Well here it is! The first installment and release of a brand new series that I will be working on. The Secret Garden is a series that infuses all the things I love. Gardens, fashion, fairytales and other worlds. Using 1 backdrop that I will recreate several times over to create these worlds. Telling magical stories about powerful fairytale-esk woman of all ages.
If you remember about two years back I created a small series called "Empyrean". In the small series I created two shoots with my beautiful sister Alisha called "The Birth of the elder" and "The elder and the book of dreams". These shots were taken in October 2012. I had a backdrop hanging out in my attic from an even older shoot and decided that I needed to do something with it instead of leaving it there do gather dust or to be sadly swept to the side.
I stapled over 200 silk and plastic flowers to the backdrop and even painted it over in purple. Once we were done shooting the "Elder" shots the backdrop once again sat in the corner collecting dust and sitting sadly in the dark.
About 6 months ago I had a crazy idea brewing in my head. I was thinking about Gardens ( as I often do). I planned a shoot called "A garden story". I was hoping to turn the garden concept into a series of editorials where I photographed "Garden" concepts for each season. I noticed in the end that the editorial stood on it's own and began to shift my thoughts.
I was always fascinated by ballerina's and the nutcracker. I had this dream of photographing a large scene with beautiful models emulating ballerina's in a snowy and wintery environment. I spent months collecting fabrics and sewing dresses that would fit this theme, then began to think about props and a set.
However, after time the ideas began to get bigger and bigger, and I realized that in my mind things were getting a bit out of hand. It is not to say that in the future I won't photograph every wild idea I have had about this shoot it is just that the reality of it hit me one day whilst showering.
Yes, I know I know. I was in the shower it is where I do my best thinking. I almost lost all hope of the ballerina's in the snow shoot. The ideas were too wild and I just didn't have the time to create them but how could I just drop the idea? I didn't want to let go. I had created so many beautiful pieces for the shoot.
One of the pieces I created was the snow/feather crystal dress. Inspired by the ballet and ice. It took me months to make and I knew I had to use it in a very creative way. So as I continued to stand under the hot water of the shower, not moving and just starring at the tile in front of me scouring my brain the idea began to flood in like the water around my feet.
I thought of the backdrop, I thought of the ballerina and I thought of classic portrait paintings. Beyond that the Chronicles of Narnia came to mind as well as the beautiful illustrations from this amazing fairytale book I had as a child. It all made sense I knew what I had to do.
In my work I always try to marry the things that I love to shoot. If I am shooting fashion, I try to bring fairytales and gardens to the story. If I shoot conceptual imagery I try to bring fashion into the works. Even when I shoot client work and weddings I'm always thinking about how I can bring an otherworldly dream world into the images.
After much research and looking at the lighting and the atmosphere of paintings like the classic Marie Antoinette. I became inspired and ready to re-create the backdrop. I realized that I needed to challenge myself. Not only create 1 concept but use the backdrop as many times as I can to create something new every time. I guess I want to show others that it's not what you don't have it's what you do have.
I began to think, If I was only ever allowed to use this backdrop for the rest of my life in my shoots how would I use it? and how would I change it?
So here it is. The secret garden at the beginning of it's first frost with the ballerina ice queen. Spring will find it's way to the backdrop and so will summer and autumn. The idea's are rolling in. The inspiration is there and the masters of old paintings will guide me and help to create what's locked in my mind.
As I mentioned before, the images will be available to purchase in printed limited editions. The money raised will go towards a gallery show where those who have been a part of the imagery will be able to see their hard work printed in all it's glory. The prints will be available soon on my website in "The Magic Shop". If you would like to purchase a print I would forever be grateful, but if not I hope that you will still enjoy the work online.
I don't know where the series will lead, or where the backdrop will take me. For now it stays in my attic where I will be shooting the next 5 concepts, but then it could end up anywhere my heart imagines. I don't know if the backdrop will become a home to 10 concepts or 100 concepts, however I think the magic of it all is the fleeting moments that it will have. Creating art that is only captured once then later disappears and become something else.
I am excited!
Thanks to Caroline Kankowski for the behind the scenes images.
Dress by Me, Feathered pieces are by Rouge Pony (http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/rougepony )
Photography/video/set design/dress by Daniela Majic, Feathered neck piece and arms are by Rouge Pony, Model is Marissa Fraggis, Set design by Alisha Majic, Make-up by Katie Foster, Hair by Jillian Di Bernardo, Video & Assistant is Caroline Kankowski.