If you haven't seen Midsommar I highly suggest you do so now before looking through these images. I FINALLY got to watch it back in October and it's one of my favorite horror films I've ever seen. I'm normally pretty good at predicting the outcomes of movies, but really failed when it came to this one. It's full of so many twists and turns that it keeps you on the edge the entire movie. Not to mention how beautifully it was shot and edited. That's why I was thrilled when I first saw this set of images from Mitch and Savanna. I knew it would be a perfect addition to all things creative and out there for this blog. Make sure to read through what they had to say about the shoot as well!
Flowers: Ruby Moon Flower Farm | Cake: Sassie Cakes
What was your inspiration for setting up this shoot?
Our main inspirations behind the shoot were a few things. From a thematic perspective, the first was the contrast between love and horror. They're two things that seemingly have absolutely no place together, but the juxtaposition of the two was something that really intrigued us. The movie actually offers this juxtaposition innately: one minute this community is comforting the main character, helping her through the darkest time of her life and offering her nothing but love and compassion, and then next those exact same people are doing something so horrible that you can't unsee, and you can't quite decide which side you're on. That was really fascinating on its own.
From an artistic perspective, our other main inspiration was the contrast between light and dark. As wedding photographers, we see ourselves as more of the dark & moody, documentary-style vein, but this shoot forced us to throw all of that aside. Instead, we were challenged to shoot during the brightest hours of a very hot August day. Clear blue skies, bright rainbow colors -- all things we normally vehemently avoid.
In fact, that might just be one of the most interesting and horrific things about Midsommar at all: it's a horror movie taking place during day time. One of the horror genre tropes is that monsters aren't supposed to be able to come out during the day, but in Midsommar there is only daylight. It's a bright, pastel, technicolor dreamland of horror, and we really loved that.
How were you able to put together this styled shoot so seamlessly?
A lot of what made the whole production look like it did was the planning and collaboration with the other vendors. It was actually kind of difficult because none of the people besides us had actually seen the movie. It was really a lot of back and forth texting and calling Kari, the florist and the owner of the property that we shot on. It wouldn't have looked like anything without her help. Savanna made the bridal skirt herself, and did all the makeup and hair. She even had to sew Sarah into the skirt and was finishing it seconds before we started shooting. All of the wooden elements - the altarpiece, maypole, table, and benches - we made ourselves a few weeks beforehand. We had to take them all apart and reassemble them when we got to Kari's farm. It was quite a lot of work actually. The day of the actual shoot, a cow kept trying to eat the floral arrangement that was put on the altar, and it ended up falling over a few times.
What techniques did you use that were out of the norm?
The thing that we wanted to make sure that we got was a really bright sunny day with very little cloud coverage. This is the complete opposite of what we usually strive for in our shoots and what we try to recommend to couples to avoid if they're having their ceremony out in the open. Honestly we've been embracing whatever light we're given recently, and we feel like it's really given a lot of life to our work of late. Also in post production we tried to emulate the color grading of the film instead of working with our usual home made presets. We did a ton of research on the movie, the production and how the director of photography handled shooting in those light conditions. It's funny, obviously our production was a lot less intense than the making of the actual movie, but the struggles that the production crew had filming the movie were often mirrored in this styled shoot.
Do you have any advice for other photographers or couples that want to do this type of shoot?
We would say that planning and a lot of communication with the other vendors and artists that you are working with is really important. You really want to make sure you have vendors who are on the same page as you, which even though no one else had seen the movie we felt like they did a great job with their parts of the production. But for others reading this, really take the time to find the vendors who are right for your project. Don't try to throw a shoot together if things aren't quite right, as it'll be on your shoulders in the end. But we'd say that our biggest learning experience was to not do everything yourselves. We spent several months preparing for this shoot -- making the dress, planning the hair, hand-crafting all of the wood props, assembling the other outfits, planning for hair and makeup, etc. And while we were somehow able to pull it all off, it would have been so much better if we could have just focused on the photography controlled the shoot from more of a producer standpoint. We made a promise to ourselves afterward that we would never have a styled shoot again unless we had vendors secured for every other job other than our own.
Anything else you'd like to add about the session?
The last thing we guess we'll add is that we actually completed this shoot earlier this August, and had sent it out to a few blogs only to have it rejected as "just another bright and airy shoot" since the people curating it didn't like horror and didn't understand what we were doing. And then we decided to post it on a whim at the end of December, and it ended up getting better reception than a lot of things we've been posting recently. So kind of a note to everyone: don't give up just because a couple people don't understand. If you did the work, just do the damn thing.