Christina Gelsone the Professional Clown

Christina Gelsone is an internationally celebrated clown with a mission to bring laughter to post-conflict zones such as Kosovo and Afghanistan. The New York Times recently featured a story about her and her husband (who is also a clown) and their beautiful west Harlem apartment.

She could have easily been the most versatile model I’ve worked with, for her creativity and expressiveness is really quite unparalleled.

Christina Gelsone 1

Our shoot began at the unforgiving early hour of 8, and because we’d run a bit late picking out costumes the previous day, neither of us got very much sleep at all. Quickly however, Christina’s enthusiasm paired with how great everything looked made me forget the lack of sleep.

Christina Gelsone 2

Then, I had her juggle a couple of objects that differed in both shape and weight!

Christina Gelsone 3

I thought it would be interesting to have her step into some different characters that we created on the spot. Here, she’s wearing a wedding dress she once used as part of a corpse bride act.

Christina Gelsone 5
We tried different variations on the look. The white stuff by the way is for specialized clown use.

Christina Gelsone 6

Christina Gelsone 7

Christina Gelsone 8

The day before, I saw pictures of Christina wearing a Qi Pao during her wedding which took place in China. Because she looked so striking in the wedding
photos, I wanted to have her wear it in the studio.

Christina Gelsone 8

Admittedly, the Qi Pao with the white face is unconventional – the look seems both Chinese and Japanese, and Christina is neither.

She does this levitation move that is pretty awesome:

Christina Gelsone 9

In case you guys were wondering how I lit these: just one profoto strobe with an octabank light modifier.

A few more days and I leave NYC for good. Though adventures await in Eastern Europe and London, I cannot help but lament.


  1. Steve,

    We’re going to miss you so much. Luckily this blog is a way to feel connected. Keep updating with all your excellent work!


  2. At some point I was no longer surprised with your endless talent. Now I’m held in suspense to see where it all goes. The blog was a great idea.

  3. These pictures are wonderful Steve. I read the link to the New York Times article and her and her husband sound like amazing people! How did you get to meet her?
    My favorite one is the one with her wearing that “corpse bride” dress and leaning over what looks like the mirror (is that what it is?) There is so much beauty in all of them though! Would love to see more like this of unique people 🙂

  4. Omg I had no idea who she was! What an amazing shoot you had. I love how her chinese outfit was a contrast to her makeup. Also the one with mirror is very cool in a philosophical way. 🙂

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