Capturing the magic of childhood is my favorite thing to do with my photography. I love taking what is in a child’s imagination and making it into reality by turning them into a princess, or a fairy, or a ringmaster, or anything else they can imagine and capturing that magic. If I could focus on doing portraits like these all the time, I probably would. This session was just so much fun! If you’re a fan of Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman, or just like seeing children dreaming big, this post is for you!
Oh what a ride this has been! Recently I shared some photos on Facebook of my son dressed as PT Barnum from The Greatest Showman. Afterwards, my son asked me if Hugh Jackman (who played Barnum in the movie) had seen the photos of him and if he liked his outfit. I explained that Hugh Jackman is very busy and that he probably hasn’t seen them, but I’m sure he would like them if he did. He then asked if I could please try to show him the photos and ask him to come to his Birthday party (I love how a little kid thinks something like that is so easy). I told him I would try but that he probably shouldn’t hold his breath that Hugh will actually show up. I tweeted Hugh Jackman and basically said that he is invited to the party, but that perhaps an autograph would be better since Australia and Northwest Arkansas are a ways away from one another. Somehow the local news 40/29 got wind of my tweet and ended up posting about it on Facebook and doing a tiny little segment on the 6 o’clock news about Leo’s Birthday wish. Since then I’ve had some people ask for more photos and details about how we perfected his outfit and the achieved the look in the photos, so I thought I’d post a blog with the details and a few more of my favorites.
Putting together a PT Barnum cosplay outfit for a child was a bit challenging, but with lots of searching and some tweaking we made it happen. To start, this amazing costume was custom made by the ever talented Regan Torres with My Inspired Princess and I am just over the moon with how wonderful it turned out! After being horribly unsuccessful at finding a real top hat in a child’s size without breaking the bank, I finally gave in and settled for a basic top hat from a party store. I was quite upset because it wasn’t authentic and didn’t look as good, but it photographed surprisingly well and it was only $10 so that is a huge bonus. The pants and shirt were just basic dress pants and a white button up shirt. The cravat that Regan made pulls all of it together perfectly. The boots were a big tricky because we couldn’t find knee high boys boots that worked with the costume. We eventually settled on a pair of girls boots by XOXO that had some detailing that fit very nicely into the ringmaster look. Finding a ringmaster cane for a child that looked like the one Jackman uses in the movie was also a bit challenging, but we eventually settled on this one from Amazon. It was a bit large for him (adult sized) and it’s pretty thin plastic, but we used a small table saw to cut it down and it looks pretty good when photographed. It is also light for him to carry, and he has been throwing it all around and hasn’t broken it yet so I guess it’s sturdier than it looks.
The Photo Session
For the photos I really couldn’t pull off what I wanted to achieve (I truly wanted a real circus and to contact them and see if I could use their location before/after hours. However I live in Northwest Arkansas and this isn’t really feasible as circuses here are few and far between. I was also on a time crunch for his Birthday photos to be done and printed for his party. So after a lot of grumbling that I couldn’t really create the vision I wanted I settled on doing a downtown area since the show is set in the 1800s in New York. We went there and while I did like how the photos were turning out, they just didn’t feel right. I decided to take a drive and see what we could find. There were firework tents popping up for 4th of July everywhere and even though my previous search had come up empty (I had found some but they were the wrong colors or the location wouldn’t work), on the side of the road was the most circus-y looking firework tent I’ve ever seen. Oh bless. Thank you Jesus. It was perfect! I pulled in (rather quickly… If you were the person behind me at this moment I do apologize). and realized it was empty as well, which made it even better because I didn’t have to worry about bothering anyone and there was this awesome vacant field next to it that I could use and get the tent in the background. All of that to say, if you are looking to do circus portraits, I highly recommend keeping an eye out about two or three weeks before 4th of July and you might get lucky!
I hope that if you are looking to do a Barnum cosplay for a kiddo, that this has helped a little bit, and for those of you who were wanting more photos, without further ado I present The Tiny Greatest Showman, Master Leo….
**And for those of you wondering, we never did get a response from Hugh, but my son was over the moon with the love he received from people literally around the world. Thank you for your kind words to him!
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