Dreamland is the story I have waited a long time to tell. So many personal experiences and observations are woven into this tapestry! The series is inspired by situations and emotions I've experienced or helped friends and family to go through. Some of these were recorded in poems I wrote many years ago and I will be sharing these as the series unfolds. Themes that have run through my consciousness for years are played out here and skills I've developed along the way are incorporated into the project in many ways. Dreamland has a deep connection to my psyche and to how I see and relate to the world around me. I believe we all create our own reality with our attitudes and beliefs. There are people that suffer needlessly from self-imposed limitations, and there are those that overcome extraordinary odds to achieve their dreams. What is it that makes the difference? I believe that a sense of wonder and a belief that anything is possible brings hope to tough situations. If we can believe that something good is possible even in the darkest situations, it gives us the strength to persevere. Dreamland is a journey of healing and discovery. It is my hope that by telling the story in a fantasy format, it can become a healing force in the world.
I have been working on a nearly non-existent budget, relying mostly on the kind loans and donations of friends and community for the materials to complete these scenes. Despite having a small budget, I want to create everything I can to use in each scene. I do not use compositing in my images so it is essential that everything is created and set up the way it is to be photographed before I click the shutter. The images are edited just for color toning and touch-ups to bring out the best in the models features. I have a deep connection to nature so photographing outdoors and incorporating nature into each image is significant.What you see in each scene was there at the time of shooting. Bringing each image into our own reality for a moment in time is very important to me. Our limitations in this world are often only set within the boundaries we choose, and I want to test the very edges of my creative limits. I want to see just how far I can fly. I sometimes have volunteers to help with hair and makeup or behind the scenes assistance for which I am entirely grateful. I am doing my best to include behind the scenes images and video so that I can share the process with you all. Once the series is completed I hope to have a huge gallery show and publish a book.
I've spent the early part of the year dreaming up characters, sketching ideas, networking, creating and collecting various items for props and wardrobe, researching locations, shooting scenes, and writing a loose storyline to go with the images. The scope of this project is the largest I've ever done, and at times seems quite daunting. It has taken on a life of it's own and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. I am not sure how long it is going to take to complete, but the journey has already been rewarding in so many ways. I feel more connected to my community and made more friends than ever. I have learned numerous new skills and have gotten even deeper in touch with my creative inspiration. The initial images take place in our own world and are a little less elaborate, but with a strong emotional impact as they show the bond between the sisters. As the project continues to unfold I find the scenes and wardrobe becoming more detailed and involved, becoming more complex and magical as we move into Dreamland itself.
So here it goes:
'Annabelle And Margret'
Higher res image here
'Annabelle And Margret' is the first official image release in the Dreamland series. Annabelle is several years older than Margret, and she takes her role as big sister seriously, doting on Margret. They are deeply bonded and Margret looks up to Annabelle as her inspiration. They are home-schooled and live in the country. Both girls love to explore the woodlands and fields around their home, and drive their parents crazy because they love to wear long hair and frilly dresses while doing it. It is not uncommon for them to get muddy and dirty while catching frogs in the local pond or come home with tangled hair from running in the wind laughing and giggling all the while. They love tea parties, dolls, hide and seek, animals of all kinds, and books, especially fairytales.
The character of Annabelle is based on my own childhood and I was very much like her, although I grew up with a younger brother instead of a sister. There were many stained and tattered dresses, and my mom spent hours untangling hair. My brother and I spent our days outside playing imaginative games and rarely watched television. We enjoyed reading books and didn't know what video games were. We grew up in a simpler time where imagination led us on the greatest adventures and Mother Nature was our greatest teacher.
Throughout most of my school years, I had a best friend Margaret and she is the inspiration behind Annabelle's' sister Margret. Margret was a straight A student, an artist, and a very athletic girl. She had the world by the tail at a young age. Margaret and I spent countless hours exploring outside, sometimes doing the silliest things and biting off a little more than we could chew. One day in particular we hiked miles from home to collect railroad spikes for her flower garden. It was a hot summer day and we kept finding more and more spikes so we packed them into any pocket or belt loop we could find. Like the proverbial monkey with it's hand in the cookie jar, we had far more than we could carry for the long walk home, but we tried anyway. We were tired and thirsty, looking for any mud puddle to walk through just to cool our feet for a moment. Just as we were ready to concede and let go of some of our prize, her father pulled up on his motorcycle and saved the day! He took all the spikes and we walked the rest of the way home. We finished the day with gooey ham and cheese sandwiches and ice cream sundays loaded with carmel, chocolate, M&Ms, nuts, and whipped cream. I will forever remember those days!
I love this particular image because of the interaction between Annabelle and Margret as they stroll through a sun-kissed field. When I pulled out the parasols their faces lit up with delight. The haze in the background is real. Every so often, a vehicle would pass by on the dirt road, kicking up a lot of dust. I waited for a vehicle to come by while showing the girls what I wanted them to do. It worked out wonderfully and I was astounded by the chemistry between them at that moment. It's so perfect!
The day of the shoot was a sunny but chilly autumn day. I had planned to shoot several scenes and I was nervous that I had packed in a little too much for one day. We started later in the afternoon so the sun would be lower in the sky, lending a nice backlighting. The time passed quickly and the temperatures plummeted as the sun dropped lower in the sky. The girls wrapped themselves in blankets between scenes and munched on frosted cupcakes. Alena's big sister Rachel helped us out during the shoot and the videos you will see in later posts are from her. At the last scene it was hard for the girls because they were getting quite cold, but they pushed through like troopers! It was only the second time I had worked with Alena (Annabelle) and the first time with Lily (Margret). Previous to this I had only worked with adults and so this was a great new adventure. Lily and Alena are two perfectly charming and talented friends, and having the help of their mothers on set was a great experience. I discovered Alenas' mom Jessica had a talent for bakery goods and cake decorating and she lent her skills to the shoot for the tea party scene. She also got some great behind the scenes shots. In one scene, I had a model cancel because she wasn't feeling well, and I asked Lily's mom Rebecca to step in for the character of a villain than will be introduced later in the series. For now she is shadowy mystery figure. It turned out perfectly in the end and I think that things always work out the way they are supposed to even though we may not understand it at the time.
For this particular scene we didn't mangage a behind the scenes so I will share an out take with you. The next image 'Hide And Seek' will be released shortly. Thank you for taking the time to follow the story of Dreamland as it begins to unfold.
Thank you to:
Alena, Rachel, and Jessica Guillory
Lily and Rebecca Hahn
Annabelles' dress by Alice McKee