The Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress

January 10, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress


Sometimes in life we have to leave that space know as a comfort zone, walk through all that is familiar, leave behind that which feels safe and challenge ourselves to do the things which scare us and force us to grow.

My chance to do this was on the 8th June 2019.
A notification from Facebook popped up on my phone from a group I am a member of, the UKBFTOG's (UK's Black Female Photographer's Community).
The award winning and extremely talented photographer Tianna Jarrett-Williams (IG: @tiannajwilliamsphotography) was putting forward a proposition. She had heard about a 'travelling dress project' that different groups of female photographers had challenged themselves to shoot in their own individual styles. Each photographer had a week with the dress to get creative and once they had all shot the dress they published their results.
She challenged us as a group to give it a go and it seemed like such a great opportunity, so without any hesitation I signed-up.


Without any hesitation.... 

I got totally sucked into the excitement of the whole project.

10 of us signed up.

  • There would be one dress 
  • one week to shoot and get the the dress to the next photographer
  • then one big reveal of all our efforts...

it sounded like just what I needed. For the first time since I could remember I was going to schedule time into my busy diary to do something creative for me.

The ideas kept flowing and the ladies in the group were full of fantastic suggestions about how to get started.

The decision was made to get a dress made rather than buying one. Before I knew it we'd all decided on some beautiful vibrantly coloured Ankara fabric and London based designer and seamstress Thea Ayayi (IG: @houseoftendai) was tasked with bringing all our ideas to life.

In no time at all a message was sent through informing us that the dress was ready.
It was then that something changed. The project became real.
There was a buzz in the group but some of us became strangely quiet. The other ladies I'm sure will share how they were feeling in their blogs, but as for me... I was extremely nervous. 

There were quite a few photographers before me so I had time to plan. That was all I needed, a plan.


A plan...

On holiday in Spain I turned to pen a paper to start trying to figure out how I was going to capture this beautiful garment. I wanted to take a step away from what I was used to a try something different.

Take a look for yourself at some of my scribbles...

With all these ideas it finally came to me. Our 'dress' was more like a cloak. A red cloak which reminded me of the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

That was it!!!
I wanted to somehow retell parts of the story using only photographs. That was the final plan...


The final plan...

The adult sized cloak would be placed on a child.

It would look too big but the cloak would represent protection. A young girl walking through the woods alone... she need's protecting.

To give the story a modern day twist, instead of a wolf I wanted a man dressed in dark colours lingering in the back of the shots.

I wanted to portray innocence, naivety and danger using everything else present in the shot.
The beautiful red cloak would be the protection, the security, the hero of the shot.

I was chuffed, I thought my plan was brilliant... until a parcel arrives on my doorstep.


A parcel arrives on my doorstep...

Yes you guessed it. The dress had arrived and I was not prepared.
No model lined up, no shoot dates scheduled, no props, no confidence, it's was bad!

I hung the dress up on my wardrobe door and every morning I woke up and just sighed. Something inside had given up and I decided I would just pass the dress onto the next photographer and pull out of the project.

One evening my husband suggested we just go and give it a try, so with my 13 year old daughter and 3 year old son, a camera, the dress and an already deflated spirit, we jumped in the car and drove to the woods.


The woods...

Let's just say I tried but didn't succeed. 
I couldn't get what was in my head to translate to an image in my camera.

It just wasn't working for me so I changed tactics and just decided to take some shots of my naturally beautiful daughter amongst the beauty of nature.

There is so much more to the story but if you want to know more feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]


Once my shoot was over I decided to use what I had captured and not plan a re-shoot.

The dress was passed onto Mellz Photography LTD (a portrait and wedding photographer based in Kent) to continue the dresses journey. 

Here are some of my images, I hope you enjoy and are inspired to leave your comfort zone and try something new this year.







The travelling dress presented different opportunities and challenges to all 10 photographers involved. Check out Tianna's blog to find out how the person who gave birth to the idea planned and executed her project. 

Before I go, I must give a huge shout out to all the other photographers that were part of this amazing project:

Tianna J Williams Photography

Mellz Photography

LA Creativity

Lensi Photography

Pause Push Click

Urban Bridesmaids

Jullietta Arden Taylor Photography

Toyin Photography

Pataki Photos

and a special shout out to our extremely talented seamstress Thea Ayayi 

Ladies you are all AMAZING!!!



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