Phoenix children's and family photographer, Laura Winslow, put together the ultimate Alice-in-Wonderland theme party-turned-photo-shoot to illustrate just exactly what kind of mad-hattin' whimsy lives in her noggin. This wasn't just any dress-up occasion… wardrobe, models, and an over-the top set shows us all what's possible on the other side of the rabbit hole. I asked Laura what exactly brought this on, and she shared with us the method behind the madness…
First things first – what in the world inspired such an outrageous celebration?
This shoot actually had its beginnings on an extremely hot summer day as my friend Mia of Dolce Vita Mia and I were sitting on a pool deck watching our children during swimming lessons. My mind is forever spinning with thousands of ideas in my head and I must say I am always thinking of the next project and "next big thing". Pair me with wonderful Mia, and the idea was born. It took on a life of its own from there when I got home and let my mind run wild. That is definitely my personality--I have a hard time doing things small. :)
How long did it take you to prepare? Who else did you involve?
It was a long process of organizing all the vendors, the casting call, pairing the right model with the right dress, choosing the right Dolce Vita Mia headpiece for each outfit, securing the location, coordinating details with the models, communications with the vendors, timing of the shoot (there were over a dozen separate vendors/designers that I had to make sure I photographed products for), etc. It honestly was a huge undertaking, but one that I enjoyed. I believe that all the planning prior to the actual shoot really helped it to run smoothly. Kim of The TomKat Studio designed the tablescape, with stunning floral arrangements by Zuzu's Petals (these ladies were really amazing!). Grace of Finley and Oliver, Mia of Dolce Vita Mia, Traci Rogers and my dear friend Autumn all really helped the day to run smoothly. They rocked!! All of our little models were simply amazing, too.
Everything is so thematic – which lends itself to gorgeous photos – what are your thoughts on pulling together scenes that work (and look amazing in real life too)?
For me, it is about interesting textures, angles and bold colors. It also was so important that we had different "layers" to the images--the clothing, the background, the hair, the hair accessories, the amazing flowers, the stance of the girls and the looks on their faces. It all contributes to and works together to have an amazing end result. I made a storyboard at the very beginning and shared it with all the vendors, boutiques and designers involved. I think that we chose people that are all similar in style, so they all knew exactly what we wanted. Each designer was hand-chosen for their modern, fun and gorgeous clothing, and they were given free reign to design as they chose based on our inspiration boards. They all were phenomenal! The ladies of Zuzu's Petals were simply amazing, too. I was breathless when I saw their creations in person. They were so three-dimensional and colorful and whimsical. I could go on for hours about the amazing work and detail they put into each bouquet!
The styling is fantastic. Party coture! Were there any special challenges getting the kids to look so fabulous?
Well, we started with amazing, one of a kind clothing from some really talented designers. The girls were styled by Grace of Finley and Oliver and Mia of Dolce Vita Mia, and their hair was beautifully styled by Traci Rogers. Our awesome Mad Hatter was completely styled by Grace of Finley and Oliver--she amazed me!! Grace designed and sewed the mustache tee and made his stunning top hat herself! It was a combination of all these things, along with choosing the perfect girl for each dress, that really made it all come together. All of our adorable little models seemed as though they were born to do this and were really some of the sweetest kiddos I have ever met. They made my job easy!
Tell us a little about your shooting style? Did you use all natural light?
I use primarily all natural light, and with this shoot I did. We shot at a stunning location--a privately owned ranch--that made for interesting backdrops. There seemed to be something new at every corner, so it was fun exploring and using different areas of the property. Most areas were shady, so it worked well. The spot where the actual tablescape was set up was under large trees, so the light was dappled. I think it added to the charm and whimsy of the shoot, though.
What are your favorite tricks for pulling so much personality out of your subjects?
I love to just chat with my subjects and ask them about their lives. We giggle and have fun! When you are genuinely laughing and chatting with your subject, they will give you those pensive stares, belly laughs or smiles because they trust you.
What kind of camera/lenses did you/do you use?
I shoot with a Canon 5D mark II and my favorite baby is my 50 mm f/1.2 L. For this shoot, because I was interested in also getting a wide angle, I used the Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 L for the tablescape shots.
Wanna know more about Laura's shoot and her fabulous friends that made it all happen?
Check out the Alice blog on her website!