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She then laid twenty mattresses one upon another over the three peas, and put twenty feather beds over the mattresses.
Upon this bed the Princess was to pass the night.

The Princess and the Pea

About the Story

So this is one of the fairy tales that make sense when you read them as child, but seems entirely ridiculous as a grown-up. I mean, really: A real princess should be able to feel a pea or three underneath a tower of mattresses? And how awful would that be in real life if that was true? How could you walk? Or travel anywhere? A carriage ride or a walk on horseback would probably break your bones.

But now I’m rambling. There are a couple versions of this story as well (as with most fairy tales). In some, the princess is actually that sensitive and is all bruised up after a night sleeping over a pea. In others, she was warned that it was a test so she could fake it for her future mother-in-law.  The stories even vary on whether it was one pea or three. So now you more about the story. (You can read it here.)

About the Image

Jessica suggested this story to me a couple weeks ago for her shot, and I was really excited to get going on it. I didn’t even think about taking some shots of the setup, but I’ve got a couple where you can kind of see it. Laura, of http://www.afrugalchick.com, was our production assistant and helped with Jess’ hair and kept me from falling off our precarious table set up.

I knew I wanted to be outside, so I kept trying to find a park that would fit the look I wanted (my first choice location involved too much carrying of mattresses for my inherent laziness), and be within walking distance of my car. After a week full of rain, I decided that my best bet was to use my own backyard. Which turned out perfectly and made for an easy set up.

Here are a couple outtakes and “behind the scenes” pictures:
The Princess and the Pea

The Princess and the Pea

Here you can see the tables holding up the top mattress and the tarp underneath everything, as well as my reflector and the ladder I used for some of the shots.

Further Reading

Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguié is a sweet and easy read. It’s a cute little adaptation that’s part of a series of fairy tale retellings. The Surlalune link in the “About the Story” section also has some nice background information on the story.


Are the “behind the scenes” shots fun? Should I make an effort to get some for this series?