I am lucky enough to be one of the photographers working with The Traveling Dress Project.

You can learn more by visiting The Traveling Dress Project’s website, but basically, it involves one dress that was found in a thrift store by photographer Gianella Simon and is being shipped to photographers all around the world to photograph in their individual styles. At the end, a book will be made with the photographs. Proceeds will benefit Operation Smile.

Two images from traveling dress project by Anna Smolens

I posted a Model Call and contacted local businesses to find others who would want to help with the project and bring the dress to life. We are only supposed to keep the dress for 48 hours – Day 1: it arrives, Day 2: we shoot, Day 3: ships to next person – and I wanted to get as much done as I could.

The Traveling Dress Project Photographer Purple Horse Designs

I ended up being able to put together three full shoots – which was amazing! Just in case something come up at the last minute and one shoot had to be cancelled, I had two others to fall back on. While each photographer is given an approximate timeline a couple weeks out, we don’t really know when we were getting the dress until a few days before. I found out on Saturday that I’d have the dress that Tuesday.

Scheduling so many people in such a short time was a challenge, and I know life happens so I was fully expecting something to go awry. Somehow it all went off surprisingly well! The biggest challenge ended up being the weather – it was cold!! And not just cold, but quite windy too. (To say we used a lot of hair spray is an understatement!)

the Traveling Dress Project behind the scenes anna smolens getting set up

For this first shoot, which happened immediately after I got the dress on Tuesday evening, we shot outside on location at a private farm located just outside of Chestertown, Maryland.

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

As I usually do, I started with a few simple portraits.

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens 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

We tried to keep Mae warm by bundling her in a coat between shots, and tucking her away in my warm car while we set things up. She was still freezing but did such an amazing job – you can’t tell how cold she was in the photos!

Next, we set up a stunning vintage carriage. It was about an hour before sunset, and the light was absolutely gorgeous!

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

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

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

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

And of course, what would a horse drawn carriage be without a horse?? So we added Karison – a sweet Fjord horse – to the pictures.

Also, for safety measures, we had a driver in the carriage – modeled by the dashing Will Campbell. Despite using an experienced driving horse and having several hands just out of frame each shot, the last thing we would want is a driver-less carriage roaming the property with Mae hanging on for dear life!

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

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 Vintage Carriage Fjord

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

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

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

Then we moved to an open field just as the sun was going down with another lovely equine model – Skogen.

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

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

For the last look we quickly threw a gorgeous green cloak over Mae and pulled the pins out of her hair.

Traveling Dress Project blonde girl portrait by Anna Smolens 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

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

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

I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to shoot this dress and be involved in this wonderful project. It was great fun, plus I got to work with talented people and make new friends!

I can’t say enough good things about the people who helped me pull this shoot off. Another big thank you to Mae, Salon at Chestertown, Jon Supko Photography, Donald + Darby Hewes, Anne Thibo, Samea Baker, and Will Campbell!

Watch for the next two shoots with The Traveling Dress Project and other posts with lots of great behind the scenes stuff!!

Edited to add: Behind the Scenes post!

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