I take a lot of inspiration from the music I listen to. Siouxsie and The Banshees was one of my favourite bands as a teenager. I’ve taken inspiration from her music before for school projects and I felt very proud of the photographs I created. Back in October I was looking on Pinterest for inspiration and came across images of Siouxsie Sioux. I instantly felt electricity run through my body and I was filled with so many ideas.
I got in touch with Olivia at Sandra Reynolds. I told her all about my ideas and showed her my mood board. She was really excited about the theme and couldn’t wait to do the shoot. We arranged a date and I immediately messaged Abi Gray. I worked with Abi on an ethereal photo shoot when I was at university. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her so I was eager to get her involved in the project. I headed to The Cottage in Norwich to speak with Chris about using his pub for the venue of the shoot. He was interested in the project and happy to let us use the space. I was over the moon about this as I had been wanting to use the space for a long time! The Cottage is decorated with lots of deep emeralds and blues, warm wooden furniture and dramatic decor. Perfect for our glamorous gothic shoot. I emailed Jackie Hamilton Beauty School to see whether they could help us find the perfect make-up artist for the shoot. They gave me the details of the extremely talented Lucy Morris.
Olivia, Lucy and I were there first so we could get started on the make-up. The look was dramatic with black smokey eyes, slight blush on the cheeks and nude lips to not distract from the eye make-up. Siouxsie’s eye make-up was iconic, but I did not want to copy it. I’d rather use her for inspiration than to replicate her. Abi and her sweet daughter Imogen arrived and set up all the clothes and accessories. As Lucy was finishing up the make-up, Abi and I went around the photo shoot locations so we could decided which item of clothing would be best for that area.
The first location was the entrance of the ladies bathroom. I was mesmerised by the tiles as they would work as leading lines to keep the focus on Olivia. Abi chose a body suit and a tasseled jacket for Olivia to wear. This outfit was perfect for the location because the intricate patterns on the body suit and jacket contrasted the straight bold lines of the tiles. I took a test shot to check the lighting. I looked at the display on my camera and was blown away. Olivia looked incredible! More than incredible! Everyone turned to each other in excitement. We knew we had created something wonderful because even the test shot blew our minds!
For the second look we wanted to create something a little bit sweeter. Abi chose a strapless dress with a large underskirt to give it a nice flared shape. I wanted to replicate the pattern seen in the bathroom with the tiles, so I positioned Olivia in front of a brick wall. On this brick wall were two dramatic candles with wax dripping out of the nook they were positioned in. I composed the photo so that the eye starts on Olivia, moves to the top candle, then to the second, then back to Olivia. This is when Chris’ cat became very curious. It would wander across, in to the shot, in a very deliberate manner! But I love that I was able to photograph it walking by because it develops the story behind the image.
The fourth look was shot in front of the fireplace. Olivia looked really cool in a velvet playsuit and gold accessories. I love black and gold together! As a photographer it was quite a difficult area to work in. I had to ensure the horizon line was straight, as there were three walls to work with and checking Olivia was in the correct spot to them. I wanted to make sure certain elements and textures were visible such as, the fireplace, the candles, the logs, the carpet and the gold bucket. I also had to make sure the plug socket was not visible.
I was really excited about using a green leather arm chair I spotted at The Cottage. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to use it in some way. For this shot I brought my gold skull (aptly named Prudence) with me. The gold would bring back elements from other shots, such as the fire place and the brick wall. Abi used some really great textures in the styling. The look was very dramatic and luxurious. Lucy changed the lipstick so it was slightly richer in tone but not too make to distract from the eye make-up. I changed compositions several times during this shot, for me I really wanted to make the photo pop and be as dramatic as possible (just like the first test shot). By changing the composition I was able to do this.
We then went round into a different area of the pub, filled with wooden furniture and less blues and greens. I wanted to still use these tones so in Photoshop I used my Blue & Gold action. This action makes the colours feel really rich and luxurious. Immy brought over a stool for Olivia to sit on as I took the images against a dramatic wooden wall, with a hint of blue and emerald paint and a brick wall in the background. This again refers to other images such as the second look, fire place and arm chair. The wooden wall consisted of large rectangle coves in a pattern as an homage to the tiles in the bathroom but on a larger scale. It keeps the attention on Olivia.
I positioned Olivia to sit on the arm of a leather chair, in the corner of the room. In this shot there were a lot of brown tones, and only a hint of blue/grey from the lamp behind her. I think Olivia is a really fantastic model, and from this location it really shows. She was surrounded by heavy chairs and other items of furniture, but she was able to command the shot and keep the attention on her, frame after frame.
The last look was a velvet cape. The original idea was to have Olivia sitting down on the floor and I stand above her so you can see the cape spread out, flowing behind her. However this didn’t quite work because the cape was not long enough, or the angle made her body look out of proportion, or the space wasn’t right. So we changed it up with Olivia standing up, Prudence was back, and then it was perfect. The girls were great with coming up with creative solutions. I am very thankful I had the opportunity to work with them.
Thank you ladies for bringing my vision to life.
Model: Olivia Bate @ Sandra Reynolds
MUA: Lucy Morris
Stylist: Abi Gray
Venue: The Cottage