My friend, Yelena, mentioned she was looking for someone to model for her, I couldn’t resist jumping at the opportunity to hang out with her and be on the other side of the camera. I often photograph self portraits, however I very rarely model for other photographers even though I really enjoy it. She put together a mood board and said she was looking for a field of wild flowers. I suggested a field near by my house filled with delicate blue flowers. We arranged to meet and spent the evening allowing our creativity to run wild. I asked her if I could bring my camera, as I couldn’t resist taking some snaps, to which she agreed and we captured the light at its most beautiful and ethereal; my favourite!
I took inspiration from my favourite set of photographs, “The Cottingley Fairies”. These photos were taken in 1917 (and later in 1920) by sixteen year old Elsie Wright and her nine year old cousin Frances Griffiths. Elsie cut fairy illustrations out of a book and the two girls took it in turn to pose with the fairies and take the photographs. After developing the photos in Elsie’s fathers darkroom, they tried to convince her parents that they were real. Her father did not believe them but her mother did. The photos were shown to the Theosophical Society who instantly believed the photos to be real. The girls swore to one another that they would keep the truth a secret. A member of the society, Edward Gardner, started a campaign to convince the public of their authenticity by holding lectures, making copies of the images and passing them around during meetings. Arthur Conan Doyle, a noted spiritualist, expressed how the photographs were evidence that communication could exist between the material and spiritual worlds. In fact, the girls were asked by the two men to provide them with more photos of the fairies. The girls took out their camera and decided to give them three more images, which lead to the men falling for the images again. This time Gardner brought a psychic to the garden who claimed the area was full of fairies. In 1983 the girls finally told the truth about the images being faked, but claimed they had seen the fairies. The two girls had different stories, Elsie confessed they were all faked but Frances expressed how the last image taken was real. She explained that when she took the photograph, the fairies were not there but showed up when the film was developed. Interestingly, even though the two girls explained how the images were set up, people still believed in them, even to this day. I think it is because people want to believe in the magic. During WWI, more people were drawn to the images and convinced they were real due to a need for escapism and the desire for a better world. To me, the photographs are magical - real or faked. Their story is magical too. The photographs created by Elsie and Frances are so stunning and creative. The composition, lighting and backdrop of each image feels like they have stepped out of a fairy tale. The girls look relaxed and happy in the images, as though they were friends with the fairies. I wanted to incorporate a similar set up with Yelena being the focal point of the image and the landscape around her to be natural but magical by using glorious evening light to create an enchanting glow. I wasn’t going to use cut out images of fairies, or edit fairies in afterwards. For me, it was more about making the location feel spellbinding and intriguing.
The Cottingley Fairies
The Cottingley Fairies
The Cottingley Fairies
The Cottingley Fairies
The Cottingley Fairies
I asked Yelena to bring some neutral coloured clothing, ideally a white summer dress or something similar. Earlier that day, she picked up a white summer dress from a charity shop, which turned out to be perfect for the look I was after. It was really simple with a hint of a pattern and texture on the top, almost like a slip dress. This, matched with her beautiful, curly brown hair, gave the images an earthy feel. We jokingly said the look felt like we were impersonating Mother Earth, or something similar, which to be honest, I adore this concept and think it fits. It adds to the spiritual story what was unfolding in my mind.
Using only three set ups, I took the photos of Yelena. The first was in the centre of the field, I gradually lowered the placement of the field so that Yelena looked taller and more powerful. Yet, she stands quietly, strong as though she belongs there. I wanted to keep the posing fairly natural, directing Yelena to look in a certain direction or use small movements. The pretty, blue flowers danced around her knees as the delicate clouds swirled peacefully above her head. It honestly felt really magical simply standing in this field, let alone taking the photos. When you notice that the world around you in magic, it opens your eyes to how special it is.
