Mj Wilson Photography - Internationally published, Female Photographer for Fashion, Lifestyle, Events, Weddings, Models, Actor Headshots

Tag - Todd Ballmer

Feliz Navidad Holiday Cards

Ah…the Holidays…What a perfect time to showcase the last big photo shoot for our “out-of-the-box” Holiday Photo Cards.

Feliz Navidad - Holiday Cards by Todd & MjIt’s sad really, that there aren’t any more to show after this posting. That’s why I’ve been saving the best for last.

By the time Todd and I got around to this set of Holiday Cards, we were seasoned veterans, in coming up with creative costumes and photo ideas. Our ideas were all over the place, during this shoot, as you will be able to see in the Slideshow below.

We thought we would go for a more “traditional” theme that year, and chose “Feliz Navidad” as our sentiment. We decided to see who could come up with the better outfit, so we kept our outfits a secret from each other, until the day of the shoot.

When I went shopping for my outfit, I knew I wanted to portray a sexy (yet slutty) “Wench” kind of look. Something that looked like my clothes were disheveled and kind of ripped off my body. I was thinking along the lines of having huge cleavage falling out of the shirt but the only problem was, back then I had no cleavage! I found the Red ruffled skirt and White top, and decided that a Black wig would complete my outfit.

Feliz Navidad - Holiday Cards by Todd & MjI will never forget going over to Todd’s house that day to get ready for the photo shoot. We went into separate bedrooms to change and do our makeup until we were ready for the big “reveal” to each other. I knew my outfit would be the best and I put on my makeup super heavy, and used eyebrow pencil to make thick, dark eyebrows and even used that eyebrow pencil to create a Cindy Crawford-ish mole on my face. (Why I thought a mole would make me look more Mexican, I have no idea!) I had no clue about what Todd would have on, so as we counted to three, and opened our respective doors, nothing could have surprised me more than what I saw.

I remember the two of us just collapsing on the floor in hysterics when we saw each other! Not only did Todd have a hat and serape, he had penciled in a mustache as well. He died when he saw my wig and mole, and again, I think I had to go redo my makeup, because I ended up crying most of it off. Those outfits kept us in hysterics most of the day. (I also remember the mole being on the side of my mouth but in the photos it is up high on my cheek. Go figure!)

Feliz Navidad - Holiday Cards by Todd & MjWhen I look at these photos now, I hardly look Mexican or Spanish, while Todd looks like the “real” deal. I look like some skinny chick trying to look as curvaceous as Gina Lollobrigida, and not doing a very good job of it. Todd is in such perfect character, in all these photos, that I keep telling him he should have become an actor.

I keep repeating myself in my blog posts about the power that photographs can have. This shoot was so long ago, that I don’t remember very many specifics about it, but I do remember key things because I see them in the photos, and the photos bring those memories back.

The little dog with us, was my College Professor’s dog, whose name was Max (the Dog’s name was Max, Larry Ward was my Professor!) I don’t know how we got Max there or back home, but it was good of Larry to let us use him, because he also fit our whole theme and played the “cur” dog part, very well. (Although I do see Max trying to escape in a lot of the photos.)

Feliz Navidad - Holiday Cards by Todd & MjI think the backyard, clothesline, truck and White German Shepherd belonged to Lenore, who was one of Todd’s friends. I think we just barged in on her and started shooting all over her yard and alley. Her German Shepherd also made up one of the most memorable photos from this shoot. We hadn’t planned the shot, it just happened and it all came together perfectly. It’s the one above, where the dog is pulling on a piece of rope I am holding, while I am sitting in a lawn chair, with a beer in my hand. Todd is perfectly posed, sitting on a tire, with his arms crossed, ubiquitous cigarette in his mouth, glaring out from under his hat! I just start cracking up whenever I see that photo! We look like some deranged family in their backyard. I must finally frame that photo and put it up on my Office wall.

Feliz Navidad - Holiday Cards by Todd & MjAnd no, I was NOT pregnant in any of these shots! We had some crazy idea that I could represent the Mexican Virgin Mary with Todd leading me along on a bicycle rather than a Burro, so we stuck a basketball under my skirt! Oh Dear! If we had found a real Burro to use, God only knows what photo ideas we would have come up with. (Which just made me realize that we never, ever used any sort of livestock in our shoots…hmm…an idea for the future, perhaps?!)

My favorite shots (besides the one mentioned above), are the ones in the back of the truck. When we shoot, we normally try to avoid the glaring, direct sun. For this shoot, we welcomed the sharpness of it because we wanted it to look like we were in a hot, dusty desert somewhere, South of the border.

I don’t remember which of these shots even made the “cut” as our Holiday Card that year. Todd seems to think we just printed a bunch of different images and sent them all. I think the final image was the one above, with me, Todd and Max, looking out the truck window, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, while it’s sad that I don’t have more of these kind of photo shoots to share in the future, I hope our “Feliz Navidad” images achieved what we set out to do – which was to make people laugh.

Don’t forget to watch the Slideshow of all our images below, set to some very appropriate music. And no, it’s not the song, Feliz Navidad!

Peace Holiday Cards

Peace Holiday Photo Card - Mj Wilson & Todd BallmerDo Blonde’s have more fun?

Seems like we were having a blast doing this Holiday Card Photo Shoot, with our incredible photographer friend, Linda Lazar.

I remember very little from this shoot…it was taken in and around my Townhouse in Redondo Beach and I have no idea whose Dune Buggie that was in the photos anymore than I know who did my makeup or where I got that wig from!

This card was mine and Todd’s homage to the Beatnik Generation. If you look thru the Photo Gallery below, you will see how hard it was for us to pick the “one” image to use for our Holiday Card, but the image to the left made the final cut.

