Spring is here! Today we are going to look at the classic ‘Cottingley Fairies’ photographs and create some magical portraits of our own.
Have you heard of the Cottingley Fairies before? The Cottingley Fairies are a series of 5 photographs taken by two young cousins in England in 1917. Elise was 16 and Frances was 9. They developed the photographs in Elsie’s father’s darkroom, and presented them to their family as evidence that fairies existed. Many people thought the fairies seen in these photographs were real, but some believed them to be fake. The public spent years debating whether the photographs were genuine or manipulated in some way.
In the 1980s, Elise and Frances revealed that their fairies were tracings of fairies from the children's book, Princess Mary's Gift Book.
See images and read more here:
Today, we have lots of resources to create and manipulate photography in fun and artful ways. Let’s get started!
Materials you need for this project are:
- Printed out or hand-drawn fairies or other mythical creatures
- Popsicle sticks
- Cardstock or other thick paper
- Crayons, pastels, markers or anything else you can colour with
- A camera and a place to set it up. Feel free to use a phone, tablet, or DSLR.
An editing app. Use your device’s default editing app or use a free app.
- Find a fairy you like online!
- If you are really inspired by Cottingley, search for vintage fairies! Here are some resources for Creative Commons licensed fairies:
- Elise and Frances copied their fairies from a children’s book. Alternatively, if you have any children’s books with mythical creatures, feel free to trace those out instead of fairies.
- Print them out in varying sizes.
- Glue your fairy onto thicker paper.
- Colour your fairy in.
- Cut it out and secure it on a popsicle stick.
- Find a nice spot to take photographs. Try going outside if the weather is nice!
- Situate yourself in a spot in a cozy or mysterious spot.
- Set up your camera or get someone from your household to help you.
- Play around with the angles and perspective to make the fairies look like they are really part of the environment.
- Rearrange your set and try different poses until you get your favourite photo
- Interact with your fairies the way that Elise and Frances did. Touch them and make mysterious facial expressions.
- Pick out your favourite shots and edit them to make the photos look more ethereal.
- Play around with colour and light effects. Try turning the photo black and white or sepia! Add film grain, vignettes, etc.