Articles tagged ‘Things to do in Washington’

“They all float down here, and when you’re down here, you’ll float too!” To those of you who have never read Stephen King’s “It”, or saw the terrible made for TV movie, those words may not make much sense. To those who have seen the movie you will undoubtedly be reminded of the eight foot tall sewer clown.  This project was an obvious tribute to one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. We initially saw a still shot from Stephen King’s “It” and got inspired to recreate it in our own unique way. Stephen King has long been one of my favorite authors, and his book “It” was always my favorite of his. I had originally read it in the sixth grade and it scared me so bad I stayed up for weeks. When I saw we had a chance to pay a little tribute to my favorite book I jumped at the chance!

As explained in our first blog entry one of the ways we keep our creative juices flowing is to take on projects. These projects allow us to take our time and experiment and give us complete control over the final outcome. Since doing extensive experiments on paying clients isn’t ethically feasible for us as a business, these projects are essential for the training we have to do to always assure we are bringing you, the client, a superior product.

To begin a project like this we had to find a scary clown. For most people that would be a problem, but fortunately for us we get to meet some pretty interesting people in this business. Mr. Boyle, our scary clown, had thoroughly victimized us at the Haunted House at the Whidbey Roller Barn, and we knew he would be perfect for this!

Finding a model to fit this role was another matter entirely, in fact we searched for over a month before finally meeting Sharon, (AKA Opposable Model) not only was she eager to participate, but brought a lot of creative ideas to the project as well.

Ashley from “Make-Up Your Mind” brought it all together with her amazing skill, and with the team assembled we were set!

The following account was written by Opposable Model:

Victoria and I started planning, she got a wig from Gothic Lolita, I got some shoes, and it all began to come together. The day we settled on was a Friday and the night before that I was already going to be in Seattle for a shoot with Brady Hall so I stayed there for the night and drove up to Oak Harbor the next morning. When I got to her house, Victoria informed me that her faithful friend Ashley (the wizard behind Make-Up Your Mind) would be over soon with her adorable daughter in tow. She offered me coffee and brownies (both of which were amazing!) and we hit it off right away, chatting, laughing and sorting through the wardrobe items I had brought to figure out what would work out best.

Ashley arrived with the most extensive makeup kit I have ever seen and went to work right away doing all sorts of things to my face I don’t even know how to explain. One of them was an airbrush thing that made me look like I was made out of porcelain, and then there were the false eyelashes (top AND bottom!), lipstick, eyebrows and all sorts of other things that you may never even think of but are important in achieving the desired look.

The make-up looked fantastic, and the wig Victoria had bought just tied it all together. We packed up our bags, loaded everyone up and drove off to the location. On the way there we definitely caused a few heads to turn. Imagine, if you will, a procession of two cars, one of which has a porcelain doll in the front seat and a back seat filled with black and red balloons, and the second of which is being driven by a clown. Definitely one of the weirdest things people saw in Oak Harbor that day.

The location that Victoria had found was perfect for the shoot and even though the day was sunny, the house was so gloomy and old looking that it didn’t really matter. We trotted over to it and started getting set up. Now I’ve really got to hand it to Brian, because there is a huge difference between dressing up as a creepy clown and BEING a creepy clown and he took being a creepy clown to a whole new level. He ran, he jumped, he danced, he lurked, he slunk, he crept, he did everything possible to make himself as terrifying and photo worthy as he could.

Victoria started shooting and after a while gave up being angry at the sunlight and just started being delighted about how the shots were coming out. I remember at one point she looked at her camera and just started laughing and declared, “This is so %$#@^&* amazing!” That was when I knew it was going to turn out fine.

