Upon first inspection the Wonderland book appears to be a beautiful and expensive personal project by photographer Kristy Mitchell. And it begs the question why someone would place this much time and effort into a project. The highly anticipated limited edition photo book series is over 400 pages with a price range from $90 dollars for a standard first edition to over $4000 dollars for the collectors edition.
But upon closer inspection the highly choreographed images wield a big punch straight to your gut. The images fancifulness is so exact you wonder how it was possible. It turns out it’s not a trick of light or an adjustment in photoshop, the photographer created every scene by hand from the mist and the snow, to every prop and costume adorned on the model and placed about the scene. This level of talent, commitment and expertise is typically seen on big budget Hollywood films.
This book took over 4 years to complete. In order to pay for the series Kristy needed to enlist public funding which she did through kickstarter. And, she garnered over 2000 supporters and over $300,000 dollars making it the most successful photography campaign ever initiated.
The story behind the images is the irreplaceable loss of her mother. What began as a project to get by from day to day turned into a border line obsession, and accounts for the years of commitment, the need for perfection, down to the intricate placement of charms on the paper mache boats in the pond.
Everything you see in Mitchell’s photos from the costumes to the sets have been sewn, painted, glued, and assembled completely by hand, requiring up to five months of preparation. By the time of each photoshoot, which generally happens in the woodlands around her home, an elaborate scene has been constructed that the photographer says is akin to a miniature movie set, complete with lighting and assistants.
The photos have gone viral around the web and have opened up entirely new avenues in her artistic career. Mitchell has just announced a collaboration with FX Media, who is helping to shoot a full-length documentary about the final 10 photos in the series, including a 5-minute behind-the-scenes clip detailing the preparation for each image, the first of which, The Fade of Fallen Memories, you can watch below.