Behind the scenes with WattsWhat magazine

It’s been a little while since I last posted. I had a baby a couple of months ago (!) and although I’ve been working lots, finding the time to look after a newborn and maintain a full time photography career means making YouTube videos and writing blog posts has taken a back seat! But I’m trying to make time for them now so do let me know if you’ve any requests for particular topics. 

I recently shared the knitwear editorial I shot for the first issue of WattsWhat magazine on Instagram. I asked if anyone would be interested in seeing how I created the shots and there was lots of enthusiasm so here I am, a little later than I had hoped, delivering on that promise. Below are some of the final photos:

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So as you can see, the jumpers are disembodied and animated. The concept of the shoot was ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and told a story of a jumper on the run. (I just had an out of body experience rereading that sentence. What is my job if typing a sentence like that seems completely banal?!) We started withthe idea of a ‘fashion victim’ and that’s where myself and the stylist, my friend and colleague Jayne Bibby, ended up.  The mood board (created in a pub in Bloomsbury) had lots of references to The Invisible Man - which really made me laugh - particularly this image

We were commissioned to shoot a still life editorial, which isn’t my comfort zone as I almost always work with models. I’m not so interested in flat lays, my work is all about telling stories, so I wanted to really bring the jumpers to life to create a surreal, dynamic editorial.  

We investigated different options for animating and manipulating the jumpers, all the while knowing that a fair amount of post production would be required in Photoshop to make the images look truly surreal. We considered dressing the jumpers on mannequins until Jayne had a conversation with a visual merchandiser and we realised that we would have more flexibility to create a range of poses and movement with invisible string, which can be bought in any haberdashery store, who knew? 

Disclaimer: invisible string is a nightmare to work with. At least, it was for those of us who are inexperienced with this tempestuous yarn. We (read 'I') kept forgetting where we had taped the string and because you can't see it, ended up walking into and thereby dismantling, the arrangement that had taken half an hour or more to string up. And on the occasions that I did remember to watch out for the string, but needed to move it, I ended up contorting my body like Vincent Cassel in this scene in Ocean's 12 (no one on set got that reference but I really made myself laugh). Bear in mind I was 5 months pregnant at the time. 

There was a rail in the studio so for most of the shots we hung the jumper up with a hanger and used the string to manipulate the jumper into the different scenarios, such as 'The Arrest' etc. 

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A couple of shots we set up differently. In ‘The Struggle', my ever obliging assistant Conor was catapulted into a modelling career he never anticipated. Using the funnel necked Richard James ombré jumper we took advantage of the long neck to conceal Conor’s head, pulled down the sleeves so that they covered his arms, then used Photoshop to clone out his lower half. Here’s a behind the scenes before shot compared to the final image. 

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I actually can’t remember the lighting kit that was in the studio but it was a 2 head strobe kit, not continuous lighting, and we used my trusty gels to create the colours. 

So, a good magician may never reveals her secrets but this good photographer needed some new blog content so I hope you enjoyed this post. Again, let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see on here or my YouTube channel!