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Inspired by the recent live action 're-imaginings' of classic Disney films my 'Once Upon a Time collection is a celebration of all things fairy tale. Featuring contemporary takes on characters and scenes from classic movies, ranging from Sleeping Beauty to Alice in Wonderlands Mad Hatters tea party. The central idea of this series is that books and imagination can take us away from the everyday world around us and transport us to lavish worlds filled with colour, magic and endless possibilities. 

''Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you

because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”  - Roald Dahl

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BTS stories

''Imagination is the only weapon against reality”  - Lewis Carroll

Once Upon a time was never really intended as a complete storyline in the same way that Battlecry had before it. However it would have a thin and loose narrative exploring how reading books can take us to different worlds. The characters portrayed within the photos start out reading their books and as the magic of imagination takes hold, they are transported through different worlds and colourful lands.


These would then be depicted in a series of double photos exploring these magical adventures. Whether that be a sleeping beauty in the woods or a fearless jungle Jane ready to get on the world. A fantastical meeting in the woods results a mad hatters tea party style event. Princesses sit waiting patiently for their prince to arrive and sweep them off their feet. Then eventually we must all close the book and come back to reality.

This collection has probably more than any other before it has taken on a life of it's own. The conceptual and editorial nature of these whilst on set of these shoots was been amazing and really got my mind ticking and creativity flowing. My imagination was firing from the moment I found the amazing location and was introduced the the fantastic people I met along the way who were apart of it. In the edit I've just run with the ideas, pushing bright colours, magical photoshop elements and lens flare elements even further to enhance the fairy tale quality of the settings. I've loved every minute of putting this all together and creating a third photographic collection.

All of this magic was shot over several days in the lovely county of Cornwall based at equally charming Cornish Photo Farm. Now I can not rate highly enough the Cornwall photofarm and if you are down in Cornwall I’d recommend a visit. As a photographer is a veritable playground of options for outfits and locations and Kate also runs a model agency so she can recommend and book any models you would like to work with. As a model you will not fail to get really good photos from the locations dotted around the farm. There is everything from a material teepee to a small barn, from mad hatters tea party dining table set up to a romantic swing hanging off a tree. The photos will be gorgeous no matter what option you choose.


The first half of the collection was shot during a model and photographer networking day organised by Kate which I attended. This was a terrific day filled with several models, backdrops and other photographers. During the day we all rotated around the various set ups, shooting a wide variety of things. My favourite shots from the day were the ones within this collection and I realised I might be able to create some sort of fairytale like collection or storyline out of what we'd done. 

Many of the mini locations within the photo farm have a playful and mystical quality to them that I really loved. From small tree houses, rope swings adorned with pretty flowers or the beautiful meadow with long grasses, there really is everything you could want to get your creative juices flowing. The day was rounded off with a small catwalk show featuring all of the models from the day and even starred Bella's pet goat on the runway!! All of the models were brilliant on the day and I can't than them all even for their friendly nature throughout the day.  


The second set of photos that make up this collection were shot a week later. Realising the potential of the locations available and with the rain lashing the tent, I booked in my time to return to the Photo Farm and started researching and planning the shoot. I’d decided on trying to use the best bits of the location that I hadn’t already used on the previous workshop and sent over several ideas for Kate to prepare for me. 


Of the ideas I had one of which was a story time fantasy scene that was something reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland or something of that style. Kate has a dizzying array of props, costumes and items hidden all over the photo farm. To create my scene involved collecting old suitcases, books and candles and carrying them all down in to the woods in a wheelbarrow. I then set about arranging the scene that I wanted, stacking books in the foreground and background for depth. I knew I’d use photoshop later to turn it in to a magic fantasy style shoot. This would go on to be the opening shot of the collection, using books as metaphor for freeing imagination and beginning to tie all of the different shots together. 


Key Info:

Models: Phillip Jasper, Bella Roberts, Lauren Dove. 

Studio: Cornwall Photo Farm - Peppermint Skies Photography

Photographer: Andrew James

Camera: Nikon D7100 with a Sigma Art 35mm F1.4

Edit: Retouch and Colour Adobe Lightroom 5 and Adobe CS5

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