Elizabeth Ogle | The Port Townsend Diaries: Tuesday

The Port Townsend Diaries: Tuesday

May 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Tuesday, May 6th: Painting Recreation with Sarah Chrisman

When you visit Port Townsend, WA you definitely see the Victorian influences it has on the small, quiet town on the Olympic Peninsula and in one case, way more than others. Sarah Chrisman is a writer and resident in Port Townsend who doesn't just live in the historic Victorian town, she lives her life as if she is in the Victorian Era. I was introduced to her by a fellow photographer and I knew I wanted to work with her. When I made my scouting rounds up to Port Townsend, Sarah kindly invited me to her Victorian home for tea. I felt very nervous as I asked her questions and listened closely to how she and her husband, Gabriel, live their day to day life. The only noise that flowed through her house was a pendulum clock ticking back and forth. "It is the heart beat of the Victorian home," Sarah told me.

Sarah described many aspects of her life to me of how she is able to live this type of lifestyle. When she spoke, she spoke very pleasantly about the history of the Victorian era and what women and men did traditionally and how she applies it to her everyday life, such as making her own clothes, baking her own bread, only riding a bicycle to and from town, and, yes, lacing up a corset everyday is part of her routine. In her home, there is no television, no cellular phone, heating her home with kerosene lamps and no modern furniture. How was I able to get any communication to her at all? She is very good at responding to email. Being a writer, I am sure her publisher does appreciate the fact that she does use modern technology to write and send manuscripts for proofing.

To most this may seem very hard to imagine in today's world how to live without cell phone, the constant buzz of a television, and the reliability of a digital alarm clock. However for Sarah and Gabriel, they take the way they live seriously and it is not a joke or a gimmick, it is their life. So when I asked if she would be interested in doing a photo shoot she was very happy to participate. However, after learning about her, I knew I had to not create an image that would mock her lifestyle. Collectively, we thought about creating a portrait of Sarah but with a spin, there is always a spin. We decided to recreate a Victorian painting, "In the Orangerie" by Charles Edward Perugini.

This project really tested my post work production to work with blending modes, clarity, and using textures to recreate a look that was classic. The hardest part was trying to not make it look overdone. This was not an easy task. Below are some behind the scene photos of the shoot courtesy of photographers, April Staso and Jason Guerra. 

Below are before and after pictures of the process...

I added multiple textures, worked with warm tones, and modified the contrast, and cropped in a bit too.  

Meeting Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman was a treat and I enjoyed working with her. To learn more about Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman, please visit their site, http://chrismancollection.weebly.com/

and check out her book, Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me About the Past, the Present, and Myself.   

Thank you to Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman and my assistants, Jason Guerra and April Staso. 

See you Wednesday...