Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dorothy Must Die

Dorothy Must Die, originally uploaded by margotwood.

The thing is, I have been a mega-fan of The Wizard of Oz since I was a little girl. I was Dorothy for Halloween every year for about 4 years. I went to see The Wiz when it came to my town. I grew up with posters from musicals, plays and the movie on my walls. I read the book and even the three after that (they got really weird and it freaked me out as a kid so I stopped reading them.) So when I heard that HarperCollins was publishing a retelling of The Wizard of Oz called DOROTHY MUST DIE I kind of lost my shit. . . in a good way.

Dorothy has returned to Oz and over the years has become a corrupt, sadistic, egomaniacal, psychotic ruler of the once happy land and now the magic of Oz is draining because of her. The munchkins are basically squatters, Glinda is an unpredictable sociopath that does Dorothy's bidding, The Tin Man is made of saws, The Scarecrow is an evil scientist. In a word, Oz is fucked-the-hell up. And I love this version.

Danielle Paige has taken the beloved world I grew up with and and turned it into an acid trip. My copy of the book is riddled with highlights and post-its filled with ideas for fauxtos. But which one to do? God, with a book like this, the possibilities are endless. It's such a vivid retelling, I feel like a fat kid at Haagen Daazs.

So what is this fauxto you see here? This isn't actually anything from the actual book, it's a tease. The book doesn't come out for a few more months and it would be cruel of me to photograph a scene from a story no one can read yet, so instead I went with something simple: to literally interpret the title of the book and give everyone a taste of what they can expect.

Full disclosure: My fauxto is way darker than the book. The book is dark, don't get me wrong, but it's not crack-den dark. More like abandoned-tenement dark. (Does that make sense? I have lived in NYC too long.)

By the way, here's me as a young hipster in my Dorothy dress:


The idea for the structure of this shot actually came out of a discussion with my friend Adam Silvera. He occasionally sends me inspirational photos and most of the time they just make me seethe with envy because I wish I had more time, more money and better space to take all the fauxtos I want, but instead of being laden with artistic jealousy, I was inspired. The idea for this fauxto happened almost instantaneously. I wanted to show the yellow brick road and the iconic shoes and just enough of Dorothy's gingham dress so that anyone looking at this would know it was her. But the shot needed to be dark, grungy and reflective of the corrupt, downtrodden Oz that we see in the book.

A quick trip to my local fabric store yielded a yard of the pattern I wanted and red food coloring provided my blood. Now all I needed was a willing participant to bare her legs in the dead of winter, in the middle of a semi-sketchy street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn while I squirted fake blood on her. Oh, and she would have to wear glittery heels too.

Enter, my friend Alexa. (You may know her from She was gracious enough to trek to my neighborhood and participate in my little charade. I owe her a big thanks, and more donuts.


We shot this on an old brick road in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (Fun side fact, Greenpoint used to be a shipping neighborhood as it borders the East River. Ships would pull up and each street was once named for the type of product carried on the ships that docked there. This particular street is called Java Street.) The bricks on this road are wicked old and kind of disgusting –– perfect for the shot I wanted to achieve –– but no, the road is not yellow. That is all photoshop. Also photoshopped are the shoes on Dorothy's feet. We used Alexa's glittery heels that are actually a pale gold / silver color, so naturally some photoshop was required to make them red. Besides that, there was very little photoshop work done. Just a few filters, some tweaking here and there and voila! Of all the YA-inspired fauxtos I've done, this one will fall into the "mildly easy to achieve" category.

The bricks turned out WAY better than I had ever hoped for. To be honest, I'm not really sure what I did. I mean I know what I did, but I didn't do it on purpose. I used this filter but then made it dissolve into the original photo, instead of just overlaying it on top and it magically transformed the bricks into that sickly green, yellow color. I seriously didn't even come up with that color scheme beforehand, it was a purely happy accident during editing and for me, that is what totally makes the shot. During this whole process I felt like the wizard behind the curtain. The curtain this time just happens to be photoshop.

I hope you enjoy this photo as much as I do and when you do get around to reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, let me know what you think!

SHARING RULES: As you can see by the rights that this is an attribution, share alike, non-commercial, no derivatives photo. This means you can share (and please do!!) but you must credit me (Margot Wood or The Real Fauxtographer) as the artist and you may not alter this in any way. Please respect this rule! :-)


  1. Loving this faux-to as usual! Unlike you, I'm not a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz but I think your version of it makes me want to explore the world more.

    And you're so cute as a Dorothy! I love the self-satisfied smile you've got going there. :)

    I love it when you do something accidental in Photoshop (or anywhere else) and it turns out to be good. It's such a nice feeling.

  2. Love it, and I especially love reading the whole story behind it. Had no idea you were so into Oz!

  3. Gorgeous! Nice job - LOVE the colour of the bricks, and the red of the shoes is perf. Little Margot is the best, too.

  4. I don't even have a suitable comment for this because it's such an outstanding faux-to. Seriously, Margot, I got CHILLS. It's all gorgeous and I loved reading about everything that went behind it (go, Alexa!) and it makes me excited to read Dorothy Must Die even more (yes, I'm doing a grabby hands motion right now). While you said the story isn't as dark as this picture, if it's as great as this faux-to, it'll be good for me.

  5. Look at baby hipster you! I love this book. Playing around in Photoshop is fun and clearly it worked out for the best for you!

  6. Gorgeous! I loved the faux-to! And reading the story behind it is even better! I knew you liked The world of Oz, but I wasn't sure just how much! This got me even more exited to read Dorothy Must Die!

    And btw, you looked so cute as Dorothy!

  7. I'm still so honored to have been able to help you out with this fauxto! It was a lot of fun :)

  8. This is STUNNING and probably one of my favorites you've done so far!