Art Direction

Creating a splash on a budget

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Styling a swimwear shoot might sound glamourous and conjure up images of exotic locations, beautiful sunshine, stunning models and so on… But the stark reality is that sometimes you need to be savvy with your budget and your surroundings! There are lots of UK locations that can give the right impression, but if (as often happens) our unpredictable British weather fails you, then an indoor pool can be just as effective. 

On this occasion – a cold autumn day and working on a shoe string budget – we certainly needed to look closer to home if we were to deliver the images on time. And by this, I mean we begged, borrowed and er…stole!

For our location, we chose a fabulous home which has featured in several beautiful architectural magazines. The property was just what we were looking for, not just for its unique exterior, but also because of the impeccable attention to detail on the interior décor. 

Located in the heart of my local region, Nottinghamshire, the house has a vast and gorgeous indoor swimming pool, perfectly complemented by an abundance of tropical flowers inside and out. We quickly realised that, with the right composition and Art Direction, we could easily emulate the look and feel of an authentic Miami or St Tropez home.

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By making the most of the morning sun and the amount of glass at the location, we created striking sun beams, bleached lighting and even the steamy windows which added warmth and a summer haze to every image – a great little cheat! Striking whilst the iron was hot, we varied the ambience within the indoor pool to get a wide range of different shots of the swimsuit, from relaxing on a summer’s day to sporty and athletic.

To conclude, there’s always a way to achieve what you want from a photo shoot, no matter what your budget is (well, within reason anyway!)

Jazz in the Jungle

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Working in the branding industry, I’m always reading about the next marketing and consumer trends. It’s the best way to create work that’s relevant to consumers and reflects the latest market changes, as well delivering strong returns on investment for brands. This is something I’ll write about at a later date.

Outside work, I love catching up on the latest trends in fashion, interior design and weddings. I’m simply addicted to style magazines…it’s quite a problem!

Right now, there’s one theme I’m loving which covers all these areas: ‘Jazz in the Jungle’. I particularly feel this would be an amazing choice for a wedding this summer. Think bright jungle prints, green palm leaves, vibrant colours with dark hints…it’s intimate, sensual and very exotic. As evening draws in, your guests can be transported to the night jungle, a celestial event which draws on your shared love for erratic, yet seductive, jazz. You could transform your venue into a jazz lounge with muted red and purple lighting hues, and lots and lots of fabric – plush velvets, satins, and fringing on everything from light fittings to room dividers.

Your food and drink can also be linked into the theme, not just through exotic ingredients but also through presentation: banana leaves as plates, sliced melon as appetisers, printed tablecloths, pineapple-handled cutlery…the list is endless. It’s the little details that create a truly opulent effect, like spraying the pineapple handles gold rather than leaving them traditional yellow.

You could even go that extra mile and introduce the hot trend of taxidermy; for me, this is the greatest prop a wedding can possibly have. Providing a cool and eccentric vibe, your taxidermy could be intertwined with your venue or placed in an area dedicated to your guests getting the best (and unique) photos from the day. The trend was kick-started by Anyhoe Park in Oxfordshire, an amazing location where, looking back, I really wish I’d held my own wedding! It’s a venue you can hire for events, weddings and photoshoots, or just for an overnight stay in awesome surroundings.

I’ll finish by saying I’d love to style an event or shoot this summer involving a zebra with its own flower garland. Let’s all get planning!

Images all thanks to Pinterest.

Glamorous girls

High Fashion Styling and Art Direction

The brief was to create some high fashion looks which both complemented and juxtaposed with the whole interior of our location, a superb 1960s architectural wonder. Our two models both had very different looks, one with striking red hair which was a perfect foil for the wood interiors throughout the house, and the other a petite dark-haired stunner whose clothes just draped off her.

Here you can see how the use of floor-length windows creates a sense of the outdoors becoming part of the whole image composition. The jacket and trousers are from Maison Scotch, whilst the bralet was a great find from Ann Summers. Below is a Boohoo leotard teamed with Kurt Geiger shoes (you don't always need expensive brands to get a high-end look).

Using the unique features in our amazing location, we created stunning scenes in different parts of the house. Above, a simple Mango herringbone jacket over the Boohoo leotard gives a seductive post-work look against the worn black leather inset sofa – an instant hit.

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The hair and make-up styling embodies the kind of 1960s glamour that must have abounded in the house during its early years. Here, the simple use of colour with the lamp gives additional depth to the room, without which the image wouldn't be nearly as strong. 

The key to great Art Direction on a shoot like this is to spot the areas which you'd usually ignore, like these trees. Walking in and out of the house to get another shot, we took no notice of them. An off-the-cuff comment led to one of the best shots from the day. With the bright-coloured dress, this could easily be used for a summer magazine cover – a world away from the internal glamour shots we'd been working towards. 

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Hair and Make up – Leanne Shaw. 

Photography – Rob Smalley