Story Behind: Tinker Bell

Believe it or not there is a softer side to my studio and my madness.  It’s not all horror, goth and macabre.  Something you may not know about me though is that I am a Disney fanatic.  I’ve been one since I watched my first Disney movie when I was a young child.  I may have grown up but the way I view Disney’s work has evolved.

It’s not about the cute stories but how magical it is to do the work he did and bring it to life to create timeless classics.  As a child you see a beautiful princess looking to make her dream come true but as an adult you see the same thing but appreciate the struggle and the story behind her.  You see that in every movie Disney lives that dream and brings it to life for everyone to enjoy.

For this particular shoot I was looking to accomplish something different; I wanted a real challenge.  My wife works for a child care center and looking at her class photo I saw a young girl who looked just like Tinker Bell.  It was at that moment I knew what I wanted to create and with who; but how do I challenge myself?

The challenge came in the form of the script.  Sure it was a still photo, all the model has to do is sit there and take direction as that is what models do.  Well in this case the model was just turning 4 years old and would have absolutely no props at all to interact with.  She would have to listen to my direction and hold still for these photographs without having the ability to see what I can see.

To better educate myself I went out and bought Peter Pan.  I wanted to capture the feel of her personality.  I wanted to find scenes that I could shoot with my model and create my Tinker Bell series around.

After I watched the movie several times I had a good idea of the shoots I wanted to do.  I wanted the photo of Tinker Bell trying to get out of the drawer using a needle.  I wanted her coming out of the key hole, I wanted her checking her look in the mirror on the dresser, I wanted Tinker Bell banned from Neverland and I wanted her trapped in Hook’s lantern.

Prior to watching the movie, which I had only seen as a child, and only seeing the Tinker Bell movies where she stars I realized that I had Tinker Bell completely wrong.  Tinker Bell wasn’t this cute little loving fairy as she seemed.  In Peter Pan she was ruthless.  She had a crush on Peter Pan, she was extremely jealous and tried killing Wendy and the Lost Boys.

The first thing that came to my mind was there was no way a four-year old could ever match that kind of emotion because they don’t understand it.  Tinker Bell should have been played by a young adult (15 to 24) but I promised this little girl the part and I wasn’t going to give up.

Shooting the photos was not easy.  She was very excited about doing the photos and therefore like most four-year old’s became very anxious which made it hard for her to sit still.  She wanted cookies and ice cream and all other kinds of sweets throughout the shoot.  The hardest was the photo of Tinker Bell using the needle to try to get out of the drawer because she had nothing to hold onto and the pose was critical with her hand placement.

By the end of the shoot her mother was very frustrated.  She apologized for it being so difficult but I insured her it was perfectly OK and I was confident that all the photos would be fine.

I was right!  The photos came out great and the more she got annoyed or excited doing the shoot the more the personality of Tinker Bell came to life.  She actually did a spectacular job with the hardest photo and what we got in the end was a series that has had people sitting in awe over.

My favorite in the series is “Tinker Bell Caught by Hook” which is the photo you see here in the article.  For the rest of the series visit the gallery “Dreams, Nightmares, Fears and Fantasy” volume 3

  Jason Dowd  /    February 9, 2015  /   Jason's Journal  /   0 Comments
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