Ever had an idea that sounded better in your head? Rapunzel was that for me.

Okay, okay, I know that Disney’s Tangled is SO three years ago and the thing of the present is Disney’s Frozen– unless you are one of the people who went berserk when they saw Rapunzel IN Frozen– and I WILL get to Elsa and Anna. If it doesn’t take me a year to get right and I don’t die in the process. Optimism is my specialty.

Our favorite part of Tangled was the part in the boats where they release the floating lanterns. Pure magic.

Then we saw a pin on Pinterest with glowing lanterns.

“O.M.G. MUST buy them.”

So we did. On eBay, probably. Straight from Asia. We didn’t really look at the pictures or read the description that closely. Why would we? It worked in Tangled, so it was obviously perfect for a cosplay. With a three-year-old and one-year-old. Per-fect.

One night, the stars aligned. Not literally. But the weather was perfect, it was getting dark earlier in the evening, and we gave our kids afternoon naps. With great expectations, we toted a boat, lanterns, and other various equipment outside for the greatest photo shoot ever. Zach set up the boat and plopped the kids in it.

It was only then that I unwrapped the lanterns from their plastic covers. There was a problem.

“Uhhhh….. Zach…. These are REALLY BIG. Maybe this one is a… mistake?”

There was no mistake. We kept unwrapping these giant lanterns that were bigger than our kids.

“They didn’t look like this in the movie.”

“Oh well. We’re committed now.”

So we lit one. A huge, smoking ball of flame enclosed only by a thin paper balloon. And then, being somewhat free-range parents, we handed it to our three-year-old. The one-year-old was terrified, and that seemingly exciting and magical prop was starting to make us all very, very nervous. It began trying to float higher, and after some terrible attempts at getting pictures, we told “Rapunzel” to let go.

First attempt rapunzel photoshoot

Once the fire hazard was about a hundred feet airborne, we realized that, if that ball of flame didn’t go out and cool before it landed, it could probably set the whole state on fire and we could all die. We pretty much listened for sirens and the SWAT team all night long… and the next day… I had dreams about being arrested.

Sadly, even the pictures didn’t quite equate with the fairy tale shoot of our dreams, which is true of a lot of things in life, but was not an acceptable end for a photo shoot.

It took a year to recover our sensibilities from that travesty, and in the meantime, we moved to Germany where Rapunzel is originally from.

A weekend camping trip to Lake Bodensee provided the perfect opportunity to give this shoot a second chance. First the pictures, then the details on what we did to make this cosplay more successful:


This was quite a different shoot with new challenges, though better all-around planning.

COSTUME: All about the wig here. We didn’t use one the first time, but Rapunzel is a story about hair, so we bit the bullet and bought a blonde wig from Amazon and braided it ourselves, adding some flowers we ordered from Hobby Lobby.

PROPS: All about the lanterns. After the burning ball of flame fiasco we ran headlong into the first time, I spent nights awake trying to think up an alternative. Japanese paper lanterns with battery operated tea lights were on the table as an option, but then one day we went into Aldi and found these decorative paper bags that we strung at varying heights between our backdrop stands.  We put a small LED light inside to weigh them down and add illumination; however they didn’t really work so we had to add the glowing effects in Lightroom.

Paper Lanterns

Zach is a keeper.

Parapet Photography

This was one of those weird photo shoots where you are in a foreign public place and doing some crazy stuff (I was actually wearing my sleeping five-month old in an Ergo for the whole photo session– wrapped in a blanket, because the evening air was cool near the lake) and every passerby is watching you and stopping to ask questions. To add to the excitement, we were vacationing with our dear German friends (the kids’ friends are helping to keep the lanterns from falling in the lake every time the wind gusted), who probably didn’t quite know what to think of us and our dedication to taking these pictures.

Parapet Photography

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