When Photography Farm launched back in 2011, it was one of those experiences that instantly went on my ‘to do’ list. Founded by acclaimed alternative wedding photographer Lisa Devlin, the idea of spending a week in a picturesque farmhouse focusing my attention on the growth and development of my business – whilst surrounded by like minded photographers – seemed just to good to miss out on! Therefore, you can imagine my excitement when a tweet came through from Lisa herself, asking if I’d be interested in running a series of workshops this year. It was an immediate yes (and possibly a few jumps up and down and the odd high pitched squeak too!)
Packing up far more photography equipment than I could possibly carry, I headed down to Ridge Farm in Dorking, which would be my home for the next three days. Established as one of the UK’s first residential recording studios in 1975, Ridge Farm saw the likes of Queen, Pearl Jam, Ozzy Osbourne, Oasis and Muse through its doors before the studio sadly closed its doors in the early 00’s. There is still a great feeling of nostalgia throughout the building though, with wonderful selection of memorabilia lining the walls of the farmhouse and some pretty epic speakers in the living room that entertained us during the evenings. Apparently the bed I slept in had also been slept in by Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, though not at the same time!
My official involvement in Photography Farm started on Friday, with an Art Of Boudoir masterclass. Attended by Zöe, Liz and Ellie, we started off with an hour on client bookings, contracts and model preparation, before introducing our model for the day, Luna, who had been getting ready in the room next door with help from talented hair and make up artist Amy Saunders. This way, the attendees would get to witness the full transformation of Luna and just how valuable a make up artist is for boudoir photography (if you fancy reading more on this, I wrote a full article on the importance of air and make up artists for Photo Pro Magazine) I think we were all blown away by just how incredible Luna looked when she walked out of the dressing room and into our boudoir for the day.
When it came to choosing a model for the day, I had some pretty specific criteria. After collecting the casting call details of those interested in being involved over the course of a week via my website, my first action was to refine the list to include only the names of women I hadn’t already worked with before, as boudoir photographers are rarely granted that luxury. I wanted this to be as real a situation as we could possibly manage in a masterclass situation. At the same time, I wanted to work with someone that also hadn’t spent much time in front of a camera, so that the girls would have the experience of actually having to guide the model into poses. The final criteria, requested by Jo from Rawhide Corsets, was to find someone with some seriously killer curves that she could define and enhance with some bespoke corsetry(!!) This left me with a list of about 20 names and, having met Luna a few years ago through a business networking group (she runs a fabulous jewellery company Zorluna and featured a number of her products throughout the shoot), I knew she would be just perfect.
To ease everyone into the shoot and to break the ice, I asked Luna to start in something relatively comfortable (a dark blue lingerie set and dressing gown for coverage) and got each of the workshop attendees to pick a piece of paper, which had different pages from my 2014 Elvgren Pinup calendar on. The idea was for each attendee to try and pose Luna verbally and without showing her the specific image. There was a lot of laughter and, with the addition of some electro-swing music, the cameras came out and all four of us began shooting, experimenting with a full range of standing, sitting and reclining poses to give the girls a wide choice for their portfolios.
As a photographer who works predominantly with flash (I’m rarely on a shoot without my Quadras), it was really interesting to teach and shoot alongside three natural light photographers, who were instantly drawn to the light that fell through the skylight in the sloped roof of the bedroom. Whilst they battled with the new challenges of working with the one flash head I set up in the corner, it was a great experience for me to push out of my own comfort zone and expand my portfolio of natural light images.
With the girls enjoying the shoot so much, we decided to stop only briefly for lunch with a fleeting trip downstairs to grab some sandwiches and come back upstairs to continue shooting, where Luna had now slipped into an absolutely stunning bespoke Rawhide Corset made just for this shoot. Spoilt? Totally! I have to say, working with Jo (who also runs The Couture Company) was an absolute pleasure. I wanted to give Jo as much creative freedom as possible so the apart from providing measurements and a rough colour scheme (I requested neutrals so it would be easier to match and wouldn’t clash with anything in the room) I left her to run wild with it and this was what she came up with. Blown. Away. The stitching is perfect and the finish is immaculate. I can’t recommend her work highly enough!
That afternoon we shot for another hour and a half, which saw some really interesting changes of light in the room (see, they’ve changed me already!) and also meant the girls relied more on the Quadras as a light source. Luna had fully relaxed into the shoot and I got some of my favourite shots of the day, which are featured throughout this blog post.
After a quick tea and cake break, we all popped back up to the attic bedroom, where we spent the rest of the afternoon looking at editing processes, branding and individual marketing techniques for boudoir in our own brands, as well as a spot of Q&A. It was brilliant to look through everyone’s camera’s and see what they had shot. Each attendee had put an entirely different spin on the day and thoroughly made it their own.
The great thing about teaching masterclasses is that, although primarily my reason for being there is to deliver my own knowledge, in return I get just as much back from my attendees. I’ve not really ventured into natural light much because of its varied and unreliable nature, but this experience has certainly inspired me to get out there and try new things! Thanks once again to Lisa, the Elves and all at Photography farm for having me and I look forward to next year!
Photography: Tigz Rice
Model: Luna Sapphire
HMUA: Amy Saunders
Stockings: What Katie Did
Special Thanks: Photography Farm