We shot in a couple different locations around the house, including an old outhouse behind the main building and a tree in the side yard. Originally we thought Brian the clown should climb the tree and be up there staring down at me, but it was slippery and the bark wasn’t easy to climb so we changed ideas and he boosted me up onto the limb where I had a ridiculously fun time clinging onto a tree branch for dear life while he jumped up and down on the ground underneath trying to tear my shoes off. Seriously, this is the part of modeling that I love more than the makeup and the beauty and all of that stuff. It’s being able to be lifted up into a tree looking like a doll and have a clown jumping up and down under me trying to grab at my legs knowing that the person behind the camera is going to capture something amazing and that in that moment I am a part of something so cool and so fun that people will see it and think, “I want to do a shoot like that!”

When it was all said and done everybody was happy with the way that it turned out and we parted ways after some hugging and letting our balloons float away into the sky (shhhh, don’t tell anyone we littered!). We drove back to Victoria’s house she took one last head shot of me with the wig and makeup and I changed back into my street clothes and headed back to Bellingham. I had kept the makeup on because it was just so pretty I couldn’t bear to take it off yet and on the way home I got a sudden craving for a sweet, icy coffee drink so I pulled off at a Starbucks and got one. I remember pulling back out onto the freeway; drink in hand, thinking to myself, “This is the life. My face looks fantastic. I’m drinking an expensive drink, driving down the highway (in my friend’s car) and I just got to be a part of one of the funnest shoots I’ve worked on to date.”

~Sharon a.k.a. Opposable Model

The low down on how Ashley did the make up:

I first want to say that I am so excited that I got to be apart of this shoot. I had originally told Victoria that I had a doctors appointment and couldn’t make it. I ended up canceling the appointment 2 hours before the shoot and came to the makeup rescue. (can you tell where my priorities lie?) Of course I had heard a little about the shoot idea, but I didn’t know much else about Victoria’s vision. I can honestly say out of all the shoots I have done with Oni, I was least prepared for this one. (As far as knowing what direction I’m headed in regards to the look and feel of the shoot.) So when I met Sharon I was still trying to piece everything together in my head. In the end, I just let go of trying to plan everything and let the creativity flow. I knew I wanted a dark eye, something exaggerated, beautiful, but verging a little on the creepy side. That is where the white eyeliner came into play on the bottom waterline. It gives the illusion of a larger eye. Then I topped that off by over exaggerating the black liner under the eye, and used a pair of eyelashes on the skin under the liner as well as a pair of upper lashes. The effect turned out amazing! I couldn’t have been happier! Sharon was so paitent and let me do whatever I wanted and took it like a champ! She even let my 2 year old sit in her lap while I was working and managed to keep her occupied while being so easy to work with. I loved everything about this shoot and am so happy with how it all turned out, and look forward to working with Sharon again someday!

~Ashley, Make-Up Your Mind


Thats all for now dear constant reader, I want to say thanks to everyone involved. Sharon for being so versatile and flexible. Brian for being the best damn creepy clown I have ever met. Ashley for being a master of your craft. And of course Johanna for handling that crazy clown and being my right hand at the shoot! 

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    Maternity sessions are not what they used to be. With a variety of photographers available today and their unique styles any mom-to-be can select the type of photo shoot that will match her personality and comfort level. Before, maternity sessions used to be somewhat one-dementional, when now you can go as creative or crazy as you would like.

    Creating your own package can be so much fun. From choosing between fantasy, pin-up, glamour or boudoir styles to picking a location. Would it be in the studio, your own home, a park or a garden, or a luxurious hotel room. And then there is the dress-up part… what girl does not like that?

    When our long time model and friend Jenn, became pregnant with her second child I knew right away that I wanted to write this blog and be able to explore all the possibilities of the maternity shoot. I wanted to show the variety that any future mom can explore at Oni Studio. Few months ago I wrote about a pin-up maternity session. This is a little bit different.

    “Shooting with Victoria at The Palace Hotel was absolutely sensational! There was a very sophisticated yet historical aura in the atmosphere.
    Shooting at over 6 months pregnant was a very sensual experience for me, and I really wanted to capture that attitude in the photographs; and, I believe shooting in that hotel amplified that objective. It’s a very provocative place, and I wanted my photos to have that identical sense, which kind of goes against the grain with “traditional” maternity photos. I couldn’t be any more satisfied with her winning shots!”  ~Jennifer B.

