Did I say in my last post (a week ago) that I would share this post “tomorrow”? Silly me. Little Red Riding Hood’s Mother has been super busy taking care of Granny and hasn’t had too much time for blogging…
First of all, I am so thrilled with your feedback from our Little Red Riding Hood “storybook”. Thank you for all the encouragement and kind words and ‘likes’ and shares…I’m a lifetime fan of compliments, which is probably why I run a blog that shares posts about every 5 minutes or so.
And if you’ll indulge me for a bit, I’d love to share a little about the day we had this “photo shoot”.
When I have big ideas, I get all atwitter, but if I’m not careful, my excitement can turn into tension, especially if the idea I had is not translated into real life with all of its spontaneity and childish behavior and, sometimes, weather complications (welcome to Oklahoma!).
And the Thursday of our scheduled shoot, as I was ironing dresses, and pulling props from all the nooks of our house, and sweeping the shed, and willing the children to take good naps, I could feel that tension hovering in the distance, enticing me to leap in and see my joy obliterated.
I desperately wanted to refrain from taking that leap.
So, silly as it sounds, I took a moment to pray. It went something like this…
“God, I know there are people starving somewhere in the world today, and that it is of little consequence whether or not we successfully capture the story of Little Red Riding Hood. But I DO want to glorify you today, so please…please…let this be fun for everyone. Let Ben get good photography practice, and let the kids enjoy themselves, and help me to relax and keep things in perspective…(and if this doesn’t work I will try not to throw myself in a lake). Amen.”
And it was amazing. My prayer was answered so graciously, and about 45 minutes after Ben arrived at our house, our entire storybook had been acted out and captured with no crying, no stress, and no whispered threats on my end. I think that was definitely the favorite part of my day. I had fun! The kids obviously had a blast. And Betsie…oh, Betsie. Who knew that my unpredictable little whirlwind would play the part of Granny like a pro?! I still haven’t stopped kissing her for it.
So, as thrilled as I am that the finished product turned out how I had envisioned it, I am even happier that our day was memorable and laidback and that, at the end of it, I had no regrets for acting like a b-hole. Thank you, God, for hearing even the silliest prayers of your silliest children.
Moving on, some of you have mentioned that you might try making your own storybook – I hope you do! And because I love you, I would like to humbly offer a little advice to help your project run smoothly…
1. Photography has become so accessible in our culture, and there are usually amateur or budding photographers in every community. When I heard Ben mention that he would like to add to his portfolio and was eager to practice, I nearly tackled him and said “What day can you come?!” And photographers who are just growing their business are usually very reasonable in their prices. All that to say, the thought of having a real photographer with a real camera capture your “storybook” for you isn’t nearly as far-fetched as it might have been even 5 years ago. And supporting your local photographers is a win-win, for they grow in expertise while you receive a finished product that is both affordable and WAY better than anything you could do on your own.
2. Go outside! Even with your own point-and-shoot camera, outdoor lighting (especially on overcast days) is the best and will do wonders for…well, everything.
3. In my opinion, the more homespun your costumes and set are, the more authentic your storybook will be. Thus, we didn’t purchase much for this project – Granny’s “room” was pieced together from all the stuff in my house that looks like it belongs to a little old lady (I’m an old soul…) and most of our costumes were pulled straight out of our closets. In fact, the only things I bought this year for our Halloween “theme” were…
- Gideon’s fur booties and wristlets (he got the hat last Christmas), both purchased from Restoration Hardware during their 20% off sale. Click here to see their collection of faux fur gifts. Very warm and very “cool”, these would make great Christmas gifts.
- The little lace mobcap that the Wolf wore came from Amazon (click here).
- And Ben’s amazing wife, Leslie (who also edited the photos like a champ!), made Rebekah’s cape for me – and a wonderful job she did!.
4. I like 2-for-1’s…shampoo+conditioner, Swiffer Sweepers, turducken…and so I recommend photographing your storybook around the time of Halloween. By the night of October 31st, we had already taken all of these pictures in our costumes, and I wasn’t worried about them getting dirty, resulting in the most laidback Halloween we’ve had yet. I even thought, “Meh. I might not even dress up tonight…” (But you know I did).
5. Conduct your “photo shoot” after nap time and have supper waiting on the stove as a reward to your cast and crew. It felt rather like a cast party as we all sat around the table and talked about our storybook adventure and slurped up bowls and bowls of potato soup.
6. Speaking of food, have a few snacks hidden amongst your props in case you need to resort to bribery or distractions for your little actors and actresses.
7. And most importantly, be prepared and ready for showtime. When Ben arrived at our house, we were dressed, every scene was set up, and I had a detailed list of every shot I could possibly need to properly tell our story. I had also thoroughly gone over that list with Mr. Gore so he could “be in my head”, and help Ben know what to do should I have to tend to the children or run back to the house for props. Children don’t do well when adults stand around and discuss what to do next, and so we did everything we could to have none of that.
8. After you make your list of needed shots, go back and schedule them in the best possible order. For example, we did the scenes of me and Rebekah first, followed by our group pictures, so I could run back into the house and change into comfortable clothes, leaving me free to help Ben with whatever he needed. Betsie (the loose cannon), was next, before being buckled into her wagon with a box of raisins and some fruit snacks. And then we filled in the middle parts. I am positive that if we hadn’t had this planned out in detail, our day would have been a disaster.
9. One last thing. If you are using a 1-year old as one of your main characters, do not put her in place or put on the final details of her costume until you are truly ready to take your shots. Ben was in place with his camera ready before we sat “Granny” on her bed. We handed her a handkerchief to keep her hands busy, perched her glasses quickly on her nose and then we all stood behind Ben clapping and jumping around like idiots to keep her from fleeing the scene or yanking her hat and glasses off. And what do you know? Heavens to Betsie, it actually worked.
And now, for your further entertainment…
~ Outtakes and deleted scenes ~
We’re so used to looking AT the camera…
One oversight: I forgot to clean all the junk up out of our yard. I am quite sure that Little Red Riding Hood’s mother did not have a big, ugly, green waterhose next to her little cottage house, and had certainly never even heard of a Spiderman bicycle or a Radio Flyer tricycle.
In many shots, our “Wolf” was less than vicious…
and had a little bit of trouble with freeze-frame “running”.
And I can’t get enough of the Granny pictures. Dressing my baby up like an old lady was one of the best parenting moves I’ve ever made.
A few times, my “actors” took dramatic liberties.
For example, the script does not call for Red Riding Hood to hand Granny the flowers that were already sitting on her bedside table (but that’s a great “sick Granny” face, Gid the Kid!)…
and the Wolf is supposed to be afraid of the Woodsman, not bite him!
A few times, near the end, we had sheer chaos on the set…
but Ben caught some awesome photographs, nonetheless. This one looks like a new twist on “American Gothic” and might have to go on my wall…
Again, thank you, dear readers, for taking a trip with us into the land of fairy tales and make-believe. Oh, to stay there forever…
and if you do happen to make your own storybook someday, please come back and let me know. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
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