Nymphs of the Wood
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female spirit typically associated with a particular location or landform. Other nymphs, always in the shape of young nubile maidens, were part of the retinue of a god. Nymphs are known to live in mountains and groves, by springs and rivers, also in trees, valleys and cool grottoes. This nymph, in particular, is a tree nymph and finds her home amongst the branches of a tall Cedar tree.
This photo shoot was my first of the summer and as I can recall the first I had done in several months. The previous shoot “Bathory” had been an extremely long and tiring process to plan and execute so I suppose I was a little worn out. Bathory was a very dark photo shoot, in terms of lighting and subject matter so I was interested in shooting outdoors, using natural light.
I did not have to go far to find the location for this shoot because the tall Cedar (or possibly Cypress) was right out my front door. I love seeing people’s reactions when I tell them this because they are truly convinced that this shoot was done in the middle of an exotic forest! Even people who have been to my home are still dumbfounded when I tell them that the pictures were taken right outside my porch; it takes them a good 10 seconds to realize that they have seen this tree so many times before. For those of you who have never been to my home, I live in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, an area full of pretty houses surrounded by countless deciduous trees (blah).
I was aiming for a natural, soft look that was both beautiful and primitive. I needed a model who would be comfortable climbing a tree but would still be able to move her body gracefully amongst the branches. Luckily I knew a spunky, fearless, and beautiful dancer named Alison and knew she would be extremely excited to take on this role.
It was difficult to configure my placement if she was going to be up in a tree. I initially used a ladder to gain some height, but soon found climbing on my roof a better alternative (better, but perhaps not safer). The roof was actually perfect placement to take the photos and I tried my best to spare my mother from a heart attack by remaining a safe distance from the edge.
Overall I really liked the outcome of these photos, especially how I was able to transform a common location into a new a mysterious place.
We are still in debate whether the tree is a Cedar or a Cypress. Apparently the two are very similar and only careful examination can distinguish one from the other. If you happen to be a dendrologist or tree enthusiast, please feel free to correct me! Thanks!