This was another shoot that had been planned for quite some time. It started off innocently enough back at the start of July, while I was researching another location very close to this one here. I was looking into doing a shoot at Abbey Mills Pumping station, a rather unobtrusive Victorian building from the outside, but with the most gorgeous interior I’d seen in a while. While looking whether I could do a shoot outside it, I came across 3 Mill Lane, and the first thought that struck me was, ‘Is this London?’ I had to check the caption on the image and do a quick Google search to double check this was actually in London, because the buildings looked like they came out of continental Europe. I love finding things like that in London, and being able to be transported out of the city into something new without ever leaving the city.
The next thought that came into my head was, the buildings reminded me of another shoot I’d seen in Vogue UK a few years ago. So I went and done some research and realised I had the exact issue on my bookcase. The issue in question was from September 2011 and the shoot was called Master Class, as they took on the Victorian trend with a hint of the Dutch Old Masters in style. The shoot itself is so striking, and an actual recent editorial done by Mario Testino that isn’t complete crap, that it always stuck with me even four years later. So when I saw that old mill in East London, it immediately reminded me of the shoot.
Funnily enough, and four years later and the same things are broadly still in fashion. When fashion moves as fast as it usually does, it’s either a sign of how cyclical it is, or a sign that you’ve got a really good trend there. Have a look at the original images from the Vogue UK shoot are below as they really are beautiful.
As I’ve said in previous posts of this type; while I love finding shoots that inspire me and remind me of places I know in London, I’m not actually a fan of replicating them right down to the wire. There’s no creativity in that, and frankly that’s what this blog lives on. While the pieces both models wear are more elaborate and set much more in the 16th century, I wanted to create a shoot that was more Victorian, and would fit into our currents trends. The materials for my outfits are much heavier, simpler and thicker. The cape is made of a sturdy polyester blend, while the skirt is thick and made of a wool blend. The second dress is stiff and instead of the head coverings they use, I loved the idea of a simple black Fedora hat.
The styling was funny in that once the autumn pieces started coming into shops I had a wealth of items to choose from and before I even realised it, I had two outfits, both complimentary yet different to shoot. Generally I don’t like shooting two outfits in one shoot anymore as I often don’t have the time and I feel it can dilute the end result, because I’m trying to cram too much into too short a space of time. For instance, this shoot was done at 6 in the morning before I had to go into work. Since the days are getting much shorter now, and I had to be in work by 8am, that only gives me a short window to do this shoot in. Thankfully, it all worked out much better than I expected.
One last thing I wanted to talk about was the location. I’ve added a few photos of the old mill and adjoining houses as they look normally to give you an idea of what I saw in them. They’re so beautifully maintained, in those study red bricks, the spiral rooftop of the mill itself is so unusual it’s worth photographing itself. I especially loved the clock tower, that even has a functioning bell. Considering this place takes up at most a few hundred yards, it’s such a gorgeous little spot in what has got to be a pretty shitty part of east London. 🙂 But that’s the wonder with places like London; you can find a gem in an actual in the roughest of neighbourhoods.
So that’s a little bit of background info and inspiration for The Shoot: 3 Mill Lane. I hope you enjoyed getting into my head for this one, and seeing how I came to my end result.