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Fairy Tales, Weddings and Photography | Legend of the Smok

Krakow, Poland
Many brides dream of a fairy tale wedding. And many of those tales end with the prince marrying his princess. Since we were photographing at Wawel Castle in Krakow, we wanted to create an image that was reminiscent of a fairy tale. After all we had all the elements of a good story: the prince, the princess bride, and a fire-breathing dragon.

Before we get to the photo I’d like to share with you the real story behind the dragon. The statue represents the dragon from an old Polish legend about the beast which goes something like this….

Once upon a time, a king ruled over the land that is now called Poland. Everyone lived happily until a dragon moved into the cave at the bottom of Wawel Hill.

The beast was enormous, with green scales, a long tail and a mouth full of sharp teeth. As if that wasn’t scary enough, he also breathed fire.

This dragon, we’ll call him Smok, was always hungry. He demanded that the villagers give him a cow every week. Otherwise, Smok warned, he would start eating the townspeople, starting with tasty young girls, he said smacking his lips.

Soon he had eaten almost all the livestock from the countryside. The king didn’t know what to do. He issued a proclamation: “Whoever slays the dragon will receive the princess’s hand in marriage and become the new king when I die.”

Noblemen from far and wide tried to slay the dragon. Many went into the cave, none came out.

One day, a poor, young shoemaker’s apprentice asked the king if he could try to kill the dragon. “But you have no sword or armor,” said the king. The royal court roared with laughter but the cobbler was not deterred. “I have something better,” he replied, “I have an idea!”

The king agreed to let the shoemaker try his hand at slaying the dragon, promising him the kingdom if he succeeded.

The shoemaker bought a dead ram from a butcher. He stuffed it with sulphur powder and carefully sewed it back together with his shoemaker’s thread. Early the next morning, he carried the stuffed ram to the dragon’s cave and set it right outside the entrance.

Smok woke up to the smell of the fresh meat. He was such a glutton that he gobbled up the ram in one bite.

The sulfur caught on fire from the dragon’s breath. Smok ran to the Wisla River to quench his thirst and put out the fire in his belly. He drank and drank and drank, filling up with water until POP, he exploded!

Finally the villagers were free of the dragon!!! The shoemaker married the princess and they lived happily ever after, or so the legend goes.

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