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Same Dress Spokane combines fashion, photography to raise funds for charity

By Katharine Kumangai The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Valley’s Rachel Fellows was looking for a community of photographers when three years ago she created the Same Dress Spokane photography project.

She found it, and then some.

The project challenges photographers to do a photo shoot centered on a dress Fellows provides. Each person works with the dress for one week and then hands it off to the next photographer.

This year, 12 participants have signed up. Along with Fellows, the photographers are Gavin James, of Deer Park; Paul Brousseau, of Post Falls; Jason Jakober, of Coeur d’Alene; and Lisa Pipella, John Austin, Mike Wolfgram, Chris Wooley, Tabor Cote, Jake Donovan, Lynne Morris and Scott Martinez, all of Spokane.

Participants must agree to keep their work secret until the “share date” but can show behind-the scenes photos in the meantime.

The project began in May and culminates Aug. 14 on a social media blast. A weeklong auction for the dress follows. Find the links on Facebook at Same Dress Spokane. Some of the photos will be displayed in the Voice sections of The Spokesman-Review.

“The inspiration for the project was to see how each of us viewed the same common object, the dress, and what inspiration, creativity and premise it sparked in us all.

“It’s so great to see the diversity that we all come up with and how each of us create different images with the common thread (no pun intended),” Fellows said in an email.

Fellows said the noncompetitive nature of the project helps promote a shared interest in the art of photography. It also helps forge new friendships.

Encouraged by the response to the project after the first year, Fellows added a charitable component the second year and is bringing back the auction.

“The highest bidder won a beautiful gown that has a great history and story, and 100% of the proceeds from the auction went to the Spokane Humane Society,” Fellows said of last year’s auction.

The animal shelter has been chosen again to receive the proceeds.

This year’s dress is “a long-sleeved, very metallic silver gown, sleek and flowy,” Fellows said.

Fellows found the dress at Union Gospel Mission thrift store in Spokane Valley for under $10 – also her price limit. In the first year, she found a dress at a flea market in Greenacres; the second year at Goodwill.

“It’s a total experiment and truly a challenge to do a photo shoot with a garment you didn’t choose,” Fellows said.

But the photographers commit to the project.

“There’s a part of me that wants to be evil and choose an ’80s dress with the shoulder pads and ribbon on the butt,” Fellows said, laughing.

Fellows is a hobby photographer when she’s not working as a dental office manager.

Last year, the auction raised $595 for the Spokane Humane Society.

“We can do better,” she said.

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