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Sleeping Maidens: A New Project

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Up until now, my photo shoots have always been one-off ideas, rather than ongoing projects, but lately, rather than having 1000 individual ideas bouncing around in my head, I’ve had 1000 intertwined ideas filling my head, and stories to accompany them.

This is where my ‘Sleeping Maidens’ project comes in. Over the next several months, I’ll be creating a series of images with a whimsical, romantic, Sleeping Beauty-esque feel to them, inspired by Ophelia, to the Romanticism movement, to fairy tales and folklore. I’m so excited to put my these ideas into motion, and to see what I create at the end of these next months – perhaps a book?

Of course, every step of the project will be documented on this project, including behind the scenes images – perhaps even a video or two.

If you’re a model, makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist, fashion, jewellery or accessories designer, if you’re a retoucher, a videographer who’s happy to step in and film some BTS footage for us, or a photography assistant, or anyone who feels that that have something to offer and wishes to collaborate with me, please, feel free to get in touch at:

emmastylesphotography@gmail.com

There is a moodboard available on my Pinterest account for anyone who is interested, and I shall be updating it frequently.

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Meg’s Collection

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It’s that time of year, when students are struggling with repeated all-nighters to meet their big deadlines. No, we weren’t all like that, some of us spent the entire semester pulling all-nighters purely because we wanted our final work to be perfect. Meg, a University of Derby fashion student, is one of those students. Just look at the detail that has gone into these laser-cut designs… beautiful!

I was the lucky photographer who she selected to photograph her collection. It was a beautiful day for a photo shoot, and as we had chosen Wollaton Hall, a stately home in Nottinghamshire that is open to the public (and a spot where I have worked before with a University of Derby fashion student, as well as for one of my own personal shoots), we had quite an audience, members of the public lining the various benches that surrounded the greenhouse, watching us work, complimenting our gorgeous model sisters. The sun was shining, perhaps a little too harshly, but we made do. Thank god for reflectors.

Besides a small incident with a bee somehow getting trapped in our model’s trousers (all was well – none of us have ever laughed so much in our lives!), everything went without a hitch. A shout out has to go not only to my lovely assistant, Gem, but also to Meg’s boyfriend, her chauffeur who stepped in as a second assistant when we were experimenting with spontaneous ideas. It was such a great team to work with.

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Oddly Enough: Wollaton Hall

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As those of you who follow my blog will know, I had a previous photo shoot with the lovely Erica Godfrey of Oddly Enough recently (Update* my third, lookbook photo shoot with Erica can be seen here). All of our photo shoots are going towards her final university collection, but today, was the big shoot, the one that will feature at her final catwalk show and the accompanying exhibition. The amount of passion that Erica has for her work is evident in just how hard she has worked in organising not just one photo shoot, like most of her fellow students, but three. Especially considering that this one in particular proved a challenge to organise in itself.

We quickly chose the upper floor of Wollaton Hall as our location, a room rarely shown to the public but for four tours a day for a select few. It’s a grand room that covered the entire upper floor of the small manor house, and was clearly once used as a ballroom. I must admit though, I was hard-pressed to understand how anyone in a gown could possibly maneuver the tiny spiral staircases at either end of the room – the only entrance. It took us about half an hour to move the boxes of clothing, lighting equipment, props, makeup and hair styling tools up the stairs.

As a second location, we also used the beautiful greenhouse in the grounds, as the flowers were in bloom. We also managed to convince a member of staff, the lovely Angela, to allow us out onto the balcony/rooftop for a brief few minutes. I’m sure health and safety would object if they knew… whoever ‘they’ are, exactly. Our theme was focused around childhood, English rag dolls with a hint of fairy tale fantasy, and I feel that this is echoing from each image. Does the location remind anyone else slightly of a dolls house too? I think that must be because of the faux drapes above each window… something I’ve never seen before.

