I wanted to write a bit of a walk through and share some behind the scenes from the first photo shoot I did with The Traveling Dress Project! If you’ve ever wanted to know more about how I take my photos, keep reading!

The Traveling Dress Project paper and box for Purple Horse Designs

I had a wonderful team of people who volunteered to participate in this project:

Normally when I do a session, it’s just me, the model(s), and an ‘ears’ person. Because this project was bigger than a normal shoot, with so many awesome people and businesses participating, I had the opportunity to get some great behind the scenes stuff.

Here’s a quick video I put together of some of the photos and video:

 

The day started at Salon of Chestertown, where Mae and I met in the afternoon to have her hair and make up done. They were excellent – I showed them photos of the kind of look I wanted and they made it happen! (With lots of bonus hair spray to battle the wind we had that evening too!)

Salon at Chestertown makeup for The Traveling Dress Project for Purple Horse Designs

Salon at Chestertown makeup for The Traveling Dress Project for Purple Horse Designs

Salon at Chestertown hair for The Traveling Dress Project for Purple Horse Designs

Salon at Chestertown hair for The Traveling Dress Project for Purple Horse Designs

Once we got to our location, the first thing I wanted to do was take a few basic portraits of Mae. I begin just about every session this way, especially if I’m photographing someone I’ve never photographed before. Considering I had only met Mae for the first time 2 hours earlier at the salon, it was an important step!

I direct the model on how to stand, where to put all their limbs, and coach them through their expression. This does two things: 1. Helps the model (and me!) to warm up to the shoot and 2. Relaxes the model because he/she doesn’t have to worry about how to pose.

I wanted to find a spot that was in the shade, but where I could get some filtered light coming from behind to both backlight my subject and create beautiful bokeh in the background.

The camera I used for these images is the Canon 5D Mark iii with a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. A reflector was used for some shots, but they were all taken using only natural light.

Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs taking photo girl in Traveling Dress Project

(All images that I’m in were taken by Jon Supko of Jon Supko Photography.)

The photo above shows where we were standing when I took the three color photos below. No reflector used.

Two images from traveling dress project by Anna Smolens

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs

The image above that is in black and white was taken in the middle of yard – completely in the open as shown below. The sun was still a little strong at this point and it reflected a tad too much green from the grass back onto Mae, so rather than spend a lot of time correcting the color, I changed it to black and white.

Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs taking photo girl in Traveling Dress Project

We moved up to the house on the property, where I used a flowering tree that would make a nice background. In the behind the scenes photo below, you can see where we were standing – and that half of Mae’s face is in shadow. I ended up having someone hold a white reflector up on that side to bounce light back to her face.

Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs taking photo girl in Traveling Dress Project

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs

It was super cold when we were shooting, despite how pretty it looks in the photos. I had Mae stay in my car while we worked on putting the carriage in position and getting Karison – our first equine model – ready.

There happened to be a little mound that was a great spot for the carriage. I wanted it backlit and because the carriage was higher than I was, I could play with the light depending on what angle I shot from. I could either hide the sun behind the carriage, or intentionally have it in the frame for natural sunbursts and flare.

In the shot below, I am crouching down and hiding the sun behind the carriage.

Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs taking photo girl in Traveling Dress Project

Which resulted in:

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs Vintage Carriage Fjord

The directional light coming from the left side of the image is from a large gold reflector. Without it, the inside of the carriage was very dark. Normally, I don’t like using the gold (or silver) side of a reflector because the light they reflect is very strong, but in this case it helped to spotlight Mae in the carriage.

In the images where Mae is the only person in the carriage, there is no horse attached to it for safety reasons. Once Karison was attached, Will Campbell stood in as the driver. Even though Karison is an experienced driving horse, and there were several helping hands just out of frame, the last thing we would want is an accident that sent a driver-less horse and carriage around the property with poor Mae holding on for dear life!

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs Vintage Carriage

When we gave Mae a break to sit in my car again and warm up, I had a willing model in Karison!

Purple Horse Designs Fjord Carriage Traveling Dress Project

Fjord Horse in Carriage for the Traveling Dress Project by Purple Horse Designs Anna Smolens

Next I got some shots with Mae and Karison together. Keeping the dress under control in the wind took a village!

Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs taking photo girl in Traveling Dress Project

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs Carriage Fjord

While this shoot was about the dress, I couldn’t help getting in close for some detail shots along the way!

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs Vintage Carriage Fjord

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs Vintage Carriage Fjord

At this point, we only had about 15 minutes before the sun was going to set. The corn field that is in the background of the carriage photos was turning beautiful shades of orange and red, and I was dying to photograph it.

We switched Karison out for Skogen, another gorgeous Fjord horse, and headed out to catch the last remaining rays of sun.

I also changed my lens and used my Canon 70-200 2.8. It’s the lens I use probably 90% of the time when I’m photographing horses. I wanted to be able to zoom in quickly, avoid distortion, and get a more compressed background.

Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs taking photo girl in Traveling Dress Project

Anna Smolens of Purple Horse Designs taking photo girl in Traveling Dress Project with Fjord Horse

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs Fjord

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs Fjord

In the photo above, the sun is directly behind Mae and Skogen, minutes from setting, giving a gorgeous golden glow to the trees.

The last thing we did was throw this beautiful green cloak on Mae and pull the pins from her hair for a different ‘look.’ I also changed my lens back to the 50mm 1.4 for these last few shots.

Traveling Dress Project Behind the Scenes Purple Horse Designs

I quickly got the last few seconds of sun as it went below the trees.

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs

Once the sun had set, we took another 5 minutes to get a few more shots and wrapped up!

Traveling Dress Project Behind the Scenes Purple Horse Designs

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens Purple Horse Designs

Another huge thank you to everyone who helped me pull this shoot off!

To find out more about the project and view more of the finished photos from it see this blog post.

(Also, aren’t those earrings awesome?! I found them at an antique store on Kent Island.)

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