Joey Phoenix Media
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Salem, MA Portrait and Event Photographer

Before He Was a Saint, He Was Patrick

Long before the modern era there lived a man, or so we think, he is often portrayed as the juxtaposition of two men, one of them Palladius... the other one, Patrick.

Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick

A few months ago, when I was beginning to work on this series, a thought struck me. So much of our common perceptions of ancient peoples are based on legend, are based on myth. But who is the man behind the modern Irish holiday celebrated around the world each year on March 17th? Certainly not someone who would drink pint after pint of Smithwicks, Harp, or Guiness,  nor did he wear a mitre, and he certainly didn't drive the snakes out of Ireland.

He converted them, well some of them, and snakes being Pagans, rather.

What I do know is that before he was a Saint, he was Patrick. And I, with the help of a few friends, set out to make that a reality.

This last Saturday, with threatening skies overhead, we did a sun dance and headed to Harold Parker State Forest in Andover, Ma. We needed a green space, somewhere which would stand in for 5th century Ireland, somewhere sans power lines and hoards of people. It was perfect. Although, thanks to the winter we've had, it was much less green than we had hoped for, but it was still beautiful and we made the most of it.

Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick

The project officially began with a discussion between Leigh Hilderbrandt and myself. I asked if she would be willing to make up a 5th century Monk's robe that would befit an aspiring Saint. She agreed instantly, was delighted to do it, and began working on the costume. Using thick drapes, this incredibly talented woman who is made of magic hand stitched Patrick's robe, and the results were absolutely tremendous. As someone who has virtually no sewing abilities, I was duly impressed.

Here she is with her lovely dogs in full St. Patrick's Day regalia, what a extraordinary person.

Costume Designer
Costume Designer

The day of the shoot, we managed to find a quiet spot next to some maintenance facilities at the entrance to the forest. A picnic table covered in dried white paint served our purposes, but only after we maneuvered our workspace out from under the mini waterfall formed by melting ice falling from the roof.

The MAGNIFICENT Arden Barlow set to working on making our Patrick, the handsome Philip Chiaraluce, older and grittier. The goal was to make him look weatherbeaten and exhausted, as if he had just braved the Irish sea in a small vessel, which, according to legend, that's what he did.

Arden creates Patrick
Arden creates Patrick

Although not a great deal is known about the man himself, what is known proves to be a remarkable legacy of compassion and perseverance. He wasn't Irish at all, but a Roman Briton who was kidnapped at the age of 17 by Irish raiders. He worked as a slave for many years before an angel, named Victor, appeared to him in the form of a bird and told him to escape. Miraculously he did, but as these things go, Ireland stayed in his blood, and he vowed to one day return to the island to convert the people there to Christianity. A feat which he accomplished by slowly altering pagan festivals into Christian ones, because hey, if they're going to celebrate anyways...

patrick4wm
patrick4wm
patrick3wm
patrick3wm

All in all, a lovely day. Phil, being an actor, transformed himself brilliantly into this great figure for the afternoon. There were moments when I felt I was there, that it was real.

Well, until this happened.

trash can
trash can

For the full album of images in hi-res, click here! <------------

© 2014 Joey Phoenix Photography