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:
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Louise at Carberry’s Cafe, located on Wensum Street in Norwich, kindly let myself and a creative team use her upstairs room for our latest fashion editorial. The idea behind the shoot was to incorporate Beth Poulter’s eye for mature styling with a rustic, characterful setting full of wooden textures. We used blush pink and pastel blue in the styling and make-up to bring the whole look together.
We had a small dilemma on the day of the shoot. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the make-up artist booked in for the shoot was unable to make it. It was a shame that they could not make the shoot as it would have been lovely to work with them, but some times situations like this happen. Luckily Jessy stepped in to take care of the make-up and did a fantastic job. We were looking for a natural look with hints of pink on the eyes and lips. We asked the model to not brush her hair that day so it was messy and full of texture.
Model Katie - represented by Crumb Agency - really brought the feel of the shoot to life. I directed her to look bored and uninterested, as though she was hanging around this room waiting for someone. I also like the people I photograph to look strong and to control the scene. I think she does this effortlessly by keeping the focus on her regardless of the composition.
When composing the images, I really wanted to get a feel for the space. The room was full of round, wooden tables and chairs, which I wanted to be visible in every shot. It gives the impression of the room being crowded by objects whilst noting that Katie is in the room by herself. I tried to position an object in between myself and Katie to give the photos an interesting sense of depth. If an object was not in the foreground, I would ask Katie to point her legs or arms towards me.
There were multiple objects in the room which I wanted Katie to interact with or use to add interest to the shot. Although the table and chairs help to get a feel for the cafe space, I didn’t want to overuse poses or compositions with them. I used different areas of the room and different set ups to tell more of a story and give further clues to the location. My favourite object was the wooden piano. I didn’t want to overuse this object so tried to make each pose and composition as varied as I could. We also discovered a Marshall amp in the corner of the room which we HAD to use. This is actually one of my favourite shots from the series.
I wanted to make the most of the floor to ceiling windows which was the main source of light for this photo shoot. Once Beth had styled Katie in the final outfit, I tried to take some backlit photos of Katie by the window. However the view out the window didn’t suit the rest of the shoot and I didn’t like the balance between the light and shadows. Instead, I asked Katie to lean against the window and turn to one side. I then stood inline with her, with the light falling on her from the left. These photos gave me serious chills. The light was so dreamy and romantic, Katie looked stunning and the reflection of her face in the window is so intriguing. Perfection!
I feel so blessed that I get to meet and work with such lovely, talented people. I’m very grateful that Louise let us use her cafe for the backdrop for these photos. The location was perfect for the look of the shoot. I love it when a plan comes together!
If you would like to work on an editorial project with me, please send me a message via the CONTACT page on this website.
Good news, everyone! I have been featured in Bring Me Magazine for my editorial series “Sunset Street”. Woohoo! Click HERE to buy your copy!!
The photos that have been featured were taken back in September on a gorgeous sunny evening. We took the photos between 6pm-8pm just as the sun was setting and becoming more and more dewy. Gorgeousness! The sun as inspiration, we used gorgeous warm tones to set the mood for the shoot.
My amaaazing team really helped to bring the shoot to life. Chloe, who I have worked with multiple times, brings so much energy and creativity to her modelling. She makes taking photos lots of fun, we are always cracking each other up and coming up with ideas together that help to push the shoot forward. Beth Atkins is such a fantastic make-up artist. I love her passion for using cruelty-free products whilst being able to create breathtaking make-up looks. Beth Poulter is a fabulous stylist who goes above and beyond to create eye catching and unique outfit combinations. Her styling was sooooo perfect for the look of the shoot and suited the location really well.
We took the photos at The Enterprise Centre at the UEA. The modern, neutral background helped to really make the styling stand out against it. It was a perfect contrast. I started shooting with the sun falling on the opposite side of the building so that the light on Chloe was soft and dewy. However as the sun started to fall ever so slowly, we moved round to the back of the building so that the photos did not become too dark (trying not to whack up the ISO). The light leaving the sun was becoming softer and softer. The helped to keep the lighting on Chloe really natural and flattering, rather than the sun casting dramatic shadows upon her.
If you get a chance, please take a look at the magazine, it would mean a lot to all of us involved in this shoot. If you’re looking to work on an editorial project, please drop me a message. I would absolutely love to hear your ideas.