 21433

Denver, Colorado, US

vary nice!

Dec 18 08 10:05 am Link



Posts: 6196

Columbus, Ohio, US

looks like much fun was had

Dec 18 08 10:23 am Link


Mischief Vixen

Posts: 5733

Toledo, Ohio, US

I was super honored to be one of the models you worked with this year. I had an absolute blast and I have many lovely photos to prove it. Thanks Stephen. You rock! big_smile

Dec 18 08 10:37 am Link


Andrew Thomas Evans

Posts: 24078

Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

I looked though your reviews, and it's nice to see you're getting better.

Dec 20 08 02:07 am Link

Wardrobe Stylist

Kea Samone Styling

Posts: 1

Kansas City, Missouri, US


Dec 23 08 05:28 am Link


London Andrews

Posts: 1414

Rochester, New York, US

Awww... Fedora!  I love that girl..... so many great models on this list, Steven.... I am so happy I got to shoot with you this year.  Nothing like twisters in the cornfielf (talking about boobie twisters...haha)

Dec 24 08 02:35 pm Link


Keira Grant

Posts: 3805

State College, Pennsylvania, US

Well that is uber lame that I never made it there.

I'll just have to be there a few times next year...assuming I'm tolerable. tongue

Dec 27 08 02:32 pm Link


- Kelly -

Posts: 535

Los Angeles, California, US

Awww, how very sweet of you.


Jan 02 09 08:38 am Link