I saw a link to a Traveling Dress Collective blog a while back, and really felt inspired by what I saw. What a fantastic idea, with so many awesome photographers taking part! I wanted to get involved, so I put a message out to a group of lovely, talented UK female photographers I know, seeing who wanted to join in. We ended up with a group of 20 of us (of which 16 have produced images), so between us we chose 2 identical dresses online to shoot with.
As soon as The Dress was chosen, I knew that I wanted to ask my 17-year-old niece to be my model. She’s a very talented, bendy dancer, and is great at going along with the ideas I come up with! I also hooked up with my friend Sarah who is a fab florist, and she helped create a stunning flower garland headdress which complemented the dress beautifully.
One of my favourite places is Beacon Hill, in Burghclere, Hampshire - and it was my choice of location due to its breathtaking views, space, and light, despite the steep walk to the top! I was hoping to capture the sun setting, which didn’t quite go to plan due to a short, sharp storm rolling in while we photographed! We got pretty drenched and blown about in the wind for a few minutes, and then it cleared again, leaving some impressive skies in its wake. We had such fun with the dress, exploring movement and dance, as well as some more static shots and dramatic lighting once the sun had gone down.
It’s been such an awesome project to be a part of - I’m ready to take part in another one! It was so inspiring and exciting seeing the variety of fab, creative images that everyone had created.
Our dress(es) traveled from the top of the UK in Scotland, via (to mention a few places!) Leicestershire, South Wales, and London, right down to the South Coast of England, and certainly has some stories to tell now!
When I started planning for the traveling dress shoot I knew I wanted to do self-portraits. I am very keen on doing them, as I feel they allow me to express myself and to connect my previous background in dance/performance to my present in photography. But I also knew I wanted to do at least one session outdoors. Not being totally comfortable with doing self-portraits outdoors on my own, I decided to ask my friend, the photographer John Minopoli, to help me. Although this could, in some circumstances, raise some authorship issues, the truth is, it was never an issue for either of us while carrying this out. I had the nearly exact concept for the photos, how I wanted them to be taken and, of course, I did all the editing. I still have a lot to thank for to John, as with him being a photographer, I can’t say he simply pressed the shutter. He did a fantastic job of being my technical support, as he put it himself and I was truly happy with the final result.
For some reason this dress reminded me of Klimt paintings, and the photo of me hugging the tree was inspired by his painting ‘Freya’s Tears’. The others just came from images that came to me while I was dancing in the forest, but they are very much related to a constant feeling of duality I carry inside me. I am a contained person and yet my emotions are intense and deep. I often feel like I am very passionate about things in my life (my art, my relationships, my connection to nature) and yet my exterior hardly ever matches my interior. Dance and photography both help me to pull those feelings out.
The inspiration for this shoot came from the story of The Little Mermaid, and is entitled ‘Underwater Love’. My models were my beautiful friend Pippa and her very brave boyfriend, Mark.
We shot on Black Sands Beach in Aberdour, Fife, Scotland at the end of September. As you can imagine, despite the beautifully calm day, the water was absolutely freezing but my brave models were up for anything.
We had already shot some underwater scenes at a nearby diving pool but as a result of only being able to submit three images, these haven’t been selected so that the story behind the images is clearer.
We really enjoyed messing around with the smoke bombs despite Mark being singed by a rogue spark! Ooops – he really was a trooper!
So the story of the shoot is that this beautiful girl is strolling by the water when something in the distance grabs her eye… it is a mysterious male waving from far beyond the shore. She is instantly captivated, hypnotised even and walks straight into the water where the figure is beckoning her. She thinks nothing of diving right in and leaving all that she knows behind, on dry land… the couple intertwine and their love is cemented forever – she now belongs to the sea…. She doesn’t seem too concerned! 😉
I was excited to be part of the traveling dress project and when the timings came out I was delighted to find that the dress would be arriving with me just before the first ever Dundee Pride and the opening of the new V&A museum in Dundee. I usually photograph children and families so wanted to do something completely different.
I spoke with the organizers of Dundee Pride and found out that it was going to be hosted by local Drag Queen ‘Buschie Fandango’. After meeting to discuss my ideas, Buschie agreed to trust me and do the shoot. I wanted to include Dundee in the pictures so went for two locations that would be instantly recognizable to Dundonians!
