This is an audio transcription — Spelling, punctuation and grammer may not be perfect
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Hi there everyone and welcome to the Photography Podcast on Photography.ca.‚ My name is Marko.‚ We are coming to you from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.‚ Today is January 18, 2007.‚ For today’s show, we are lucky enough to be doing an interview with Ann Dahlgren.‚ Ann Dahlgren along with her husband, Douglas Foulke, put together this fantastic book called A Fairy’s Child.‚ I was lucky enough to come across this book a few years back in New York.‚ I love theatrical photography and I love mythological portraits and photographs, so this is going to be a really, really fun interview especially for me and I hope for you, too.‚ Rather than just talk about it, let us get into it now.
So, I would very much like to welcome, Ann Dahlgren today.‚ Ann Dahlgren is a fine art photographer and author of the book A Fairy’s Child that she did with her husband, Douglas Foulke, who is also a fine art photographer.‚ He is hanging around closely and maybe will be able to hear from him during this interview, but we definitely love to get a feel for this book called A Fairy’s Child, which is just a wonderful, wonderful piece of what I might call theatrical photography.‚ Hi there, Ann.‚ Can you tell us a little bit about your book?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Hi, Marko.‚ Well, as you said, the book is called A Fairy’s Child.‚ It is an exploration of fairies and some pretty fantastic environment.‚ Basically, the book started as just an idea for Doug and I to do a fun photograph of a fairy.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Then how did it evolve into a full-on book?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ The idea actually started on a commercial shoot that we were on in Florida and this art director we were working with started telling us about this island off the coast of Maine where people build little fairy houses.‚ We thought, “Well, that’s pretty cool.”‚ We have never heard of anything like that before and so, we just started brainstorming about the possibility of actually making a photograph of a fairy that looked real, but yet was mysterious and ethereal and all the things that we love about photograph. ‚Basically, it started out with us producing one photograph and from there it just kind of led to another, which led to another, which led to another. At some point I guess after we had maybe 20 or 30 finished prints, we thought, “Well, maybe we can make this into a book.”‚ So, that is how it started.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ How long did it take to photograph all the photographs?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ We basically did it on our free time, in between what we do commercially.‚ So, we worked on it I think over a period of four to maybe five years.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Four to five years.‚ Okay.‚ Where did you find the children?‚ Were they local children, were they relatives, were they actors?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ They were everything.‚ Basically, 90% of our commercial work is on location, so every time that we were some place and we came across some really interesting location, we would then plan to either go back or else stay after our commercial shoot to actually do the photograph for the book.‚ So, sometimes we would do a casting locally to find some models, other times they were friends of friends or family members.‚ It kind of was whatever, wherever we could find somebody that fit our idea of our little fairy.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For those listeners that have not found this book yet, I am going to be putting some links to Ann and Doug’s site, so hopefully you might be able to find it through there and see extra pictures, but I just wanted to tell people that I was actually blown away when I found this book, wandering through SoHo about two years ago.‚ I personally love theatrical photography.‚ I love mythological images.‚ I love fairies and it was just an absolute treat to find this book in a little bookstore.‚ So, if there are still books available, I highly recommend searching for them and getting your hands on them.‚ I will put one or two on our site just so you could see what we are talking about and then you can check out Ann and Doug’s site after that.‚ I would like to ask you, Ann.‚ What is your personal connection to fairies?‚ Is it a subject matter that has interested you all along?‚ Is it a relatively new thing?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ No.‚ I am not the type of person who has professed to have seen fairies in real life or anything like that although we have found that there are people like that out there.‚ We have gotten quite interesting e-mails from people that have discovered our book and we have found that there is a whole world out there, fairy lovers.‚ No.‚ It just sounded like a challenging and fun subject matter to try to create these photographs.‚ So, I would not say that I have any particular connection with fairies.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Okay.‚ Well, it is too bad.‚ I am sure a few people would have loved to hear the opposite, but‚¦
