The Secret Garden Series so far | on 500px https://500px.com/DanielaMajicPhotography
Secret Garden was started with a backdrop that was already built two years prior to me decorating it with flowers. A wooden wall sitting lonely in the corner of my attic with so much potential. What is hiding in your house that has potential?
The most frequent questions I get asked about the garden series are:
1.How much does everything cost?
2. How can I source flowers and props without breaking the bank?
3. How is it/was the backdrop made?
I'm going to be doing a video where I go more in depth about the prepping/creating and shooting of the garden soon but for now I thought I would give out some tips on creating on a budget.
Secret Garden is all about showing others that you don't need expensive crazy locations or gear to create what you have in your imagination. It's all about being resourceful and enjoying the creative process. This isn't new to me, I have been creating like this since 2008 and have a lot of experience with having to use what I have in order to make a shoot successful.
1. Use a near by space/location
So you don't want to break the bank paying for an overpriced permit? Strap on your hiking boots and go location scouting. There are many treasures out there in little nooks and crannies of the forest but you have to be willing to find them.
I have shot in the center of a busy road because there within it is a small patch of land with the most beautiful cherry blossom and apple crab tree blossoms that I have ever seen. It is a five minute walk from my house and in a very random location. This is the type of stuff you should keep your eyes open for.
If you find an amazing location and it doesn't have the exact look your aiming for get creative. Bring props to the location, use balloons, fabric flowers. Make the location work for you.
You might have a living room that is interesting that you could change and transform just like I did in my attic.
As photographers I think we tend to think that we need these gorgeous vast locations to create beautiful images in. When we think this way we limit our self from exploring and finding something interesting or stunning that is right under our nose.
2. Use friends and acquaintances as models.
Let's say you have this amazing idea it's so wonderful! It will be the best image in your portfolio. Oh wait you have no one to model for you :( and right now as a starving artist you can't afford to hire anyone.
Put on your big boy/girl pants and reach out to people. Your friends, relatives, face book friends, and friends of friends are great models to use. Especially in the beginning. If they have never modeled before do a little test shoot before you photograph your grand idea.
I am lucky in the way that I have lots of agencies who trust me to work with their models and I have made some amazing friends who are professional models who I can ask to work with me time and time again. However, I still (to this very day) scout girls on face book and through friends and get this; when I find someone who I think would be interesting I simply send them a msg. The worst answer you can receive is a no.
3. Collect things.
The last thing I want to do is disillusion anyone. Things do cost money and yes props cost money, fabric for costumes cost money and so do flowers. Here's the thing though, the majority of things I use in the Secret Garden series are things I have collected over 7 years. It has taken time to build up a collection of flowers, costumes and fabric.
I shop sales, I shop e-bay and thrift stores. Even when I don't think I am going to need something I pick it up just in case I will need it in the future. This takes patience and persistence but will pay off. Putting 10$ a side every month towards some props or fabric will go a long way.
4. Ask people to donate.
I once put out a facebook message to anyone who had ceramic carousel horses from childhood that they no longer wanted. That is a pretty random request however a friend of mine had a box full that she no longer wanted because she collected them as a child. Voi-La I now had a box full of what I needed and I have used those horses for several shoots in many different ways.
Maybe you need a ball gown, ask a friend who's daughter may have recently gone to prom. Ask to borrow ask to keep. Just ask!
*BONUS* 5. Change your mindset from "I don't have" to "what do I have"
This is the most important because what we believe in our own minds is usually the reality of our situation. I know how it feels to wish that you could just take a few models to the beautiful flowering fields in Carlsbad, California or shoot in the worlds largest lavender field in Provence, France. Maybe those things will eventually become possibilities (as long as you work hard).
However, If you don't have the 'bling bling' to jump on the next plane to France start to think about what is near you that you could shoot. Maybe it's a park with beautiful flowers?
Instead of thinking "Well I could never shoot this because I can't go there" try this instead " I have this amazing idea, now how do I find and make a location work for me".
Opening your mind like this will help to get those creative juices flowing. Your imagination will start pick up, your motivation to get that little explorer in you moving will begin to grow. You will realize that anything is possible.
Get out there and get shooting! No excuses! xx