It’s always great to be asked to do something a little different and recently I was asked by a young lady’s father to do something quite special. Nicola was close to turning 21 and wanted for her birthday present a set of portraits paying homage to her past relatives.
Having become something of a family tree expert Nicola had collated a load of information on her ancestors as well as some beautifully preserved photos. My brief was to create Nicola’s new photos using inspiration from the family prints dating back to the 1940’s and earlier, into the Edwardian era. Nicola had already bought an Edwardian style dress and also had a number of family heirlooms: a brooch, rings and a bible; which also appeared in the original photos.
Bringing Catherine in for Hair & Make Up we had our challenge. Clearly the original photos had a structure most of us are familiar with if we have old family prints still preserved. They’re not particularly animated, offering a more elegant, serene atmosphere. They also have a sense of wonder; the experience of being photographed 100 years ago would have been very different to today.
Nicola and I had swapped ideas and on the day I pretty much knew what I was going to do, then at the last minute I changed my plans! Although I brought the studio strobes into play towards the end of the shoot most of the time I worked with window light.
This is one of the results:
In this image I used the window behind Nicola and reflectors to push the light back onto her face. The image is edited to create a more vintage feel and to get this look Nicola worked with me in the edit stage so we could make sure she was happy with the results. The resultant prints were made on 300gsm Fuji Museum Rough paper to add to the ‘older time’ feel.
The second photo I have chosen to showcase has Nicola sitting, holding her Great Grandmother’s bible with the brooch having belonged to her Grandmother. The rings connect to family members too and it is wonderful to know, that through these photos we also connect Nicola to them in images which can now be passed down to the generations to come.
My choice of background was specific to the styles in some of the old photos. Studios 100 odd years ago used plain backdrops, canvasses and commonly painted backdrops depicting sitting rooms, outside scenes or pedestals topped with plants. Often they were a bit haphazard so letting the curtain crease some, adds to the homage we were looking to achieve.
Catherine took inspiration from the photos of Nicola’s Grandmother and Great Grandmother for the hair style as well as choosing to keep make up light and to not overpower Nicola.
I will say it was an honour to be asked to create Nicola’s 21st Birthday heirloom photos and I for one hope they will be kept and passed down to future generations.