Enjoy a few of the photos below and be sure to watch the Peace Holiday Card Video that I put together with all the images from the shoot, set to, what else? Suicide Blonde by INXS.


Fits of Nausea Photo Gallery

Another day at Cal State, another Photo shoot!

I drag Tony to school with me, and dress him in my clothes, Todd and his ex-girlfriend Sharon show up, and we recruited Clay, another Photography student who had been hanging around, watching us do other shoots…and they became my “Band Shoot.” (If you can’t find a real band to shoot, just make one up!)

I think they did a pretty good job myself and gave those “Blondie” people a run for their money!

We just really needed a stylist to pull their looks together.

When I said that the band needed to have a name, Todd, of course came up with: Fits of Nausea!


Fits of Nausea - Tony Griffin, Todd Ballmer, Clay & Sharon

Fits of Nausea - Tony Griffin, Todd Ballmer, Clay & Sharon

Fits of Nausea - Tony Griffin, Todd Ballmer, Clay & Sharon

Season’s Beatings Holiday Cards

Holiday Season, Year Two in California….This is where Todd and I started getting more creative with our Holiday Card Themes!

As I had mentioned in my previous post on our Holiday Cards, each year Todd and I would pick a “theme” for our Holiday Card and then find the perfect costumes and props, to fit that theme.

Since we had originally agreed that we disliked the photo cards that had people sitting with their family, in front of their fireplaces, with “Seasons Greetings” displayed on the wall behind them, we decided to base our “theme” on that EXACT concept, only take it a step darker!

Seasons Beatings Holiday Photo Card - Mj Wilson & Todd BallmerSo we decided on the theme of “Season’s Beatings.” We had no real plan on “what” we wanted to shoot so we just decided on the outfits and props, and started shooting.

Our concept here was there could be one person or a couple, who didn’t know that there was this “sinister” presence, behind them or next to them, just waiting to ruin their day with violence!

Looking back at this Photo Session, I’m surprised to find that we talked Greg Martz into being in the photos. Greg and I ended up being good friends, down the line, when we ended up crewing on sports video shoots together, but I didn’t remember that I knew him that early on in my Cal State history, yet there he was at the photo shoot dressed in a tux no less!

Again, he didn’t really know Todd or me but he went along with our crazy ideas and schemes as well as our superb photographer, Linda Lazar.

We laughed until we cried shooting these photos, and I think I even had to reapply makeup once because I cried all my mascara off!

When I look at these photos now, it’s funny to see that Todd is having a hard time NOT smiling in the photos. More often than not, he is cracking up at what we are doing. I especially like the series of photos where I have the wrench in my hand and I’m going for Todd, and he gives me this “quirky” look in the next frame, and by the third frame we have collapsed into laughter! (See all the photos in the video.)

Seasons Beating Holiday CardThe photos came out magnificent AND hilarious! As usual, we couldn’t pick which one we liked the best. I would like one image because I looked better in it and then Todd would like one where he looked better. We eventually choose the one image that fit the theme we had originally come up with, which was the two of us sitting in front of the fireplace with “Season’s Greetings” hanging on the wall behind us. In “our version” of the card though, the “S” is crossed out, and we hand wrote in “B’s” on every card we mailed out and I am handcuffed to Todd, while I am sipping my cocktail and he is holding a huge wrench in his other hand. We hand printed all our cards on Black & White postcard stock and mailed them out.

Funny thing about our Season’s Beatings card…when I went home to Chicago for the Holidays, and proudly brought my family copies of the card to show them, I remember my Dad saying: “What in the hell is she learning at that school in California?!”

Enjoy a few of the photos below and be sure to watch the Season’s Beatings Holiday Card Video that I put together with all the images from the shoot. Blue Monday, by New Order, was the perfect sound for these images!

We even had our own “stamp” custom made for this card!

Stay on the Cool Side of the Yuletide

Stay on the Cool Side of the Yuletide Holiday Card - Mj Wilson & Todd BallmerRight before the holidays in our first year at Cal State, Todd and I started talking about how much we despised the boring, mundane Holiday Cards that people would send out. We especially disliked the photo cards that had people sitting with their family, in front of their fireplaces, with “Seasons Greetings” displayed on the wall behind them.

We thought that was so boring and we wanted to do something more creative, so we came up with one of our best ideas ever! We decided to create our own Holiday Cards, based on a “theme” – and then to find the perfect costumes, to fit that theme.

The cards we created that first year were kind of “tame” compared to those that followed in later years. We chose the theme of Stay on the Cool Side of the Yuletide as our starting point, although after the proofs came back, Todd came up with a more hilarious, alternate title of: “Two Young Virgins enjoy Socially Acceptable Methods of Relieving Sexual Frustration.”

Stay on the Cool Side of the Yuletide Holiday Card - Mj Wilson & Todd Ballmer

We could never choose which photo we liked best or which photo best fit the “theme” but we would laugh ourselves sick just looking at all the silly poses that came out of those photo sessions! We eventually ended up using several different photos from this shoot because we couldn’t agree on one photo, that was the hands-down favorite. We hand-printed all our cards on Black & White postcard paper and mailed them out to all our family and friends.

The reaction to our card was overwhelming! We had people asking to get put on our list for the next years mailout! Todd inserted our cards into every picture frame at the art store he worked at. People who bought the frames came back into the store asking “Who” the people were in that photo and where could they get photos like that taken!

Kudos have to go out to Linda Lazar, who was a fellow student in the Photography Department with me. She had never met two people, like me and Todd, yet she went along with our crazy ideas, and was the photographer for all of our Holiday cards for years to come.

While these cards were great, they weren’t as hilarious as the ones we created, in following years, when we celebrated with our themes of “Season’s Beatings“, “PEACE” and “Feliz Navidad“. Check them out by following the links.