"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end, and the stop."
Every year I try to do one creative personal project. Something to push myself creatively, try out some new techniques, or to just push me outside of my normal box. This year, I knew just what that project would be after I got a text from one of my clients with a photo of her daughter dressed up like the Red Queen. Now, this family, they have been with me since the beginning or I really should say since way before the beginning. Before I opened my own studio, I worked at a retail portrait studio at the mall. That is where I met Molly at just nine months old. Her brothers, twins, Will and Mikey came a few years later, and you could say that the rest is history. Watching these guys grow from tiny babies into the amazing kiddos that they are today has truly made me feel like a part of their family. So, I knew right away, when I got that text message that Molly could totally rock the Red Queen and Alice and that we could do something really awesome with this. Of course I told their mom, Kristie, my idea and that is when she told me that she was planning an Alice in Wonderland theme for Halloween! That was totally my sign, we would have Will and Mikey as the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit join in on the fun too. I couldn't wait to get started and instantly started to put together props and began to think about locations.
I wanted to do Alice in Wonderland differently. I wanted to put my own spin on it. Traditionally you see Alice and the other Wonderland characters deep in the woods surrounded by green. I wanted to see them all somewhere out of the norm. I thought, why not tell the story from a grittier, more urban point of view. Instead of having the Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit in the forests, let's drop them in the streets and alleys of Greensburg. These streets and alleys are among my favorite places to photograph, so for me it was a natural choice and the perfect way to change things up a bit. I began to really think about how to tell the story using some of my favorite locations around town. Where would they hang out? Where would they wander? Where should we throw the tea party? After lots of planning and collaboration, I came up with the perfect plan.
For the tea party, I teamed up with designer, Rose Lopez of Design by Occasion. I had worked with her before on another styled session with a photographer friend of mine and I knew that she was the perfect person to help me bring my vision to life. I explained that I wanted to do a rooftop tea party with the kids and she immediately was right in sync with me. She sent me some inspiration boards and shared her visions. We made the perfect team for this project.
Instead of holding your hand through a story that I am sure you know well, I am going to get right down to showing you what I came up with:
"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what it is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see? "
"There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so much out of the ordinary to hear the Rabbit say to itself, 'Oh dear! Oh Dear! I shall be too late!'...but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of it's waistcoat pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice startled to her feet."
"This is a great time to escape from here!' said Alice to herself, and she had just started to run away when the White Rabbit ran past her, and said to her, 'Come on! The trial's just beginning!' 'What trial is it?' Alice shouted as she ran; but the rabbit only answered, 'Come on!' and grabbed her by the hand and ran faster."
Or say that's what we said
But we're painting the roses red
Yes, painting the roses red
We're painting the roses red!"
"Who's been painting my roses red? Who dares to taint with vulgar paint the royal flower bed?..."
"...For painting my roses red, someone will lose his head!" "There is a place, like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter: Which, luckily, I am! "You are different than you were before. You used to be much more...muchier. You have lost your muchness."
"Who in the world am I?"
"There is no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."
"Have I gone mad?' asked the Mad Hatter, sadly? 'I'm afraid so,' said Alice, 'You're completely bonkers. But shall I tell you a secret? All the best people usually are." "It's always tea time!" "Take some more tea,' the White Rabbit said to Alice very earnestly. 'I've had nothing yet,' Alice replied in a very offended tone: 'So I can't take more."
Muchness (much-ness) adjective: the joy, the spark of light that fuels our days. our innocence, our imaginations, our individuality and confidence
"Muchness is the innocence and imagination that appears in the hearts of young children. As the children grow older, the become more mature, and gain responsibilities. They lose their muchness."
Here is hoping that we can all hold on to our inner muchness for as long as we are here in this world.
I have to give some thank you's to many people, I couldn't have pulled this shoot together without them!
I had two amazing assistants who helped me wrangle the kids, keep them safe, and handle all of the props and help me smoothly move from location without any hiccups. Thank you so much Autumn Stankay and Candice Wansor! I don't think I could have gotten through this without your help!
Kristie, Molly, Will, and Mikey (& Bill, thank you for your behind the scenes support. I know that it is always there!)...I had so much fun with the working with you all on this styled photo shoot. I couldn't imagine having done it with any other family. Kristie, thank you so much for jumping on board with my vision and putting together the PERFECT wardrobe for this project. Thank you for allowing me to create these amazing memories with your kiddos. They are some super, fabulous kids and I am lucky to be a part of their lives.
Rose, I can't thank you enough for all of the hard work that you put into designing the table. Your talent is one of a kind and I feel so very fortunate to have worked with you on this project. You created a work of art that enhanced my rooftop vision like no one else could have. Thank you!
There are tons more photos from this project that I couldn't fit into the blog. If you would like to check them out, you can find them here: