I’m a real music buff. I remember when I started work at 16, my treat every week was to go into Brash’s (music store) in Geelong and choose an LP vinyl record. The very first I ever owned was James Taylor’s Greatest Hits (the white album) followed the next week by Don McLean’s American Pie. Third payday bought me Janis Ian’s Between the Lines and week four purchased Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits (maroon album). After that I lost track but I still own those four vinyls and I still know every single word on them.
That was my thing. I bought an album on payday, took it home, learned every word of it for the week and then next payday bought another one. Yes I was a little obsessed. Even today, when I see a vinyl my heart skips a little beat with excitement. You could say I love music.
So it made sense when my babies were born to give them each their own birth song. My eldest daughter Aimee who is now flying with the angels, was given the song, Little Ray of Sunshine by Axiom. Lachlan my first boy was given John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy and Stuart, my baby got the song Baby Mine from Dumbo and Beaches. Each suited them perfectly and the boys still love their songs today.
So it was with much excitement that I got a call before Christmas from a friend who I’ve done work for before. She ALSO had given each of her children their own lullaby just like me. That was exciting enough. I thought I might have been the only crazy person who did that. But I was even more thrilled to know she wanted to commission me to make her three children’s songs into a piece of art for them as Christmas presents.
All she gave me was their colours and their songs and I had carte blanche to do whatever I wanted. I stopped doing portraits for people for the reason that I don’t want to work to another person’s brief but this was different. All she’d given me in the way of guidelines was colour and title and my imagination could come out and play.
She has three children, Ash, Troy and Cassidy. Their songs? On the Wings of a Snow White Dove, Morningtown Ride and Somewhere over the Rainbow. I loved each of these songs and in my mind, whenever I sang them, I had a picture of what was happening in them. This could be fun.
Her daughters had done some posing for me before when I was first studying photography and wanted to do some family and glamour shots for practise, so without telling them what I wanted them for, I asked if they’d be prepared to pose again for me. As their photos were just taken in front of a black backdrop, they really didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with them.
I asked Ash just to pose as if she was reaching for something that was just out of her grasp. This meant leaning forward slightly and having one hand outstretched. The dress was one I had found in one of the op shops that I love so much. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was the dress for this photo. This was one of the more expensive dresses I’ve bought and cost me $8.00. I wanted her feet to be bare as I knew the setting would be inside a room with a broken wall allowing the sunshine after the rain to shine through. Making the hole in the wall was the most difficult thing I did. That is something I have to work on more. Here is the finished result.
Troy’s was a bit more difficult as he is an adult and I knew I wanted a little boy’s room but thankfully an idea hit. For his 21st birthday a few years ago, I did a slideshow and still had his photos on file. I was lucky enough to find a photo of him asleep in bed so I used that and made a new bedroom, bed, toychest and of course a train coming through the wall, ready to take him to Morningtown. Another photo of him on the wall of his new bedroom and we were in business. If you’ve never heard the song Morningtown Ride by The Seekers, please have a listen. It was a song from the 60’s that certainly inspired my imagination as a child.
The day the girls were coming to pose for me, I went to the op shop (again) and purchased an old double bed sheet that had a slight blue gingham pattern on it, albeit very faded. I brought it home and cut it into a circular skirt (with a very uneven hem – we can’t be good at everything and that’s what the clone tool is for lol), made a bib top and asked her mum to ensure she had a white t shirt and socks with her. The Ruby Slippers I had made ages ago for a photoshoot involving my niece. They were made from a pair of black shoes which cost me $2 at the op shop, a tube of red glitter which was $4 from a cheap variety store and some spray on glue which cost around $10. With the $2 spent on the sheet to cut for the dress, the total cost, if I include the cost of the ruby slippers from a previous shoot, was a total of $18. I had to flip the picture to have it make sense as I had originally planned on having the haybale on the other side of her. This is Cassidy, walking through the Land of Oz.
I have been really thrilled with how they turned out and it has inspired me to do my own children’s birth songs. However I have so many projects happening right now, my personal stuff will have to wait a little while longer. But for now I hope you have some idea of the sort of thoughts that fly through my head when I hear a song. My brain really does have too much happening in it.
I have included the original photos so you can compare. I used the original photos plus some stock photos I’d taken over the last few years. I made all the background rooms from scratch in Photoshop and purchased a few stock photos to get the missing elements I needed. Each photo has between 30 and 40 layers, so a word to the wise? Always name your layers because it gets really confusing if you don’t.
Once they were all finished, I was so looking forward to being able to share them on my Facebook page, but couldn’t until after Christmas morning. Thankfully, I found the patience to wait until then. A huge thank you to Tracy for trusting me to do justice to her baby’s songs and to her beautiful family for being so gorgeous.