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Inspiration

Fine Art Portraiture in a 350 Year-Old Castle | A Brilliant Photo Shoot by Alexia Sinclair

By Kishore Sawh on March 17th 2014

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In the world of fast airliner travel, and even faster Internet travel, we’ve all seen impressive architecture either in person, or through photographs. The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, The Guggenheim in Bilbao, The Gherkin in London, and the CN Tower in Toronto all come to mind. Yet, no matter what piece of modern architectural marvel you’ve seen, or where you’ve been, the Royal Palace Of Stockholm, is bold enough to peel your eyes back into your head. It dominates your sight and thoughts with equal aplomb, and it’s inescapable; it’s there at the end of every street and thus at the end of every local conversation. But the romance of Sweden’s royal buildings seems to belong to Skokloster Castle, as it’s remained largely untouched for the past three centuries.

It’s diminutive and charming and clearly something of this level of beauty would be perfect setting for period-photographs. But the photos themselves have to equal the quality of the place, and that’s a tall order. Fine art photographer Alexia Sinclair is one such, and was handed the key and unprecedented access.

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The story was that the Palace emailed her telling that the Royal Armory was running an exhibition on Queen Christina, whom Alexia had done a faux-portrait of prior, and the request was to feature that portrait. She agreed and requested to photograph the real princess to which she was denied. The denial was met with an offer, to use the castle to shoot.

I like to produce narrative pieces so I started by researching those important historical figures who had visited the castle over its lifetime,” she says, “I also studied 17th century paintings to get a feeling for the period and this is what I got truly swept up in. Painters like Johannes Vermeer did so much exploration of middle-class life, showing ordinary people doing ordinary things. Ultimately, the series explores two different worlds within the same castle walls: the famous ruling class visitors and the people in the shadows, the middle and working class running the castle.

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Just months later, she arrived at the castle, assistants in tow, and began a new series she called “A Frozen Tale.” The project was demanding of time and energy, and the fact it was almost preserved in time, meant that modern conveniences were not available. There was no electricity, for example, and that means no central heating, and in the winter such as when the shoot occured, portions of the romantic royal lodge freezes.

[REWIND: ‘Expedition’ – Striking Evolutions Of Composite Landscapes]

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The challenges from some such environment are far reaching, as it required lots of battery power, and meticulous movements in order not to damage or pollute the preserved castle. It also meant that anything that wasn’t a person in the photos, such as geese, or paper, or a dog, had to be post processed in. Due to the restrictions, she also relied on some of the best gear, as second chances weren’t really an option. Phase One 645Df with an IQ180 Digital Back was the camera set-up, but see the full list of gear below, and have a look at the brilliant detail and prodigious effort that went into making each photo in this equally beautiful BTS video.

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Gear List

2x Profoto Pro-B4
1x Profoto Pro-B3
6x Pro-B Head Plus
2 x Softbox RFi 3×4’
1x Softgrid 3×4′
6 x C-Stands
PhaseOne IQ180 + 645DF Camera
PhaseOne 28mm Lens
Schneider 55mm Lens
Schneider 80mm Lens
Gitzo GT3541 Tripod
Induro PHQ3 Head
MacBook Pro
Wacom Intuos5
HyperJuice External Battery
OWC Thunderbolt Enclosure running Seagate 4TB Constellation ES.3 Drives

You can find more from Alexia on her site, and more behind the scenes info and photos from Profoto.

Via: Profoto

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mads Helmer Petersen

    Fantastik pictures – hope I at one point will be just half as creative as you :-)

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  2. Justin Lin

    Great article!

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  3. Tony

    I don’t post much but when i do, I’m totally blown away. This shot was wonderfully done and tells such a great story.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Tony, hi there. Thanks for posting. I was quite blown away myself. I’m also quite impressed with your shutter drag skills. Good stuff man. You may not want or desire it, but should you, you may find some of our LR stuff helpful. Lots of free tutorials on here and our thorough products also. I had a bit of a vision of possibilities when I saw your Morristown Dam photo. Also, check out the rest of Alexia’s work, it’s really phenomenal stuff. Cheers and be well.

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  4. Martina Elisabeth

    LOL I was actually imagining you writing the article while listening to that soundtrack. Totally utterly ironic, indeed :-D. Thanks for visiting my portfolio and your kind comment on Claire & Orelie :)

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  5. Martina Elisabeth

    Kishore, thanks for your inspiring article of this fascinating story, but could you please correct the name of the city of the Guggenheim museum? It’s called Bilbao (not Balboa) :-)

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Ha! Martina thanks for the good catch. The utter irony of having one of the Rocky movies going in the background as I wrote this. Honest mistake, especially since I’m quite a fan of the Guggenheim, even if I can’t figure out how a city like Bilbao managed to finance such a thing. Thanks again for reading, and I quite like your shots of Claire & Orelie! Cheers.

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