Tempus Photo Design | Caldwell Portrait Photographer - Leaf Dress

Caldwell Portrait Photographer - Leaf Dress

February 12, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

A few months ago I was on my morning run and ran by a window display at a local salon. I was kinda zoning, but eventually it registered in my brain that there was something interesting in that window that was worth going back for a second look. I turned around and ran back to check out the display.

In the window was something resembling a Christmas tree, but with leaves cascading down along the face of the tree. The top half looked like a dress with a bodice that matched the colors of the leaves. I was really intrigued by the idea of having a dress that looked like elements of nature. It got me thinking about whether it would be possible to do something like this that someone could wear.


I spent some time browsing around on Pinterest and saw some pictures of trees resembling what I saw. They were called tree dresses. I also started researching on YouTube, and other crafting websites and found some tutorials on making tulle dresses. I made a shopping list and created a plan for a dress that would incorporate the fall colors and some artificial fall leaves.  I also decided to use some burlap for the bodice. Burlap seemed to maintain the natural look of the leaves and as well as adding some texture to the clothing.

Leaf Dress Assembly 1Leaf Dress Assembly 1

 An evening of cutting and tying strips of tulle was all it took to get the dress done. The strips of artificial leaves were draped over the waistband of the dress and adjusted to get maximum visibility of the leaves.


For the bodice, I bought a few yards of canvas and ironed a pleat system using some iron-on adhesive to hold the material in place.

Leaf Dress Assembly 2Leaf Dress Assembly 2


With the bodice ready, the pieces now looked like they might fit together as I had hoped and appeared to look like they would produce a nice portrait.


Now that the pieces were ready, it was time to find my model. And I had the perfect person in mind.




I have known Anica since she was a baby and even as a baby she had this great expression and beautiful eyes. Plus I’ve known her mama since we were kids, so I thought it might be an advantage to me when I asked her to be my model. And it did (I think).

On the day of the session we packed everything up and took a drive to Lake Lowell. The leaves had been changing color and I was sure it would make a great location for these images. We found a spot in a wooded area away from the shore. There was some great natural light, so all the better. The day was a bit cool and Anica quickly changed while her mom helped out with the finishing touches of her make up.


The make up looked great so I got in close to feature Anica’s eyes.




Next, we took advantage of the natural elements in the area: a fallen tree, tree branches, and additional natural growth all helped to add texture to the image. The color of the leaves was changing and the images had a natural look that worked really well with the dress. 


Later, when I was editing, I decided to give the images a more surreal quality and decided to change the colors a bit. I changed up the colors of the leaves to make it look much more like fall and brought out the orange and reds in the leaves.



I even experimented a bit more and made the leaves even more red than in the previous image.



I'm still continuing to work on the images from this session during my free time and I'm sure that there will be more great images to share later.


In the end, this concept session was a success. It was great opportunity to get outdoors one last time while there were still some leave in the trees, and it also created a great opportunity to be visually creative. It was great experience and I'm already looking forward to the next project,.



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