Making The Most Out Of A Small Location

I met up with the gorgeous Laura Stafford Smith last Saturday to take photos for her blog and Instagram. We met on Rose Lane and wandered to one of Norwich’s secret gardens. I was introduced to this garden many years ago when my boyfriend and I were first dating. He took me there and we sat on a bench eating ice cream. Pretty cute, huh?! It is a quirky community garden where the local residents can grow all sorts of plants. It is filled with really interesting garden furniture including a row of painted bath tubs filled with plants. 

For a small location there is a lot crammed in! This willow tree arch (I think it’s a willow tree.. I helped to make one of these at my primary school and remember them calling it a willow tree. Whatever it is called, it sure is pretty!) caught Laura’s eye so we set up there first. We both agreed her blue dress and blonde hair made her look like Alice In Wonderland leaving the rabbit hole, or in this case the willow tree arch. I tried to get three key shots in this area; the establishing shot, a mid shot and a close up. These three shot types help to tell the story. The establishing shot shows the location and Laura’s full outfit. The mid shots bring the focus more on Laura. The close up shows the details of Laura’s outfit and make-up. Depending on the location, I try to use these three type of shots as much as I can.

This location was filled to the brim with character, so choosing a spot for each shot was pretty easy. We were spoilt for choice! I keep certain things in mind when looking for an area to shoot. I look for..

- Good lighting (ideally so that it looks even and natural, or lighting that adds interest and shape).

- Interesting textures and colours.

- Leading lines to frame the subject and direct the eye towards them. 

A lot of photographers consider these things important to composing images well. Some photographers have their own way of using and manipulating them to suit their own style.

You may have noticed, I have a thing for placing people in the centre of the frame. I am really inspired by symmetry, particularly in Wes Anderson films. However, in saying that, I like it when the background tries to conflict my ideas! The person I’m taking photos of may be in the centre of the image, but there is always something in the foreground or background giving the photos a sense of unbalance. I aim to give my photos a feeling of realness that comes from leaving the location as it is to show off the natural character. 

As the location was quite small, we were careful and cautious to not repeat the same areas. To avoid this, take photos from a multiple angles to make each area looks new and interesting. We started at one end by the willow tree arch, then worked our way down to the far end with the potting area. There were two main pathways through the garden so we went up the right hand side then back down the left. Although some of the various areas appear in the background of other images, it helps to make sure the photos flow as a set. I find that if you wander around too much looking for locations, the photos can seem a bit disjointed. If you do choose to wander round, select areas with similar colours or in a similar style to help make the photos work better as a set. For instance, try not to take photos in an old location then go to a modern location because this may clash too much. 

To finish up we took some portraits by a long red and black brick wall just next to the garden. Laura really likes brick walls as backdrops and uses them often in her photos. I really liked the contrast of the two toned bricks against her outfit. Laura really reminds me of Julie Christie in the film Darling, effortlessly cool and effortlessly elegant at the same time. Do you see it to?? I love it! <3

Please take a look at Laura’s awesome spaces on the internet linked below:




If you have a blog or website and would like some photos that capture you and your fab style. Drop me a message here to find out more :)