They're Cousins, not Identical Cousins by Katarina Kojic

Last summer I was so excited (and a little bit nervous) to host my little nieces, Gravity and Audrey, by themselves, for 2 weeks in New York City. They were 12 and 13 years old respectively. 

The pile of activity cards I made with color pencil illustrations and watercolor painted options for New York tweenage tourists.

The pile of activity cards I made with color pencil illustrations and watercolor painted options for New York tweenage tourists.

For their birthday and to prepare for their trip, I sent them each a set of activity cards to choose from for their visit. Staten Island Ferry, Best donut, American Girl Doll Store and of course an "official" HelloGorgeous.nyc photoshoot. They would not only star in it, but also be a part of the whole production: concepts, shopping, styling, hair and makeup.

At the end of our shoot they begged to have a second day of shooting instead of doing some of the other NYC activities. I had so much fun with them sharing New York and soaking up their youthful energy and seeing NY fresh thru their young eyes. They are both strong, smart and independent-minded, and lovely, straddling childhood and young ladyhood. Now in high school, these images carry even more meaning to me, as they grow up faster and faster, these images are a mark of this transitional time and serve as a reminder of a special memory for all of us. 

Their New York Experience started with a 5k run/walk for WEP, a visit to outdoor art in Coney Island and a culinary tour including a stop for corn at Cafe Habana and dessert at Canellé in L.I.C. 

Their New York Experience started with a 5k run/walk for WEP, a visit to outdoor art in Coney Island and a culinary tour including a stop for corn at Cafe Habana and dessert at Canellé in L.I.C. 

From the cuddly department at FAO Schwartz to the studdly shoe department at Nordstrom Rack.

From the cuddly department at FAO Schwartz to the studdly shoe department at Nordstrom Rack.

Doing each other's hair and makeup. 

Doing each other's hair and makeup. 

©Katarina Kojic_MG_0326-Edit.jpg

A little sweet and a little dark and dramatic- a shift from the lightness of childhood to the drama of teenage-hood. (Cake pop prop (say that 3 times fast) made by Audrey.)

Cousins not Identical Cousins. 

Cousins not Identical Cousins. 

Audrey embodying "Audrette" an alter ego created by her and Gravity.

Audrey embodying "Audrette" an alter ego created by her and Gravity.

Gravity embodying "Gravitine" an alter ego created by her and Audrey.

Gravity embodying "Gravitine" an alter ego created by her and Audrey.

Audrey, a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Audrey, a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Gravity, à la Isaac Newton discovering Gravity, under the apple tree.

Gravity, à la Isaac Newton discovering Gravity, under the apple tree.

Check out more outtakes on our Instagram, or in their galleries.

Indian Audrey Hepburn by Katarina Kojic

When Katarina asked me if I would be interested in writing about my photo shoot with her, I was delighted. Thinking back, it really was such a fun time working and playing with her. Let's reminisce shall we? 

The idea of us working together first came about when I saw some of the work she had done for friends of mine. What drew me in was the vintage timeless style of her work that is also very natural. This is rarity. I was hooked. I had been thinking of getting photos done as part of my birthday bucket list that would allow me a form of expression of my whimsical side and Katarina's style drew me in.  Every year for my birthday, I come up with a bucket list of things that I haven't done as yet or experiences that allow me to celebrate my life. In this particular instance one such experience was bringing to life one of my favorite idols and celebrating our joint passions for whimsy.

Still From "Funny Face"

Still From "Funny Face"

As is true for a lot of women one of my idols is Audrey Hepburn. In particular, Funny Face is my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie. It resonates with me because of its endearing, quirky style with Audrey playing an extremely funny character, expressive, happy, honest, natural and an immense love of books. Growing up, I associated with her character from the movie and was also called Funny Face by a lot of my friends. In particular this is because I often mimicked her contemporary dance sequence where she wears a black turtle neck and black high ankle pants. If you haven't seen it, you have to watch it here. It will put a skip in your step. 

So our journey into Funny Face began. We met several times over coffee, compared photos of Audrey Hepburn to some of mine (the beauty of Facebook) and generally spoke of Audrey like she was an old friend - a sentiment I am sure lots of women share. Who doesn't wish Audrey was a personal friend of theirs?

Image from Rachna's Facebook page

Image from Rachna's Facebook page

Still from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

Still from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

Through our time together, I got to know Kat better and felt even more comfortable in trusting her process. We had a few "rehearsals" where we tried different looks and dance moves. This is one of my favorite things in working with her. You know what to expect because she lays it out for you and works with you beforehand so that eventually the day of the photo shoot you just feel like your hanging with your friends rather than a scripted photo session. In this sense, I feel Kat captures the true essence of lifestyle photography. She looks to understand you before anything begins. 

The surprising result of this process is how comfortable you feel. The day of our photo shoot I woke super excited and had a huge breakfast. I was told shoots required a lot of energy. So of course I treated it like I do my half marathon races. I got a good night's sleep and loaded up on carbs. 

Promptly on time, Kat showed up with flowers, strawberries and sandwiches for lunch later (more carbs for energy!). Her make up artist was also wonderful to work with. While staying true to my style, they also did various looks that were professionally executed, classy and still me. This is actually a crucial part of the process and having an expert team who is able to translate what you're looking for so beautifully makes all the difference. 

Starting with a clean fresh face, as Kat usually advises her clients, her team produced adaptations from the movie throughout the day, as you can see from the photos. I say adaptations since they weren't exact replicas but more inspirations. As a result, all outfits were items of clothing and accessories I already owned. This was also important to me. Overall, they did a fantastic job! 

We covered a lot of ground from creating a renditions of Audrey's outfit from the dance sequence to some of her more formal looks. We worked indoors. We worked outdoors. We covered dance moves. We took a trek to Columbia University! It was like running the most fun half marathon of my life. And in the end, I got a finisher medal that keeps on giving. My photos!

On Location at Columbia University.

On Location at Columbia University.

And at the end of the day, I discovered new dance moves in myself and a love of comedy. This was right before I took up improv comedy. A fun way to discover a new chapter in my life. In turn, these photos have also proved extremely cathartic for me. Any time I have a bad day, I look back at these and they put a smile on my funny face. An added bonus I was not expecting.

While it is hard to choose my favorite photo, this one is very special to me. It best captures me. This is my funny face. 

While it is hard to choose my favorite photo, this one is very special to me. It best captures me. This is my funny face. 

In turn, I get to use these photos for my company Whiskey Stories. Whiskey Stories is more than a whiskey tasting class. It is also an immersive theater like experience and has been described as whimsical. In this sense, these photos capture the essence of my company as well. They are a natural fit. Whiskey Stories is also my funny face. I think Audrey would be proud, don't you?

The face of delight, even when she was freezing!

The face of delight, even when she was freezing!

Thank you Kat, for an unforgettable experience and pretty much helping me create the perfect portfolio for promoting my business and being one of the people to inspire me to pursue my love of comedy. Here's to all of us embracing our funny faces.

Click here to see more images from our photoshoot.