The construction of the new V&A museum had just been completed but was not yet open to the public. With some persuasion we managed to secure a time slot to shoot in front of the building before the first members of public were due be allowed in. This meant an early start as the public were due to enter the building at 9am! So at 7am on a Sunday morning in windy (but luckily sunny) Dundee we shot the V&A picture.
Caird Hall is in the center of Dundee and is where the Pride march was starting and finishing so I wanted a shot of Buschie there. I love how in the photo all the flags on the building are flying one way and Buschie is there with the Pride flag flying the other!
For the third picture I wanted the dress and Buschie to be the focus of the picture, so went for a simple portrait, no distractions, this was their moment!
I thoroughly enjoyed the project and being able to get creative with photography and I am now trying to do a shoot every other month just to keep the creative juices flowing!
This is my first traveling dress project so I really wanted to have fun with it and see what came out of that. I chose the location of Slains Castle, on the coast of Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, which is said to have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Count Dracula.
My session really consisted of two locations: the darkness inside the castle ruins and the contrasting light of the open space outside. I envisioned a girl making her way through the darkness, pushing through those walls closing in on her, to emerge out of the darkness and into the light.
I made a conscious decision not to explain the theme of this session to my model beforehand. I wanted the authentic experience of just being at this location to come across.
The photos inside the castle are darker and make use of light and shadows. The building lends itself well to rigid lines and solid framing. All of this served to convey the feeling of being trapped, vulnerable and conflicted. As she makes her way out of the darkness, you can see her strength emerging. The body positions change to stronger poses. The images taken outside the castle are bathed in light and I wanted those to show space and serenity.
Overcoming darkness and fear, we see the true strength of the girl.
I have loved being part of this project and it's so inspiring to see all the other creative interpretations of the dress from the other artists in our group. I can't wait to take part in another traveling dress project.
When the traveling dress project came up I knew I needed to join in and push myself out of my comfort zone. It sounded like a great project, photographing something fun for myself, something that I need to do more of.
I really wanted the photos to be personal to me, so when the dress arrived I used my sister as my model, and to really push myself and do the dress justice I stepped out of my studio comfort zone. I headed outside, trying to capture the beautiful light through the forest, where my family spent a lot of time growing up. I have always loved this airy style but never took the time to try it.
Sharing the images with many other photographers was scary, I naturally keep to myself with my work, not sharing very often but I wanted to push myself and I'm so glad I did. The range of images from our group of ladies is amazing and I'm really proud of the collection of images created, there is so much diversity. I'm so happy to have been a part of the traveling dress project!
As soon as the dress landed in my lap, I knew I didn't want to wear it for my self portraits for the traveling dress photography project. Holding the dress, I instantly knew that not wearing the garment would open up a challenging route to express how I felt about the project.
By not wearing the floor length dress and planning my images, I was able to produce a photo series which seemed to make the viewer ask different questions on the why's within my image. I really enjoyed exploring different ways to use the garment and be creative with the dress without trying it on.
I also had an instant idea on the location for the shoot – an empty boarding school in Wickham, Hampshire. The bedroom was the perfect setting to add depth and narrative to my images.
Working with my XT2, 23mm lens and a remote trigger, I produced these images over an hour. It was a surreal and wonderful process, being deep within an empty old school building, on my own.
This has been such a privilege to participate in such a wonderful project with many other incredible photographers.
It’s so interesting to see how different creative minds works, to see their different take on the same dress.
For me, as we travel around the world, I wanted to show our home town off. We often watch the sunset along this very beach, however it’s never a set up shoot that I can be completely creative with, so this was exactly what I’d been waiting for. Lauren, my model, was absolutely fantastic, she had no model experience but put everything in to what I had asked. She transformed my vision into reality. Thank you Lauren, and thank you to this project and the other photographers who took part also.
When I first saw the traveling dress I knew straight away who and where I wanted to photograph it.
The dress reminded me very much of the pre-Raphaelite paintings I loved a child and as soon as I saw it, I knew that Ella would have to be my model. With her soulful eyes and long hair she was perfect for the images I was envisioning in my head.
The location I used was a local beauty spot called Grinshill, which has stunning views overlooking Shropshire. With tree roots running along the stone walls, rocky outcrops and tall pines it evokes an ethereal and otherworldly atmosphere, that lent itself perfectly to creating the photographs I had imagined. I also used a white smoke bomb to add to the atmosphere.
I was drawn towards the end, which meant I had a lot of time to make plans before the dress arrived with me in Loughborough, in the heart of England. I couldn’t decide on just one concept, so I just decided to cram three different sessions into my short time with our dress – a journey that ended up taking me to three different counties in England!
