Yelena Buck and I have worked together on a previous shoot back in 2013, so I was over the moon when she agreed to work with me on a new project. Last year I worked on several magazine editorials, and thoroughly enjoyed working with such incredible creatives. Together, Yelena and I assembled a team who we thought would be perfect for this shoot.
Yelena creates insanely beautiful lingerie, inspired by nature using earthy tones and delicate details, we focused on using the pretty, warm yellow Sweet Daisy set. I adore warm tones, particularly yellow, and wanted to find a location that suited these tones. We first started looking at function rooms within Norwich, but found they were too cluttered, or dark, or gave us little privacy for shooting underwear. That’s when I realised the perfect location was right under my nose, only a five minute walk from my house! We shot in an old court house, now used for events and clubs. The building still has a lot of character (still with creepy cells at the back of the building), the gorgeous wooden clad rooms and tiled corridors were perfect tonally and suited the feel of the shoot.
I got in touch with Lynsey at Pretty Little Rentals who agreed to style the shoot for us. I was fortunate enough to meet Lynsey at a wedding fair at the beginning of the year. I loved her enthusiasm for her business and all things pretty. We got on really well and I knew that I wanted to keep her as an important contact for future shoots and weddings. Her rustic and vintage style was perfect for the look of the shoot, and I was super duper excited to have her be a part of the team.
We wanted to find another creative who could add something extra to the styling, and suited the earthy, rustic feel we were going for. After scrolling through lots of websites and instagram accounts, we found Sophie at Moon and Moss Jewellery. We both previously knew Sophie and her beautiful pieces, and thought that she would be a perfect fit for the shoot.
That’s when we got in touch with Kerry at Sparkle With Kerry to be our make-up artist. Kerry has a wonderful eye for colour and eye-catching make-up looks (just check out her Instagram page.. it will blow you away!). I worked with Kerry previously for her Stardust Glitter Bar shoot and I absolutely adored working with her. She is such a friendly, kind person and her make-up skills are on point!
We put out a casting call for a blonde female model and had lots of interest for the shoot. Cathy reached out to me, and we felt that she would be wonderful for the shoot. She has lots of modelling, acting and dancing experience, which would help to portray the feel we were after. On the day she captivated all of us, her posing and expressions were flawless whilst making the styling, make-up and location all come together as though it was meant to be.
On the day we set up multiple areas to shoot in and tried to incorporate all of our areas of expertise where we could. Our plan was to keep it as simplistic as possible so that each individual image was impactful. I think Cathy helped us to achieve this by keeping the posing different in every shot. Yelena brought three sets with her for us to shoot and we tried two set ups per lingerie set. We would change Cathy’s hair style in each set up so the styling was dynamic. We wanted to use as many areas of the courthouse as we could to give the series variety and interest. The building is so interesting to walk around and explore, so we wanted to make the most of this. Variety was key throughout the shoot.
I love working with natural light, outdoors and indoors. Window light can be so affective for setting the mood in an image. Depending on where you pose your model and the composition, the directional light coming from the window creates depth to the image. Unfortunately when shooting in the corridors there was less natural light to work with. We had to shoot quite close to two pairs of double doors with mottled glass windows to get any form of good lighting to work with. We couldn’t open the doors to let in more light as they were locked (D’oh!). At this time of day, the sunlight was falling through the windows on the opposite side of the building, which made the corridors even darker. I always bring with me some back up lights just in case it is too dark to work with natural light, but I really didn’t want to use them. I didn’t want to use them because if I use the flash in one set up and not in the others, that set up would look disconnected from the rest of the series. We turned on the lights in the hallway behind Cathy and kept her facing towards the light through the doors. We were originally going to use the hallway behind Cathy to take the photos as we all really liked the symmetry in this area. However this area was too dark, the lighting was too artificial, and there was lots of signs on the walls which could not be taken down. The photos did not fit in well with what we had previously taken, but moving towards those double doors really helped to keep the photos working as a series.
