AN INFAMOUS LOVE

Kate Hopewell-Smith

Kate Hopewell-Smith

Kate Hopewell-Smith believes completely in the power of collaboration, especially in her role as photographer. "I was told when I was on the Aspire ’course, which is for photographers wanting to become professional, to network —so I did." Kate first opportunity to work with someone else was with Anna McDonald, the owner of a shop selling stunning wedding dresses. She asked Anna to pick her favorite five dresses and she would photograph them in a spectacular venue enabling Anna to start developing her own look rather than relying on imagery sent through by the publicity departments of the wedding dress designers. "That was the start", Kate explained. "From that first meeting with Anna, we soon developed a core group of people involved in the wedding industry. I was the photographer, Anna the wedding dress supplier —then we found a florist, a hair and make-up artist and someone who sells accessories for weddings." Three styled shoots later Kate felt the need to do something different with the fourth shoot. "I really felt it was time to move up a notch and come up with a story," Kate explained. "My first idea was Marie Antoinette —but that an idea which has been thoroughly explored in shoots. We all kept brainstorming ideas, and finally, the idea of Lady Chatterley s Lover came to me." The story of the neglected and sexually frustrated Constance Chatterley was so infamous that it was not published in Britain until 1960, more than 30 years after it was first printed in Italy in 1928. Kate said, "I wanted us to combine our creative talents and then for me to capture, photographically, the story that D.H. Lawrence had put into words almost a century ago; a story which captures a woman efforts to do the right thing by her husband, but who fails and falls into a torrid and complex affair with her husband gamekeeper. "Planning a shoot is not an overnight job, and first the group had to make sure nothing similar had recently been done. Then, over dinner, they went through the key decisions. "These were things like to shoot’. I knew I had to have a dining room scene as one of the group had some amazing dining accessories." Kate had shot outside at Nether Winchendon House on a previous occasion and contacted the owner to enquire about using the house, particularly the dining room, for the shoot. "The dining room was exquisite, perfect. The light from the large bay window was exceptional. For anyone wanting to create a similar indoor scene, look not only at the furniture of a room, but also for the source of natural light." Kate chose to place her models in different places around the room to allow the different light quality in each area to make a striking statement. The time of day is very important as light changes with each hour, so Kate recommends looking at the room you want to shoot in at different times and note the best time to take your own shots. Sarah Fitzgerald of Euphoria then made contact with Nostalgia Travels, a car company she had encountered at a wedding fair at Blenheim Palace. "They had mentioned they had a car which we all knew would be perfect for the Lady Chatterley story, and they were really enthusiastic about helping." As can be seen from Kate photographs, authentic props, like the car, really add the finishing touch to a scene. Where a major prop has been chosen, Kate ensured that it was included from several different angles, as a close-up and further away, choosing a fast shutter speed and large aperture in order to keep ISO and therefore noise down to a minimum. Finding the models was probably one of the hardest parts of the planning Kate said.
Museum Wedding

Museum Wedding

"I felt they had to be a real couple, so that the intimacy came through. Also the woman had to look like she really could have been Lady Chatterley! One of the group then heard that a very old friend had recently become engaged and felt that she had the potential to be Lady Chatterley —and would her partner be interested in modelling!" Thankfully, despite never having modelled before, the partner was willing to act as the photographic love interest. Kate strongly advises anyone putting a styled shoot together to really think about the look of the models and whether their ’will fit the style you are trying to create. "Look at all your friends and family, and ask them to come up with ideas of their friends too. People are usually very happy to model if you give them copies of the photographs. For non-professional models it an exciting day for them, a day they not likely to have experienced before." "I planned a total of five scenes to shoot," Kate explained. "By really knowing in advance what I wanted to shoot and why, I find that the plan helps to direct the day. There always a lot to get in and many people involved, so I don’ want to waste everybody time on the one day I have booked by trying to decide what to do next. I knew, for example, that I would want some fairly intimate scenes, but the real story was going to be in the build-up to those scenes. I chose to photograph the intimate scenes from a distance, using available foliage from trees in the setting to work as a border. This then gives even more of an illusion that we are looking in on an intimate scene where the people involved don’ realise that anyone is watching. Actually, plan out a storyboard on paper —it doesn’ have to be elaborate. Small boxes showing a clear beginning, middle and end to your story. Indicate in those boxes where you, the photographer will be taking the picture from. What point of view do you want? What do you want to focus on?" On the day itself, Kate said, "the light was amazing. I went to the house and the owner took me to other places in the house and grounds that would be brilliant to use. For your own shoot, you don’ need to have a venue which is usually reserved for the paying public or used as a wedding venue. Look for suitable structures and sites in parks, friends’ gardens and public spaces. If you going for a styled shoot, look at the buildings in your own town where the architecture complements the style of your story, and see what outside areas are available for you to use. Garage doors set on a public pavement for instance." Everything on the shoot was chosen to complement the story that was being told, and to showcase some of the best that each business had to offer to their wedding clients. "Anna, who provided the dresses, worked with Sarah of Euphoria Couture who chose authentic and beautiful wedding dress accessories. Joanna Carter put together the most amazing floral displays and Cat Fransham and Holly Preston worked on the hair styles and make-up to ensure they were absolutely right for all the items being showcased as well as the period of the story," Kate said. She really feels that the success of the final pictures is down not only to knowing in advance where and how you will photograph the scenes of your story, but in working as a team with others. "Even for a small styled shoot, get together with friends who have talents you can use to your advantage in your final shots. Have you got a friend who brilliant at arranging flowers, in order to get a shot like the one of the glorious flowers in the wicker basket? Have you got friends who are great at doing hair, or putting make-up on a model?"
Lady Chatterley's Lover

