When you think of a wedding, dark and moody is not what automatically comes to mind. Rightfully so. However, the light and airy editing I started my wedding photography with has begun to feel dated. Lately, my editing style has begun to reflect the pull towards what is now referred to as Dark and Moody Wedding Photography. Perhaps Dark and Moody wedding photography is not the right adjective – How about “dramatic” and “romantic” instead? The dramatic contrast of light and shadow has always been present in my most favorite photos and I usually try to incorporate this mood in at least a couple photos of every wedding I shoot. However, when I recently connected with the makeup artist, Cassandra Saulter, we decided to collaborate on a styled shoot at a local abandoned castle and I knew I could explore some Dark and Moody portraits there. Window light is my favorite light and can be very moody. The way window light illuminates the skin and provides deep shadows is gorgeous and the type of light I have sought since I first started photography. I figured abandoned castle window light would be dreamy and it did not disappoint.
I have shot at this abandoned location before. My daughters went on school trips there and when I was commisioned to photograph the Hudson Highlands for the book. “Connecting: Celebrating the People and Places of the Hudson Highlands”, the castle was also on my list of places to shoot and I was allowed access. My intent then was a landscape of the Hudson Highlands from the porch and take in the fall foliage. It was Halloween actually and it turned out to be a very foggy day. I explored the castle alone for a couple hours hoping the fog would lift so I could get my shot. It never did. Instead, I wandered around the exterior and shot some photos of the lovely staircase which ended up in the book. It was a wonderfully eerily wandering around the castle for hours all on a foggy Haloween day. I will never forget it. Visting the castle and especially photographing there is a privilege. I respect the space and the caretakers time. However, I would not suggest showing up to the Castle without prior permission or else you will be greeted by the caretaker and his shot gun.
It was so much fun to collaborate with Cassandra. She is full of creative energy. Cassandra does makeup for film and also paints. She is also a repurposing artist who uses recycles materials in her creations. She especially enjoys repurposing fur. For this shoot, not only did she create the makeup, but she also designed the dresses out of previously claimed clothing. In fact, one of the skirts came from my very own wedding dress. Cassandra and I met recently through a mutual friend and the owner of the local favorite, Riverview Restaurant in Cold Spring. He insisted that we would enjoy each other company and help each other out. Boy, was he right. I had been looking for a studio space for a bit and Cassandra found me the most perfect spot, and we are now studio mates.
Cassandra originally had a couple of models in mind for this shoot but it was hard to coordinate with everyone’s schedule and a few days before we found ourselves without any models. I called the two women last minute and they agreed. One of the women is a bridal client who’s wedding I am shooting this year. The other a local friend’s daughter. Both are gorgeous. It was so much fun working with everyone in such an ideal location to further explore Dark and Moody Wedding Photography. They kept laughing at me as I screamed, “Oh My gosh”, as we rounded another corner of the castle to only find yet more gorgeous light. “Oh my gosh”, is not actually what I said but I am sure you can use your imagination.
Flowers by: Now In Bloom, Cold Spring, NY
You can check out more of Cassandra Saulter’s incredible work using the below links: