Cinderella Tutu

Cinderella Tutu

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Making of a Monster: On the "Set" of the Zombie Photo Shoot

Yesterday I posted pics of my new tween/teen line, including the new Zombie tutu, which totally fits the needs of the Undead and those who love to hunt them.  Today, I would like to give you an inside view of what happened during the photo shoot for this new line, just to allow you a little insight into how my small, one-"man"-band operates.

The very first shot of the photo shoot.  I had to crop out her shoes!
I started toying with the idea of making a zombie tutu a few months ago when my youngest sister Braidi's boyfriend started playing a zombie hunting game on his university campus. Real kids, running around pretending to assassinate each other and/or eat their opponent's brains. While I'm not necessarily into the whole zombie/vampire/werewolf thing myself, I understand it's popularity and I wanted to incorporate what I do into what these kids may want to wear--while they are running around pretending to eat each other's brains.
The concept behind the zombie tutu is a girl has been bitten by a zombie and she is starting the transformation. One side of the tutu shows what she was wearing before the change began, the other shows what she will eventually turn into.  The normal side is white, transitioning down to shocking pink.  The top layers are longer than the bottom so that the tutu has an extra poof to it.  The zombie side is black transitioning to red--blood red.  Again, top layers are longer than bottom layers.
The Zombie side
The Human side
It didn't take a huge amount of convincing to get Braidi to agree to this photo shoot. She's pretty cooperative! I considered the possibility of putting at least half of her face in full zombie make-up but I decided not to do that.  I thought, real girls don't walk around wearing full zombie make-up, probably not even when they are playing this game, so why would she have that on her face when she's wearing the tutu?  I don't think she would. I wanted it to look like a normal girl wearing the tutu in a typical situation.  I don't think the tutu screams, "Help! I'm turning in to a zombie!" But it is extremely interesting and people would certainly ask what the story is and then "get" what's going on with the tutu as soon as she says, "It's zombie inspired."  Oh, yes, of course it is! That isn't to say that a girl couldn't wear it in partial or full zombie make-up.  It would be PERFECT for any kind of a zombie/monster/Halloween party, too.  But it's also (in my opinion!) a gorgeous skirt that has a lot of unique features, is fun to wear, and looks great, regardless of what one is doing while wearing it.
We live in a partially developed subdivision in a rural part of Texas so there are lots or interesting locations to photograph my "models."  I chose the gate house in front of our subdivision for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it has interesting architecture.  I love the columns and the Travertine.  Secondly, it was within walking distance of our house so that was convenient.  Finally, it's falling apart.  Our subdivision was foreclosed on last year and the building has been in disrepair for some time.  I thought it went along with the Zombie Apocalypse idea that the building was a little dilapidated.
Normally, I don't photograph the "models" myself.  My husband usually does that while I direct the shoot--and if you've seen who my models usually are, you'll know why I use the term "direct" loosely. My daughters are not usually very cooperative.  Yesterday, however, I decided to go ahead and take the photos myself.  Braidi's boyfriend, Cristian, came along to make her feel less nervous and to carry all of the stuff we needed.
Braidi isn't used to being photographed in a modely situation so she was a little nervous, but she didn't need to be.  She did just great. Cristian was doing everything he could to make her laugh, including putting a tutu on his head, which I wish I would have taken a picture of just in case I ever need to black mail him. I told her I wanted her to look natural and I think the best shots happened when she was either laughing at Cristian or trying not to laugh at him because she wasn't thinking about the camera.
Braidi trying not to laugh at Cristian

We photographed four tutus yesterday in various locations in my subdivision.  I'm lucky that I live in a place where there is both interesting architecture and plenty of beautiful landscapes.  We have towering evergreens, lots of groves of trees, views of the lake, and several ponds to choose from.  There is an old barn on my neighbor's property I think I would like to use someday and my own house is a French Chateau style so there are some interesting features to use at home as well. I'm always thinking about how the setting  can enhance my designs and help tell the story of my tutu's inspiration and where girls could wear them.
I'm also always looking for tips on amateur photography.   I love taking pictures and I have a pretty good camera but I also always worry that things aren't going to be quite the quality I hoped for.  There were a few shots yesterday were the shadow was in the shot.  If I had a professional photographer or some lighting, I could have avoided this.  I also had to constantly think about whether or not Braidi was going to be looking into the sun.  I didn't want her squinting.  Sometimes this meant changing locations, which wasn't ideal, but we made it work.
Overall, I'm really happy with how the photo shoot went and with how the pictures turned out. I think we did a pretty good job of showing off the tutus and leaving the impression that, even though these designs are inspired by specific themes, they are not costumes and you don't have to be going to a party or dressing up as someone to make them work in your life. They are gorgeous, flirty, fabulous,  and perhaps most of all, they are a whole lot of fun to wear.  I don't think there should be an age limit on wearing something fun that makes you happy!
As much as I love using my own daughters in my photo shoots, it was really nice to use someone else. My children tend to be uncooperative in these types of situations and Braidi was anything but. Of course, she's a lot older and that probably makes a huge difference, but I am also not her mother!  I would definitely like to find some other models in my area that would be willing to model my tutus.  And by models, again, I mean people who will wear them and stand in the location I ask them to and attempt to pose how I envision they should--not actual professional models. While that would be nice, the tutu business is not that profitable!

I like to use nature in my photographs and models that aren't "modely."
I hope this provided some insight into both the creative process I go through in designing and creating my tutus and into the process of taking the photos I use to market, advertise, and sell my products.  I would love to know the process other's use! If you are a designer, crafter, photographer, or model, please leave a comment! I'm sure we'd all like to hear your perspective!


  1. Cute! I like it! I read that you wanted to make the model to look more natural but maybe you should consider who your customer is. I can see a gothic or emo teen/preteen wearing this. Or teenagers that like to dress up like dolls. So maybe if you added some eyeliner and dark lipstick it would visually help hint at your zombie theme while still looking pretty normal. And your photos are great! I would suggest shooting the columns at a different perspective, so you'd be standing in front of the column not by the side of the building, if that makes any sense. But I love what you have so far! My niece in Texas has one of your tutus! She is so cute! I'll message you a photo on etsy :)

    Btw I just made a website for my shop could I get your critics? :)

  2. Hi Ada! Thank you for the tips! You're probably right about the make-up. I will have to try that next time. Will try the perspectives you suggested as well.
    I will go check out your website! How exciting. Your niece is adorable!!
    Thank you,

  3. You have a beautiful website full of color and life. Stopping by from Bloggy Moms.


  4. Thank you, Alethea! Thank you for stopping by!!