Santa Lucia: A Love Note to Light


It’s no secret that the dark winter days in Alaska can be hard. I find myself gravitating towards any kind of light in an attempt to soak up as much as possible during these short days. I’ve been taking my Vitamin D, going on walks during the daylight, and surrounding myself with twinkling Christmas lights, but I wanted to do something that would really bring me some inner light, as well. That’s where this creative session comes in.

Santa Lucia— or Saint Lucy— has been an intriguing figure to me since the days of playing with American Girl Dolls. I remember being fascinated by my older sister’s doll, Kirsten, and the candle-lit wreath she wore for her Christmas outfit. The idea of wearing candles on your head was super-thrilling and taboo to a seven-year old— and actually, maybe even a little bit to this now thirty-something. As I started to do more research into Santa Lucia though, I realized her story is pretty amazing and (besides the photos taken in Swedish churches) there aren’t any photo sessions that I found.

Santa Lucia is a saint widely celebrated in Scandinavian countries and is seen as a bringer of light. Her feast day— December 13th— once coincided with the shortest day of the year, before the calendar was reworked. According to legends about her, she brought food and aid to Christians being persecuted during the days of the Roman Empire, and was known for wearing a wreath of candles on her head in order to keep her hands free to carry more provisions to those in need.

One of the things I absolutely love about the traditions surrounding her in modern day is the idea that celebrating Santa Lucia’s feast day will help one live out the dark winter days with more than enough light. I love that!

This session was such a labor of love for me and I could not have done it without the amazing skills of Paper Peony. Without her technical skills and unstoppable creativity, this shoot wouldn’t have happened. (After all, what is a Santa Lucia shoot without a candle-lit wreath!?) I also have to thank my stunning model, Carson Whaley, who channeled her Scandinavian heritage and really brought a sense of tranquility, awe, and fierceness to Santa Lucia— which I’m sure are all features she possessed.

I hope these photos bring you the same light they brought me, and can give you a little boost as we get through these long, dark days.

Floral Headpiece: Paper Peony
Model: Carson Whaley