February 2012 turned out to be a pretty exciting month for Tigz Rice Studios as we ran our very first Burlesque and Boudoir Shoot at the Brighton Ballrooms. Hosted by web designer Melissa Love and elegantly styled by the lovely Hannah from The Tea Set, it was an incredibly early start for myself and a handful of gorgeous London burlesquers as we road tripped it down from London to get ready for a full day of shooting! Arriving around 9am, the girls went straight up into hair and make up with the studio’s resident hair and make up artist Miss Honey Bare, whilst I helped Simon from The Flash Centre set up the lighting equipment around the venue. Stylist Hannah had clearly been hard at work on for several hours already – the stage had been transformed into a classic chaise lounge scenario with a background of rouched red satin adorned with strings of fairy lights. It was gorgeous! Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to shoot this scenario during the day (being the key speaker, obviously my main focus for the day was giving advice rather than shooting – although I did get a chance to shoot near the end). The was also a cocktail booth set up to the side of the stage, whilst the upstairs area had been transformed into a ‘backstage’ area with a large, lit mirror surrounded by old venue posters, padded coat hangers and luxurious fabrics.
Hannah had also set up a cute little vintage vanity dressing table in the corner with some delicate trinkets for fine detail and texture. One of the most popular props was a furry phone, which was a big hit with the models! At midday the photographers started arriving and were greeted to a warm cup of tea or coffee with cake and the chance to mingle with other workshop attendees. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the people I’ve been speaking to online for the last few months and hear more about the businesses, especially those already working in the boudoir scene and hearing how they felt this workshop would benefit them. After a brief intro and breakdown of the days running order, I was given free reign of the stage to give advice on posing, which is a key element to burlesque and boudoir as the genre is all about capturing the body at its most flattering angles! Working with international burlesque performer Missy Fatale, we covered a range of standing, seated and laying body compositions to flatter all shapes and sizes, as well as the introduction of feather fans as an extension of posing and how to cover up areas of the body clients may be uncomfortable with. There was also a Q&A session for individuals to ask their burning questions in direct relation to their own experiences, which included questions about posing in corsets and how much of the body should be shot in boudoir. After the workshop element was over, the photographers split themselves into small groups and headed off to different areas of the venue, where they could put into practice all the handy tips and advice they’d just been given with the guidance of a group leader where needed.
As well as the sets throughout the venue, Hannah had arranged a couple of outside scenarios including a glamourous vintage car scene with model Meredith – who wore a stunning bespoke dress by Joanne Fleming Design – and a group of groomsmen, who were located on the seafront in Gresham Blake Tailoring. I was based upstairs in the ballroom, working with photographers on the ‘backstage’ and ‘boudoir’ scenes. For many of the workshop attendees, it was a really great experience to explore lighting as well, as we covered everything from natural light to artificially illuminating a very intimate space in the boudoir. Every photographer had a chance to work with the flash set up and wireless triggers, whilst there were also opportunities to make the most of the ambient light in the venue. Here is one of the photographers Dade going through his favourites with model Charlotte, who is actually one of the management team at the Ballroom. Spotting her on the venue visit in January, I twisted her arm a little and she was a great edition to the modelling team on the day! And here’s a picture of Charlotte looking glamourous in the Boudoir scene.
Due to the luminous red walls giving such an incredible amount of colour throwback onto the models, I actually worked in black and white on the back of the camera to make sure the contrast was there, before taking them home to edit the colour casting. If you take a little peek in the mirror, you can see Charlotte’s back is still cherry red even after colour correcting! Another of our gorgeous models was Beth, who also works at the Ballrooms with Charlotte. What I loved about shooting Beth was her incredibly serene composure in front of the camera. As most of the boudoir models on the day were brunettes, she definitely stood out in the room. This shot was taken using only the illumination from the modelling bulb whilst another photographer was snapping away at another angle. Later on in the day I also had a quick 5 minutes in control of the flash triggers, so I stole Beth back for some standing poses in a different outfit provided by She Said Boutique. Here’s one of my favourites from her set. Missy Fatale also slipped into a gorgeous Made By Niki lingerie set (provided by She Said Boutique) and stepped into the boudoir scene, where she grabbed the attention of every photographer in the room! Missy and I work regularly together and are familiar with each other’s styles, so it was great to step back from directing and allow her to do her thing in front of the camera.
At around 5pm Melissa called time on photography and the models disappeared up to the changing rooms to get into their stage costumes whilst we all enjoyed a glass of champagne downstairs and compared images with each other from the day. It was great fun looking through everyone else’s images and comparing experiences as I think we all managed to get something completely different out of the day. As a final treat, Missy Fatale stepped on stage in a jaw-dropping bespoke dress for one final snapping session and Kitty Devine and Scarlet Cuffs performed a routine each for our viewing pleasure! It was an incredibly long and tiring day for those of us working behind the scenes, but by far the most fun I’ve had in ages! I’d like to say a massive thank you to Hannah and Melissa for all their ridiculously hard work organising and promoting the day, as well as to the Proud team for letting us use the venue and for letting their girls join us for the day on set! A massive thank you to Miss Honey Bare, who disappeared upstairs at 9am and was so busy coiffing hair and glueing eyelashes that I didn’t see her again until 6pm. A special mention also to Taz from Proud Cabaret, who stepped in at the last minute to help us with lighting and sound on an impromptu performances throughout the day. Thanks to Simon and all at The Flash Centre for sponsoring us with lighting and equipment, to the designers who provided amazing outfits and to Vintage Wedding Car for such a gorgeous vehicle to work with. And of course, to all the wonderful models who spent an entire day being pampered and lounging on glamourous sets.
Since the workshop, I’ve had a huge amount of interest in future workshops and training days. If you’d like to find out more about future events at Tigz Rice Studios, please sign up to our VIP list, where you’ll be first in the know!
Melissa Love Design – www.melissalove.co.uk
The Tea Set – www.the-tea-set.co.uk
Proud Ballroom – www.brightonballroom.com
She Said Boutique – www.shesaidboutique.com
Joanne Fleming Design – www.joanneflemingdesign.com
Gresham Blake Tailors – www.greshamblake.com
Velvet Lifestyle Store – www.velvetstore.co.uk
The Flash Centre – www.theflashcentre.com
Vintage Wedding Car – www.vintageweddingcar.com
Hey Day Honey Vintage Hair & Makeup – www.heydayhoney.com