Earlier this summer, before the 3DNC madness, several members of Players of the Stage (who also attend Ekphrasis) had a photography day at Betsy’s Cabin. This gave a chance for photographer Joshua, costume designer Besty, and several actors to showcase their skills. Here are some notes and images from the day.
JOSHUA (photographer): I was very nervous about the whole thing actually. I love to take photos, and my favorite subject is people. I have a lot of experience taking photographs of people, but it’s always been candid photos. In fact with the exception of two weddings I was asked to do once I have never done a formal photo shoot before, and let’s just say that it was a good thing that I was not the primary photographer at either wedding.
Don’t get me wrong; it is exceptionally hard to get a good candid photo. You only have one chance, one shot to get it right and so much can go wrong. Your subject will suddenly move. Something will come into frame. You’ll be so focused on the subject that you are shooting that you won’t noticed all the objects in the background that can distort the lines of the photo, distract from the subject, or otherwise annoy the photographer.
A more formal fashion shoot on the other hand should be a photographers dream. Ideally as a photographer you have complete control over the model, what they wear, how they look, composition of the photo, lighting, scenery, background, in short everything.
Yet, I was still nervous. I put more prep work into this shoot then I have ever done with any photo shoot before. I spent the two days prior to the shoot researching different poses, different ways to photograph someone to their best advantage. I insisted that Betsy and Andrew, both of whom would be arriving before me, scout the locations out that we were going to use and if possible send me stills of each location so that I choose the best possible spots. This part ended up being a bit superfluous though, as Andrew ended up arriving at the same time as me, and there wasn’t a terrible location to be had, and we ended up using all of them.
Also unlike other photos that I had taken before that were more for fun or personal enjoyment, these photos were also going to be used to help promote Jeff’s upcoming film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both Betsy & Hudson would be playing roles in it) and would be added to a Betsy’s costume designer portfolio that she was assembling.
As Hudson wouldn’t be arriving until later in the day (He seemed to be under the totally correct assumption that we might … possibly … technically be trespassing for some of our locations and didn’t want to be around for the first part of the shoot) so we decided to shoot Betsy & Amanda first, so me, Andrew & his daughter Summerled, Betsy and Amanda headed out to the first location which was a series of small paths that lead to a small dock for canoes on the edge of large creek.
Betsy’s first costume was a colonial period dress & straw hat that would have been worn by a young girl followed by an English Regency Period (1790’s-1820’s) dress, similar to the type of dress that a Jane Austin character might have worn. Amanda’s first costume was a Medieval peasant girl’s dress which was later switched out for a Medieval noble woman’s dress (though several of us thought the dress made Amanda look more like a sorceress.). After we were done at the dock we headed to our second location, which was a cliff overlooking the creek with a number of waterfalls on the other side.
Once we were done with the waterfall location we headed back to Betsy’s Cabin to met up with Hudson, have a quick lunch and get ready for the next part of the shoot.
The second part of the shoot was character shots for Jeff’s Midsummer film and featured Betsy wearing her Hermia costume and Hudson in his Cobweb (one of the fairies in Tatiana’s entourage) costume. This part of the shoot was going quite well but unfortunately had to be cut short when Mother Nature decided to try to kill Hudson.
On the way to the second location for the afternoon shoot Hudson was bitten some kind of flying bug and started to have a very scary, but thankfully very minor allergic reaction. We, of course decided to head back to the cabin where Betsy, Amanda & Andrew took Hudson inside while I stayed outside to watch over Summerled.
After a while me & Summerled headed inside to check on Hudson and was shocked to see that what had started out as swelling red & white welts had appeared to turn into slimy green scales on Hudson’s neck & shoulders, BUT was very quickly relieved to find out that the “slimy green scales” were actually plantain leaves that Amanda had chewed up and administered to Hudson’s neck & shoulders to reduce the swelling.
It must have worked because in about 20-30 minutes Hudson made a full recovery and we joined Betsy’s brothers and their friends who had made a bonfire in the middle of the creek and we all roasted marshmallows.
AMANDA (model): So basically my character in pink was your average, young, village woman and the green was a medieval – time lady. It was a lot of fun and slightly nerve wracking, trying to look ok for the camera. Josh gave some very helpful suggestions. Betsy and I went out earlier that morning to scout locations, so by the end of the day we had walked quite a bit.
All the costumes were the result of a need or free time combined with available materials. The blue children’s outfit in particular I made to wear as Polly Heckewelder for the Historic Bethlehem Blueberry Festival. Amanda and I did our own hair and makeup for the shoot, as well as provided our own jewelry.
It was a fun process, but took a little bit to get used to. At first I had to ask Josh what he wanted me to do, but as the day progressed he became more communicative and directive about what he wanted.
ANDREW (model and photo editor): Somerled and I set off for Betsy’s cabin late in the morning. We’d borrowed my sister-in-law’s car for the weekend, with an after-market sound system and a sunroof, so we had a great drive up to the Poconos, music blasting and the wind in our hair, as God intended. Our progress towards the cabin was punctuated by selfies texted from Betsy showing off some of the locations we’d be shooting in.