    I invited Jenn for a few short sessions. One was at The Palace Hotel in Port Townsend, another one in the studio and outside in the orchard on a sunny day. Her husband, a military police officer, was able to join us for one of the shoots as well and we took some great shots of mom and dad.

    I hope you enjoy the photos and get inspired for your own shoot!

    What’s new at Oni Studio? Well, we have been working hard on expanding our prop closet. Our clients would still provide their own lingerie, shoes and other personal items, but we want to be able to add really unique pieces to any shoot. Now we have a variety of wigs from Gothic Lolita, ear wraps provided by Feather Heaven, and amazing head pieces are on their way hand made by Rachel over at Posh Fairytale Couture. We also have masks, gloves, hats and other goodies. During the consultation we can go over your outfits and what we can add to make the look complete. So don’t wait any longer and book your appointment today.


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      One of Oni Studio’s most elite Boudoir Packages, Lilith’s Lair, actually takes place at a luxury hotel of customer’s choice. This kind of location not only has a pampered, classy feel, but it also provides such a wide variety of scenes and settings that it makes a four hour shoot fly by in no time. This package includes hair and makeup services, and all your favorite shots in specially designed Press Printed Book.

      Around Whidbey Island area there are not that many luxury hotels to choose from. When I select the hotel I look at things like decor and color combinations, space, light and of course accessibility. So whenever I am out I always keep my eyes open for a new location for future photo shoots.

      During one of my last trips to Port Townsend, Washington, I visited The Palace Hotel. It’s located on Water Street, which is the main street of downtown area. Hiding among other Victorian style buildings of 19th century, the hotel is easy to pass by, but the moment I walked inside I fell in love with it. Especially after learning more about the history of the hotel I knew for sure this was going to be one of the most popular locations for Lilith’s Lair.

      Every room is decorated in Victorian style and since it used to be a brothel, every room is named after the girl that used to serve in it. Each room is different, unique to the girl’s personality and has a lot of antique furniture and decorations. In hallways and common areas guests can find lounge chairs and fainting couches, beautiful paintings and an old working piano.

      “There is something about the Palace Hotel that is unlike other old buildings. We hear about these old places of ill repute and imagine the wretched lives of desperate women. But The Palace leaves no residue of creepiness. Instead, I had a sense of friendship, companionship, and respect which surprised me.
      On my way out the door, I talked with one of the women who cares for the hotel, and she said she sees ghosts all the time (she said I reminded her of one of them!). She said she was at first struck by how regal the spirits seemed, the girls seemed to exude a radiant love which one wouldn’t expect from a lowly prostitute. It felt, to me, that within the walls of The Palace, men and women found refuge from the hardships and judgements of society… if those walls could talk…” ~Aliza Finley


      The Palace Hotel – A Step Back in Time

      The Palace Hotel occupies the Captain Tibbals Building. This classic three-story brick building was constructed in 1889 for $28,000 by Henry L. Tibbals, a retired sea captain. Built in the Richardson Romanesque style, the building’s arched windows appear to extend for two stories through the use of twin columns that bracket each window bay on the building’s facade. The Captain Tibbals Building is a beautiful example of Port Townsend’s turn-of-the-century architectural past.

      From 1925 to 1933, the upper two floors of the building were known as the Palace Hotel, affectionately nicknamed “the Palace of Sweets” as they were operated as a brothel and hotel. During this time, the Madame of the house, Marie, occupied the corner suite on the second floor. Her room was richly decorated with plush red wallpaper and deep green woodwork, much as it is today. It had the only fireplace in the building, but it lacked a private bath as there was only one on each of the upper floors. On the third floor there were four, small interior rooms which were lighted from the large stairwell skylight, but had no outside windows. While this type of interior room was quiet common in the building of this era, in the Palace Hotel they served as “cribs” for the “girls”. Following an early morning raid by the sheriff in the mid ~1930′s, the brothel was eventually closed and Marie and the “girls” soon left town. Such is the colorful past of this beautiful building.