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I know.‚ I know.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ It is all good.‚ I have no personal connection to them myself.‚ I just love the way they look from my childhood.‚ So, I am just curious, do you both photograph at the same time?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, sometimes.‚ Usually what we will do is when we are producing a shoot, I would work a lot on the costume, the make-up, getting the kids outfitted, then their ears and their wings and all that entailed.‚ We would talk about different cameras and films that we are going to be using and usually Doug would start shooting and then I would shoot some.‚ A lot of times, we would have several different cameras with different films loaded, so he could pick up one and I could pick up another and we could direct the child in whatever way we felt was the right way to go.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ So, it is totally a collaborative effort then.‚ You guys just work on all these projects absolutely together.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yes.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Excellent.‚ Excellent.‚ So, I would like to always ask, what was your first camera?‚ How did you get into photography?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, for myself, it started back in camp.‚ So, I was probably 10 and we had a little darkroom at the camp that I went to and that was where I took my first photograph and processed and printed my first print.‚ I know for Doug, it started with him at prep school.‚ His story is, he was told that he should take photography because he could smoke in the darkroom.‚ That is where it started with him.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Is he still smoking in the dark room?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I do not think so.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, good, good, good.‚ Very nice.‚ Very nice.‚ For the tech kids out there, they are going to wonder how these photographs were created.‚ The first thing that will probably come to mind for a lot of people is going to be Photoshop, but I am not convinced that is the case.‚ Can you give us a little insight into how these photographs were created?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Sure.‚ All of them were created using traditional black and white film.‚ Most of the times, we would shoot with T-Max 100 or 400 and Kodak infrared film.‚ We were lucky enough to have put a darkroom into our house, so we would come home after the shoot and process and make prints of what we had just shot and then work from there.‚ So, pretty much 98% of what you will see in the photograph was actually there.‚ We had a special effects make-up artist make some prosthetic ears for us.‚ We had a costume designer who make us a set of wings and then from there, we basically started making our own costumes, our own wings and things like that, but over time of traveling with these things and taking the ears on and off, all these kids, they started to disintegrate and we eventually had to have more ears made.‚ Towards the very end of the book, when we were kind of on a deadline with our publisher to bring in, I do not know, a certain amount of images, the wings really were trashed at that point.‚ So, we started experimenting with photographing insect wings primarily cicada and butterfly wings and then putting those on to the last images that we had shot in postproduction.‚ So, really, that is the only Photoshop that we really used.‚ It really was not until the end of the book process that we started utilizing Photoshop.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Very, very interesting.‚ So, really these kids are against real backgrounds.‚ The backgrounds that you are going to see in all the photographs, those were the backgrounds on location?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yes, definitely.‚ Like I said before, when we would go on location and we would find these interesting spots, that is when we decide, “Okay.‚ This is our next location” and we would go back and produce the shoot.‚ We shot a lot in Western Florida where the Banyan trees are.‚ Actually, our very first shoot was in the Sarasota, Florida region and just the way that the Banyan trees grow, it is pretty fantastic.‚ So, we started with that.‚ We have shot in locations in California, Colorado, New York, kind of wherever we found a spot that spoke to us.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For certain of the images, it looks as though the children are flying almost or one in particular that I have the luxury of looking at right now, one of the children looked almost suspended or flying.‚ How would that have been accomplished?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, she went flying.‚ We did a few shoots in the studio and one particular shoot that we knew we wanted to do was to actually have a fairy flying.‚ So, we hired a rigger or a grip person from the movie industry to come into the studio and set up this whole harness system where we could actually fly her.‚ I think the shot that you are probably looking at has two fairies in it.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yes, it is.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Basically, we designed the set in the studio and then we had the two girls take turns in the harness, flying.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Fantastic.‚ If you are going to attempt this today, would you go more Photoshop or would you still try and do it the traditional way?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I think now since we do use Photoshop everyday in what we do, we probably would utilize Photoshop a lot more.‚ It just was not something that we were using on a daily basis at all back when we started this project. ‚I think we started it in 1997.‚ So, everything we did was on film in there.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Again, we keep hearing this all the time, Photoshop has become a pretty important tool for photographers these days and we are using more tools.‚ It is just a tool that we can use instead of hiring a rigger, let us say, to have someone fly.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Right.‚ It definitely cost us a lot more money to actually produce the photographs the way that we did, but that was the way that we went about it.‚ We did not really think about doing it any other way at that time.