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Recently, I had the absolute pleasure of being invited to a shoot that my previous collaborator-turned-friend Carrie had been arranging. Now, among other talents, Carrie is an amazing headpiece designer and milliner - so when she first mentioned this shoot to me I knew we would be absolutely spoiled for choice when it came to headwear! Little did I know that some of my favourite creatives I've previously also had the pleasure of working with would also be there: Jennifer, an amazing corset designer who I've worked with a number of times, and our very talented hair stylist Nett. Having not met any of the four models on the day before, I jumped at the chance to work with such a team and create some awesome content hopefully.

We also had two other photographers present, Richard and Mike, who both have beautiful portfolios. I always think it's interesting to see other takes on the same styling from a different photographer's perspective, so this all sounded fab.

I thought to do a quick rundown of the different sets I ran around getting shots of, with a little information on the setup, and about how I wanted to approach each image from shooting styling, and post-processing to give you a little insight on such a creative day!

Models: Holly |  Iris |  Pip | Johnny MUA: Clarissa | Elaine Hair: Nett Dress designer: Wyte Phantom Accessories: Scarlet Vintage Retro Floral designer: House of Herts Set design and headpieces: CC Millinery Creations Assistants: Reuben |  Fin | Oly


Light 1: LHS of shot, with a deep red gel, on high power, bare bulb

Light 2: RHS of shot, at about 45 degrees, teal gel with an octabox

When I saw that we had this wonderful red suit to style with, I immediately thought I must do something inspired by Twin Peaks, especially looking at the flooring that had been put down as part of the set dressing. Usually, my lighting is not necessarily as 'hard' as this setup, but I felt it worked really well as a striking image, so blasted light from both sides with one of my favourite colour combinations - teal and red.

I was pleased with how the red gel worked with the red suit - usually I'm not a massive fan of lighting one colour with the same colour, but I think this reinforced that as my main inspiration for this set.

Retouching for this was super easy - maybe I should photograph men more often?! I added a tiny bit of red and blue into the deep tones so that it wasn't completely blue and red, and made sure the red highlight really popped.


Light: Double diffused octabox at around 45 degrees, positioned about 1.5m away

I love using just a one light setup. Especially on a location like this, where I want full flexibility in movement, I have no idea how I coped prior to having a battery operated light...! This was such a quick and easy shot - this golden chair was just screaming out for this gorgeous red corseted dress, and I love the idea of this set being so beautiful and polished, and then set against the background that's really distressed and crumbling.

I actually ended up doing much less in post-production than I usually end up faffing around doing, I think just the bold red was enough in the end. I did make use of a technique I often use to make sure the red skirt coming into the foreground at the bottom of the frame was completely free of the small creases that can otherwise distract round the frame of an image.


Light 1: LHS of frame, bare bulb with a violet gel, positioned slightly away from model towards the camera to get the slight flare

Light 2: RHS of frame, positioned around 35 degrees, shallow on model's face to add shadow. Medium/low power

One of the things the model for this set, Holly, wanted to have from this day was to get some moodier feeling photos for her portfolio. I was like this is my moment! and took inspiration from the tiny purple crystals on the headdress to have the dramatic purple sidelight. I asked Holly whether for the longer shots if we could try making use of the chiffon cape that attached to the corset - and I am so pleased.The drama makes for a eally interesting shot, and I like how the set dressing isn't overly 'staged' so it looks like she's brought about a storm in the room.

This set probably had the most done to it in photoshop in terms of the colour toning. I wanted to take down a lot of the yellows in the original image, and move it into a cooler and darker feeling set, while avoiding losing too much in shadow.


Main light on medium power, positioned overhead and slightly feathered away from the model

I have an ongoing series of sorts called 'flowerbed', which is essentially, as the name suggests, models laying in a whole host of flowers. I saw these dried roses in one of the upstairs rooms of the location for this shoot, and knew that the bare floorboards could be a great backdrop for a more sparse feeling set for 'flowerbed'. 

We changed up Iris' headpiece for this lively yellow number, and I really enjoyed the contrast between the textures and dullness of the roses and the wood against the beautiful dewy makeup from our amazing MUAs and the headpiece which is covered in hundreds of tiny gems. 

I ended up not doing too much to this set in post-production, instead concentrating on highlighting the makeup and the lovely plum tones in the eyeshadow and the lips.


This as originally shot against a window, so the setup had a little bit of a backlight from that, coupled with the main light at 45 degrees, double diffused octabox

I saw these wings that Carrie made earlier when one of my fellow photographers was shooting them on our male model, and thought they would look amazing with the golden/oyster colour set that Jennifer from Wyte Phantom had brought along. I had this digital cloud backdrop that I've been meaning to do something with for a while, and knew this would be a great time to flex my wings (pun intended) and give it another go!

I'm a massive magpie for detail and shiny little bits, so the embellishment on the front of the corset and the pearls on the headpiece was in beautiful contrast to the soft nature of the clouds. I had to colour correct this image quite a bit to get it to feel as though she belonged in the cloud scene, but I'm pretty stoked with how the final images turned out.


Light 1: LHS of shot, bare bulb with teal gel on medium strength

Light 2: RHS main light feathered at about 30 degrees to model

I shot our male model Johnny at this fireplace earlier in the day, and I thought it would be a good idea to take some of the red corset wardrobe at this same location. In order to change up the styling a little, we threw on the red shirt and black tie from earlier in the day, and Carrie has this totally embellished top hat to hand which set it all off perfectly! (Huge shout out to Nett for creating a genius way with hair to get this to stay at a jaunty angle on Iris' head!) I'm a massive fan of androgynous feeling styling in general, and this ended up feeling very 'magician/ringmaster' in vibe, so when the bright red bunny teapot caught my eye it felt it was fated to end up in that first photo.

I ended up taking both of the images from this set into slightly different directions in post - one with a spookier, smokier feel, and the other keeping it more clean and crisp - I just couldn't decide which I liked more!


Light 1: LHS, From about 45 degrees backlit, with yellow gel, on high power

Light 2: RHS, Setup directly opposite Light 1, with teal gel, medium/low power

When I shot this corset earlier with Holly, the shots had a very light and angelic feel to them, but Carrie also had this amazing spikey headpiece made to go with this set which I thought could lend itself really well to something a bit darker and more punk in feeling. 

Holly thankfully was down for doing something a bit different, and so we headed up to the 'white room' which is usually used for really bright and airy shots, but where for this look I got to use my favourite yellow gel and classic teal main light combinations for these moody shots. I love all the dark set dressing around the place which adds to a more chaotic feeling. I added a little more texture in post production just to make it even more atmospheric.


Quick one light setup, feathered at about 45%, from approx 1.5m away from model from quite a high angle

Last but by no means least, I think we had about 6 shots to get this set done! A big fan of working quickly, I looked to make use of this cute little couch and just aimed a massive octabox at the wall while our model Pip posed up a storm. This headdress style of a whole load of flowers piled up high never fails to look amazing, and with the post-processing I made the whole image more cool toned in order to make the warm toned flowers in the headdress stand out more. Not bad for a token half dozen shots at the end of a long day!

I toyed with the idea of perhaps adding a texture or comping in a different wallpaper etc., but in the end I thought all of the detail in the headdress stood out beautifully against the plain wall just as it is!

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