The second set up, I think, shows more of an influence from The Cottingley Fairies (particularly the fourth image in the series - “Fairy Offering a Posy to Elsie”) where she is looking towards the creature and both of them are framed by the plants. Originally, I asked Yelena to sit against the tree, but just as she sat down and we were about to take some photos, we heard a low buzzing noise and saw wasps exiting the tree. Yelena jumped up and thankfully did not get stung. It is a shame that we could not take photos in that position as it looked stunning, but I really liked how the alternate option came out. Yelena stood behind the tree and gracefully leant up against it. I love the way the tree and its branches framed her. We also took a shot slightly further away from the tree, which I think was just as whimsical. These shots also remind me of the beginning of Alice In Wonderland where she is sitting by the tree and first spots the white rabbit.
That’s when I noticed the full glow of the sun was peering through the clouds. I asked Yelena to sit with her back to the sun so I could take some back lit photographs. The golden brilliance of the sun was gracing the edge of her features: her hair; her skin and the flowers around her. I was more than likely making excitable noises at this moment in time - I can’t really remember what I was saying but what I can remember is the feeling of electricity flowing through me and the need to keep taking photos whilst exploring the different compositions to see the variation of the light.
It was really lovely to spend the evening with a good friend, who is also a creative person, to discuss ideas and create art together. I had an absolute blast taking these photos with Yelena. I felt so creatively free and I’m truly inspired to take more photos like these; I’m buzzing with passion to use my camera again and again. As a matter of fact, I am currently working on some mood boards for future shoots as I am aching to get back out there and take some more. I will be telling you more about these projects soon!
Please support Yelena by checking out her website and social media:
I met Hazel and her mum, Lottie, at a wedding fair back in 2018. We hit it off right away as we ending up chatting about our love for Studio Ghibli films amongst a tonne of other stuff. We simply clicked. Since then we stayed in touch and I had the pleasure of meeting her sweetheart, Paul, and their gorgeous pooch, Kirby. Whilst keeping in touch we arranged their engagement portrait session and discussed all of their ideas for their big day.
The day started off at Paul’s families Airbnb, just in the centre of Norwich. It was a gorgeous space with quirky yet elegant interior design- I wanted to move in the moment I walked through the door. I arrived just in time to capture them putting on the final details of their outfits, as they were all congregating in the living space, having a game or two, with beers in hand and having a good ol’ laugh. Some of the groomsmen really enjoyed being in front of the camera and decided to work their best poses! It was in the small, candid moments where magic happened, like Mark (Paul’s Dad) helped him to put on his jacket and the small, yet meaningful, looks between the groomsmen whilst they were gaming.
Over at the Maids Head Hotel, Hazel got ready with her bridal party. They got ready between two rooms; Hazel was having her hair done whilst her mum lovingly watched and supported her. Her bridesmaids, relatives and friends got ready next door. I have never seen a bridal party be so hands on with helping Hazel get ready. They all gathered round whilst she was putting on her dress and each member had a part to play in making sure her outfit was complete. It was really magical to witness this moment unfolding. As we went down the stairs to go to the taxi, we discovered the taxi had left without notifying anyone. The hotel staff kindly called the taxi people to try to solve the problem, whilst I called ahead to let Paul know what had happened. Some people might have had a meltdown or at least felt sad or angry that this had happened - but not Hazel. In fact, she took it in her stride. Hazel and her bridal party decided to walk to the ceremony venue, strutting through the streets of Norwich as passersby congratulated her and complimented her. One girl said to her mum, “She looks like a princess!” Lottie later expressed to me how much this moment meant to her and how it was really special to walk through Norwich to have so many strangers say such lovely things about her daughter.
Paul was waiting at the top of the aisle with his best man, Theo. They were chatting away and waiting patiently for Hazel and her bridal party to walk down the aisle. The ceremony took place at Norwich Castle, in the Benefactors room which was built over 900 years ago by the Normans (how cool is that?!). Hazel walked in to music featured in Studio Ghibli films, this added a whimsical, magical touch to the ceremony. Lottie provided a beautiful reading which brought a tear to many of the guests’ eyes. After the ceremony, we were greeted by Kirby, who was dressed up and ready to take some pictures! However, he wasn’t so keen for the confetti line and thought that it was a bit too much for him. Once the confetti line was over, we made our way to the location where Hazel and Paul had their first date to take some couples portraits. We slowly made our way to the reception venue (Anteros Art Foundation), stopping along Elm Hill to grab more portraits as more passersby congratulated the two of them.