      Since being renovated, the building has been home to the Palace Hotel. The hotel occupies the second and third floors, with a lovely restaurant and several specialty retailers located on the main level. The hotel features 15 charming guest rooms and suites, each still bearing the name of one of the “girls”. Each room is uniquely furnished with antiques and collectibles, in keeping with the Victorian character of the building. Most have private baths and several have mini-kitchen facilities. With soaring windows and 14-foot ceilings, each guest room retains the flavor of century-old quality and architectural character so rarely found today.

      “When I walked through the halls and explored the different rooms, I tried to envision what life would have been like when The Palace was in its prime. Knowing what the hotel had been originally established for, it took me while to accept how profuse and how fast American society and culture has progressed since the brothel was shut down. I found that the experience stimulated senses that only museums and haunted mansions could evoke. Being in a place so lavish with history and so well-preserved deceived me of any change or advancement in the outside world. The website may have photographs of all the rooms and the lobbies, but pictures cannot compensate for the Timequake that knocks you back to the Victorian Era when you walk through that front door. I would highly recommend visiting this place, even if it’s just a walk through. Nothing beats aesthetic satisfaction like The Palace.” ~Alicia Christianson

      To introduce and showcase my amazing finding I wanted to do a mega shoot with a variety of models and looks. Hotel’s manager, Gary, was very supportive and accommodating. When I was telling him about all the crazy ideas I had for the location, he was open to it and granted me access to anything I needed. Next I booked my models. Few of the faces you will recognize, since I’ve worked with them before, and others I actually met on the day of the shoot. My idea was to convey that Victorian era feeling in a modern way and all the girls played their part beautifully.

      On day one of the shoot Ashley, from MakeUp Your Mind, and I took an early ferry to Port Townsend and hurried to unload all the equipment and prep the sets before the first model arrived. I was so glad to have Ashley there. She did an amazing job on making the girl look flawless, and as always helped me carry lights around and move things out of the way. Thanks Ashley!

      That day we did three different shoots, moving from one room to the next, running up and down hotel’s large stairwell… what an exercise! I swear I started the day in heels, but that lasted about an hour. By the end of the day I was shooting barefoot. The whole day was so much fun. My creativity was pumping, especially when I would find a vintage piece of furniture or a cool traveling trunk that I could incorporate into the set.

      “I thought the Hotel was beautiful. I loved it from the minute I stepped inside. The decor was so fitting to the feel of the place. The rooms were all so individual, and the fact that it used to be a Brothel just made the place all the more intriguing. It fits so perfectly into the town of Port Townsend.” ~Lucy Luck

      That night Ashley had to go home, but I actually stayed the night in one of the beautiful rooms, Miss Mona 10B, on the third floor. I relaxed in a claw-foot tub and lounged in my comfortable bed watching TV. And only then did the thought occur to me, “I wonder if this hotel is haunted?”  I didn’t want to freak myself out, so I just locked the door, put a safety chain up and went to bed. I’ll admit, I had some crazy sexual dreams that night and woke up sweating, wondering why I was so hot. However, when I got out from under the blanket, the room was ice cold! I didn’t give it much thought, but when I turned around and looked at the door, I got chills down my spine. The chain was undone and the door was wide open!!!

      Now, I am not one of those people that get easily spooked or freak out, but I am careful. I know the deadbolt was engaged before I fell asleep. Something had happened during the night. Was I visited by a ghost?

      When I told the staff of the hotel about my experience, they were not at all surprised. They even keep records and letters from people that had a haunted experience while staying at the Palace. I looked through that hefty volume of records. Some letters date as far back as late eighteen hundreds. Wow!

