Fine Art Portraiture in a 350 Year-Old Castle | A Brilliant Photo Shoot by Alexia Sinclair
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
HyperJuice External Battery
OWC Thunderbolt Enclosure running Seagate 4TB Constellation ES.3 Drives