The mission of my Concept Photography book (upcoming), is to describe my process for going from concept to completed photograph. It’s also an introduction to the wonderful group of people who were an important part of the process.
While there are many ways to get from A to B, I hope you’ll find this book valuable for inspiration and as a reference. It’s intended for photographers and artists working in a variety of fields (Examples: Music, painting, and sculpture).
For a behind-the-scenes journey of avant-garde photography, set in locations including Peter Gabriel’s studio in England (Real World), I’ll be sharing excerpts from the upcoming book here.
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Katrina Van Tassel
Alt History concept photography
Photography Process Overview–Briefing
As you imagine, sending our production team my 100-page story or even a dozen pages from the magazine article that published my story about Katrina Van Tassel isn’t helpful at this stage of the photography process.
- Written Summary
- Key Details
The concept for Katrina Van Tassel is based on Washington Irving’s story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I remember reading Irving’s story in elementary school and loving how he created the feel of rural Tarrytown, New York, during the 1700s, all wrapped up in a good old-fashioned ghost story.
In popular culture, Irving’s story has been diluted into a simple ghost story revolving around Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. But within his book, he makes numerous references to the life and written works of Cotton Mather and his religious beliefs during the Salem Witch trials through the character of Crane.
For our photoshoot, Katrina tells her story through three eras. These include her experience with the ramifications of Mather’s teaching and the fundamental tenants of English Social Liberalism developed by Thomas Hill Green. Green, in turn, was influenced by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
After researching and reading the books of Mather, Green, and Friedrich, I wrote nearly 100 pages for her story, which I later whittled down to less than a dozen pages for Elusive Story Magazine. The story focuses on Katrina Van Tassel as a time-traveling evangelist bent on creating higher education for women. Her partner in crime: Ludwig Grimm, a German soldier.
Katrina’s time-traveling takes her to locations within Tarrytown and England during the 1700s. While there are indoor locations, much of Irving’s book and my alternative history of Katrina are outdoors, specifically in a garden setting.
In Tarrytown, the Old Dutch Church was the centerpiece of the outdoor action in Irving’s book. The church continues to exist to this day and it’s where Washington Irving is buried. Interestingly, with its mature trees, the area around the church has and retains a garden feel. Similarly, when Katrina is in England, she frequents outdoor spaces that are similar to Tarrytown.
There’s a certain sense of mystery and coziness that you can find when you sit within a grove of trees. The massive bulk of the trees and their leaves dampen out many sounds, and the air takes on that wonderful scent of nature.
This led me to the idea that a Victorian garden should be an essential part of the setting.
Fortunately, my wife is a Master Gardener, so our home has just such a space.
While Katrina plays a crucial role in Ichabod’s quest to be wealthy, one night, he’s scared away from his dreams of wedding her by the Headless Horseman. In my alternative history, Katrina became the centerpiece of the story. I wanted her to visually embody thoughtfulness, an old soul, and the fierceness of the Horseman.
Not surprisingly, red and black became the key colors for her costume and the props–all of it wrapped up in an alternative history version of Victorian sensibilities.
This text, along with sketches, is the briefing that I sent to our production team.
This story is an excerpt from my upcoming book on Concept | Photography. To learn more about my books and classes and to receive a discount, you’re invited to subscribe to my List by clicking HERE.
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