A bit of Hollywood in Dorking

In the biggest your Shoot’to date, Jessica Bracey enters a room of 30 women as CAREY SHEFFIELD treats a group of females usually behind the camera to the A-list treatment Amidst the wedding season, any photographer would know that this is one genre that is a challenge. The organisation, the meetings, the stress of the day itself —just ask Kevin Mullins. But in a rare photo shoot the tables are being turned and ittime for the photographers to be in the spotlight. The award-winning wedding and portrait photographer Carey Sheffield is taking on the challenge and has gathered a group of 11 female photographers in a Vanity Fair style shoot. Compared to the last time PP interviewed Carey in January, this shoot is very different to her 50:50:50 project where she used her skills to capture all walks of life in a street photography exercise. Focusing on the glam and not the grit of modem day photography, Carey and her team have managed to take it upon themselves, with no budget whatsoever, to inject some sparkle into a raining day. A SOCIABLE FASHION SHOOT As I roll down the grand driveway, the view of Wotton House peeping through the trees is breathtaking. Once the home of The Evelyn family of Crabtree and Evelyn I had to ask Carey how she sourced such a picturesque, fairytale location full of history and British characteristics. just asked them. I m shooting photographs and a video which will then be passed onto Wotton House, so they were happy for me to use the place because they can use the final products for marketing. Itgreat PR for them because wetalking about it everywhere.” This is where the magic of social media lends its hand to making a shoot happen. Through a simple shout-out on Facebook, female photographs aplenty bombarded the feed like a half price designer sale in minutes. Using the same technique with Twitter, Carey called upon hair and make-up stylists, jewellers, florists, videographers, designers and even a button bouquet visionary to help out with the shoot. All based on favours and free promotion by building relationships with insiders within the wedding industry. conversations gleaning the talent came from the London Wedding Club which Laura Babb created. So I put out a list of what we needed, picked the people that first responded to us and then shut it.” STYLING THE SHOOT After recovering from the awe of the building, itdown to the idea that inspired the shoot. have always loved Annie Leibovitzwork, from the individual portraits to her photojournalistic style, that and Vanity Fair. The original idea was to do it with male and female models, which Istill hoping to do in the future, but Hollywood glamour is where I wanted to go,”said Carey. And you canget anymore Hollywood than pairing each model to their retrospective celebrity double. This is something that she does for all her styled shoots to them in the mood and put them in that mind set.”Everything from personality to dress size was taken into consideration when picking the perfect garment.”Tailoring each dress to the models was a challenge when working with so many females, even more so when making sure they compliment the tone and theme of the shoot. was pretty much a neutral pallet, golds, silvers, nudes, pastels, I wanted to dress them to suit the folly and the picture to be completely aesthetically pleasing. If anything was too outrageous it would just compete,”she said. The styling is awash with bridal elements in the perfect wedding setting, but with most situations, power also comes with responsibility and Carey is putting the safety of these stunning dresses into her own hands on the basis of borrowing. m taken it upon myself with the safety of these dresses so that they donget damaged, I pay for all the cleaning. I believe in donhave to spend money but we can help each other out’.” As with any glamorous celebrity shoot, itthe hair and make-up that takes the most time with hours of preparation before the shoot. itan Annie Lebovitz red-carpet look you do have to go a little over the top with the make-up, not garish but glamorous with lots of lashes, drama with the contouring of the eyes but also maintaining maturity,”said make-up artist Ana Ospina Ruiz. MODELS FOR A DAY A SOCIABLE FASHION SHOOTLittered with females from corridors to bathrooms with the main topic of conversation being chicken fillets to enhance the ladies’assets, Wotton House was the hub of not photographers, but models for the day. It was like the beauty school dropout scene in Grease with hair tucked up in rollers and hairspray being the eau de perfume of the day, but done in a British fashion without the tacky burst of songs. These are real women with a passion for photography, but in Careyeyes it is an opportunity for them to be pampered whilst networking and learning something too: a fantastic experience, and itteaching new photographers who havenbeen around for too long how to do this sort of thing, because it is something photographers want to learn about.” So how did it feel being on the other side of the camera for once? Wedding photographer Kat Hill said: think itbe really interesting because ituseful for us to be models and see from our clients’point of view what works in terms of direction and what doesn.”She continued: every shoot I do as a photographer I learn something new from the styling perspective. Every make-up and hair stylist have got amazing tips up their sleeves.” Working with such a big collection of females with the same skillset surely called for the clash of creative minds. can be like having lots of children and every now and then Igot to go Iin charge, this is what wedoing’, and not because Iovertly controlling but because there needs to be a consistent approach to it. Itlike sales people, theythe easiest people to sell to. Theywomen, so once theyup there theybe worried about what they look like, how the dresses are and how cold they are.” THE SCENE The one essential prop for any high maintenance shoot like this is a wind machine, and two British bulldogs of course. Itthese finishing touches that bring the scene to life, but it s the folly itself that added elegance to the final image. knew that itsomething different and ita piece of art in itself, that said it isnhard for me to put people in the situation and make it look fabulous because wehalf way there with the background. Inot a massive fan of overly styled shoots. Although bringing in tea cups and hats is very on trend at the moment Ia bit more classic, thatwhy I used this place,”Carey said, commenting on how she doesnfollow trends and prefers to do original shoots with ideas that havenbeen seen before. Referring to plan B due to the poor weather conditions, the shoot was moved inside the folly to compensate. But amongst the gorgeous dresses the old tale of comfort vs. style was certainly noticed when model Vicky Holmes hiked up her dress from dragging in the soggy pebbles to reveal a pair of converse to escort her to the folly. The camera does hide the secrets of the glamorous after all, and this is something Carey admits to with post-production. have to be realistic, magazine spreads donlook like that in camera. Inot going to over-process it but I am definitely going to create some drama. I also want to highlight certain outfits with the studio lighting. The lighting in the folly is great but it needed to be more than just naturally lit, I wanted it to be a powerful image so Ienhance it a little in post-production.” THE CALM AFTER THE STORM Storyboards with stick men aside, how did this shoot compare to Careyusual wedding photography? this instance itnice for me to have more control. As I usually fit my work around the bride, it means I can be an artist and play. We are artists after all, but wetrying to make a living. So when you do something like (his you can have fun with it, you do what you want to do because younot just capturing photographs,”said Carey. From this example it just shows that networking plays a key role when it comes to styling shoots. The models did it for the opportunity to try something different, the designers did it for some exposure and the photographer did it to build her portfolio and offer some education on this style of shoot, taking an idea and building upon it until she achieved her final result. All of this for free. As business cards were handed around the room and the air was filled with sheer excitement from the photographers-tumed-models for the day, this was more than just a photo shoot it was a unique experience. Luckily no diva fits were thrown.

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