I got the chance to work with the fantastic Sinopa Rin a couple of weekends ago, on a conceptual shoot that’s been bubbling away in my mind for some time. I also wanted to prove to myself that having just a small space should not be a limiting factor in what I do, so rather than hire out a large kitted out studio, we shot the entire thing in our home studio (scroll down for a pull back image showing the space available).
Often, creative photography is drawn from a whole mixture of sources of inspiration. It’s not always as simple as seeing a scene and saying “Yes! I want to photograph that!”. Sometimes, you have to create it from scratch. Sometimes, it’s a culmination of many things.
Over the years, we have bought a whole load of fabrics from a fantastic local fabric shop, Cutting Edge Fabrics in Basingstoke. As well as having pretty much every fabric under the sun, they have offcuts – the last remnants of materials long since sold off – random pieces of cloth at super cheap prices. We’ve used these fabrics in several shoots before, but a lot of them we have bought and never yet put to any use at all.
Completely unrelated (at the time) ever since I saw this shot by Jerry Ghionis, I had the idea to shoot something with mannequins. For a while now, there’s been a whole load of tailor’s dummies sitting in my local Range shop, never seeming to sell (after all, who buys half a dozen decorated torsos?), and in my head all the elements started to come together.
I had a plan for capturing a shot with a dress maker overflowing with fabrics, surrounded by the tailor’s dummies. And that was just about it. As chance would have it, I had acquired an old sewing machine passed down through the family and made for a great centre piece to go with the theme.
Last year we were binge watching Once Upon a Time and I just loved their idea of showing a new side to well known fairy tales and that was when it struck me – the dress maker should be Cinderella! Now we were only a couple of steps away. I’m all for making the most of your opportunities and wherever possible like to book models in for a whole day, to try and really let the creative juices flow and not be restricted for time (I get enough of that with the weddings and corporate shoots we do!). But to spend an entire day working on a single concept seemed rather overkill. As a result of which we ended up with a storyboard for 3 shoot setups; the lonely and confined floor cleaner, the uplifted and inspired dress maker (where this all started), and the fabulous and opulent princess.
Of course, the trouble with a multiple setup shoot is the additional planning involved; allowing time for costume, make-up and set changes, different light set ups and all in a relatively small space.
Thankfully, Sinopa had the costume side of things well and truly covered – For the first shot, Sinopa even stained an old top with tea and coffee to give it that authentic forgotten chamber-maid dirty dish-rag look. The smell meant the top was straight for the bin after the shoot, but it was an inspired move!
I wanted the dress maker to look less bedraggled, pretty but still relatively plain, and again Sinopa had the perfect dress from previous shoots she had done out in the woods.
As well as having a fantastic wardrobe of her own, she knew exactly who to speak to about the ballgown for the final scene – a big thanks to Little Miss Chic for supplying that beautiful dress.
I love working with models that can bring more to the creative process than simply great poses – having an extra artistic mind on set is never a bad thing, especially when that person is so central to the end result – they are the subject of the shot, after all!
Sinopa got the look and feel right so quickly that as soon as I had the light where I wanted it, we could grab the shot and move on (after throwing in a little smoke, of course, courtesy of Pea Soup’s Mini Rocket) – which meant that we had time to spare by the end of it all. There’s no point wasting the opportunity to make the most of her talents so I decided to grab a few more looks while we were there.
As I was attending the 2016 Photography Show as an Interfit Photographic Brand Ambassador, I had prepared a setup that I was going to use to demo the new S1 lights for people visiting the stand, and decided to give that a go with Sinopa too. (You can never prepare enough!)
I also really wanted to make the most of her amazing hair, which quite frankly deserves a model portfolio of its own.
We even had a bit of time to play around with the Lensbaby Velvet;
All in all, a fantastic day spent doing what I love, with no creative or time restrictions. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you enjoy photography, book yourself some time with a model and you might just surprise yourself with just how much fun it can be.