Sepulchral: A Journey in the Necropolis by Ellen Rogers: Welcome to The Sepulchre


Lovely ladies and gentle men, let us walk into Ellen Rogers' Wonderland of affinity and strangeness as we traverse the beginning of her journey in the Necropolis -- we are now welcome to join her in the Sepulchre.

Ah hello, and welcome, ‘oo vudge welcome’, friends, to the Aberrant Necropolis, inside the new sepulchre.

Weary am I this week, weary from travelling, moving house and politics within my little world, my necropolis (the homemade city where myself and my partner work and live).

But all that is unimportant now as I am here and happy to be so! Now, without further ado I must tell you why I am here, not on earth or in ‘The Necropolis’ but here at Lomography. Where the beautiful hosts ushered me to a new dwelling and one where I can sit and tell you all things I wish to divulge. Where you too, the loyal practitioners of analogue photography and film are welcome.

Now, the images you see here are the results of months of planning with my partner (I call him ‘Bear’), you can call him ‘Prizme’. This is a reworked-photo etching and one you can buy HERE … The frame to this image is an explanatory story to the shoot in the middle. The frame is hand drawn by Prizme and gives context to the image, in the same way you might read a frieze on an architectural adornment breathing history and context to its home.

To give to an insight to this seemingly mad piece, I want to explain some of its method.

The photograph in the middle is of ‘A leaf room’, and I made it. That’s right it’s a room a made of leaves. Sounds like the work of a crazy lady you say? Well you could be right there.

Now, ‘The Leaf Room’ was the name of a real experiment in the 50’s, and one of the first experiments on humans testing the effects of LSD. It was a highly secretive and controversial experiment. It was also the forerunner to many experiments on humans using this substance. In short it was an experiment to see what the effects would be on humans, wearing goggles that distort their vision, dosed heavily with hallucinogens and asked to work a pulley system in the middle of a room encompassed by red oak leaves (to make it seem unfamiliar). Needless to say the experiment failed. With the only conclusion drawn that it was pretty impossible for people to know what they were doing.

We decided to make this project to illustrate a point; to bring awareness of what has happened in the past and what will continue to happen to people who are experimented on. We hope to make a whole series of these over time further illustrating exploitations with in social history of government and organised corruption.

Let me tell you also how I went about the construction of this room.

Now firstly, please say hello to my now dearly departed studio in Norwich- England, named Outpost (I have moved now but very lovely people run this place).

Here is little (very little) me making the room (of cause the leaves are green here and they should be red-but no worries as I use black and white film mostly). Here I am constructing the room, after painting the basic frame black.
The plank I hold in my hands there was to be hung in the middle of the room, I bought it at a boat yard auction house the previous week.
Here you can see the room taking shape nicely. This is later covered with stapled and tacked leaves over all areas unexposed. Soon I had a substantial room with a lot of leaves. Of course it was hard to light so I cut out holes in the side and reinforced them with wood to allow natural light to fall through.
This picture is just for my amusement (it’s my cousin Yelena who I shared my studio with in her little corner).

Once I had the room ready, naturally I was rushing around finishing touches before my team arrived the following morning at Norwich train station from London. By this point I had just driven half way across the country from my new home and I was obviously over the moon about a morning of buying vegetables to make headdresses, however the blow was softened by the wonderful stylist Kay Korsh, my loyal and talented friend Suzie Love on hair and makeup and one of the loveliest models I have ever worked with Miss Ellen C. Rose featured in the images.

The intention of the close ups were to exemplify the decline in health and mental well being of the patients that underwent this treatment.

Here are some of the final images from the shoot.

Please do let me know what you think? You may see the full (original) set HERE .

And thank you for having me!


written by ellenrogers on 2011-05-20 in #lifestyle #sepulchral-series #ellen-rogers


  1. megustastu
    megustastu ·

    I really enjoyed the read of this making off. The results are awesome!

  2. discodrew
    discodrew ·

    How do your models feel when you say you're going to take pictures of them hanging from a plank of wood in a room full of leaves? Ha ha. Your work is amazing.

  3. ellenrogers
    ellenrogers ·

    Oh thank you both!
    Haha, Good question! Mostly the girls are spoken to before hand and they largely know what to expect. But in Ellen's case (the model here) she was pleasantly shocked! She knew of my work but not of what we would be doing that day. It was a crazy day too. Some how I set the fire alarm off in my studios and everyone had to go outside, but of course my model wasn't wearing much, and it was her first ever shoot. So I don't think she will be forgetting that one in a hurry.

