So finally after months of preparation and post production I have finished the story and boy was it exhausting. My brain had several melt downs during the long process, working as much as 12 hours a day with one week off at Christmas spent worrying about this project. Failed attempts during post production and then a mental block which I’ve never experienced before. Like I said on my previous post, it almost broke me, but you know what saved me, having it taken away for a week, so I had no choice but to shut myself off from it and concentrate on other things. That did the trick, my mind refocused and my body took a breath of fresh air and the creative juices began to flow. The advice from my tutor, Emma Jukes was this, take a break and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Best advice I have ever be given!!
So as you can see from my previous posts Winter Wonderland Part I and Winter Wonderland Part II I was tasked to produce a food shoot and I chose to push myself off a cliff and use Carl Warner as inspiration to produce a food landscape. If you’ve never seen his work, click on his name which will link you to his website, he creates the most amazing ‘foodscapes’. I also found inspiration from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel which is renowned for its house made from candy. Then there is the story Chronicles of Narnia full of fantasy and plenty of cooling blue tones and finally good old Marks and Spencer’s, with their 2014 Christmas advert and slogan Sparkle and Magic, which again consisted of fairies.
So most of my time was spent collecting ingredients, researching cooking techniques for sugar glass, buying fabrics, making costumes, buying ingredients, buying wood, buying, buying, buying… I won’t tell you what it cost to produce but I had to buy my partner an Xbox One to make up for it.
Anyway shall I explain all of the problems I had, like don’t put food colouring in hot melted sugar because it boils clear, or don’t go slightly over when heating the sugar because it turns a sort of golden colour and we all know yellow and blue makes green. I wanted blue trees!! I broke the thermometer and had to buy a new one. The recipe I found asked for corn syrup but I live in the UK not America, eventually substituting for liquid glucose, which we only sell in small tubes and I needed one cup per cook and did four mixtures all together. The size of the scene grew from less than a metre squared to 900mm x 1200mm so I had to buy more icing sugar. My sugar glass trees began to warp under the hot studio lights. My snowman wouldn’t hold his shape so I had to use marbles to wrap the icing around. Oh and then there was the costumes, I’ve never used a sowing machine and it took me over an hour to work out how to thread the cotton and so on and so forth. I won’t bore you with any more details, just put your feet up and relax in to a mini story that I decided would add a nice touch to the images, after all every photo tells a story and this it what they said to me.
A song for you to listen to while you continue reading!
Once Upon a Time…
Summer had ended and the first snow had been falling heavily over the last few days. With a small break in the clouds I decided to go for a walk and collect some firewood from the woodsman. As I approached the thicket I could sense the restlessness of the trees, creaking and stirring by the horror that lay before them. The woodsman was wielding a rusty old saw and was standing over a pile of collected branches. The trees whispered and wept at their fallen but it wasn’t the woodsman that they feared, for he only took what was already dead, cutting the branches into manageable pieces. He also came from a long line of woodsman who created this coppice which grew year on year, from the seeds that his family planted. The trees feared something else, but what?
I knew the woodsman and always bought my firewood from him. He lived on the edge of the coppice in a house made entirely from sweet goodness. Everything from the walls to the roof was made from different confectionery which he grew in his garden. There were candy trees of many flavours and varieties which stood tall amongst the coffee flavoured soil. Stones and pebbles made from candy rock, tables made from chocolate and baskets woven from marzipan. It was a magical place.
He allowed me to wonder through the coppice as long as I promised not to take anything from when I left, for he said this was sacred land. I didn’t know why, I just presumed that his family had been buried there over time or maybe the land had once belonged to the spirit walkers.
As I approached the woodsman I quickly took a dive behind a large stump, of a once almighty oak. Not too far in the distance I could see a blue light, but this wasn’t from a torch, this light flickered, like a flame from a candle, only this candle was on the move, because it jittered and swirled through the air like dust being carried by the wind. One light turned into two lights and then two became three and three became four until the whole wood was filled with a brilliant blue light. So blue was the wood that one could be mistaken in to thinking an artist had come along and in a fit of creative rage had painted everything Cobalt blue.
The lights grew closer and as they did they grew in size. What I could see was…well, it was a good job I was crouching down because I would of surely fell down with amazement. I had to rub my eyes but when I opened them I realised it wasn’t a dream. These lights truly were floating, floating orbs and inside each one of them, flapping their wings like dragonflies were tiny little fairies. With each movement followed a tiny trail of pink, glittery dust which expanded and faded away like vapour trails from an aircraft.
I wanted to reach out and touch one of them but I was scared that I might damage the orbs or scare them away so I stayed glued to the floor, feet cold and legs going numb. I’m glad I did because what happened next took my breath away. The ground began to freeze but this was not frost I could see, it looked more like a frozen lake, shimmering and reflecting everything above it. Then from around a large tree appeared two elves, one stood tall with a shiny blue cloak and a staff that glowed with a bright light hovering above it. I’m guessing by the magnificent crown upon his head that he was either a King or a Prince. The other elf appeared with caution, crouching around the tree with a large bow and arrow ready to shoot should the time be right. As they moved onto the frozen surface, large wings appeared on the elves and they hovered gracefully along the newly made lake.
They spoke in their native tongue, words I cannot even remember, let alone repeat. Surrounded by fairies and creatures of the night the light began to brighten and then softly faded away and as quick as it came, they disappeared and the blue light was replaced with dusk. The moon shone brightly and as my eyes adjusted to the less dramatic light, everything was as it once began.
Although I made a promise to the woodsman that I would never take anything from the coppice he never stopped me taking photographs and that evening was no exception as I lay witness to a magical ‘Sweet Winterland’.
Until the next journey…