Archives for the month of: January, 2014

Behind The Lens

People always imagine that the ‘creative’ industry is a glamorous world, filled with exciting work by day and wild parties by night. Now, I have to say that I love my job and am absolutely thrilled to be able to get up and do what I love everyday BUT, it’s not always as glamorous as you might think and often entails far longer working hours than the average day job for nearly everyone involved, which can be a lot of people!

I wrote this blog post as a very brief look behind the scenes of what goes on before and during a typical shoot, and a nod to all those unsung heroes whose talent and professionalism under pressure make a photoshoot happen.
More often than not those beautifully styled shots that you see online or in a magazine can take hours to set up and weeks or months to organise!

It all starts with a brief or a brainstorm.

I usually knock on my husband’s office door saying “I’ve got this shoot coming up – can you help me with it?”

We’re both quite creative bods and as the old saying goes, two heads are indeed (usually) better than one! We often sit scratching our heads working out a plan of action on how to attack a shoot; covering anything from logistics, sourcing specific models, contemplating themes and styling, right through to creating or resolving technical elements. For instance on the featured shoot, we weren’t at all sure how to approach fastening the flowers to the corset (should they be wired? Wouldn’t that require a mesh over the corset? Then you wouldn’t see the shape of the corset?). There was a whole debate over methods and it was a combination of the florist and the dress designer working together that led us to our answer of using a glue gun!

Once we’ve ironed out the basics elements we want to achieve from the shoot, it’s time to get cracking.

Very often a stylist will be drafted in to source clothing, props & accessories to suitably style the shoot with. On a smaller shoot we do it in-house, but it just depends how much there is to do as it can be rather time consuming making calls, e-mailing & generally running around!

We always used to use Mood Boards, but recent times have steered us towards the use of Pinterest to pick out colours, hair & make-up styles, and even shot styles for putting together a visual overview for all involved to keep track of what is liked and to ensure we’re bang on trend!

If there is a clothes/dress designer involved, it can be months prior to the shoot that they then get started on the bare bones of an outfit based on meetings and visuals created to illustrate the subject we’ll be shooting.
Many other suppliers will be on standby at this point, quietly popping things to one side or ordering things in such as accessories, decorations and general props – depends on the shoot: if it’s a wedding focused shoot we have lots of companies involved usually working on all the different elements but with the same styling in mind – from table runners to candelabras to centrepieces and cake makers! For fashion shoots, it’s more about the products. If it’s a glam dress or outfit, it demands a statement necklace and earrings from a high end jeweller and super stylish shoes (and maybe a super stylish man to go with it)!

Suffice to say, shoot day is always a LONG day – this is where our lovely assistants earn their worth by selflessly lugging, running, panting, sweating, ironing, moving, hitching, shifting & packing – the poor things, but we all paid our dues at one point in life! On our recent shoot we were lucky enough to have our amazing photography assistant Sam Connell, also shoot some fab Behind The Lens shots for us (featured above).
All contributors to the shoot usually either deliver their products for us to use accordingly or depending on what the product is, they may stay at the shoot to ensure all runs smoothly and their product is captured to their specification (no pressure then)! Sometimes, it’s better if a client stays – not only can they sign off on shots, but they can also take responsibility for their items (had a client leave us with £50K worth of jewellery the other day and my husband had to spend the day doubling as a security guard!), but then again there is also that saying”too many cooks….”

We can have anything from a skeleton crew of 3 people (me, hair & make-up artist & model) up to 10 or 20 depending on the complexity of the shoot; me, creative director, assistant(s), hair & make-up artist , model(s), stylist, dress designer/client, dresser, florist, the list goes on…..and if it wasn’t for all these people and all the wonderful things they contribute in their own fields, we would never see the amazing photography we see every day in the media and online. Its a massive group effort to get these shoots to look as amazing and flawless as they do, with people working tirelessly often for very little (if any) money, to try and create something that people will stop and look at.

Don’t get me wrong, you do need to know that the team you pull together can achieve the results you envisaged. I always feel so fired up when doing a shoot and when working on the results of one, I feel like I can take on the world and really make a difference with the images I leave behind.

I leave you with a rather heartwarming quote about the merits of working together with talented people “the strength of the team is each member and the strength of each member is the team.”
I truly believe that.

Ten Top Tips on How Avoid wedding Stress Part Five: Make me Pretty!

Firstly, a very happy New Year to you all!

So, the madness of Christmas is over and can now make way for some serious wedding planning. If your big day is in 2014 (or even 2015) you’re probably thinking it’s high time you got your ducks in a row.

This is the 5th part of my blog and will look at the importance of looking and feeling your best on your wedding day, and how a professional can make that task infinitely easier and more enjoyable.

I know this from personal experience; on my own wedding day my hair and makeup artist not only made me look and feel more amazing than I’ve ever felt before (or could’ve achieved on my own) but was also an uplifting, friendly and soothing person to have at my side during a very important morning in my life.


DO: Try to allow budget for a QUALIFIED hair & make-up artist. More-and-more Brides are realising the benefits of this, but let me spell them out for you just in case you’re wavering:

1. Believe it or not, it doesn’t cost the earth (it could be your wedding present from your hubby if you like, he might be grateful for the suggestion).

2. You really don’t want to be worrying about the potential pitfalls of doing a complicated hairstyle you’ve never attempted before and looking like a swamp queen as you walk down the aisle.

3. Properly trained MUA’s use make-up that will work much better with the camera than your usual stuff. They’ll also be able to test different makeup during your trial, to ensure that you’re wearing the most suitable for your skin type. This can make a real difference!


5. Do you really need another reason?!

Find someone you can chat through your ideas with and who you think will understand you and your style. Any artist worth their salt will insist upon a hair & make-up trial in order to establish exactly what you’ll have for the day itself (this is also a fab pamper session that usually takes a few hours, so enjoy it!). Most hair & make-up artists won’t do the trial until around 6 weeks before the day. You don’t want it too far in advance as your tastes (and wedding theme) may change before then!

DON’T: Do half measures. Just because someone says they only cost £30 and will come to you, it doesn’t make them good! OK, so when I say that a PROFESSIONAL doesn’t cost the earth, they may cost a little extra but lets be honest, if it means you looking and feeling like a movie star walking down the red carpet, I mean, “aisle”, then I’d say it’s worth it!

I recommend:

An amazingly talented and professionally trained hair & make-up artist:

A fabulous make-up artist:

A wonderful hair stylist: