Every time that another Secret Garden shoot arrives and is completed I am surprised how far the series has come. The Bloom is the 11th instalment in the series. With only 6 shoots left to go. I often wonder how I will feel once the series has finally come to an end. Since part two of the series began it has been a whirlwind of nonstop creating for the garden and shooting each concept. We are already passed half way through the series and yet there is so much more work to be done to bring everything together.
The Bloom was a concept that came to me much later into the series. A few of the concepts were planned from the beginning but others have managed to flow into the series and sneakingly bring themselves into the garden story. Some of the concepts arise from colors, fashion, or paintings or something so ubscure that I might happen to see and think "wow that would be perfect for the series". Like "The Sun Queen" this shoot wasn't originally planned in late 2013. They were both ideas that began to seed in my mind and have exploded into a part of the series that has become such a staple. There are two more (the next two) that are also newly welcomed additions to the series that were conceptualized this year. The very last four images are the ones that will bring the entire series together and have been planned since "The Ice Queen" came to life.
The Bloom is about the freshness of spring transforming into summer. Beautiful colors begin to explode and nature is ready to live and breathe again. I wanted The Bloom to be an homage to that nostalgic feeling of summer setting in. It is simple in context. The Bloom is a princess or rather a fairy of the garden ushering in summer with color and magic. The set was spray painted purple with left over of the magenta from "The Princesses of The Rose". Purple, pink, and white wisteria's were draped over the set and hung from the ceiling. I wanted Lane (our model) to be part of a colorful world of flowers and beauty.
The idea for The Bloom came in three separate ways and were tied together. The beautiful and awesome Lane reached out to me to tell me she would be back in town this May. Lane and I go way back. We have photographed together plenty of times, our first being when Lane was only 16. I love to work with the girls who have supported me and my artistic vision since the beginning. I asked her right away if she would be into doing Secret Garden and luckily she was. I felt like it made sense for her to be in the series. There is something quite ethereal about her. Something very other worldly.
The second is that I had an idea to create an armour piece made completely out of broken pieces of glass tiles. I searched for examples of glass dresses and a beautiful corset from the Alexander McQueen 2011 show. This would help me get inspired and get a sense of what I was about to get into.
The third were the flowers on the face. The Preen 2016 fashion show helped me with this one. When I mentioned it to Jilly (our wonderful make-up artist) she was 100% into the concept and idea and I think she was also excited to give the flowers on the face look a shot.
Creating the armour piece was a lot easier then I had thought it would be. First I asked friends and the internet world if anyone had tea cups they were no longer interested in having. It didn't really go too well. I thought I would need about 100 tea cups. As I would need to completely destroy them and break them into a million pieces for the shoot. The ones I looked for on e-bay were very expensive per cup and it seemed no one wanted to part with theirs. However, I did get a beautiful box of tea cups from a family friend but they were not for breaking purposes. I managed to find a place that did sell broken ceramic tiles in bulk and purchased over 600 of them. Lastly, I headed to our local value shop and purchased glass plates instead of cups. Turns out that the plates worked perfectly and actually would leave me with more broken pieces then the tea cups would. The tea cups would price for $3-$6 a cup where as I could get the plates for 90 cents- 1$ a plate. Strange I know.
I had too much fun smashing the plates with a hammer in the sink one night. I think it really helped me relieve some of my stress. I did take some video of the smashing and the creation of the armour however I am unable to find that footage at the moment. :( However, if I do I will be sure to post the footage online.
The armour base is made out of one of my favorite materials. Casting plaster. It's great because it hardens overnight and anything can be hot glued onto it. I love using casting plaster. You might have remembered I have used it for "Madame Papillon's" butterfly armour as well as "The White Witch's" flower armour. The glass armour took me about 2 weeks to complete. As I ran out of pieces half way through and had to order more. I think to date it is one of my favorite pieces created and I will have it on display at my June gallery show.
The weather is getting hotter and with that heat it gets ever so harder to photograph in the attic. The attic takes on the same weather as the outdoors. So if it's cold outside it's freezing and if it's hot outdoors it's a boiler. I reckon I have only a few more weeks to shoot in the attic before it becomes unbearable for us to be up there for a long period of time. With that said our shoot for The Bloom wasn't as hot as it gets so I do believe it seemed to be quite comfortable. However, a bee did find it's way into our window. It's a good thing we weren't photographing with honey again. This time around the wind that normally adds a bit of a breeze into the attic world was pretty much non existent. Which meant the smoke bomb smoke was a lot stronger and smothering then usual. The smoke had us running to windows. Coughing heavily and even found us with stained nostrils. Which is very strange as this has never happened to me before whilst using them. At one point I inhaled the smoke bomb directly while lighting it. I worry sometimes what I put my lungs through. With all that being said, I do think that the garden world will be taking a very small break from mid July- end of August as it is just too hot to photograph during those months. I am hoping to shoot the final images at the end of August and completing the entire series by October.
Katie joined us during the shoot to video the behind the scenes and my 4 year old niece popped by with my sister. She followed my around and sat watching curiously Jilly apply makeup on Lane. I often think how interesting it must be for her to me submerged into the world of photography and creating. She herself loves to take photos and I think it's the greatest thing. She even told her mama that she would be a photographer when she grew up. This is the second Secret Garden shoot she has been a part of. Even if it's just in a small way.
We worked very hard in the attic space to capture some of the most beautiful images of Lane. She was submerged in pink and purple smoke in her glass armour with glued flowers like the fairy queen that she truly is. Every Secret Garden shoot has it's vibes and dynamics. Every Secret Garden shoot also has it's challenges. It's rewarding to spend time with such amazing people weekend after weekend. To create magical worlds with them. To have them on this journey with me. It's amazing to see the final images at the end tell the story I have imagined for so long.