How to describe this shoot. It’s gone through a lot of changes before we ended up with the end result. Originally it was supposed to be shot in Hampstead Heath, hence the name, and as with another shoot I was relying on a Mango dress, that annoyingly fell through. Mango seem to be doing that a lot to me lately. Then an even more amusing thing happened, though not for me. I found out that snakes live in Hampstead Heath. Now I’ve a phobia of snakes and I’ve always known in the back of my head that you would find some wild snakes in the south of England, but I’d never seen actual proof of it. While I was researching the best spots to do this shoot in Hampstead Heath I kept coming across lots of pictures of grass snakes on the Heath and to be perfectly honest, it terrified me. It also ruined one of my favourite places in London. My husband just laughed at me, rightly so, because there are snakes everywhere in the south of England, but somehow I’d been able to live with it before without seeing actual pictures of them.
So I couldn’t do a shoot in Hampstead anymore, and a change in location was needed. Thankfully Richmond park has a couple of heaths and some boggy earth that would be perfect for this shoot, so everything worked out in the end. And yes, I’m aware that there are probably snakes in Richmond park, but I’d like to think that 1,000 so odd wild deer roaming and running around keep them at bay.
So to explain my vision for this shoot and what inspired me. It was three editorials that inspired this shoot, all of them from Harper’s Bazaar UK and they were all from September issues. They were from September 2012, 2013 and 2014. What can I say; Harper’s Bazaar UK is by far the best fashion magazine around for creative shoots.
The first shoot was Harper’s Bazaar UK September 2012 when they featured Kiera Knightly as their cover star and produced an editorial of her in Gothic regal attire.
Though I didn’t want to do a regal shoot again, I did love the Gothic feel of this shoot and it started me on the quest for some better inspiration. That then led me on to Harper’s Bazaar UK 2013, and an editorial named “Dark Star”, which was heavily inspired by Wuthering Heights and the wildness of the Dartmoor plains. I loved its darkness and edginess, yet the styling is beautifully simplistic and the model is almost fresh faced. Here the shoot was all about the romance of this remote and wild location and I loved that the clothes were structurally thick and heavy, dark and free from a lot of glamour.
But then I also discovered this final editorial, from Harper’s Bazaar UK 2014 called Wild Beauty, and while it also revelled in the sheer beauty of a remote outdoors location, it was a little different. It focused more on textures and fabrics than before, and the colours were much darker and simpler; the two primary colours worn being black and white in this shoot. I also loved that they quoted Wuthering Heights a couple of times on the pages, because by this time I was obsessed with creating my own interpretation of the timeless classic.
So while these shoots were all incredibly inspiring, it still didn’t leave me with how I wanted to style my shoot. Sure, I could try and find exact replicas for the clothes found in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar, but there would be no creativity there, and I wanted to do my own shoot and not a recreation. Eventually I settled on autumnal colours and an emphasis on ochre. The Zara dress I used was actually my third option after the other two choices fell through, but once I settled on the Zara dress, it made the rest a lot easier. I wanted to keep with the dark and warm colours for the other pieces, so it narrowed down the blanket from Topshop considerably and made choosing the bag from River Island very easy. For accessories I wanted just a simple geometric gold cuff from Zara and my old grey boots from Dorothy Perkins for that hardy, walking vibe. Realistically you’d never go walking in those boots through a heath, but they reminded me of Victorian walking boots that ladies used to wear, so they were perfect.
In post-production, we brought the lighting up and massively toned down on the vibrance of the shots to give it that grey and moody feel, which is funny when you realise that they were shot on a gorgeous sunny summer’s morning.
So that is my end result and how I got there. I hope you liked getting into my head and seeing how a shoot starts off as this vague idea and ends up with that you have below.