Photography & travel tips from an award-winning photographer, educator & wanderlust

Themed photography session: The Tudor Period

The hardest thing about themed photo sessions would have to be…


This was mine and Christopher’s 4th session together and 3rd themed. Previous, included this steam punk-ish Victorian session and this Bad boy prince, but none took as long to plan out and to execute as our latest session.

A little about the Tudor time period

Occurred between 1485-1603 in England and Wales, this time is probably one of the most recognizable times in history due to the likes of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn and of course “The Tudors,” starring the oh so sexy Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Tis was the time of corsets, stockings, underskirts, gowns and lesser known items such as a chemise, farthingale, bumroll, parlet and a kirtle (thank god for minimalism of present fashion senses).

Also, this was the time when a famous painting “The Ambassadors” was created by Hans Holbein the Younger and little did he know that over 484 years later, an enthusiastic photographer and a very DIY-capable history lover will attempt to recreate it.

A little about “The Ambassadors”

Painted in 1533 with oil on oak, this painting is no joke at over 2 meters in each direction. Currently hanging in the National Gallery in London, “The Ambassadors” is known for its depiction of the two young French diplomats and friends, with the subjects’ ages (25 and 29) cleverly inscribed on one’s dagger and on the other’s sleeve. Though the intricate floor may catch your attention (apparently depicting the floor of Westminster Abbey), its the distorted perspective of the object at the bottom of the frame – what gives this painting its “eye raising” aspect. Holbein created what is known an anamorphic art, which requires a specific vantage point in order to properly observe what has been painted. “The Ambassadors” cleverly disguises a skull, which some believe is the artist’s way to incorporate “Memento Mori” (Latin for “remember that we all die”.)

The props

If it wasn’t for Christopher’s desire to replicate the painting to the best of his ability, we probably wouldn’t have known the extent of his Do-it-yourself capabilities. I mean where are we going to get our hands on a 400 year old globe, skull, books, tapestry and other accessories?

With an additional help from friends, we were able to get our hands on some really neat stuff, which helped to set the right mood and atmosphere.

The costume was purchased and shipped from overseas and with additional additions and changes we were ready to Rock and Roll! First, of course, we had to pay homage to “Memento Mori” theme:

A few more close ups were taken to showcase the costume and the smaller details of jewelry and props.

We were even able to rent a 100-200 year old chair from England from a local antiques shop – Oz Antique.

Finally, the purpose of this shoot…

While the two versions appear to be different in many ways, I think to be able to pull off such a feat for $140 (costume and props including) is INCREDIBLE!!! My hat goes off to Christopher who was able to dream up such an ordeal and involve me in this shoot.

As always, working on Themed Shoots is such a memorable and one of a kind experience that I hope others are also motivated to think creatively. If you have a concept that you’d like to make a reality, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to assist you in your wildest creations!

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  1. This is so damn cool Alla!! What a fun project to be part of! I love how creative it all was – I mean a painting inspired the shoot! Love it to so much. The bad boy prince is pretty funny haha. I must say The Tudors theme is my favorite. It’s clear you subject, Chris?, took this very seriously and went all out! It’d be cool to make this more of a consistent series 🙂

  2. This is so awesome! Never seen anything like this before, you managed to get your hands on some great props it really adds to it! What a great experience and there is just something so cool about The Tudors.

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