  4. craigramsden
    craigramsden ·

    Truly inspiring work! Its great to get a little insight in to how you make these beautiful images. I look forward to reading more :)

  5. basterda
    basterda ·

    ELLEN ROGERS ♥ I always have a hard time choosing the best photo for your article's thumbnail/teaser! :)

  6. xbalboax
    xbalboax ·

    brilliant and inspirational as always Ellen! thanks for the behind the scenes look!

  7. poletdiaz
    poletdiaz ·

    is a really interesting conceptual work! love it...
    love the colouring you get!! you get it in post production?? or in the processing
    and another question!
    wich is your criteria to choose your models? are always that beautiful?? sory my english is not very good im from Argentina... amities! :)

  8. ellenrogers
    ellenrogers ·

    Thank you all again!
    Basterda thank you! You are a sweetie.

    Poletdiaz: I feel I need a life time to get into the nuances of your questions.
    Firstly the colours and processing are all little secrets of mine that I don’t tend to share.

    But your second question is an important one. I may well address this separately in a blog post.
    The girls in my images are ‘fashion models’ on the whole I prefer to use them as, from my experience with both trained models and ‘street casted’ girls are that the former are more familiar with creative direction and know better how to react to the camera due to vast experience in front of the lens. In short they know how to say what you need them to. I have also used dancers and actors in my work for exactly the same reasons.

    To further attempt to articulate my usage of fashion models or ‘beautiful’ women (as you say) is because I am a fashion photographer. Now, that seems like an immediate scapegoat, but the logistics are far more complex. In order to show a shoot in a ‘fashion magazine’ you will mostly need a stylist (this is not set in stone but it is a consensus) to have a fashion stylist they will pick clothes from a show room that are all around the same size. This is known colloquially as a ‘sample size’ it tends to be a garment able to fit a certain frame with a certain weight and height. I don’t make these clothes they are made and manufactured by the designers. Modelling agencies tend to pick ‘fashion models’ that adhere to the size and aesthetic of the trends within the industry. One of those trends is being of beauty another is to fit the sample sizes. It’s not something I necessarily agree with on the whole and arguably it could be that I am fuelling the fire by making images with girls that seem so unobtainable. It is a struggle I face every day.
    This shoot is personal to me in content and it is entirely of my own volition. However it is also to be seen in a fashion magazine. The stylist who dressed this girl is a very original and creative mind and the designers are all young and in my eyes truly innovative. I love the fashion industry for the characters and talents within the cogs of machinery, though there are elements that to me seem immoral. Whether I can over look these factors in the future is an issue that only I can battle alone.

    I have never declared this before, but I have a separate name that I also operate under in order to make work that remains faithful to a wider vision I have than just that of fashion. This is in essence a form of photographic journalism.

    I hope that answers your question.

  9. poletdiaz
    poletdiaz ·

    Totally answer and more!! yes i understand the lack of experience with camara can make things to complicated, i study cinema, so i kind of understand because i experience that with actors, even tough that same lack of experience can be used sometimes as a aesthetic resource, thats another issue.
    Intresting to know more about fashion industry, even tough the inmoral element as you say, i imagin that it must be really interesting to work with designers.
    I can harly wait to see your next work
    by the way, Dissolution thought is great, the texture of the image, the manara kind of girls. kuchar-cronenberg style, love it. and the music...
    could i ask the motivation of this piece of work?? and the green girls! amazing!!
    way is it the green ritual ladies?
    thanks for taking the time to answer!!

  10. ellenrogers
    ellenrogers ·

    You are very welcome!
    Thank you about ‘The Dissolution’, It has long long been finished but we just have not had the funding to bring it out yet. We want to release it properly, its only 5mins long. It’s going to be a ‘kickstarter’ project we think. The music is by Prizme (my boyfriend who illustrated the border to the above project.)
    Do you mean Milo Manara? If you do, brilliant! Hehe. I have long been a fan of his.
    I’ll admit it is strange talking about the meaning behind something that is in essence one of my moods. On a narrative level ‘Switch’ (the one with the green girls) was based on the histories of my home town, where I grew up was where Boudicca raised her family too and it is much to do with initiations within their tribe. It felt like it was a necessary mood I needed to excavate in relation to how I felt about my home town. The green paint was a take on ‘Wode’ which is also grown where I shot the film. I later made a shoot to follow up that same emotion I felt toward my history and that of Boudicca’s daughters (who where the inspiration behind ‘Switch’ also) You can see that here... It has a somewhat different feel but it’s another angle on the same theme, just at a different point in their lives.
    I would love to see some of your films, where might I find then?

