Photographers often cast their net wide for inspiration.
A while ago, after a studio-shoot with the talented Elena, I was thumbing through a book I have, Birth of the Cool. It's a photographic retrospective of the British photographer, David Baileys', early work. In the book, there are many memorable portraits and also a lot of his early fashion work, particularly with the model, Jean Shrimpton. I was inspired to get back to the studio and create a Sixties homage. It would be my take on a Vogue/Bailey/Shrimpton fashion shoot. Elena and Sammy (make-up and hair) were up for the challenge so, we set a date to head back to the studio and channel our inner Swinging Sixties.
Of course, it isn't that simple. To make this shoot something special, we had to think about the clothing. Should we simply be inspired by the era or be faithful to it? I flexed my fingers and hit the online search terms for genuine period clothing. After a few false starts, I found a local business, Little Miss Vintage, out on Commercial Drive that specialises in multi-decades of vintage clothing and accessories. Could this be the answer? A visit with my wife, who was my wardrobe consultant for the shoot, returned a resounding yes! Dresses, shoes, gloves all hired for the shoot.
I'd created a mood/vision board for the shoot and had shared it with Elena and Sammy to give them a sense of what I was aiming to recreate. Come the day, Sammy pulled out the stops and delivered a fabulous sixties look for Elena. Elena was ready with her period poses, and I'd set up the studio for the full 'high-key' look.
With a sixties hits playlist to help us along, we set off on our journey to respectfully recreate the look of the era and, I feel we nailed it.
It's a joy to work with other creative people as more ideas start to flow. Although sneaking out of era, I wanted to introduce a couple of postcard shots, one of which was an iconic red telephone box. This is where inspiration takes over, and we started to be a little more open with our interpretation of the sixties. Elena had a striking red scarf and sunglasses with her, and we combined those with her cocktail dress to arrive at a more playful, Hepburn style, look. Finally, to make it clear where the inspiration was derived, I shot a few frames with Elena browsing the Birth of the Cool. Perfect!
Photographers often cast their net wide for inspiration. This shoot proved to me that I could set off with a specific goal and, as the session developed, introduce more creative elements that didn't detract from the original aim. The other thing about taking on this retro shoot is that it offered Elena and Sammy a chance to explore modelling and make-up from a different era. It was an opportunity to demonstrate their versatility. Mission accomplished.
Thank you to Elena and Sammy for being part of this Swinging Sixties shoot. I hope you had as much fun as I did.
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