I had mentioned to my wife that I would like to have some hats for photoshoots and she would pick some up for me whenever she was out and about and saw one that might look good in a photo. In October of 2015, I took some photos of my granddaughter in one of those hats and it was a great photo so I had posted one of them online. I had some good feedback about that photo from many people including a professional photographer who never liked anything of mine before or since. One of the people who loved it was my dear friend and model Miss Mandy Mae. Mandy saw that photo and told me she had an idea, and was scouting a location and could I find a white rabbit.
Well, it just so happened we had a white rabbit named Starr. So when the day for the shoot arrived me and Starr and my camera gear packed up and left to meet Mandy and an assistant and then head to the location that Mandy had picked out for the shoot.
I waited while Mandy did her hair and makeup and for the assistant who was coming with us to arrive, and as Mandy did more of the makeup I was thinking "man this is strange, I like it".
Once the hair, makeup, and wardrobe were complete and the assistant for the shoot had arrived, we packed up all the props we were bringing and I followed behind Mandy in my car full of photography gear. I usually bring as much as I can just in case. We headed North, and drove and drove and drove until the somewhat paved road turned into a mostly gravel road and I had no idea where we were. Having grown up in Napanee, the home of Avril Lavigne, I knew we were somewhere north of Napanee by the name of some of the side roads we passed early on in the journey. Finally, we stopped and got out.
Mandy and the Assistant took most of the props and I took some of my photography gear and Starr the white rabbit. I was thinking I could come back if I needed anything else. Mandy was in full Mad Hatter makeup and outfit, carrying a table and chair and the assistant had teacups and other things. We walked for a long time on a path and I wouldn't think there would be anybody else around but we passed a few people along the way. Some ignored us and some stopped to chat, surprised to see a full Mad Hatter photography set travelling through the middle of nowhere. I asked them why they were surprised, had they not ever seen a Mad Hatter shoot in the middle of nowhere before? I knew I had to shoot with what I had, it would take too long to get back to the car if I needed anything else.
We got to the spot that Mandy had in mind for the shoot and started shooting. The first shots were perfect, I couldn't believe it. They would hardly need any post-processing. It was surreal, and I was starting to feel strange the more I shot. This shoot turned out to be my most talked about shoot so far. Even to this day people recognize me and say "I loved the Mad Hatter shoot".
For at least three days following this shoot I had some strange dreams and felt really weird. I mentioned this to Mandy, and she had the exact same feelings. I really think something happened out there, but it made great photos, and that’s OK with me.
After that shoot, there have been a few people that wanted to use the hat for photos. I shot my daughter-in-law in the hat when I was just testing out a lighting set up in December of 2017 and it was a great photo. There's just something about that hat.
Reg Smith is a Lifestyle & Portrait Photographer in Prince Edward County, Ontario.