I got back at 10pm absolutely exhausted from a two day shoot for work. It's great fun, I really enjoy the styling and a nice break in the country is always lovely but I think a lot of people, before they experience it (me included) don't realise how massively exhausting it is. This was the third shoot I have been on for the Handpicked Collection catalogue in one year. The two before were much harder work and less successful. I think it really depends on the people you have with you because you live in such close quarters with each other so it’s vital that everyone gets on. This was the first shoot we've done on location outside of London. The last two were shot in the Creative Director's house. I get along well with her.
This time we went to a beautiful big house in Cambridgeshire so it meant that we all slept in the house, ate together, shot photographs for over 12 hours together, came up with ideas together and managed not to annoy one another during all of this. Quite a feat I think.
There are two main aspects to styling. First, is the obvious - setting the scene and showcasing the products in their most attractive light (basically making it look pretty). This in itself can be so draining. I'm not a wimp, I swear but constantly trying to visualise things, being very spatially aware for hours at a time and being creative with themes, concepts and finishing touches all whilst not getting frustrated when the photographer tells you to move tomatoes back and forth by a millimetre for twenty minutes really does take some endurance. It's exciting though, being in an environment where the main point of call is making products look as beautiful as possible. There is a certain amount of logic that is needed to balance it all out too.
The second part to it is the completely unglamorous side of raking leaves, heaving massive croquet sets across massive lawns, running in and out of the house fetching things, running up and down stairs, making cucumber sandwiches with stale bread, getting up at six in the morning to catch the light and working for twelve hour days. Worth it though.
Here are some signature blue shots from my Blackberry of the set up for the shoot. Unfortunately the photos aren't ready yet, but I'll put them up once they've published in the Summer Catalogue for Handpicked Collection.
This shot took us near on three hours to set up. Turned out very well though. This Handpicked's Creative Director Amanda and our Photographer Dan.
There is always endless adjusting and reshuffling to be done. So once the scene is set up and is looking nice, you'll take a shot, see how it looks on screen and then take out about two thirds of the products that are on the table and redo it all again and keep going until its perfect. Below is an image of Dan and Amanda in the middle of this operation.