First, I put on the dress myself and planned a few fun photos with my horse Vanity in rural Nottinghamshire. Due to the fact that we were shooting in a field with several horses loose and Vanity is still young and not always the most patient, I felt I needed someone to hold the camera, set focus and press the shutter for me. Luckily my partner – not a photographer – came to my aid and perfectly executed the instructions I gave him. I wasn’t going to include any of these images on the blog originally, but this turned out to be one of my favourite images of me and my and baby girl, so I just had to.
Ever since I knew what the dress would be like, I knew I needed to include it in a breastfeeding session. It easily pops off one shoulder so it’s just too perfect for the occasion. Luckily my friend Lin lives in the same small Leicestershire town as I and feels strongly about breastfeeding her perfect baby girl Bloom. I had already done her maternity images and baby photos, so she knew what she was in for. I live for photographing connection and emotion and I was honoured and humbled to be able to be able to capture such intimate and tender moments between mother and daughter.
Finally, I knew I wanted a more creative session, working with a professional model and using a heavier style of editing than I’d normally dare. Charley was one of my earliest clients back when I started my photography business - and she also happens to be a model, who was a Miss England finalist last year! The dress and I made our last trip together, this time to Northamptonshire, where Charley and I met an absolute legend of a horse, the gypsy cob Sparks. Together with his owner, Lisa from Freelance Equine, Sparks tours the local area, performing his tricks and competing in medieval jousting!
I have a flexible approach to my photography and am very much guided by the moment, the people and the environment. I can be directive – I do quite like this approach, as a daughter of two teachers! However, I also know it can sometimes be best to take a back seat and become a watcher of people, capturing their real beauty when they are not thinking about the camera.
This session incorporated both. The concept and directive side that I had on my mind was that I wanted to have an ‘anti-model’ shoot and show what happens to real people in real life. The idea was that my friend and ‘model’ would be caught with food in her teeth, getting toilet roll off her shoe and tripping up rather than striking the perfect fashion pose. However, seizing the moment we ended up just mucking around on some steps that we came across. She’s so stunning and the best pictures just featured showing off her full beauty and the spontaneous and flowing movement of the dress. We had so much fun and shared lots of laughter on that day.
Live Sleep Repeat
Location: Caterham, Surrey, UK
I first heard of the traveling dress project idea on an American Facebook site and I really liked the idea. So when the chance to do a similar project came up here in UK - I jumped on it. This beautiful dress traveled across the whole UK - Scotland, Wales, South Coast.
It was in the middle of December when it arrived at my address in Enfield, North London. I really wanted to do outdoor photos as I thought the dress was more suited the outdoor theme. It was 15th December at 8am in the morning, the temperature was only 3 degrees when we arrived at the Bury Lodge Gardens in Edmonton for the session. I was shaking wearing my big winter coat. My model (a mum of one, not a professional model) did so well, I was amazed how well she coped with cold! I’m grateful she was a good sport and was willing to do this! It just shows that us mums are superheroes and super strong humans, and can achieve whatever we put our minds into!
What an amazing concept – seeing the other photographers ideas just show that one item can be used in so many ways. No mind is ever the same!
We were so excited to be a part of this wonderful project and I was one of the last members of our group to receive the dress. When I first thought about the project, I envisioned beautiful light and fields of flowers, but by the time the dress got round to me in the middle of January, it was grey and cold outside. I was thinking lots about what I could do with the darker, greyer weather in Hampshire at this time of year. Then I remembered the location – a favourite place for hide and seek from childhood, and almost simultaneously a relative of mine played me a song that had a lot of meaning for her.
This lyric ‘‘Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?” seemed ideal for a traveling dress project. The song is about a female relative who died young and I connected to the grief in the song. I connected it to my Sister-in-Law’s death by suicide and how we all wish that she would have stayed, rather than choosing to end her own life at only 27 years of age. I played it while planning, and at the location to help me visualize my images.
“Take my hand, stay Joanne, Heaven’s not ready for you.”
These are not the bright and cheery images that I visualized at the start of the project, but its been a journey and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to take part.
I loved the idea of the traveling dress. A dress making its own journey around the country, creating its own memories and history, all documented in forms of pictures by other amazing photographers.
To me it was important to make reference to where the dress had traveled. I live just outside of London, so what could be more iconic than a red telephone box and the London Eye?
This idea then in turn led me to the styling of the dress. I was inspired by the London rock style and so added the jacket and boots to complete the look.
I love the hustle and bustle of the London lifestyle, the vibrance of the city and the people that occupy it, people with all different styles and from all walks of life, it is so inspiring. My model who is an aspiring actress was amazing and really understood my vision – together we created the look I was aiming for.
It was fantastic seeing everyone else’s interpretations and how different the dress looked in each set of photos. This has been so much fun and an amazing experience to work with such wonderfully talented photographers.
I had planned to do a project on child loss and grief for a long time… Our son Phoenix died during labour 4 years ago followed by 2 miscarriages, which anyone who has lost a child knows, leaves an indelible imprint on your life from that moment on. My life was split into the before and after, and in the loss community there is a lot of talk about the “new normal” because there is simply no going back to the person you used to be after losing a child.
The traveling dress project gave me the perfect opportunity to finally do it, I was at a beautiful old English stately home in Portsmouth called Rooksbury Manor on a retreat with other photographers. The light-filled orangery filled me with inspiration and provided beautiful back-light and reflections.
I know child-loss and grief sounds like a morbid topic, but I wanted it to be beautiful, and help break the taboo. It is amazing how many people have reached out to me over the years as I talk openly about our son and the love I have for him, and how they have been able to open up about their own experiences of loss and grief.
By creating beautiful art and imagery that people can relate to I hope viewers will feel a kinship, a shared connection that may make them feel less lonely and isolated, and even give some the power to talk about something they may have bottled up inside. I'm not sure if I've achieved that, but hopefully some people will relate to the feelings I've tried to convey.
I was recently surprised and honoured after being contacted by an author in America who wants to use one of my personal images, a composite created for our sons 3rd birthday, for a PHD project and an upcoming book on bereavement and memory through photography. I think this shows the power that photography, and social media, can have, that someone I have never met, who lives on the other side of the Atlantic, has not only seen and been touched by my image, but wants to share it to convey the feeling to others.
I hope that whether you have experienced a personal loss or not, you will feel something when you see my photographs, and maybe be able to talk openly to people you know about it.
It’s not often enough really, among the chaos of everyday life, that we gain these little moments of true freedom. Away from the everyday worries, from the mundane tasks and chores that plague our hours awake, to actually not have a care in the world. To experience that utter and complete freedom, to feel if just for a moment, life without restraints.
It’s often been said, a girl’s best friend is her horse. I wonder why that is? Is it the unique and complete understanding of one another, an unfailing trust in one another that helps cement the wondrous and unbreakable bond between girl and horse?
At times I reminisce about those days, riding in the beaming sun through country lanes, or cantering whilst holding on for dear life in a patrol of other horses as we climb the steep embankment to the cottage.
The memories of Burr, Lady, Freckles…you were all such beautiful souls! Each with your own distinct existence, character and charm. From the cheeky, scruffy little brown pony I first rode, to Lady, who in all her glory was a true Duchess and probably my favourite - an ere of elegant gleamed from your being, you were such a gentle creature and then to Freckles, once my grandad’s horse, you turned from a wild and kindred spirit to a sweet tender lady in the end, aged well and still full of life but now growing tired. You were once white as snow, mottled with little grey patches how often though you were dashed with bits of red clay – its fair to say even in your older years, you were still as mischievous as the young filly you once were.
These images we captured to resemble the relationship between Horse And Rider in my interpretation of the traveling dress project. To demonstrate the elegance, the strength and beauty of such an unbreakable bond.
Background: It was about 4 degrees and icy cold winds battled us on the top of May Hill.
Out of camera I made a double exposure. Contrasting with the cooler weather to beaming sunshine and fog we had a few days later. Aim to capture the freedom and pure joy of spending time with your horse.
Graphic Designer since 2005 and natural light photographer producing mostly black and white images, some color, with a fine art style, located in Vancouver, WA, USA.
I love creating. I love finding beauty in the mundane and seemingly trivial. I love being a part of creating beautiful things.
I tend to be an over-sharer. So here goes. Music, movies, and imagery are God's gifts to me. I'm convinced these are the tools He chooses to communicate with me. I make mistakes everyday, try to clean up the mess alone, make it worse, then finally, as a last resort call on the One I should have in the first place. I'm desperately searching to fill the hole that only He can fill and everyday I become more convinced that it won't be filled here... and I can't wait to meet Him face to face. To finally meet who I was created for. To finally understand.