The girl in the red dress
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Have you ever packed a floor length dress into your rucksack when preparing for a camping trip? I'm guessing not. It might seem weird, but along with my camera and tripod, a long dress is an essential element of my adventure photography gear. I've had a few "self-portrait dresses" over the years, but since buying this gorgeous red dress on Depop for £15, it has definitely become my favourite.
I started taking self-portraits regularly in 2014, while I was completing a 365 project (in which I successfully managed to take one artistic photograph every day for a year!). When shooting self-portraits, I play both photographer and model. My camera is set up on a tripod and takes a photo every few seconds while I get into position, do a few poses and then run back to turn it off. Often getting the perfect image requires repeating these steps a few times, usually resulting in hundreds of images to weed through back at home.
My self-portraits from that first year were often of me, wearing a skirt or dress, in one of the forests near my house. These shoots gave me the opportunity to explore my local area and spend time surrounded by nature.
Since these first shoots, I have enjoyed experimenting more with self-portraiture, finding different styles and exploring new locations. Yet many of my favourite shoots are in essence very similar to those early shoots from six years ago.
Me. In a dress. Surrounded by nature.
Since arriving back in Devon in August, Brett and I have been lucky enough to visit some stunning places on our adventures. I've gotten changed from hiking clothes into dresses in forests and on beaches. I've walked barefoot through freezing mud, scrambled over rocks at the edge of a river and waded through streams. Sometimes we're alone as I set up my tripod and compose the image, but other times there are people around - likely thinking I'm insane for standing about, barefoot, in the cold, wearing nothing but a summer dress.
The red dress series I'm working on now (very much inspired by Elizabeth Gadd's "Icelandic Red Dress Series") contains some of my favourite self-portraits to date. I love how I can put my own unique spin on a location photographed by thousands of others. I love how the red dress stands out against the autumnal colours. Mostly, I love how connected I feel to Mother Nature when I'm shooting - maybe it's embracing the cold or walking barefoot through the soil, but in these moments, I feel a deep connection to the natural world.
I have absolutely loved the opportunity to explore more of Devon over the last few months and I'm excited to see what else I'll be able to create with a red dress stuffed into my backpack on future adventures.
Behind the scenes
Last Christmas, my parents and I visited the Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands. After visiting the Kröller-Müller Museum, we went for a walk around the park and I changed into a white dress for some self-portraits. It always feels a little weird shooting with spectators, but my mum managed to capture some behind the scenes shots which give a little insight into my photographic process. I've also posted some behind the scenes reels on Instagram if you're interested in seeing the lengths I'll go to to get the perfect self-portrait.
A few more self-portraits from adventures...
If you like these photos, feel free to check out my photography account: @veronique_photography on Instagram to follow along.