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ As an artist, for you, is it more satisfying to have done it the old fashion way?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Sure.‚ It was just so exciting to be able to have a vision and put it all together, go to a location, make it happen, bring the fog machine and the whole deal and come back and have on film what we really imagined was there versus sitting in front of a computer and making it happen.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Right.‚ Right.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yeah.‚ I think there was a sense of accomplishment definitely after all the work that we went through.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ A well-deserved feeling of accomplishment.‚ On another technical level, I am curious actually.‚ I noticed some of the pictures are quite soft, which really adds to the mood effect.‚ Were you using soft focus filters as well or was that done in the printing?‚ How was some of the softness achieved on the photographs?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, it was done both with filters, with particular lenses and also diffusing again in the darkroom.‚ I know in some of the photographs, we used an old lens that Doug had which is an old Imagon portrait lens.‚ It just had this wonderful quality of having a very minimal amount of focus to it.‚ So, that was over different lens put on the camera, but yeah, we would shoot with softer filters and diffuse again in the darkroom.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For good effect, for absolutely good effect.‚ Are you going to be doing any other theatrical style themes or concepts in the next little while or do you have projects similar in nature for the near future?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ We do not have anything in the works at the moment.‚ We have thought about it.‚ We have a lot of images that we played with in the process of this book that were edited out in the process of our publisher wanting a certain look to the book.‚ For instance, we photograph a lot of old people to make it a little bit more of a scary, edgy field to it and we did a whole section of underwater photographs where we actually have the fairies in the pool and we were down there with them, with scuba tanks and photographing them under the water.‚ So, there is potential for another aspect to this whole fairy project that we would love to continue with, we just have not had the time recently.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, when you do have it done, please think of me.‚ I definitely want a copy.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For those people who are going to be intrigued by this book, is it still available?‚ How can they get their hands on it?‚ Can they get their hands on it?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, at this point, we just were informed that the first printing, which was 10,000 copies, is sold out.‚ In fact, we only actually have two copies I think as our own.‚ So, we are waiting to hear back if Abrams is going to do another printing.‚ If they do not, then we will have the option to try to take that some place else to have another printing done.‚ So, hopefully, we will keep it out there.‚ At this point, your guess is as good as mine of where to find them.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ At least for now though I guess thank goodness for websites, people who want to see some of these images, I know there is a lot of them available at anndahlgren.com.‚ I am going to put that in the show notes.‚ Ann Dahlgren is spelled A-n-n D-a-h-l-g-r-e-n, anndahlgren.com if people want to go directly, but I will put the link in the show notes as well and I believe Ann has allowed me to put a couple of the images on my blog to intrigue you to go to her site because it is also a fantastic site with a lot of images left from the book.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Right.‚ The direct link to the fairy website is afairyschild.com or you can go directly to the book website also, which has a short little flash movie with some images from the book.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I am going to put that link in the show notes as well.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Great.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ So, I would like very much to thank Ann Dahlgren and Douglas Foulke.‚ Unfortunately, Douglas was not able to be on the line now for technical reasons, but we were lucky enough to speak with Ann today and I absolutely thank her.‚ So, thanks so much for agreeing to do this, Ann.‚ I know it was a pretty spontaneous request, but I have been in love with your book for a long, long, long time and your style.‚ It has really been my pleasure to speak to you today.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Great.‚ Thank you, Marko.‚ It has been a pleasure.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ So, thanks so much.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Bye-bye.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Bye now.‚ So, that was our interview with Ann Dahlgren.‚ We really hope you like that interview.‚ I know I learned a lot and I appreciated it.‚ We are going to have more interviews for you in the next few weeks as well.‚ If you would like to comment, please do so either through the blog, photography.ca/blog or through the bulletin board.‚ You can just click on the link and find your way there and you can leave comments and suggestions and anything else you like in either of those two places.‚ So, thanks very much for listening everyone and we will be back probably next week.‚ We will bring you either another interview or some knowledge, either way you will get knowledge on both.‚ So, take care everyone and happy shooting.‚ Bye for now.