At the venue, the guests were waiting in the courtyard to welcome the couple. Decorated with Studio Ghibli themed pieces, retro gaming models and objects they had collected from their travels to Japan, the venue truly told their story and love for the Japanese movies and gaming. They even had a chill out room set up with retro board games, colouring books and retro computer games. The food was a gorgeous, vegan Japanese buffet which kept the guests coming back for more! To finish the meal were cute, vegan cupcakes in a wide variety of delicious flavours. Shortly after the meal, I noticed Hazel had taken herself to the chill out room to read through her speech quietly to herself. She explained she felt nervous and emotional about reading it because she felt like certain parts would make her cry. Before long, the guests gathered in the courtyard to hear the speeches by Lottie and Hazel. Both speeches were truly heartfelt and moving, bringing smiles to the guests and lots of happy tears for Hazel too. During the speeches, the evening guests had started to arrive, which meant party time was nearly upon us! The cake was brought out and Hazel and Paul cut it with gusto! They explained to me they had been practicing cutting bread at home to get ready for the main event! I love these two so much! :) <3
We then wandered into the main hall, guests gathered around the sides to watch Hazel and Paul’s first dance. Theo was the DJ, poised and ready to press “Play” when the time was right. It was a really lovely first dance, full of laughs and singing, with a spin or two thrown in to the mix. Once the song was over, everyone clapped heartily. Paul called up his mum, Mary, and danced with her. Moments later, their close family and friends all got involved as they grabbed each others’ hands and danced the night away. I really didn’t want to leave!
There are so many photos from this wedding which I would love to share in this blog post, but I chose challenge myself and narrow it down to just 20 - damn you, Katie! If you would like to see more click here to see the full gallery.
Ceremony venue: Norwich Castle
Wedding reception: Anteros Art Foundation
Hair: Twist and Twine Hair Design
Cake: The Iced Vegan
By reading the title of this blog post, I can imagine a lot of you are conjuring up a certain episode of Game Of Thrones in your minds. Well fear not, I did not photograph the Red Wedding (could you imagine if they hired a photographer for their wedding - I know a photographer would not have existed in the GOT world - so maybe an artist interpreter.. or something?!), instead I worked with some awesome wedding suppliers to create a styled wedding shoot based around the colour red.
When starting this project, I knew that I wanted to go for something a bit different, perhaps tapping into my own tastes and elements that inspire me. I started looking at “Rock ‘n’ Roll Weddings” on Pinterest, which came up with alternative couples, leather jackets and industrial venues. I liked what I was searching for but felt like the images were repeating themselves and I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. I then started to search for colours. I came across several moody toned images, featuring lots of blacks and golds. I began to feel more excited about the project and delved deeper as I discovered some ethereal bridal portraits, particularly outside and using berry tones. That’s when it hit me that red should be the main focus for the wedding, particularly in the styling. Using red as the main colour meant I could use accents of white and green to bring the palette together. I made the bold decision to avoid a classic white wedding dress. White wedding dresses only became popular after Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. Prior to that, a bride could wear whatever colour she liked, but it would have been desirable to reflect the social status of her family. Later on, many people assumed white was used to symbolise purity and virginity, however the symbolism was never the original intent. All of the clothes are from ASOS apart from the models’ shoes and the white shirt worn by Rob.
With this in mind, I searched for suppliers who would be able to provide alternative wedding supplies. I wanted to capture the day as though we were going through a wedding day itinerary, focusing on both the details and important wedding moments. I did not want to over pose the models as I wanted it to reflect my wedding style: happy, relaxed and candid. I let them chat and have a laugh, just like I would with any of my couples. Photo taking should be seen as fun and enjoyable for all involved. One fun element I really wanted to include was bubble confetti. I first came across this on a photography forum and thought the idea of using bubbles instead of flowers was a really interesting modern twist. I armed the suppliers with bubbles and they really went for creating this whimsical effect! Have a lil read at how the other suppliers interpreted the theme, what fun ideas and suggestions they have for alternative weddings and anything they currently offer.
