The philosophy behind the "trash the dress/say yes to the mess" photography is about taking an elegant gown and putting it in a completely contrasting environment- such as the beach, in order to ruin the dress. It is a work of art on it's own. You take a white (-ish) wedding dress and literally drag it through the mud/sand/sea and are able to capture photos of the bride that can be striking, beautiful, and provoke thought. There are a lot of people who disagree with this relatively new practice but I, for one, think it is amazing. Brides pay upwards of thousands of dollars for a dress they may wear for a few hours. There is something deliciously exciting about destroying the perfection of the dress and documenting the transformation. Trash the dress/rock the frock/say yes to the mess is not a negative concept, but rather an anti-materialistic display of metamorphosis.
For Mikaela, my "bride" (and dear friend) shown here, this was a personal journey about literally shedding a skin and moving on. This dress wasn't worn down the aisle, it never made it there since the wedding was called off. Ironically, she reached out to me years ago to photograph her wedding and instead I ended up shooting her "trash the dress." The dress traveled with her from New York to Charleston, and spent time between her closet and the trunk of her car. To her, there was really no other way to handle the dress. It became this heavy symbol of the past, something that should be set free. Of course, you can donate it or have it made into something else, but it seems wrong to pass on that kind of energy. We collaborated to do something that was artistic, representative of Mikaela, and transformative all at once.
After a few weeks of some crazy southern summer storms, the skies took a rest to reveal burning pinks, purples, and reds along with rolling clouds that served as our backdrop on Sullivan's Island. The beach was windy and the water was warm. It was perfection.
For those who may be critical of this choice, Mikaela also made a donation to the Keeper of the Wild Fund in the amount of the value of the dress. A few months ago she lost her Newfoundland, Will E. Wonka to Wobbler Syndrome and Wild and Free is the foundation dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals.
So call me if you want to have fun with that wedding dress just hanging in your closet. For Mikaela and myself it was all glitter, paint, sand, and salt water. In the words of one of her favorite quotes:
"At the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair should be messy, and your eyes sparkling" -Shanti
Trash the Dress ~ Rock the Frock ~ Say Yes to the Mess | Sullivan's Island | August 2014