How and why I made the lovely flower crown, that I use so much in my portraits. One of my favourite images of my own daughter is the one where she is wearing the very first crown that I made. This image seems to be the image that most people fall in love with and want to replicate in their own portrait session.
As some of you may already be aware, I love old photographs and have been obsessed with them since I was a child. I may in fact, start to restore old photographs, as a service. What a lovely way for me to spend my time, looking at old photographs.
Whoops back to the crown, firstly, if you think about some of the old photographs, particularly from the Victorian/Edwardian era, the subjects would be dressed in all their finery and the girls would often have flowers in their hair or be holding flowers. They looked so sweet, so innocent, they really oozed femininity. I find these images so wonderful to look at and I now try to recreate them.
The second reason or push that I received concerning flower crowns and other wonderful costumes and accessories, that I am collecting in my studio, is my mentor the wonderfully talented Sue Bryce. She makes them and uses them to a standard that is truly out of this world, and I aspire to that.
My first and favourite crown was made when I first started to build my portfolio so funds were limited. One thing that I knew for sure was, that I wanted something very feminine and over the top. So I begun to shop around for the flowers. My word I didn't realise how expensive fake flowers were and some of them were really dire looking, think dusty old flowers from Only Fools and Horses. I wanted fake but not fake looking!! I eventually found a gorgeous bunch of antique ‘pinkish' roses that had been shoved into a discount bin….I did a little happy dance right there in the shop…yes I did!
When I got them home, I was then stuck how to attach them to my models hair or head. So I decided the best and safest option was to attach them to something before trying to use them. After hunting through our household making box, which let me tell you is huge, I found a long piece of bright pink fabric. Hmmmm! bright pink, I didn't really feel inspired by that, but it was the only object that came close to being of any use. So I decided to tea stain it, which is something I do a lot of, to fabrics that I use in my studio, that vintage look again!! Finding ways to emulate a particular style, in a way that was not going to break the bank was and still is so important to me.
The tea straining worked a treat and took the pink down several notches and now looks a beautiful shade, not in your face at all, very subtle. Envision one happy photographer with a smile like the Cheshire cat. The next task, separating the lovely flowers from the stem, which it seemed was attached with some kind of bionic force. I tried scissors, craft knife and in the end I used a SAW. Yes, that looked hilarious, sawing a bunch of flowers in the back garden.
Once I had separated all the flowers and leaves it was time to get creative. I decided the best course of action was to get the old favourite out…the GLUE GUN. Come on, who doesn't love the glue gun. Gosh, that thing is so satisfying. That being said, its bloody permanent so once stuck I wasn't moving these little beauts. So I spent the morning, no I am not joking (the perfectionist in me) fiddling with the flowers, getting a look that I was satisfied with. I would place them on the ribbon and then walk away, before attaching them. I did this a few time before I was happy but as soon as I was content, I stuck those little beauties down and fast before I changed my mind, again.
I couldn't bring myself to pick the crown up for ages, as I was so worried that the glue had not set, and there was a lot of glue, a hell of a lot. When I did eventually pick the crown up, boy was I surprised, at how heavy it was. Its amazing what a piece of ribbon, some flowers and a lot of glue weigh…but at least it hadn't stuck to the studio floor.
What I Used !
- Glue gun/hair pins
- Bunch of vintage looking flowers
- Cup of tea
What I Did !
- Shopped around for some vintage flowers, that I could afford
- Searched my making box for something suitable to attach said flowers to
- Faffed around placing and replacing the flowers until satisfied
- Got busy with the glue gun…..best bit
- Waited several hours and prayed
Had/Having great fun photographing the flower crown (and its still going strong folks)!!!!!
I have made several more since this first attempt, using all kinds of weird and wonderful things, books, butterflies and an array of other mad hatter kind of objects. In the future I would like to collaborate with a florist and use fresh flowers, how wonderful that would be to photograph and wear. My clients could have them as a keepsake from their portrait session. So there you have it, the how and why I make and use flower crowns in my photography. Just a little glimpse into the fun and craziness of a photographers life.
“Just living is not enough, one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower” Hans Christian Andersen