Although the location was a dream to work with, and I wanted to capture as much of it as I could, I also wanted to get some detail shots of the clothing, jewellery and make-up. The beauty shots help to break up the full length fashion shots whilst showcasing just how freaking amazing the team are. All the pieces came together so well, from the location, the set, the lingerie, the jewellery, the make-up, the hair and of course Cathy doing her thaaang in every shot. Dayum, guurrl! :)
I really liked Cathy’s feminine, dancing, abstract poses throughout the shoot. The poses give character to her story, grounding her to the location. She interacts so well with the location, as though we’ve just walked in on her space where she feels so relaxed and connected, both physically and spiritually. I honestly cannot stop praising Cathy for how amazing she was on the shoot. Her poise and elegance is timeless. I’m truly in awe of her.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with this truly fabulous team. They all put their all in to the shoot, were really committed to creating some fab photos, which was a really lovely experience to be a part of. I’m also super duper proud because we are lucky enough to get our photos put in SHUBA magazine. Woooooohooooo! *High fives all around* Please take a look at the magazine and feel free to purchase your own copy (link below). I am so thankful that the magazine picked up our images and we have a really lovely feature titled “Court Of Daisies” in the magazine. Thank you to SHUBA for selecting our editorial and thank you to Yelena, Lynsey, Sophie, Kerry and Cathy for making it possible and being super stars.
Yelena Buck - www.yelenabuck.com
Lynsey @ Pretty Little Rentals - www.prettylittlerentals.co.uk
Sophie @ Moss And Moon Jewellery - www.instagram.com/moonandmossjewellery
Kerry @ Sparkle With Kerry - www.sparklewithkerry.net
Cathy - www.instagram.com/ceemeandtea
Check out the Magazine here:
Buy a copy here:
Living in the UK means the weather can be great one moment then dire the next. It’s annoying but you kinda get used to it. I actually like the sunshine and the rain, so whatever the skies decide to do is a-ok with me. However what is annoying is when you book a client for an outdoor shoot and the heavens open. Not a-ok, buddy. In saying that, this change of weather brings new opportunities and I have no choice but to think on my feet. I enjoy a challenge.
The first part of Sancha’s photo shoot was to take a clean headshot against a white backdrop. I got out my white roll, fixed it up, took a handful of photos. Stage one done. Chhheck! As the first part of the shoot was going to be taken indoors, this was no problem at all. The head shots were always going to be taken at my house but we had intended to go outside and walk around the village for some street style portraits. But the rain persisted so we had to use what was available. My house.
Okay, so I have to admit that I’m totally fine with using my house for the shoot location. I have taken so many photos in this house so I know where the best light is instantly. However we didn’t want the photos to look like something I had already photographed previously. I want to give each client a unique set of images. I immediately ruled off the upstairs of my house. Although I love the decor upstairs I have A) shot their multiple times, particularly for my self portraits and B) not tidied up! ;) Instead I focused on two areas, the conservatory and the kitchen. The conservatory is flooded with gorgeous soft light and is really flexible for multiple shots without needing to shift anything around. The colours in the conservatory consist of neutral based tones through to warmer tones. This is also why I decided to shoot in the kitchen because the tones were similar and worked well as a set of images.
There are several elements that are worth considering when shooting in a small area with a model. First of all, I like to show the model some images of poses, a mood board, or images that have a distinctive feel to them. I personally like poses that are quite candid and chilled out, with a hint of sassiness to them (of course!). With Sancha, I showed her images of models in relaxed poses so she had an idea of how I would direct her and so she could form her own ideas. The poses need to work with the setting and the lighting needs to set the mood whilst flattering the model. For each set up I would ask Sancha to position herself in a specific way, watch her get into position and then make slight alterations to perfect the shot. For example, adjusting her hair or outfit. I would also make sure the area is clear and there is nothing creeping into shot or distracting me from her. An example of this is removing cushions from the sofa so they didn’t distract from Sancha by being too patterned or bright. It is always best to keep the shot as simple as possible.
