Every time I sit down to write a blog, I am still amazed at the number of times I’ve been able to get out and about with my camera. The world continues to turn, the day job is still busy, we’re travelling through autumn at a rate of knots with Christmas looming and the ironing mountain at Edwards Towers still needs to be done, but despite all of this, I still find time to enjoy my photography.
One of the things I love about photography is the way that it brings like-minded people together. As I’m writing this blog I’m also looking back at a variety of photo shoots I’ve undertaken and the people that I’ve met along the way. Never is this more true than the days and weeks which follow a photographic event or workshop. Models, make-up artists, dress designers, stylists and other photographers all play a part in my creative journey, yet our paths may never cross again and I am always left feeling thankful that we met. Even if some of them only grace my world for a short period of time, it feels as if they’ve all left tiny footprints in my life.
This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending two photographic events, very different in nature, but each one as rewarding as the other albeit in a different way.
If you’ve never heard of Walter’s Wardrobe I would urge you to go and track it down on social media. The brainchild of a remarkable young woman who has enjoyed a pretty stellar modelling career in the creative photography world working with people such as Brooke Shaden, Ben Von Wong, Lovegrove and McGillicuddy to name a few, Jen Brook has now turned her hand to organising highly professional, creative and exciting portfolio building photographic events. Drawing on her own experience, using her extensive network of contacts and I suspect a pretty persuasive manner, Jen has been able to run events in the most amazing locations including Allerton Castle, Wentworth Woodhouse and most recently, a private home in Yorkshire.
As Mr E and I drove along the M62 corridor on Friday morning the rain and fog made for a very challenging journey, however as we neared the White Rose county the weather picked up and the colours of autumn glowed along our route.
Reaching our destination I was very happy to recognise familiar faces, including Jane, this time with her husband accompanying her; a very dear friend and ace photographer (she is not only because her work is top notch, but because she made me look and feel amazing when I had a photoshoot for my 50th birthday last year) Jo Rutherford (check her out and look for her Alter-Ego Portrait series), along with her mate Donna (who was quickly added to the creative team) as well as Maureen and Lesley from another aspect of my photographic world. Greeted by Jen and her dad John, after a quick cuppa we were treated to a tour of the house to help us get our bearings, and start to formulate some ideas for the day ahead.
Jo and I agreed we would work together, and we were joined by the third member of our group, Deborah Selwood (another creative worth seeking out on social media if you get a chance).
First up we had the pleasure of working with the lovely (if slightly crazy but delightful) Charlotte in a dreamy ethereal pink dress created by designer Sharon Bowen-Dryden (as were all the dresses) with millinery by HF Couture (all millinery save the pom-poms). Working in the Turkish steam room was a real challenge, natural light was very limited albeit there was enough for beautiful portraits, and so we resorted to using flash, having to be very careful where we positioned the lights as they bounced off the reflective tiles all around the room. Charlotte could so easily have been lost amidst the highly patterned decor, but with a little imagination, we were able to make sure she and the dress were the stars of the show.
I was testing out my latest photo purchase, the Fuji 90 mm F2 lens, having convinced myself following a talk from Wayne Johns at Digital Splash, that it needed a place in my camera bag. It is fair to say that for portraiture, this lens is up there with the best of them, and is razor sharp. By way of a specific test, I cropped in on one of my photos and this is the result. Make up for this look was by Sophie Battersby.
I know I’m going to enjoy using this lens in the future. As our first session drew to a close, we were given the obligatory ten (or should that be Jen?) minute warning and set about returning the room to how we found it.
Every now and again I am reminded how vertically challenged I am (at my fullest height, I might just muster 5’ 5”), never was this more true when Siobhan introduced herself to us. She is a very statuesque 6 feet tall and she commanded the gold room with grace and elegance (well mostly!). This room was beautiful, the ceiling which I forgot to take a photograph of was exquisite and the light through the long casement windows was just perfect. No flash for me this time it was natural light all the way. I was intrigued by Siobhan’s unusual headpiece which was designed by Jen who makes pom-poms like a pro, but with Livvy Morewood’s flawless make-up, the result was a very couture look which I love. Highlight of the session was my friend Jo being taught how to model by Siobhan, the very short video taken on my phone can be found on the Walter’s Wardrobe Facebook page. I don’t think the modelling community is under threat!
We broke for a short lunch break and a well-earned cup of tea and I popped outside to enjoy a breath of fresh air admiring the garden and grounds which looked like a painting in the hazy autumn sunshine.
Our next location was the grand staircase leading into the main hallway and we were greeted by lovely Bethany a titian-haired model in a voluminous mint green dress. By this time we were starting to lose the natural light, my little Manfrotto Lumimuse light came in very handy indeed.
Once we’d finished with the stairs, we moved into a cosy sitting room filled with paintings and comfortable seats. I like the image of Bethany on the sofa reading, but my favourite portrait with the garden clearly visible through the window.
Our final session was in the most wonderful library, surrounded by volumes, some of which were clearly hundreds of years old, the atmosphere was unlike any other room in the house. Elle-Beth patiently accommodated my request to once again ascend the library steps in order for me to channel my inner Tim Walker and make the image below.
Now there’s one person I have so far failed to mention, cinematographer Devin Schiro is a great friend of Jen’s and had flown in from LA to capture this event and film for her. Devin is a talented filmmaker and his work can be found all over the Internet and is well worth a look. I’m looking forward to seeing what he creates from this event.
He is also a talented piano player, as we were creating our images the sound of the piano washed over us adding to the magic of the location. He was also kind enough to allow me to use him as a prop for one of my images, and as lovely as both the back of his head and his left ear are, I’m happy to confirm this is not his best side – his smile can light up a room.
And suddenly it was 5.30pm and time to draw the day to a close, goodbyes were said and friendships formed and the wardrobe door closed for me for this year.
I cannot recommend these events highly enough, they are on a different scale to anything I have done before, well worth the investment and they make me stretch my creative streak. These days are full of inspiration, participation and collaboration and I am delighted with the images I made inside the wardrobe this weekend, I can’t wait to see what’s behind the doors for next year!
In contrast, my second event of the weekend was held at Cambrian Photography in Colwyn Bay and was a talk by fashion photographer Wayne Johns. I recently heard Wayne speak at the Digital Splash event in Liverpool and was very happy to sit through his talk again, I found myself as enthralled as I had been the first time and managed to take even more notes and jot down some ideas for future shoots.
Wayne’s talk was followed by a practical session in the studio, and he took us through the lighting set up we would be using, it is true sometimes that less is more, the simplest set-ups often yield the most pleasing results. The added advantage is I can try this for myself at home. Model Romanie was a real trooper, fending off a nasty cold and was the epitome of a 1950s pin-up queen. Once again it was a chance to test out the Fuji 90mm lens, and partnered with my XT2, it’s a match made in heaven.
So there you have it, my most recent adventures. I do have a few other photo-shoots I may blog about in coming days, time permitting, so be sure to watch this space!
Until next time
P.S. in case you were wondering, there’s always a quote…
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein
Walter’s wardrobe Credits:
Models: Siobhan Priest/Charlotte Atkinson/Bethany Bennett/Elle Beth
MUAs: Olivia Morewood/Sophie Battersby
Designer: Sharon Bowen-Dryden
Millinery and stylist: HF Coutoure/Jen Brook
Assistant: Donna Graham
Production: Walter’s Wardrobe Events