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Oddly Enough: Studio

People often think that the only people who ever get nervous before their first photo shoot is either the model or the photographer. No one seems to give any thought to how a new makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist or designer might be feeling before their first photo shoot. I was recently approached by University of Derby fashion student, Erica Godfrey, of Oddly Enough designs, to photograph her final collection.

Erica admitted that she had never had a photo shoot for any of her work, and that she – as were a few of our models – was a little nervous. This was out of her comfort zone. We decided that we should hold three photo shoots – a studio test with a short video as a ‘casting’ for our models, as Erica wanted to see who would be best in front of the camera for the look she wanted, a lookbook, and the grand, main photo shoot at Wollaton Hall, the images of the latter being the one that would be prominently displayed during her final exhibition.

I don’t like that we live in a world that seems to expect everyone to be an expert at whatever is thrown their way. A lack of confidence does not equal to a lack of skill, an introvert is no worse than an extrovert, and I think that, while I enjoy learning new skills as much as the next person, its important not to spread our abilities too thinly across too wide an area. I’ve always believed that nerves equal to passion. We would not feel nervous about something that we did not care about, and so nerves are just another powerful emotion that can be channeled into something wonderful, such as our creativity. After all, powerful emotions, be them negative or positive, are always the best stimulant for the imagination.

This shoot in particular consisted of a great team of people – anyone who felt a little nervous or unsure as to the process of a photo shoot, was welcomed with open arms and made to feel ‘at home’. Everything was organised meticulously, and we came away with a clear vision for the main shoot and lookbook in mind.

The video produced by Ben Bransbury-Hare can be seen here.

(Update* my other two photo shoots with Oddly Enough can be seen here and here.)

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Models: Jessie Jing & Jessica Bailey

Video: Ben Bransbury-Hare

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I spend twenty minutes in the ankle-deep snow, my feet covered with just a pair of tights, dressed in a summer skirt, tank top, and a very thin cardigan, hoping I don’t lose any of my precious toes to frost bite for the sake of a self portrait… I make the short, numb walk home, my tights sodden and unpleasant in the rubber boots, and after preparing a much-needed bowl of hot water to help thaw out my feet, I look through the images that I have just minutes earlier created. And what do I decide? That my favourite snap is this one – one of my test shots taken while I was still wearing boots and a cardigan… it’s typical, isn’t it?

Actually, that sentence is not entirely accurate; what i ought to say is that the cluster of images that were merged to create this final piece all happened to be test shots. I’ve posted a BTS editing post here. None of the ‘real deal’, boot-less images worked for me, and so instead, here we have it. I did for a while begin to slowly edit-out the wellington boots, cutting in legs from yet another image, thinking that if I had just risked the lost of several tootsies for the sake of a self portrait, at least you were going to see it. I gave in soon enough, however, and honestly, I’m happy with the final result.

This is a spot where I have shot many times now, being just a thirty-second walk from my apartment. It’s a quiet, peaceful old Victorian cemetery that no longer creeps me out – honestly – and inspires me. I’d never go there without a model, creative team, or in this case, a tripod, however. I’m not someone who can wander cemeteries simple for the solitude of it, nor would you ever find me perched atop a tomb with my ideas moleskine in hand, but when I’ve gathered a creative team and selected a model (even if that model is myself), I find a great source of inspirational energy, and everything always just comes together.

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Snowy Self Portrait

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Monochrome Fashion

Back in September I had a lovely photo-shoot with my biggest creative team yet. It was windy and rainy for the most part of the day and wreaked havoc on my set and everyone’s hair but thankfully the sun did come out half way through the shoot itself! Big thanks to:
My models:
Jessie Jing
Natalie Kate
Geo McCondichie
Tasha ‘Boo’
My MUA, the lovely Razwana
Donna and her team from Bonce Salon
My lovely assistant Cali
and Geo’s boyfriend Chris who became an unexpected second assistant – he spent most of his time re-tying and draping fabric to the tree branch as the wind blew my set up apart! Would have been a disaster without him and Cali there!
Behind the Scenes shots taken by Cali:
And some final images:

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