As my Urban Portraits Dumfries project progressed I noticed that shooting in an urban environment was not particularly encouraging for recording the natural flow of seasons, but not impossible. That’s why I came up with an idea of autumnal portraits at Castledykes Park and was very happy when Kayleigh and her mum Louise volunteered for this session. They brought their cocker spaniel Rio with them and it took some gentle but firm persuasion to make this boisterous dog pose!
Why did I choose Castledykes Park?
This location is foundational in the history of Dumfries, as well as Scotland. Here was the sight of the Royal Castle of Dumfries built by William The Lion who granted Dumfries its burgh charter in 1186, the event still celebrated annually during Guid Nychburris festival. It is to take over this castle Robert the Bruce hurried in 1306 after his murder of the Red Comyn, his rival for the Scottish throne, at Greyfriars Monastery in order to escape retribution 1306.
The final destruction of Dumfries Castle was ordered in 1313 to prevent the English taking the foothold over the area again. Hence, the absence of the castle here is celebrated as the start of the road to the Scottish Independence by the Scottish flag post and multiple commemorative stones.
We began our photo shoot on the gentle undulating slopes that were once the defence grounds of Dumfries Castle. It was nearly the golden hour and I set up my off camera flash with a softbox to balance the flares coming from the setting sun. Some flares were deliberately invited as they make Kayleigh look positively angelic.
I was very impressed with Kayleigh’s composure and creative direction in choosing and changing her outfits! We tried to incorporate a large berry brunch in our portraits to enhance the autumnal feel while the bored Rio was making rounds around us. He did settle down in the end!
There was a patch of wild grasses left to support the insect habitat at the bottom of the hill where Dumfries Castle used to stand. Kayleigh added a sleeveless jacket to her look that matched the dried grasses, making our session look even more seasonal.