  11. littleruins
    littleruins ·

    I have long been a fan of your work (and now your hair! the second picture especially, beautiful <3), so it's really inspiring to see some of your process. When is your book due out? I thought it was meant to be before Christmas, but I think you said on your blog some problem with printing?.. x

  12. ellenrogers
    ellenrogers ·

    Hehe. That’s so sweet. Thank you about the hair also. Gosh, indeed, we have been somewhat waylaid. There were all sorts of issues with the cover, I wanted an ‘image wrap’ and I wanted it to be coated in a way that didn’t peel away from the book, always when the mocks returned they looked so powdery and if you ran your nail along it the page would stick harder in the same way selotape does. In other occasions the black inlay wasn’t black enough and it seemed to stain the opposite page. I’ll admit I am a little too fussy at times, but eventually we found a more suitable printer and now we are going ahead. I can’t wait to see it. It seems it will arrive to me in the next month or so, so released a little later. I will certainly announce it on my blog/facebook/here/flickr/website. Thank you again for asking. X

  13. poletdiaz
    poletdiaz ·

    Yes thats what i mean Milo Manara! i also like it a lot. Waw! interesting caracter Baudicca, i didnt knew her. Lately i´ve been thinking about that, the importance of reserching about the place you were born and grew up, may be because i saw a film "My Winnipeg" of Guy Maddin, A ficcional autoreferencial that goes on that issue. and i felt very empatic.
    Sory i dindt understand what you mean about "a take on Wode" what is it Wood?
    Congrat for Switch! its really intense, i like it a lot.
    I dont have a web site for the time being, i dont have many works yet, i only did a video clip for a song i wrote with a friend of mine, if you like you can download it from here
    Now im working on a documentary film about an cultural exchange that we are experiencing with descendents of a tribe "The Quilmes" here in the north of Argentina. Its a tribe that offer a lot resistance in the Colonial period, and suffer a lot but still continues existing. We are giving them classes of filmmaking, realy interesting. but thats gonna take at least a year for the release. Thanks again for answering!!

  14. ellenrogers
    ellenrogers ·

    Gosh that film sounds really interesting, I hadn’t actually heard of it, but I’ll try and watch it when I return from my work trips. I agree it seems you can be somewhat connected to the subject if you know it the way you know the back of your hands. I would be interested to know what you will make as a result of your home town. Woad or wode, seen it spelt both ways, Is a plant that grows in Norfolk who’s seeds can be crushed to make a very powerful blue dye. It was used and still is occasionally for clothes but in the past it was mainly used for war paint in battle or in rituals. It would be covering the whole body sometimes and it was that act that I was nodding to, as you say it’s a connection to my home so I felt it should feature somewhere. I have just downloaded your film, it already sounds fascinating. I wonder if I might be able to contact you via email?

  15. poletdiaz
    poletdiaz ·

    its a canadian film (2007) very experimental.
    Yes me to, kind of need to go in the research (go for an inflexion-conection), thanks for the motivation! i think the place i live (San Miguel de Tucuman) is really diferent from anything you can imagine. War paint, awesome, it gives a real impact in the image, a feeling of out of time, out of space, althoug actually its very concrete on their references. Hope you go further with "The dissolution", can wait to see whats next! but that trailer is already awesome.
    yes of course, my email is
    and congrat to you and Prizme again for your work!!

  16. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Ellen, I am in awe of your photographs - they're so superbly crafted, very unconventional and simply beautiful to look at, time and time again - I never tire of seeing them. But above and beyond their stunning aesthetics, they all also have an enigmatic story to tell that sets the mind a-wondering, and that, I believe, is what distinguishes a technically proficient photographer from a true artist. You should be very proud of your work, and I sincerely hope you receive all the accolades you deserve. I wait with baited breath for your future posts!

  17. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    (Oops, make that 'bated' breath - an unpardonable error for someone who makes a living as an editor... ;-)

  18. icomewhenieatcaponata
    icomewhenieatcaponata ·


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