A dryad is a nymph that inhabits a forest or a tree in Greek mythology. They exist to watch over and care for the tree they are born with and their fate is tied to it.
The idea for the ‘Dryads’ came to life one warm summer afternoon. I was floating on my back at the center of this very lagoon when I started to daydream. I looked up at the tree that had to be at least a hundred years old, looming over the entire area as if it was protecting it. The branches created its own haven and I wondered what kind of magical beings would thrive in that sort of place. I decided on a group of sisters who were born from that grand tree and how they might watch over this place and how it was their duty to protect it.
For the rest of the summer thoughts about this shoot came and went. I hoped to get a group together someday, maybe next summer and scribbled the ideas down in my notebook. Group adventures like this are difficult to do if I am being honest. Organizing schedules, getting dresses to fit and colors to match sucks the life out of my bones. Usually, by the end of just prepping alone, I don’t have enough creative energy when it comes time to shoot. The focus is so much on the preparations, the final result never meets what I had pictured in my mind from the very beginning.
Come August, the world seems to be launching itself forward into a frenzy that slow until January. A few days before I went back to work, the weather was already teasing cooler temperatures. So I tricked myself one morning and planned it right then, sending one text I could not take back. After landing a date and sending out a few more mass messages, it was set. I didn’t have much time to over think things, and somehow I liked it better that way.
What I love most about group shoots is how it can bring different friend worlds together. These are friends I love dearly, who might never meet one another. One from college, one from high school, two more from a creative community across the area. Seeing them interact with each other is always such a wonderful, funny situation. They always cackle like they were already friends and get along so well, I never have to worry. It makes my heart so dance and I hop around like a happy crab before we even get to shooting. It makes me realize how I am so influenced by those who I surround myself with. Each of these women would do so much for me, they’re always encouraging and loving and more than willing to climb trees and float on their backs in dresses. The whole hike I couldn’t help but think how thankful I am to call these kinds of souls my friends.
Because this shoot was practically planned in a week, gathering everything was on the most simple side. I spent the very morning choosing dress after dress from my collection, slinging things that were lacy and whimsy on my arms. I knew I needed to be able to have a large selection to choose from just to see what looked best beside each other. That is what took the longest! A dress would fit someone perfectly and I would love it, but once put it in a group it didn’t look as good. The crowns came from the giant honeysuckle bush that I grow specially on the back porch for these kinds of things. I took a spring a few years ago and now the porch is consumed by it! A good problem in my opinion. I cut a few thicker vines and secured them together with a thinner wire.
Although I was feeling pretty sick during most of the shoot and was out for a week after it, I had the most joyous time. The next morning there was a mountain of dresses in my room, twigs still in my hair and dirt still on my feet. I thought to myself, ‘I could do this every day. I could and die a happy person at the end of my life’. There’s always the one kick we artists need, that one shoot that pulls us up by our collars and gets us back on our feet. I plan to keep this shoot in my back pocket, it’ll get me through the dark winter months and last me to spring.
There were a couple of times I even forgot why we were really there and my camera stays strapped over my shoulder. Little moments when it feels like we’ve just decided to dress up and run around in the woods for fun. Even at its end, when I am physically exhausting and can’t move much the next day. The creative part and heart of me is so full it feels like its bursting. I’ve decided to try and do some kind of group adventure every year. It might be simple or a little more elaborate but I’d like to keep bringing groups like this together and making all kinds of memories.
Another little glimpse at the day of the dryads:
A special thank you to Jillianna for tagging along with us and capturing some BTS video. To CBC for letting my dress collection explode all over their room and for the wonderful group: Julia, Kelsey, Eliza and Hannah for braving that cold water and being the wonderful friends that you are to me.