      “Theres something eerily romantic about The Palace Hotel in Pt. Townsend, WA. The lavish, antique furnishings remind one about the history of this once brothel now victorianesque boutique hotel. The elegant hotel has been modernized but still boasts many of the historical elements such as claw foot bathtubs. Some offer a beautiful view of the Puget Sound and feature beautifully aged frescos on the walls. While all are elegant, each room has a different vibe and is named after the woman who once occupied them. I found myself wondering about the lives of the beautiful women who once called this place home and earned their livings servicing male suitors from inside its rooms. Victoria has captured this essence and through her camera lens takes us on a pictorial journey reminding us of days not so long past. ” ~Jen Roberts


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        This year is most likely to be our last one to be stationed on Whidbey Island. We had great times here and were fortunate enough to meet a lot of great people and gain loyal customers. This year we would like to give back to this wonderful community that has given us so much.

        At least once a month I would like to highlight a new and upcoming woman owned small business. Just to draw some attention and show some girl power! The catch is, this business has to be related to health, beauty, fashion or art. If you have a suggestion or have your owned woman owned business dont hesistate to contact us and tell us why!

        This month I am proud to present an independent consultant for VAULT DENIM Jessica VanDine!

        My name is Jessica VanDine and I have been an independent consultant for Vault Denim in the Skagit County area since October 2011. Vault Denim was founded in April 2010. This company buys overstock authentic name brand jeans from high end department stores and boutiques then puts them into inventories that contain 100 jeans to distribute to us consultants. We carry sizes 0-26. Every inventory is so unique which in turn makes it that much more exciting to share with all my clients. The commission based pay is amazing! The hostess of each party gets treated pretty generous too with 10% of each jean sold at their party towards a pair of their choice. I’m so happy to be a part of the beginning of a successful business and can not wait to share it with others! 

        I was so excited to have Jessica come out to Anacortes for a location photo shoot early in the morning. She brought out her entire inventory of latest styles of jeans and was able to fit all four of the models.  The girls were able to choose jeans that fit their personal styles and compliment their look for the day. Here is what each one had to say about the jeans they modeled.

        “The style and fit of the first pair I tried on for the shoot were my favorite. They were comfortable and looked good, which is a hard combination to find for me sometimes.” ~Alicia


        “I am always having to adjust my pants. Being tall and skinny its hard to find pants that fit both the length and the waist, but the couple pairs I tried on fit excellent!” ~Kristina


        “I loved those jeans! It wasn’t too tight or loose, high quality and length was also perfect.” ~Meggie

        “My favorite thing about the jeans was how they retained their shape and kind of stiffness throughout the time I wore them. I can’t stand pants that stretch out and get baggy throughout the day as I wear them.” ~Alicia

        “I loved that there was a variety of styles. It seemed like you could find a pair for almost anyone ranging from casual to the club wear! My favorite thing about these jeans was that it actually gave me a butt lol. ” ~Kristina


        “When I buy my jeans, I usually look at the back pocket design. Depends on the pocket position makes our hips look different.  So I loved the sparkled pockets!” ~Meggie

        If anyone is interested in having a party or becoming a part of this dream come true opportunity please contact Jessica @ 360-201-8657 or email @ jessicavandine(at)

         Walking on the streets of Anacortes, even early in the morning, we had a lot of people stop and look. Some asked questions and offered advice on good locations, others just pull over to see what is going on. But this one was our favorite fan by far! He came out of no where and was ready for his five minutes of fame.  We were sad to leave him in the alley  =(


        Special thanks to Adrift Restaurant for allowing us to use their back hallway as a base of operations. All of us met there and stayed afterwards for breakfast and coffee. If you’ve never been to Adrift you are totally missing out!!! Everything, and I mean everything, I tried there was absolutely amazing! Staff is friendly, cooks are creative and their menu will keep you coming back time after time. Visit them next time you are out for dinner!

        Keep up with our new projects, ideas and fun photo shoots by becoming a fan on our Facebook page.

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        *Oni Studio and the owners are not employees of Vault Denim, nor do we represent them in any form.


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