Ankara Travelling Dress: How we shot it
Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress
The Travelling Dress. One dress infinite possibilities, proving how differently we all see the world.
The Travelling Dress
The Travelling dress project seemed to originate in the USA with a dress travelling to other countries and being photographed by tens and tens of photographers. Photographers have tulle dresses, colourful dresses, wedding dresses. I loved watching the different travelling dress projects we came across, but one thing was evident about so many of the other projects. They all seemed to be very Eurocentric.
As a minority in the photography world, it is something that some people take for granted, being visible, being included, being part of the discussion, being heard, but for some of us our exclusion is the norm. It is not always a purposeful thing, but sometimes a “oh I never even thought about that” “ oh that didn’t even cross my mind” because its something that hasn’t effected the person viewing that project. But it is something that I see instantly.
This was also picked up by other users on some of the blogs about other Travelling Dress Projects.
So with this in mind, one member suggested we wanted to open up this discussion and shoot a travelling dress project that had not already been done. Photographers and models that seems to be largely missing from many of the other projects would therefore be part of the discussion. We had an Afro Centric garment commissioned by Thea Ayayi of House of Tendai and a group of UK Black Female Photographers created a schedule to shoot the dress as we saw it.
We chose a vibrant bright red ankara print material. It was strong and bold, I wanted a model that matched this feel. So I searched for a bald headed dark skinned model. I visualised a Skunk Annansie, Alek Wek, Lupita N’yongo inspired of model. I found this in Sheleema.
New to modelling but an amazing model none the less. She had already done high fashion and a number of fashion magazines. As a professional creative I always pay other professional creatives … see my blog on working for FREE. As a photographer shooting various genres I have worked with models previously. Some great ones and some not so great ones. From Sheleema’s portfolio, I felt she could carry off what I wanted for the shoot; and she did.
There was very little direction, only for minor tweaks.
I also commissioned Make Up artist Kemeko to do an editorial type look.
We purposefully did not discuss each others ideas, or show each other our finished shoots until way after they were completed. Does this create more competition or fuel you to push yourself even more?
I purposefully wanted to test myself for this shoot. I initially hired a studio and was going to do my normal clean cut portrait photography style.
Fate then took me to fashion season collections on Vogue Magazine, I came across Beyonces front page shoot for Vogue earlier that year, shot by Tyler Mitchell. This inspired me to strip this right back. Go back to nature, a much more deconstructed messy idea and just shoot with whatever I’m presented with on the day.
So I let nature and circumstance drive my vision. I knew however I wanted an edgey editorial look, and something different to how I would normally shoot most of my work.
So with no real plan in place, except for channelling Beyonce, I vowed to adapt to whatever I was presented with, come rain or shine (or being in the UK sleet or snow also)! After all this is what creatives do … create. I also shoot for fashion designers such as Kolchagov Barba and wanted to create something I could imagine designers using in a magazine editorial.
On the day we were blessed with a beautiful sunny, bright, warm day. It was cloudy in parts and bright in parts, but still perfect. I chose to use the natural sunlight with additional outdoor flash, playing with sync speeds to create some other interesting shadows and looks.
The environment was naturally green, this complimented the dress perfectly. I also put up a draped messy backdrop, I initially wanted a heavier cotton material backdrop, looked into buying one, but agin thought, let me work with what I have.
Making a big headpiece similar to Beyonces own was considered, but ended up not having the time. The option to instead use oversized bouquet, which substituted. It meant that the red was sandwiched in between a sea of green, which aesthetically looked amazing.
Ten Favourite Lensi Photography Shots From the Ankara Travelling Dress Project
These are the blogs and contact details of other photographers who took part in the project.
#5 Rele James
IG : @pausepushclick
#6 Toyin Sho
IG : @toyinphotography
IG : @la_creativityportfolio