Wonderland – The Queen, and The Chrysalis’s Child
It’s late, I’m so tired….. writing, editing, taking the pictures and trying to cope with a full time job is harder than I thought. I have so much to say, but for now please bear with me, this entry is nothing like it should be, but it is all I can manage right now ….
‘The Queen‘ portrait is of Katie, who over the summer it is fair to say has become my muse and back bone for the pictures we’ve taken so far. Its only been a few months, but already I feel like a life time has passed ,and looking back over the shots this one seemed to give that sense of journey. I love it because it radiates a certain strength and fragility both in the same moment. Her eyes shine with an unsaid knowledge of what lies ahead, like a vision of her older self, aware of the journey that is yet to come. It leaves me uneasy some days, staring back at me from my laptop, it feels too close to who I am inside right now – hollow, reflective, strangely older.
It felt right to place it at the start, maybe this was my way of forewarning people that the series isn’t all about happy endings and empty conventional beauty, I’m not sure. I was nervous about showing her as I knew it wasn’t what she’d be expecting at all, but this is why I love photographing Katie, it’s like she is not of this world. Without her I never could have made these characters look convincing, she is truly an extraordinary creature, with the absolute patience of a saint.
Next came the shots I took for her as our ‘Chrysalis’s Child’ – a hybrid girl born from a chrysalis, a real indulgence of my darker thoughts and my favourite make-up to date. I shot the pictures at the end of a very long day, after Katie had spent most of it in her aerial hoop for ‘Far Far Away’. The sun was already setting by the time we had raced to the woods for the final scene. Elbie quickly glued the feather wings to Katie’s face, blackened her eye sockets and roughly hollowed her cheeks with powders and creams. I added more black paint to the costume I had so lovingly made, which by now was pretty much destroyed, but the sacrifice was worth it to see the vision we finally pulled together. I’m learning not to be so precious about things on location now, if a scene or costume needs to broken down, ripped or smeared in paint to make it work, then I’ll do whatever is necessary. You only get one chance for the shot, so I’d rather walk away with no regrets.
On our arrival, I found an area of dense bushes beside a stream, and Katie and I crouched down to crawl into the space. We backed into the sharp branches as far as we could and then lit the glass ball in Katie’s hands, by balancing a small torch on the ground underneath. It was a strange intense photo to take, we were so close, and although the final images look like studio portraits I doubt I would have achieved the same atmosphere if it had not been taken under the circumstances we were in. Elbie stood behind tilting the reflector to focus the final rays of light directly into Katie’s eyes, and it was all over in a matter of minutes. I love the fact these pictures are so strange and dark, its interesting how my work is coming out these days, half the time is surprises me with some of its rawness, but it feels new… as well as being deeply personal which I love.
‘The Chrysalis’s Child’