Behind the Scenes: The Indulgence of Loss for Gain

  • After coming back home from the trip and finally finishing editing, I did some research on the name of the trunk to see if there was any significance to it to base any sort of story to it; and it most definitely did. I search for “A. Dumas” pulled up the name Alexandre Dumas, a frenchman who was a famed novelist and play writer in the 19th century. His most famous novel, Camille (Also known as The Lady of the Camellias) which was made into a play, then an opera by Giuseppe Verdi. In Camille, the main character Marguerite, who dies of tuberculosis, is based off his real life love affair with a french courtesan, Mari Duplessis, who fared the same fate. A year after she had passed, Alexandre had completed his novel Camille, that was greatly inspired by his recent loss. 

This photograph was taken in one of the top floor chambers of a beautiful chateau while attending a week long creative photography retreat hosted by the all-too-wonderful Brooke Shaden. In the southern country side of Sarlenes, France (my first time traveling to Europe!), we were given exclusive accessibility to the entire hillside property, along with 3 models, Brooke’s endless vintage wardrobe collection, and two wonderful assistants. 

On our fist day at the property, we gathered in the front courtyard, unpacked the taxi’s loaded with photography gear, and marveled over the hillside landscape of the country and distant villages. We entered inside through two huge carved wooden doors and were greeted to an extraordinary chandelier and stone spiral staircase. After spending an hour exploring the chateau through and through, we again met in the front room and were given a photography exercise about composing and preconceiving images in our heads as we were blindfolded and gave directions to Brooke how to shoot what we saw in our heads as she operated the camera. 

After this, we broke up into groups and took turns with each model on different floors of the chateau. 

 I fell in love with this trunk when I discovered up in one of the bedrooms and immediately put myself inside to see if I could fit one of the models in to photograph. Just as I was laying inside, a small part of my group walked by and we exchanged some memorable looks with each other. I was shooting with a tighter lens than I should have been using, so I ended up backing into a fireplace with ash covering my backside.