The world would be a more cheerful place if there were more people like Kelly Lewis. By her own admission, Kelly was never much of a baby person–it was just something that didn’t interest her the way baby fever seems to grip others. So, instead of changing diapers and tending to the delicate needs of a newborn, Kelly worked on growing her career as a creative portrait photographer and enjoying time spent with her husband.
Then, while cruising around the internet, Kelly came across the blog of a family who had just gone through the process of adopting a child. Something about the blog resonated with the photographer. “It changed my life,” Kelly said, and the next thing she knew, she and her husband were having dinner at the bloggers house, piquing their mind about adoption. The Lewises left the dinner meeting feeling inspired; they immediately got to work on the stacks of paperwork required to adopt.
The same family that invited the Lewises into their home to discuss adoption, mentioned they knew of a seven year old girl, by the name of Destiny, that was in the need of a forever home. They thought Kelly and her husband might be a good fit for the girl. In January of 2012, the couple met Destiny for the first time. Two weeks later, Destiny moved in with the Lewises, and her adoption was finalized the following July. After cycling through six different mother figures by the time she was seven years old, things were beginning to look up for Destiny.
She took to her new last name, Lewis, and began asking her adopted parents if she could change her first and middle name, too. Hestitant to change one of the only things Destiny had left from her birth family, Kelly and her husband waited patiently to see if it was just a phase the girl was going through.
But, she persisted, explaining in her own words, that she had grown tired to the stigma that’s attached to such a name. Some of the previous families promised her a forever family, saying it was “destiny” that she was part of their lives, but they always changed their minds. So, after spending time mulling over new names Destiny suggested–most of which were also the names of Disney characters–the family finally settled on Alice, not at all unlike Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice In Wonderland.
When asked what she liked about the fictional Alice, Alice Lewis voiced her best impersonation of the character. “She’s curious and clumsy. I like when Alice is asking herself questions while she’s falling down the rabbit hole,” Alice said while plucking an imaginary teacup out of the air.
Alice In Character
It was clear, by now, that Alice had an affinity for fairy tales and the make believe. Combining her active, healthy imagination with with the photography skills of her adopted mother, the pair embarked on what has become a truly inspiring photo series, featuring the cosplay of the young Alice.
“Alice is a very imaginative child. Playing make-believe is how she’s coped with all of the negative things she’s lived through. It’s just a natural part of her being now and cosplaying gives her a creative outlet to express herself and be whoever she wants to be. It’s her dream to become an actress.”
Their first shoot was inspired by a dress they saw while out shopping one afternoon. Alice noted how it looked similar to the one Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz wore. Kelly asked her daughter if she would be interested in doing a Dorothy themed photoshoot, to which Alice happily obliged.
As it turned out, Alice is a natural in front of the camera. She’s able to instantly fall into character and is never discouraged when the weather doesn’t feel like cooperating. Kelly Lewis says the styling process is a joint process, her and Alice do all the work as a team. It’s become a hobby for the two–scouring the local thrifts stores for the odd and eclectic costume pieces and props.
Together, Kelly and Alice have assembled quite the portfolio. The two have completed dozens of shoots, some spur of the moment occurrences, others which took weeks of planning. They’ve portrayed a variety of characters from Wonder Woman, Margot Tenenbaum, a poignant remake of a classic Kurt Cobain photo, and a child abuse awareness themed shoot.
You can enjoy a sampling of the images here, but be sure to head over to Alice’s website, The Malice of Alice and don’t forget to follow the project’s official Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. To learn more about Kelly Lewis’ photography, you can visit her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Kelly also maintains a family blog, where you can get a behind the scenes look at some of the photoshoots and day to day life of Alice and her adopted family.