“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself” ― Emily Dickinson
I find cold weather very inspiring.
Storms, lightning, rain, wind, hail, dark evenings… they just conjure up good old ghost story vibes. And as you may have gathered from previous projects, I love me a spooky story!!
With the colder months meaning less of the bright and cheerful business of weddings and engagements, I started conjuring up another idea.
As with my previous projects I am drawn to lore, mythology and the supernatural (too much Buffy as a kid?!). I had done witches and mermaids… surely ghosts was the next logical step.
Originally I had planned to do this shoot in thick bush but a chance drive by of the Rockingham Salt Lakes changed that. What a spot! I have lived in this area for nearly 15 years and had never stepped foot on it. When I originally scouted the location, there was water in the middle of the flats but a lot of the salty underside was exposed.
Exposed. It’s an interesting word I think. It hints at nakedness, vulnerability, being uncovered… or seen. I am a definite believer in the unseen as it were, its always fascinated me, and I love ghost stories. One individual you read about a lot in ghost stories is the “Grey Lady” a spectre of a being who floats in and out of your peripheral vision, she is often someone whose real identity has been lost to time, or romanticised as a memory of stories long forgotten.
I considered that, and I considered the “purpose” of ghosts. Why are we so interested in if they exist, and if they do, it seems that they often just want to communicate or be seen by us, the living. This project for me became the exploration of what it means to be seen. Not just in a visual sense, but really seen and understood by those around us. I think it seems to be a common thread amongst us, we just want someone to hear us and see us for who we really are.
As I am a woman, generally it is women’s stories who interest me the most. It’s not that I don’t find men interesting, of course we all have good stories to tell. But I am most interested in the stories that history covers up, the individuals (generally women) who were not considered as important as their male counterpart and therefore disregarded in the retelling. In this new era of women’s empowerment and movements I feel like I am seeing a cultural shift in this regard, I am beginning to hear stories from history, previously not deemed “important enough” to be heard, and I am hearing more women’s voices. And not just young women. Women of all ages, shapes, religions, colours… it is, truly, an honour.
I noticed in the thrill of it all that older women commentated that they often felt they had a use-by date, a mystical age they would reach when suddenly society did not notice them as much, or care as much about what they had to say. This also played on my mind. I have friends who are my own age, but I also have friends and acquaintances who are older than me, my best friend is my Mum. I want to hear and see women of all ages, because I believe most of us have something to contribute.
In that sense I wanted this grey lady I had conjured in my mind to be seen, to come in and out of focus, in and out of the shadows. To be a thrilling, frightening figure. Someone who demands to be seen. I wanted to see her and feel a bit scared… but also like… who is this person and how do I become her best friend!!
I hope that SPECTRE gives you that feeling, but also portrays vulnerability and strength (they are intertwined in my opinion) in its storytelling. I hope you feel seen.
A huge shoutout to Poppy for lending me her time and energy to model in this project. Despite less than desirable weather conditions, freezing cold and a creepy house she was amazing, I think the results speak for themselves!
Equipment: Nikon D7100, lenses 18-55mm and 55-300mm
Post Production: Lightroom with VSCO presets
Location: Rockingham Salt Lakes
Model: Poppy. Poppy is also a stylist and creative and you can view her work over at Eleven Poppies