Every bride has their own preference for hair and make-up, whether is it natural, super glam or alternative. In the 1960s, brides started to get more creative with their make-up choices, using various colours and products. Eyes were kept minimal with a pop of colour else where on the face. Rebecca Morello went for a similar style, opting for natural eye make-up and dark lipstick as the pop of colour. Rebecca also suggests matching your eyeshadow or lipstick to the colour of your flowers. It’s a bold statement that’s sure to give you that extra wow factor that you’ll see in your photos for years to come. Floral crowns or individual blossoms blended into soft curls are a key 2019 trend. If your inner fairy queen is calling, answer her prayers with some minute blooms such as Gypsophila or Soleirolia Soleirolii. Rebecca is offering all 2019 brides £50 make-up for their wedding day and £25 per bridesmaid. Bargain! :)
So you know the look you are going for your day, now the challenge is to find a location that embodies that! The Keeper’s Green is an open field with countless possibilities. The field has lots of beautiful features including: a log cabin, a wildflower garden, willow walk, a fire pit, stunning scenery and so much more. Having so many options, means there are so many ways you can personalise it and that comes with endless photo opportunities! Perfect! This wonderful locations also comes with a tractor, so you may arrive to your wedding in style! The venue is also available for birthdays, parties and festival hire, so no matter what your celebration entails, The Keeper’s Green has it covered!
The invites are the first sneak peek into your wedding adventure, so give your guests a little hint for what is in store. For our outdoor wedding, Alex Tsoncheva used greenery to suggest where the wedding will take place. You can also use the invites to show off your colour scheme or theme. You can then carry on this design through the use of other stationary on your wedding day, such as, name places, menu, order of the day, table plans and anything else you can come up with! Wedding planning can be quite stressful, so put your own flair into your day and make sure you enjoy every moment of it. Alex reminded us of a wise quote from RuPaul “That is the key to navigating life - don’t take it too seriously. That’s when the party begins.”
Flowers are bloomin’ beautiful. Megan @ Bridget’s Flowers recommended going for a dried bouquet as this trend is becoming popular again. The stunning warm hues and interesting textures of unusual blooms, seed pods and dried grass suits both modern and vintage themed weddings. The pretty, pale bouquet Megan prepared for the shoot compliments the vibrancy of the red dress and suit, whilst bringing back hints of a traditional white wedding, creating an ethereal, romantic bridal look. Dried flowers are easy to preserve if you are planning on keeping your bouquet as a keepsake.
When it comes to alternative weddings, creating a mood board is extremely helpful. Especially when it comes to cake. Look on Pinterest for ideas regarding colour, shades, design ideas, textures and anything that catches your eye - even if the images aren’t actually of cakes! Take all these ideas to your meeting with your cake maker, they will then be able to take all the mixed up ideas and create a variety of designs to suit your theme and budget. The main thing is to research your cake makers, as some will specialise in certain areas others don’t, which can be key to creating the alternative style you want. For our outdoor wedding, Stacey’s Cakey Bakes created a cake perfect for a dark fairytale. The cake was designed like a tree stump, coloured in black with a beautiful bark texture. Around the cake, Stacey places roses, buds and vines to give it a romantic twist.
Party Time! You’re ready to dance the night away! Who better to celebrate your day than with Globe Trotter Cocktail Bar. They offer two set ups: horse box or flower wall bar. Both set ups are perfect for a festival feel, outdoor wedding. If you’re looking for something a bit different, Globe Trotter Cocktail Bar have you covered. You can also rename the cocktails to tie in with your wedding. Say if you were going for a Game Of Thrones Wedding (sorry, back to that concept again!), you could name the drinks after the different places, characters or houses. Amy @ GTCB advised that previous couples have named the cocktails after the bride and groom.
As you can see, we had an absolute blast photographing this styled wedding. I highly recommend these suppliers and strongly believe they will help to make your day freakin’ awesome! I’m incredibly passionate about creating photos that are full of character and tell your story through creative reportage and ninja photography skills! If you would like to find out more, drop me a message here or check out my price list here.
If you’re seeing more from this shoot, follow the link below.
The Red Wedding Gallery.