Special thanks to Events by Merida’s very own Merida for crafting this treasure trove of words.
Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is a dark fairytale, replete with small, tempting creatures, erotic phrasing, and a simple message:
Don’t eat strange fruit.
I’d been wanting to create this styled shoot for over a year, but I kept shelving it for various reasons. Finally, I sprung it on Chris of That Werks Photography– an incredibly talented photog out of the Art Factory in Paterson- with a, “this might seem weird…” His response?
“Count me in!”
I gathered some favorite vendors (and improv-ed a little) to bring my vision to life. A favorite MUA of Chris’s, Raen, came in to do the makeup, and she brought along two models from northern NJ, Rebecca and Natasha. A model I’ve been waiting for a long time to have the stars align on was able to come down for the shoot as well.
What never fails to astound me is the talent that these vendors bring to the table. Hair was by Jaimee of William Jean Salon, and she was also kind enough to loan us Maven, her darling mini-me, to be our “goblin”. She used the natural texture of Rebecca’s hair to create a gorgeous boho style, woven with greens. There was the same greenery in Natasha and Angeline’s hair. Fun coincidence: both Maven and Natasha have part of their heads shaved!
For makeup, I asked Raen for deep, rich colors on the lips. After that, I just let her go wild. Metallics came popping out on eyelids in addition to daring lip colors. The blue on Rebecca is probably my favorite, but I’ve always been a fan of dark lipsticks.
As for the “bouquets”, I wanted to do something slightly different. Lanterns have been in style for awhile as both centerpieces and to carry down the aisle (and pretty much everywhere in-between). I think they’re great for bouquets because they’re more natural to hold, and easier on the Person of Honor that has to hold two of them during the ceremony. I even managed to sneak some fruit in there with the candle!
Finally, the tablescape. Chris (the photographer) and I went out about a week before the shoot to take a look at locations in the park. The visitor center there does do receptions, FYI. However, we wanted it outdoors. What complicated things was that up until a few days before, it looked like it was going to rain! Luckily, we ended up having beautiful weather!
We came down a rather steep hill to an area by the Delaware that had a semi-circle of stone pavers. The backdrop was an island in the middle of the river. I initially planned a thick runner of eucalyptus or ferns, but I had so much moss that we covered the table in it. I dotted with the table with vintage (and vintage looking) pieces, and tons of fruit. We broke open a few pomegranates (and thankfully there were geeks abounding that got my Persephone jokes), and threw bundles of odd-looking grapes around to create a lush, but wild, feel.
When it came to create the dynamics of the group, I knew I wanted to have two women. It would have been disingenuous to the author to have it otherwise. Christina Rossetti’s work is complicated and influenced by many themes, but given the vivid imagery of her poetry, many people speculate that she was likely a closeted lesbian- which at the time, was the only way you could be a lesbian and not get into serious trouble. I knew we needed kids in the shoot to be the little folk, and I wanted a bridesmaid to bring together the colors of the shoot.
Dressing them was fun! BHLDN was kind enough to loan us two gorgeous dresses, and the bridesmaid’s dress was a burgundy convertible dress.
As for the cake- we shot this in the depth of wedding season, so all of the bakers are keeping up with their clients! This where some improv came in- and it’s a great DIY option. I found a pretty little buttercream cake at Wegman’s, and we surrounded it with greenery and fruit. I set the table up against a stone pillar overgrown with ivy- it seemed fitting for the theme, and I’m always a fan of using the elements around you. I used a scarlet tablecloth and hung copper twinkle lights behind the table to give it depth.
What was funny was as the girls were doing their cake cutting, a group of fishers came down to the river to join us! Apparently we interrupted their nightly routine. They were extremely kind as we finished up. It seemed like such a quaint ending to the shoot.
At the end of the day, all of the elements came together beautifully. I’m just glad we could do justice to Rossetti’s work.
I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed making them!