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  • Writer's pictureGareth Partington

The Edwardian Photo Shoot - Part One

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

In this blog entry I'm going to show you how sometimes ideas never move in the direction you want. You can have a very clear direction you want the photography project to go, then things have to change dramatically.

I always feel that an idea for a project is like a raw piece of clay. The idea is the lump and as you discuss, research and plan the shapes start to form. You may have had a clear vision in your mind but as you twist, add, subtract the final outcome can be very different.

I had been a fan of Beth Gauntlett's amazing make up work for some time and really wanted to create a collaboration with her. I had a few ideas buzzing round my head but the original idea was to create a Victorian style image based around the legend of "The girl with the black eyes of Cannock Chase" Apparently there is a ghost that haunts the woods of a young girl who died of diphtheria, and this sent my imagination into over drive.

I took to Pinterest to create some mood boards and sent over these to Beth so we could discuss how we were going to approach the project.

I wanted to create something very dark and on location in Cannock Chase but as the project developed we ended up moving away from this. The lighting inspiration was still very apparent, the poses and the framing were still as I had envisioned but the final direction took on a life of it's own.

Finding Costumes

Beth sent me over some sketches she had done for make up designs but as time started to press on it was looking like the prosthetics needed to be created would not be made on time. We discussed how we could create a different project and still work together and come back to the blacked eyed girl in the future.

Beth found these amazing Edwardian outfits and so the idea of the project evolved into a different shoot.

They were authentic costumes and the detail in them was exquisite. I was so excited when I saw these as the project began to take on a life of its own.

The Lighting Set Up

As the idea for the project developed it was going to be easier to turn my lounge into a studio for this shoot, to save on time and money.

It was to be a two light set up with a large octabox as the main light and a small soft box to act as a rim light.

The first Edwardian look

I really wanted to create a dramatic but beautiful light set up, as if these images were from the old master painters. As I was experimenting with the light I decided to keep the shadows quite soft and go for a quite formal pose. Beth did a fantastic job on the hair and make up, keeping it quite subtle.

We had some skulls to use as props which Beth had brought a long, so we tried to incorporate these into the shoot.

As we were creating the images I wanted to try and have some sort of narrative to the images. Beth had brought along a candle holder and in the Edwardian dress I was instantly reminded of the film "Crimson Peak by Guillermo Del Toro" so we tried to make it look as though she was searching through a tunnel. I feel this was quite a successful shot.

When it came to editing the images I wanted to try a a different approach and see if I could make one of the images look like an old daguerreotype or similar to the photography Julia Margaret Cameron. The editing process was quite long in Photoshop to achieve this look but felt I was successful in doing so.

A little extra behind the Scenes

So during this whole photoshoot Beth had this amazing hair which was died green. It was very cool but I didn't feel it really suited the period we were trying to recreate, so for each of the images you see from the shoot, I had to painstakingly paint her hair back to brown in Photoshop. I don't think anyone would have noticed unless I just said so.

There is going to be a second entry about this shoot as we did another look on the same day, as Beth's sister Jordan had joined us to model for me.

There were so many influences filtering into this shoot. Where do you get your inspiration form? Looking for new aspiring or influential images is one of my favourite parts of planning a project. Let me know in the comments or send me an email I'd love to hear.

I'll close out his entry with a few behind the scenes photos so you can see some more of the light set up.

I can't wait until I can work with Beth again as we both had loads of fun on this shoot and we both have ideas about projects we'd like to work on in the future.

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