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  • Writer's pictureDeanna Dusbabek

Photographing Kate: inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites

It began with a green prom dress I'd seen her in. "Wow," I'd thought. "I would LOVE to photograph that girl. And so I did.

Kate Eckert has a lovely, gentle and sunny light that comes out through blue eyes the color of cornflowers. I'd photographed her sister, Karaline, and wanted to work with Kate before she headed off to her final year in college. She was game for just about anything (Oh, happy day!) and she'd donated her green prom dress to my studio last year, which meant I owed her a session. What could I do to bring out a side of herself she'd not yet seen AND have a little playtime via a creative shoot?

The original pretty, but somewhat plain, forest green prom dress.

Never one to keep things simple, I decided to take as inspiration for this session the Pre-Raphaelite period, an artistic movement that painted women (mostly) in an overtly feminine, romantic style against glorious landscapes full of passion and color. Read about it here, if it interests you:

The first step was to modify the dress.

This is what six yards of dove grey chiffon will get you. I also ordered a very inexpensive statement necklace from Amazon:

It photographs beautifully, as it turned out. But, we ended up using it as a headpiece.

Next, hair. The Pre-Raphaelites generally painted women with long, flowing hair or hair that was caught up in loose, wavy knots or braids. Kate has a shoulder length blonde bob.

So I ordered some hair extensions from REECHO off Amazon: I was frankly amazed by the quality of the product. Looks, moves and feels like real hair and I'm going to get them in other colors and lengths just to have in the studio as part of the Client Closet.

We split the session into two parts: one part in the studio for more magazine style images, then moved outside for the critical landscape shots so necessary for the PR period. But what sort of backdrop should I use in the studio?

I chose to paint a canvas the same color green as the dress. The color is spectacular and I'd wanted to paint a green backdrop for some time, so this was the perfect excuse to do so. Green is not a universal color, meaning not every client will respond well to it or be flattered by it in portraits. But for redheads and clients with green eyes, it's delicious. Kate has blue eyes, but I was going for a dress match here. And although I loved how it turned out, it was just too much green once Kate was in front of it. My genius friend, Kara, who was at the session wrangling wardrobe, suggested we flip it around and use the backside. It worked like a charm. Here's a little behind the scenes video clip:

For the outdoor portion of the session, I'd discovered a tucked away pond on Bainbridge Island that was enclosed, private and easy to get to. So off we went, Kate, my assistant Jillian and I. Jillian and Kate both had to stand on a tiny, mucky little island while I shot from the shore. Jillian also was tasked with handling the reflector AND the smoke bombs. And boy did she do a great job!

So how did we do? I wanted to capture that dreamy romanticism that's a hallmark of the Pre-Raphaelite period. Here's several examples of that work from the

And mine:

Kate as muse for my homage to the Pre-Raphaelites

And there you have it! I'm pretty happy with the results and plan to try more of these types of images. To me, this is exactly what a portrait is supposed to be: YOU in the art on your walls, which is why creative sessions are a mainstay of my studio. If you'd like to talk about a session like this for yourself, I'd love to hear from you! (206) 779-4284

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