3500 photos taken, 12 smoke grenades, 5 models, 3 days, 1 big project...this is Fallen Angels.
Welcome to the biggest personal project I’ve done to date. Inspired by myths and legends of Fallen Angels
A Fallen Angel is often defined as a wicked or rebellious angel that has been cast out of Heaven. Many religious connotations of angels are ones who have sinned or angels cast down to the Earth from the War in Heaven. Across the ages the myths and legends of Angels and in particular Fallen Angels have been depicted in almost every visual medium there is, from historic graphical drawings to majestic stained glass windows.
My interpretation brings together many aspects in this project, dark and light, good and evil, innocence and temptation and mystical and magical.
''The words that gave us direction, are now but echoes in our ears.
As we were cast down as daughters of war,
and as we fell from grace, we faced our deepest fears.
But we can take pride in who we are,
We know our wings maybe flawed and despite our crooked halos,
We will stand together and march forever forward.
We are The Fallen Angels''
GUARDIAN OF LIGHT - Shooting with Charlotte
I’ve worked with Charlotte the year before on another photoshoot and it was lovely to catch up and work with her again. She has the most fantastic pale hair and skin tones and she really typifies the innocent traditional look of an angel to me.
Something I learnt very quickly is that you get what you pay for with regards to feathered wings as outfits. I bought several sets for this project from Amazon for about £20-£30 each and I thought they were pretty good quality really. Within minutes of us fitting the wings on to Charlotte there was a small ping and the elastic one of the shoulder straps flew off and then the whole set of wings.
They are a strange construction because they are effectively large cardboard shaped wings with the feathers glued on to them in a pattern. The elastic shoulder straps are also just simply glued on in a loop, barely held on with anything. Sadly the elastic hadn’t just come unstuck, it was the cardboard it was attached to that had broken underneath, ripping away a huge chunk with it. With a quick fix of safety pins through the whole lot we were good to go.
Or so I thought...15 mins later...the wings broke again, ripping and even larger chunk away. Back out with the safety pins. At this point the shoulder strap was more safety pin than elastic but it was holding and Charlotte assured me that it wasn’t digging in or in the way so we were off and running. We managed to get some amazing shots which is all that mattered.
BROKEN HALOS & BATTLE SCARS - Shooting with Tara
Tara was 100% my rock and roll angel. From the moment she arrived, cigarette in hand, both windows rolled down with rock music blaring out of the car, she was seriously cool. She brought some many options of clothing for shoot with different gothic harnesses and dresses to use.
I had made some large wings out of black foam core board and white insulation tape that I had hung from a light stand behind her. Sadly my creation didn’t last long as the day we were shooting was around 28 degrees and the sunshine started to melt the glue and gaffer tape on my makeshift wings. After several minutes it had all fallen part and collapsed in a heap on the floor. After abandoning this we then created some multiple exposure shots as well as some smoke grenade images. Her look was so striking and strong we were able to create some fantastic images with the smoke grenades for that mythical and magical style.
BETWEEN DARKNESS & LIGHT- Shooting with Danielle
I had been recommended Danielle as a model and was looking forward to working with her having seen some of her other work. I’d hoped with her character to get another mixture of light and dark style images. We met at the beach side car park and she is such a lovely person to chat to and work with.
For the second set of images we were creating the lighter side of her character and Danielle perched on the edges and by rock pools. Here we created some of my favourite images from the day.
We were about half way through shooting this set and out of the corner of my eye I could see a blonde floppy haired man, with sunglasses across his face, gently striding round the rocks towards us. Clearly a lifeguard my first thought was whether we were doing something wrong and maybe he was coming to tell us off. Maybe we shouldn’t be climbing on the rocks or perhaps we hadn’t been watching the tides (which I hadn’t, too caught up in shooting) and he was coming to warn us away.
However he just wandered round the corner and without missing a stride, he nodded and casually said ‘dude, angels on the beach, I like it’’ in recognition. Then continued on his way up the beach, never looking back as if the sight of a photographer and a beautiful model dressed as a white angel with huge feathered wings was a regular occurrence on his beach! Just an average day for a Cornish lifeguard.
EVEN ANGELS FALL- Shooting with Daniella
The character I wanted for Daniella’s shoot was something akin to the story of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and lost his wings. I wanted something that visually tied to two halves of the project together and was a transitional set of photographs. So with Daniella’s set we start with her in a lovely white ball gown which is actually her old pageant gown from the Miss Cornwall beauty contest. There is an innocence, elegance and grace to this look which is exactly how I wanted it to look, the more traditional version of an angel. We then spread loads of feathers on the floor and in the air to signify her losing her wings and feathers, transitioning to the darker side. This was such a laugh as I threw feathers not only on her but also over me and the camera!
We then created a slightly different version of Daniella’s character with a sheer white lace dress to show a sexier and more rebellious nature but still with wings and smoke. Then later we did a darker version, with all the white clothing replaced with the black wings to demonstrate a full transformation to the Fallen Angel. Daniella was such a joy to work with on these many different looks and characters getting fully into the spirit of what I was trying to do.
BORN TO RAISE HELL - Shooting with Olivia
I’d always wanted to include fire in this project somehow. It’s something I’ve never worked with for a photography before and to work with a trained fire performer was such an exciting opportunity. Olivia has such a unique and striking look I knew the moment I saw her I wanted to work with her. The bright red hair, outfits and attitude were exactly what I wanted for the finale of this project. It was never designed to have religious undertones but I wanted to reimagine a more demonic character, slightly inspired by Lucifer. An angel with a rock and roll edge, full of attitude and totally unapologetic of who she is. Olivia could not have been more perfect.
One of my favourite shots from the whole project came from working with Olivia, two smoke grenades in her hands, walking towards the camera. It’s just such a strong and powerful image of defiance and is partially inspired by an iconic moment from the film The Rock.