I tried four different set ups in the conservatory; Sancha sitting on the sofa, Sancha shot through the window, Sancha on the floor in front of the sofa and one shot above Sancha with the tiles as the backdrop (just noticed how many times I said “Sancha” in that sentence! Wowee!). I felt at this point we had really made the most out of this area and the photos flowed really well without looking too repetitive.
So we went through to the kitchen. The kitchen is a much larger room with three light sources. One at the front, one to the side and one at the back of the room. I asked Sancha to sit at the breakfast table and sit with her arms stretched out across it. I really like playing with perspective at the moment and adore shots with body parts or objects closer to the camera and the models face in the middle of the shot. Her arms help to frame her face and direct us working as leading lines towards her face.
After that I asked Sancha to sit on the floor against the wooden cabinets, again with her legs facing towards the camera. This tricks the camera to make Sancha look taller and directs the eye up towards her face. This area was much darker than the breakfast bar but I didn’t want to bring in another light source as it may make these photos not work so well in the set by creating something that feels artificial. I adjusted the camera settings accordingly to make this setting work.
At this point it was still raining and we both felt like we had made the most of these two spaces. We looked outside and decided to embrace the rain.. or at least somewhat embrace it. Sancha took her mum’s umbrella and we headed into the garden. We took several photos of her holding the umbrella but we both thought something looked a bit off. Sancha threw down the umbrella and we took a quick blast of shots before we became too soggy and headed swiftly back indoors. I really like the photo of Sancha against the brick wall. The diagonal lines of the wall behind her are really unusual and the pop of pink from her jacket pulls you in. She looks super sassy too which makes the photo that little bit more fab-u-lous!
I hope this blog post helps you when taking portraits in your own house or in a small location. It is always worth considering how the light enters the space and where you can best place your model within the room. If something doesn’t work then change it up. Make sure you direct the person you are taking photos of and offer suggestions on where to put their hands (etc). Try to put across a mood or feeling throughout the images to tell a story and make the photos flow well between each of them. I’d love to see your own photos that you took in a small location, send them my way via the CONTACT page :)
You know those personality tests where they ask you to imagine yourself in a setting and it proceeds to ask you questions about the setting. Well, imagine you’re in the middle of the desert and in front of you is a cube. That’s how my mind works when I think up ideas for my self portraits. Although a lot of my friends would disagree, I am a quiet person. I like to be quiet and sit and think. Like the personality quiz, an image of a place (whether it be a place I have been to, a place I created in a dream, or a place in a movie) will form in my mind’s eye and I focus on it. If I have been there before I will walk around it, going through my memories like a picture book. For the places I have never been, I try to imagine how I would feel walking around it. I use my senses to question the smells, the feel of my surroundings, what I am seeing, the sounds and possibly even the tastes (we’ve all pictured a cake shop from time to time, right?!). I consider the location for my self portraits to be crucial for storytelling. I hone in on what I want my surroundings to look like and will search for the perfect reflection of what my mind has created.
I then become the mysterious cube in the desert. I welcome myself into the location. I consider what I could be doing in the location; am I alone? How do I feel? What am I wearing? The image of myself become imprinted into the location as though I have always belonged there. My body slowly transform into a gesture or pose and soonI have developed my first image for my self portrait series. I continue in the pursuit of the series by exploring the location, finding areas suitable to the story and the character of myself. Where am I going? Am I waiting for someone? For other photo shoots (particularly fashion and portraits) I like poses that are relaxed, in an effortlessly cool manner. I want the location and myself to blend well as though we belong together, like soul mates… I guess.
There is a ladder. How does the ladder interact with the cube? I bring with me a a selection of props or I will try to find props that are already part of the landscape to give the images variety. The concept of using a prop, particularly one from the location, helps to ground my character as though they have an intimate connection. The photos feel less like, “here’s me by a bush” and more “me and the bush are connected and are going to take you on a lil journey”.
I always try to recreate what I see in my minds eye. I ache to create and capture the world that only my mind sees. My mind is always wandering.