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GALLERY: Photographer places cicadas in everyday settings for photoshoots
When photographer Oxana Ware is not busy photographing newborns and other lifestyle elements, she enjoys doing "silly things" like photographing cicadas in everyday settings with her own handmade props. (Photo: Oxana Ware Photography)

ARLINGTON, Va. (7News) — Meet Oxana Ware. She's a talented photographer based out of Arlington, Virginia but along with her business side, she likes to have fun and be a little silly at times.

That's why it just seemed right to her when she decided to have a full photoshoot with cicadas, complete with handmade props.

"I love doing newborn, studio and lifestyle and family photography," she said. "But I'm also a professional wildlife photographer and that's kind of what gave me the idea to do silly cicada Brood X adventures."

The proud mom of a 2-year-old named Catie, a 4-year-old named Ben and a 5-year-old named Julia, she says the idea really came to fruition after she dropped her son off at preschool last Friday and saw the cicadas emerging, so she ran and grabbed her camera.

"I ran and put on the macro lens, which I rarely use these days; it's a very specific thing for like really little subjects," she explained.

Ware says she put the cicada on a flower with a nice backlight, but something was still missing from the photos.

Doing silly things

"Honestly, they still looked kind of creepy," she said with a laugh. "My kids are kind of terrified by them, too, so I'm just going to go give them a ride on [my son's toy fire truck]. I stuck one on the door and the cicada was just hanging on, just like waving hi – it was just very silly. My husband, who is an attorney and had a very stressful day, he was just like looking over and was like smiling, here's his wife just playing with cicadas on a fire truck."

Her 5-year-old daughter Julia wanted to join in on the fun and said she wanted the cicadas to have a little beach party, so the pair decided to spend the afternoon putting one together for the bugs.

When photographer Oxana Ware is not busy photographing newborns and other lifestyle elements, she enjoys doing "silly things" like photographing cicadas in everyday settings with her own handmade props. (Photo: Oxana Ware Photography)

The mommy-daughter duo filled up a tank of water along with using a 'Shopkins' set to place the cicada to have it "chillin' in the pool." The cicada flew off during the first attempt, but Ware reiterated that the cicada is still alive, just a little stressed.

Instead of giving up, Ware went through her newborn props to create a beach scene, and after another two hours of failed attempts, she says she at least learned that the bugs enjoyed hanging from things.

"Whether it's just the ice bucket of booze or like the clothing line, or just like a chair or the American flag, so it just kind of went from there," Ware explained. "I love nature, and insects, and silly things."

Since then, the images have seemingly resonated with thousands as her photos went completely viral.

One of her newest ideas? Cik-Tok.

"I have a friend who builds [full sets] - I wanted to have a photoshoot basically, well there will be more photos in the bachelor pad, because I wanted to do a young, professional cicada - that's an upcoming influencer," she said.

It's complete with a ring-light for the tripod and cellphone holder. She says the concept is the influencer cicada hired her for branding photos to advertise for Harris Teeter.

"A lot of times I have no idea what people want to see, but I do spend a little too much time thinking through the sets and just potential ideas, and then I just kind of group them into themes and then I will do an adventure based on a theme," she said. "Based on what resonates with me - and if I can do it right, it resonates with others."

Ware says the circus idea came from her juggling all of the elements in her life as a busy mom.

When photographer Oxana Ware is not busy photographing newborns and other lifestyle elements, she enjoys doing "silly things" like photographing cicadas in everyday settings with her own handmade props. (Photo: Oxana Ware Photography)

Other scenarios the insects find themselves in are everyday, human activities, like shopping, doing laundry or even going to the doctor for their COVID shot.

Finding success with her 'silliness'

She's still getting used to all the attention, and she says one of her concerns is she will disappoint her newfound followers.

"I like doing silly things like the firetruck and like the beach thing, and I thought that was it. I decided that I was going to post it on NextDoor - where a lot of people weren't posting a lot of positive things," she said.

When photographer Oxana Ware is not busy photographing newborns and other lifestyle elements, she enjoys doing "silly things" like photographing cicadas in everyday settings with her own handmade props. (Photo: Oxana Ware Photography)

Ware says mostly what she saw of cicadas was negative, which made her want to post nice photos of the bugs in a human-like setting on the site.

"It's probably not going to be very well-liked, but I'm just going to take the silly approach and post a few photos and say oh my God, we saw our first few cicadas and my kids were so excited to welcome them - and it went like crazy!" she emphasized. "No I did not expect it, I expected like five hearts. It's completely crazy, I love it, but I'm still getting used to it."

From there, she decided to create a specific tab for the cicada photos on her website, which is where the online blog came to life.

She says this all comes after she worked in more of a corporate setting for more than a decade before deciding to quit her job and focus more on the "crazy photography projects."

"I can be myself for a change," she said with a smile. "I'm a very silly person, which you know like in more of a boardroom environment, I just had to kind of like wear a mask, but here, if I want to photograph cicadas having an Independence Day party, like I can totally do it, why not? It's just been so much fun and the cicada idea came as like a product of the new, happy me. I want people to do things they want to do more. Don't do it tomorrow, do it now."

When photographer Oxana Ware is not busy photographing newborns and other lifestyle elements, she enjoys doing "silly things" like photographing cicadas in everyday settings with her own handmade props. (Photo: Oxana Ware Photography)

She also wanted to highlight the interesting nature of cicadas and how they just know how to come out of the ground after 17 years.

"I kept getting replies from so many people who were like anxious about the bugs coming out and now they really want to see them," she said with a smile. "We are welcoming cicadas in Arlington and I guess now in other states as well. I'm just so happy, I couldn't be happier, I'm like the defender of cicadas, and helping people enjoy them."

On the side of her Pro Bono work, personal branding within small and local businesses and photography, she also works with a lot of other organizations and more specifically, DV Leap, a group that provides free legal representation to domestic abuse victims. She's a board member of the organization.

Make a list and be open

As far as advice goes, she says she feels "privileged to be able to be silly [full-time]," and she encourages people to be silly at least some of the time.

"It's totally advisable for anyone to do something on the side like a project or two that you're really interested in," Ware says. "Not just choose something that's good for your resume, really something that you like. Whatever it is for people - there's so many cool things."

She says she just bought a big telescope so she and her kids could watch the stars together. Once she figures it out.

When photographer Oxana Ware is not busy photographing newborns and other lifestyle elements, she enjoys doing "silly things" like photographing cicadas in everyday settings with her own handmade props. (Photo: Oxana Ware Photography)

"After I had my kids, it just hit me how short our lives are, like we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. I'm not going to wait until I retire to do my list of things," she emphasized.

She's even taught for a semester at Georgetown, which was one of the items on her "list."

"Just be open, playful, make a list of the 100 most absurd things you want to try, and just go for it, photograph cicadas," she said. "I've never been appreciated for the silly side of me this much, by this many people."

Watch the full interview with Oxana below.

The full interview with Oxana Ware. (Video: 7News)


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