Monday, 5 September 2011

For Audrey Grace Boutique

Months ago, towards the end of my first year of university I received an email from a young woman enquiring about my photography and whether I'd like to get involved with the new boutique she is setting up. Many emails later we had shared our ideas, brain-stormed, got a stylist on board, cast models and devised everything from the concepts to the props and locations of three very different photoshoots all to take place within one intense day of shooting. The final photographs are to be hung as part of an exhibition to coincide with the opening of the Audrey Grace boutique in Mississippi and they will be up for sale to anyone who fancies one. The store opens this November, so if anyone is able to then please pay a visit! I wish I could be there myself.

Jaclyn of Audrey Grace boutique had asked for vintage and retro themes to run through each photograph, whilst keeping to the influential focus of her boutique - Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. With this in mind I set to work creating the very first plans for three stand-alone photoshoots which could all be carried out within 24 hours by the same team.

Rosie Taylor was my wonderful stylist. She created a total of nine stunning outfits using a mixture of vintage finds, altered garments and her very own handmade clothing designs. Together Rosie and I conjured up three different makeup looks and hair styles to compliment each of the three shoots we were to carry out on the day and most of these were put together on our beautiful models by Rosie herself (with the odd bit of assistance from my sister and I).

Jaclyn and I discussed our ideas for appropriate props and locations via email and then Rosie and I set out to source a selection of beautiful props and to persuade local shops, markets and cafes to let us use their set-ups as our shooting locations. Much to our surprise every single business Rosie and I approached said yes! These included old-fashioned tea rooms, the vintage section of our local market, a vintage-style sweet shop and my own home!

Rosie and I began to scout for models, emailing portfolio links over to Jaclyn so that the three of us could come to a decision together, despite the distance. The first model we had in mind was a close friend of ours, Jenny Hosty. She and I have worked together many times before and she has a flawless and timeless beauty which we knew would be perfect. Our second model was the stunning Emma Dixon, who we made contact with whilst scouting online. Emma has a wonderfully quirky take on beauty which brought a gorgeous dose of personality to the shoot. Our original third model had to pull out of the shoot at the last minute, so with just one busy week before we were due to shoot Rosie and I went into panic-mode and spend hours speeding through the internet, focusing on Model Mayhem and friends-of-friends-of-friends on facebook trying to find someone who could pull off the looks and who was available at such short notice. We made a short list of around six girls, had a tough time chosing our favourite and then sent her a message. Much to our surprise she said yes! So our third model was Charmaine Friswell, a delicately beautiful blonde who really shone on the shoot even though she had never modeled before! A risk definitely worth taking, she did us proud!

In the middle of the summer this year the day of our shoot finally came around. The nerves which would have been present on such a huge shoot were chased away by how excited we were to begin turning our avalanche of creative ideas into a reality. It was a really hot and sunny day which made it pretty tough and tiring for the team to run around the town shooting and lugging huge quantities of props and wardrobe with us. We were later faced with the difficulty of an unexpected curfew for one of our models to catch her train. After much debate over whether to cut short the second shoot and race through the final shoot or to keep going and shoot part three with just two models we came up with an alternative. My unsuspecting sister had been assisting Rosie with the hair & makeup when we realised that if she could be persuaded, then she could jump in as our third model for the final shoot. Luckily, my sister agreed and so there was model number four - Molly Cowperthwaite!

Altogether, we were shooting for ten hours. Our models and our assistant (Sarah, who was fab to have with us on the day!) were able to take breaks to snack on much needed donuts (yes, cake is always present on my photoshoots!) but Rosie and I ended up working straight through. When we weren't shooting we were setting up locations & props, working on hair & makeup and snapping backstage shots as the day went by. Needless to say, by the end of the ten intense hours of shooting everyone was exhausted. But I have to say that despite the foot-ache from running around, the sluggish heat and the hiccups in the shoot I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and I am so proud of the final images we have achieved.

So, now I have most probably bored anyone who is still reading with the story of the shoot (and believe me, that was just an overview!) I will now be sharing a small selection of previews, chosen by Jaclyn herself.

Part One
Part one was the part of the shoot most closely linked to the Audrey Hepburn & Grace Kelly influences. We opted for timeless LBDs and lace dresses and shot around vintage cafes, shops and markets.
Above left: Jenny Hosty and Emma Dixon. Above right: Jenny Hosty, Emma Dixon & Charmaine Friswell. Both images captured in The Bird's Nest cafe in Shrewsbury market hall.

Above: Emma Dixon, Charmaine Friswell and Jenny Hosty. In the antique market, Shrewsbury.

Part Two
Part two was shot entirely around my house and garden. We made use of the vintage and retro furnishings and also shot in the garden amongst tumbling flowers and big draping leaves. The wardrobe we used was a kaleidoscope of rich colours and patterns and it was definitely one of my favourites of Rosie's styling so far!
Above: Emma Dixon looking gorgeous as per usual!

Part Three
The final part of the shoot was hazy and ethereal. We shot the images as the sun began to disappear behind the trees and kept everything dreamy and calm. The girls wore vintage garments of creamy lace and light floaty fabric and we adorned their fingers and necks with countless rings and necklaces.
Above: Charmaine Friswell with the amazing retro bicycle (thanks for the loan Martha!)

Above: Jenny Hosty, Molly Cowperthwaite & Charmaine Friswell in one of my favourite photoshoot locations.

Team Credits & Links
Photography & Direction - Ella Ruth Cowperthwaite
Styling, Hair & Makeup - Rosie Taylor
Models: Jenny Hosty, Emma Dixon, Charmaine Friswell & Molly Cowperthwaite
Assistant: Sarah Antley
For Audrey Grace Boutique, Mississippi.
Shot in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

I hope you all like the previews I've shared! I can't wait until I can show you the rest of each of the above shoots. Much love goes out to the beautiful team behind this shoot: Jaclyn Bethany, Rosie Taylor, Jenny Hosty, Emma Dixon, Charmaine Friswell, Molly Cowperthwaite, Sarah Antley and of course to the folks who own our wonderful locations for allowing us to shoot there. You are all fantastic and I'm so proud of what we've achieved.

Ella Ruth xx

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