'Trash the dress' photo shoot gets models down and dirty Naples Daily News
But Saturday, 36 photographers and 16 models got together on the grounds at Unity of Naples Church in East Naples for a "Trash the Dress" photo shoot, and the mud and the models met.
Each of the models was set up at a "station" on the church grounds, along the lake shore, under the gazebo, or in the woods along Unity's meditation walk. It made for a somewhat surreal experience, to stroll through the thick vegetation and, every 50 feet or so, encounter another gorgeous girl dressed for the altar.
The "brides," plus additional models wearing long prom dresses rather than wedding gowns, remained at their stations, while the photographers rotated around the area, to be able to capture shots of each. Photographers paid $50 for the session; the models weren't paid monetarily, but received photos from each shooter to help build their portfolios.
The photographers, also, were looking to bulk up their books. "I'm building my portfolio," said Tim Gibbons. "I'm trying to break into the wedding scene again. This is a great opportunity - to have 16 brides in one day."
The event was organized by Peggy Farren of the Naples Photography Meetup Group, which brings together local photographers to compare notes, share techniques, and interact with other like-minded shooters.
For the first hour or so, the photo shoots proceeded normally, with each photographer capturing typical bridal glamour shots. The girls stood, looking stunning, while the shooters fiddled with their cameras, adjusted their umbrella lights and soft boxes, and called out directions to the models.
"Now look straight at me - lift your head - fabulous," said photographer Mary Lina Ives to model Christina Kraus.
Photographer Amanda Rattigan, also shooting Kraus, owns a photography business in Naples. Many of the photographers at the event work full or part-time as photographers, and tens of thousands of dollars worth of photographic equipment was in use or sitting around on the ground. As usual, the shooters split roughly evenly between Nikon and Canon as the cameras of choice.
Organizer Farren buzzed throughout the dispersed shooting area, announcing when it was time to rotate, never losing her smile despite the danger of melting in the intense, muggy heat.
In the second hour, the proceedings took a turn for the weird. The models quit protecting their dresses, veils, and trains from bits of tree bark or pine needles, and started to get down and dirty.
In the garden at Unity, Nicole Ambrosino lay down on the ground for photos, long white train and all. Shoshone Mercier waded into the lake, and started pulling up handfuls of muck. Out along the meditation walk, Victoria Rugen and Nicole Kazeva found a pool of water like a large puddle, arranged their white gowns around them, and sat down in the tea-colored water.
Soon the two were splashing each other and flinging mud and pine needles back and forth. This was the "trash" portion of "Trash the Dress."
The concept has been around for five years, said Farren, and has gained momentum recently. "Photographers always want to do something different and weird," she said, "anything to come up with some original shots."
Some actual brides do "trash the dress" sessions as part of their wedding, said Farren, paying from $100 to $500 for the additional shoot. Farren went around to thrift stores for the dresses for Saturday's shoot, with none of the dresses costing more than $10.
Several of the models participating brought their own gown, wearing the dress they were married in. "I don't think my daughter will ever wear it," said Meighan Harris. "If you're going to do it, do it all the way."
Like several of the models, she is herself a photographer, a serious amateur specializing in "kids, newborns, and maternity" shots. "It's fun being on the other side of the camera," she said.
For the finale, eight of the boldest - and dirtiest - models posed for a group portrait standing in the shallows at the edge of the lake, varying degrees of mud decorating their dresses. The discovery of a large bug in the water caused a mad dash to the shore, and the official shoot came to a close. But models and photographers have a natural attraction for each other, and all over the grounds, the cameras kept snapping "just one more."