We left Estes Park, Colorado at 2:33 am, our rental car twisting down the narrow switchback roads of the Rocky Mountains. In daylight, the steep road revealed a horizon line of white peaks, untouched by the heat of late May.
This year, for the Chosen Women’s Conference, we wanted to reframe the way we thought about strength, to juxtapose the physical strength of the natural world with the eternal strength we find in Christ— which oftentimes to the world appears like weakness.
The backbone of our idea came, in part, from reading Bible passages about the natural world. In Genesis 1:26, it says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” The word “dominion” stuck out to us...dominion over all the earth.
Colorado had the perfect variety of terrain that we were looking to capture visually in photography and film: red rock, gray rock, sand dunes, and water—all within a few hours of each other.
Just before 4:00 am on the first day of shooting, five members of our design and video teams pulled into the dark and empty parking lot near the trailhead of Settlers Park in Boulder. It was call time for hair and makeup with the women who were to be in the magazine and the Chosen film opener.
One sunrise shoot, one sunset shoot, one nap on the floor, one order at Starbucks and then immediately another, and one late-night pit stop at In-N-Out Burger later, we arrived at our Airbnb an hour outside of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. When I collapsed into bed, it was 2:46 am and our next call time was in two hours.
The next morning, I looked over the film script that we had separated into three acts for the Chosen opener, once again making sure our shot list covered what we needed. My phone illuminated in the dark car ride, but I was so tired, the words blurred on my screen.
In Act I of the film opener, each woman is part of the natural landscape around her; she is camouflaged in her environment. We styled each woman in natural fibers, colors reminiscent of nature, and used special-effects makeup like textured clay and speckled gold leaf, and choreographed shots of curious exploration.
In Act II, our film team used distorted and shaky shots to illustrate the pain of sin entering the world. Ultimately, in Act III, the women emerge as their natural selves in harmony with their environment and with each other. They wear neutral colors and are fresh-faced, no longer needing any camouflage. Unity was an important theme for us to show visually, to show we are stronger together.
Working on a creative team means not just creating something out of nothing, but jumping into whatever role is needed; regardless of your title. Our creative director drove us upwards of 900 miles on the trip, our design director produced the whole shoot which meant crafting five days’ worth of a timeline, booking everyone’s flights, and on set making sure everyone was taken care of. Our photographer and makeup artist who lived in the area to helped us scout locations and plot our route. While shooting on set, it took the effort of the whole team to keep the shot list in check, alternating film and photography every twenty minutes before the sun set or the light became too direct.
After the shoot wrapped on the last day, we hiked to the top of the Great Sand Dunes National Park as the sun was setting. An hour later, we collapsed, out of breath, on our backs into the cool sand at the peak—our eyes fixed on the unfiltered stars above. In my Notes App I wrote, “Perfect ripples of untouched sand at 10:26 pm, new every morning. The sunset over the desert; the feeling of being out west. The hardest hike I’ve ever done.” I labeled it “Colorado.” I wanted to remember this shoot and think about what it means to be on a team like ours.
Chosen is a team effort—a huge team effort that extends well beyond the few of us who got to go on this trip, beyond Seacoast staff to our tireless volunteers. We are so thankful for every person who has worked so hard, together, to show others how great God is and how he works in our daily lives. We can be strong alone, but we’re stronger together.