Portrait / Shoot

Little Red

Just as Little Red Riding Hood entered the wood, a wolf met her.
Red Riding Hood did not know what a wicked creature he was, and was not at all afraid of him.

Little Redcap, Brothers Grimm

This post has been long overdue. I shot these photographs last summer and they are some of the best that I have had the fortune to capture.

Little Red was based on the fairy tale, and literary criticism written on Little Red Riding Hood and I was able to explore the theoretical side of fairy tales with fellow writer, and client/model, Kayleigh Dray. I was thrilled to be able to marry my love for literature and writing with photography. A dream job.

The shoot takes the idea of social perception of men and women’s interactions (including the Maddonna/Whore complex), the relationship between the truth and perception and the idea of the onlooker, the voyeur: who is watching the couple, these photographs…? The themes are quite sensitive and even I found the photographs a little disconcerting on revisiting them, but it was wonderful to work on something challenging.

We took the Grimm’s version of Little Red Riding Hood and the widely spread “discovery” of the similar, but more gruesome, tales that came before the standardized versions that state a carnal relationship between Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf/woodcutter. From these we began to explore the ambiguity of interpretations and how the story of the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood could be a beautiful love story tainted by the judging eyes of civilisation (there is a lot of punishment for the girl in scarlet who talks to the predator in the forest in the Grimm version) or it could be a story of rape and violence. Or, more interestingly both, a love story portrayed afterwards by Little Red to be a rape because she was ashamed of her lust.

Translating the ideas into photographs was really rewarding and I loved playing with the light in the wood, which sometimes fell like spotlights in a very unnatural way. I used the surroundings to divide civilisation and the wild and the suspended picnic objects to create the chaos when society’s eyes discover the lone couple in the woods. Facial expressions were key: look of lovers and lust the moment before anything concrete happens and someone can be blamed, stained and then horror the second after. Also a while was spent perfecting the look of sexual ecstasy on Red’s face that also could be helplessness and represents the internal struggle between Little Red’s lust and and duty to propriety. We used placement quite dramatically to portray the physical actions of a narrative but with the sense that there is always someone watching; the voyeur, society, conscience.  The photographs leave the viewer to decide, and be led by, what they can see and then conclude their own judgement or lack of it.

It was a great team with Kayleigh and Antonio Pisanó as our wolf. I could not have asked for better. Intelligent duo.

Kayleigh had already written a brilliant set of poems on the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and she added to these after our shoot which I thought was magical. I will include extracts here along side the photographs. Really beautiful and exciting to work with her and her words.

So these photographs. Beautiful but thoughtful: something I always strive for. I think I’m closer to that with Little Red.

Photographer Diana Patient
Performers Kayleigh Dray as Little Red and Antonio Pisanó as the Wolf
Extracts from BIG BAD CANIS LUPIS by Kayleigh Dray

Them, looking
Young. So young. In flowers in bud and in bloom
and blossoming in the dappled sun and
he knew. He knew she was
the one.

They were lovers amongst the flowers, young
lovers with nothing to care about. No eyes, no sevenTeen
eyes watching and looking and staring.

Just them. Just the trees. Just the birds and the bees
and the bread, freshly baked, reeking of
soft warmth and mingling with the sick sweet
flowers and making his mouth drool.

They were lovers amongst the flowers, young
lovers with nothing to care about. No eyes, no sevenTeen
eyes watching and looking and staring.

Appetite never sated. She was the one. And
he, he was undone. Reached out for the basket
and reached for the fresh baked goods
and she… and she held it out to him
and his eyes were on the bread and the red
and her eyes were on him and
theirs were the only eyes. Hungry eyes.

The want, the need, the desire, the fire…
But someone was looking. Someone was watching.
I spy with my little eye something beginning with
L, with L, with L… and
And
And
and it’s wrong. It’s wrong.
God, it was so wrong and when she looked up
and saw
… and she knew that she’d been seen.

The huntsman. The huntsman is dead.
The huntsman is gone and dead and buried and the explorer has taken his place as he traces his fingers over her arms and her hands and her face.
The huntsman is dead.

Nothing was the same.
Everything was the same.
A cracked mirror. A broken clock.
Different but the same and it doused the flame
and made her sick cold with…

with guilt.

Watched by old gnarly with seven –
seventeen eyes. No, seventeen pairs of eyes
which flutter open
in ripples along mottled grey. Grey
and brown. And green.
Old gnarly – he knows
where everyone has been.

“Take my hand” and then
drags her forward, so she catches her
foot on lichen covered egg stone.

Throw china girl into the world
and she cracks. At the alter.
as beautiful as –
as a cracked mirror.
All shining rivers and firework
splashes and mosaic
Roman ancient – ancient tiles
and she sparkles with every move.
Move-ing glimmer.

“Take my hand” and then
drags her forward, so she catches her
foot on lichen covered egg stone.

Face as open as the sun – burns
to stare too long. She’s been gone
far too long and all we hear is
the Dull Dumb piling of Sand on Glass Floors.
Imagine that!

Man six foot high. Hole six foot deep.
Press the ground and slowly sweetly
it will weep stories it has seen.

“Take my hand” and then
dragged her forward. And she caught
her Head on lichen covered egg stone .

All images copyright of Diana Patient 2012.

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