There are so many constraints when working in such a small space and set. The Secret Garden tests my limits as a photographer and artist with every concept. There's always something I envision in my mind then when I try to bring that to life the set refuses to give me what I am imagining. It's hard to explain and really something I think only creatives that have these massive ideas would understand. I think I am romanticizing outdoor photography a little too much at the moment. Mainly because I have been limited to create in the attic for the last 3 and a half months. I watch the beautiful blossoms on the trees outside bloom into a spectacle of color and beauty and I yearn to jump outside with my camera. However, I know it makes no sense. It makes no sense to photograph something without and idea or backbone of the concept. Plus I have loads beyond loads of props and costumes to finish making and my attic calls to me like the Jumanji board game beats it's drum.
It was a week before the next concept "The Princesses of the Rose". A simple and elegant concept which would bring back my favorite colors to shoot pinks, magentas, and purples. My brain has been a bit scattered since the last Secret Garden shoot and because spring is making it's way in along with nice weather it seems as though things are getting a bit more hectic. I had to prepare for a presentation I was giving at the Professional Photographers Of Canada event. I also have a gallery show, and book in progress. I anticipated that the set would take me 8 hours to complete but I guess I work quickly and it only took about 4-5 hours to re-paint and hang the flowers. The last detail I would need would be real blossoms from the crab apple trees that were in bloom.
I have a secret spot that I like to photograph the cherry blossoms and crab apple blossoms every few years. There were so many trees in bloom this year. I was desperate to get some real nature into the Secret Garden. Maybe it had to do with my longing to photograph outside. So late at night Adam and I set out on a secret mission and cut down a few branches. Hoping no one would see us. The mission was a success and I happily placed the beautiful blooms in vases when I returned home.
I think that is the hardest thing about shooting the series indoors. It's missing out on all of the beauty of nature. I know I am dreaming of the outdoors like it's some spectacular thing and yet when I am out there photographing there are so many issues. We have horrible bugs like ticks infesting our forests and it only gets worse every year so we have to be so careful when we shoot in big tall flowers and grass. The weather is something you never really know if it will work out. If certain locations will look right for the shoot, the lighting, the props all of it can become very hectic. Yet somehow I long for that.
The dresses for the shoot were archived pieces made back in 2010. I would add to them using flowing fabrics. The head piece was a flower crown I created some time ago. I painted the crown again and repurposed it for this concept. It was nice to have everything already created as it saved me so much time. The next few pieces I am working on are a bit more intense and it's only going to get more intense. So having a break from creating the costuming was helpful for me.
Chealse and I were in talks about this concept for about three years. I have had it in my mind since Secret Garden began. I decided I wanted to have a concept where one sister was passing down her legacy to her younger sister. Chealse mentioned that she had a niece who would be perfect for the series. She was right. Chealse and Brooklyn were exactly the characters I had imagined.
Brooklyn's younger sister Emma joined us for the shoot and was such a great little helper. She was fascinated by the set and the flowers and yearned to help me and to be creative. I joked that she was my assistant and really by the end of the shoot she was. She reminded me of myself. Imaginative, creative wanting to be behind the scenes making things. My niece also popped by the set as well. Shy, and quiet she looked at the flowers and asked me questions about the birds that had made their home in the attic ceiling. It was a different kind of Secret Garden shoot. More 'family oriented' which was as always art imitating life. Somehow that always manages to happen with the series.
The idea's of roses and simple beauty were my inspirations behind this concept. The art of Alphonse Mucha heavily inspired the shoot along with fashion shows and other fairytale-esk art.
The simplicity and lightness of The Princesses of the Rose was so welcomed. Ever since the garden world has sprung back to life it has been non stop intensity. There was something about the vibe of the roses concept that had me feeling at ease. Maybe it's the calm before the storm. I feel as though the next three concepts are about to challenge me in ways I have never known and the last four I can't even begin to explain because the sheer amount of work they are going to pull out of me is something I am not sure if I am ready for.