A Gothic Fairytale

princess-51While I like shooting pictures with a fairytale-feeling, you might notice I don’t usually go full fantasy shoot. There’s something about more elaborate shoots with stylized hair and settings that makes me feel a bit nervous and frankly inadequate. I’ve always admired the more whimsical shoots of Tim Walker, but whereas he has models for subjects to pose in his photographs, I only have myself and of all the aspirations I have held at one point in time being a model has never been one of them. I smile in my photographs rather than try for a more editorial pout and most of my favorite pictures of myself are of the back of my head! But when I saw this vintage dress appear in Klara’s shop, Apple Thief Vintage, dreams of a gothic fairytale shoot began to dance in my head. I wasn't sure I could capture the vision in my head in a handful of photographs, but I knew I wanted to try. princess-13 princess-10 princess-16-side
princess-35I’ve followed Klara online for years now from her early days of blogging about personal style and sewing projects (I even interviewed her back in the day) to watching her launch her own vintage store. She had a really great eye for unique pieces and I love admiring her vintage finds, even if it means fighting constant temptation to spend spend spend (she has an apple print dress coming to her shop soon that I am dying over). She was kind enough to loan this dress to me for this shoot and then patient enough to wait while I took ages to photograph it—I mean ages, I think I’ve had it for over a year now! It will be working its way back to her soon, so if you love it you’ll be able to purchase it from her. It’s from the 1960s and I love the detailed sleeves and the gold foil patterning. Although different in style from Valentino F/W 2015 (my favorite collection) it has a similar feeling—romantic, gold-tinged, and dramatic. That collection has always reminded me of fairytales; of swan maidens and trapped princesses and twisted curses. As soon as I saw this dress I could see it in a castle shoot, all mist and mystery and gothic architecture. princess-3 princess-25In addition, to not seeing myself as a model, a more thematic shoot such as this one calls for more specific conditions. I can go wander with my dog through misty marshland in a linen dress any old day; there’s no specific vision other than to capture what’s there and try to highlight the beauty in a region most people would overlook. The goal of most of my photographs is to capture what is there: to find the beauty in an ordinary scene or moment. But the goal of this sort of shoot is to create the scene and make a mood and that makes me infinitely more nervous! A ruined castle (or in this case manor house) is easy enough to find, but to give it an eerie, gothic mood, to get the fickle smoke bombs to comply with your vision, and then to bring it all together in a dark fairytale…much more difficult! Which is probably why I kept pushing this photoshoot back again and again, choosing easier and more natural things to shoot, but being nervous you might fail at your vision is no reason not to pursue something. So armed with a small pack of smoke bombs, a couple of messy braids, and my gold-spangled dress I finally went forth to make my dark fairytale vision a reality...princess-29 princess-15 princess-47


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