The Making of Ophelia

Hamlet’s Ophelia is a character often chastised for her tragic role. Torn apart by a love unrequited, a dead father, and a brother gone mad, she realizes that her expression is best left in nonsensical rhythm; her body more suited to the soil. She finds respite in speaking illogically, offering flowers to passerbys—symbols of her fleeting beauty and imminent return to the earth. She is one of only two female characters in the play, and after her death, she is not mentioned again.

Ophelia is tortured by a heart so capable of loving, but unloved in return. She is overwhelmed by this inescapable fate, and tormented by the societal pressures surrounding her virginity—Hamlet views her as a sexual object, while her father and brother view her as entirely chaste, and obligated to stay this way. Her madness drives her down to the river, where she falls into the current. The folds of her heavy dress drag her down into a sinking sleep.

The shoot intended to explore this journey of Ophelia’s; her terrible splendor and love-worn desperation. We started with the idea that life cannot be separate from art, and must often imitate it. Ophelia’s story is a disastrous one, but one not without its resonance. Fascinated by her character and identifying with the pressures she faced, we sought a way to immortalize her crazed strength in resistance. This shoot was one aimed for beauty, yes, but also grief, power, and the art of storytelling.


Model: Melina Perez

HMUA: Whitney Chen

Photographer: Moses Lee

Stylist: Erin Kuykendall

Assistant: Christine Rafie

The Audacity