If I could tell you the insane amount of time I spend lurking in second hand stores or recycle sales looking for just the right dress/gown to strike me with inspiration for a period or styled photo shoot, it would probably make you laugh and think I'm crazy at the same time. Sometimes I take my daughters, and I pull a dress off the rack, and they look at me with that look that every mother of teen girls sees when it's obvious that mom is NUTS! I find a dress or a piece of jewelry, or sometimes a chair or just a book, and I create a storyline around it. All the pieces come together, and I have my own photo storybook to enjoy. One day I will print them all on canvases and be surrounded by my own, personal photographic library of sorts. My husband will shake his head at me, but it brings me great joy to look at the finished product!
It helps that I have a self made house full of models who are pretty good at working the camera from both sides. Katie, my oldest, has that clever, funny, and quirky personality that adds to the believability of the scenario. It helps that she has a background in theater and dance, and has grace, poise, and an understanding of being "in character" for the shoot. My second, Ally, is a natural model. Her tiny face with enormous and expressive eyes have always been a favorite of mine to photograph. I've learned lately that she can really pull off any personality or time-period, and she tolerates my photo adventures, and even helps me come up with ideas for sessions at times. She, too, has dance and acting in her background. Carolyne, my number three, is coming into her own take on the styled shoots. She knows that every once in a while they may include a furry friend, and she is always up for a bunny or puppy photo excursion, and has dazzled my social media playing the parts of Alice in Wonderland and Red Riding Hood flawlessly. She is so funny, because she is a true tom-boy in every sense, and to see her dress in frilly dresses with underskirts and makeup is always amusing. She still pulls it off with tremendous skill. Lucy, my fourth daughter, is in a stage right now where every time I point the camera at her, she either sticks out her tongue, or makes a really typical "tween" facial expression. For now, she is on hiatus from my style sessions. Hopefully she will rejoin the family biz in the near future. Number five, and most fickle, is Lily. She is six, and although she loves to get her picture taken, she has no tolerance for climate that may be in the least uncomfortable, or looking at the camera AT ALL..... EVER. (Actual conversation: Lily! Look at mommy's circle on the camera!.... I AM!!!..... no, you are looking 3 feet to my right at nothing in particular. I am nowhere near where you are looking!) I have about 45 minutes of prepping her, and at most 5 minutes to shoot before she tires of the whole process and starts to cry big fake tears. She'll come around. Then there is the boy. God bless him. Let's just hope he makes it in this family of women who are constantly spoiling him, influencing him with their interests in musical theater ("What's your name man? ALEXANDER HAMILTON), and occasionally dressing him up like a princess or Tinkerbell ("Pretty BOY!!").
This blog took a turn I hadn't expected with all the family details, but you see where I'm both inspired, exasperated, and altogether surrounded by the inspiration of such endeavors. If I could make a full time career of stylizing and putting together vintage/period/fairy tale photo sessions, I would do it starting today. For now, I will enjoy my captive and complicit models as often as I can. And I would be remiss if I did not recognize my friend, Rachel Ranno, who continues to stun me with her tremendous talent in producing exquisite period appropriate hair styles and make-up for the girls. If you are in Fredericksburg, she can perform her magic on your hair, too, at the Hair Cuttery at Cosner's Corner, Spotsylvania.