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Following the shoot, Kate edited the pictures to her very high standard. "For Lady Chatterley Lover I used Lightroom to adjust all exposure and crop where necessary. I then took the picture into Photoshop and used a mixture of Florabella actions: Milk and Honey, Cosmopolitan, Sweetness and Hibiscus. I didn’ have any set formula for the mix —I adjusted to suit each image. For the skin and eyes I use Totally Rad, Pro Retouch." You don’ need to have the same actions. Experiment with any that you have got by changing the tone, light, exposure and hues on your picture. As you look at all of Kate pictures together, what stands out is the consistency of the editing. If you telling a story, each picture should move seamlessly to the next. "Again, this all goes back to the importance of planning your shoot," Kate stressed. "You should know before you press your shutter, what your final images are going to look like!" The pictures themselves are testament to the successful way in which Kate and her creative collaborators worked together. It is clear that Nether Winchendon House, initially sought for its beautiful dining room, provided a rich host of locations for all aspects of the story. The wedding dresses, the fur stoles, the hair dressed with exquisite accessories, the flowers, the authentic cars —all are essential props to a styled shoot perfectly envisioned. "The next big question," Kate said, "was what did I want to do with the pictures? A lot of us had worked really hard on this shoot and it didn’ seem to do the efforts of all involved justice to simply let the pictures loose on our own personal websites. The results were beautiful and we wanted them to be seen by as many people as possible." Kate, who has achieved a solid photographic reputation through her own hard work and talent, was not used to placing her weddings with a wedding blog. "It was not a concept I was used to. Of course, I knew lots of other photographers place their work with them, and lots of brides go to them for inspiration and advice when planning their wedding day. However, I was in the lucky position where my work comes from word of mouth and recommendations so I never had to try and find additional business that way." For this shoot though, the network group felt that the collaborative results should find their way to the wedding blog audience. "Gosh —we soon realised that the wedding blog is an industry of its own! We had assumed we could send the shoot out and they all be keen to publish, but it soon became very clear that all wanted exclusivity. We were initially very disappointed by this, but we did understand that you have to work with a system —and this is the system of the wedding blog." For those of you keen to submit your own work to wedding blogs, Kate and her team first researched all the blogs to see which one had the style that came closest to what they had achieved on the shoot. "We loved Reverie (www.reveriemag.com) in terms of its visual imagery —so we sent them a press release with a PDF of the images and it was published on their blog." Whether or not you want your own pictures published, Kate believes this kind of research is invaluable as you will pick up trends and ideas which you can incorporate into your own work. "Take time to look at other styled shoots and study them and see what you could try, what you don’ like, or what you really like. This will all help you grow on your own photography journey." So why does Kate think planning a shoot like this is so important? "Creatively, the styled shoots my group and I put together are essential to me. Time-wise, the only way I going to shoot shots that Iset up are when I plan my own shoots. The majority of my work at present is as a wedding photographer, so if I didn’ do these shoots, I would only ever have wedding dress and wedding shots to show! It really important to keep advancing creatively and challenging myself, and that won’ happen if all I ever do is shoot to a client brief." Kate and her friends work together to produce three styled shoots a year —spring, summer and autumn. Kate says. "It definitely good for your creativity, definitely good for giving you an opportunity to work with like-minded people when for most of the time as a photographer you get used to working on your own, and definitely very good for establishing and growing your photography business."
Wedding Shoot

Wedding Shoot

Looking at the images across these pages, the scale of setting up something so elaborate, authentic and detailed might seem daunting. Kate is quick to reassure. "Yes, this was a huge enterprise. But we were used to setting up shoots by the time Lady Chatterley s Lover was thought up. The important thing for any photographer is to set up a shoot — it can be much smaller — but introduce the styled element. That essential to helping you grow creatively." An intriguing result from the shoot happened once the images had been edited. Remember how the models for Lady Chatterley and Mellors the gamekeeper had been chosen with the prerequisite that they were a real couple? "They booked me to photograph their wedding now!" Kate laughs. A perfect end to a perfect shoot.  KATE'S KIT 1. Nikon D3S 2. Nikon 105mm macro for stationery 3. 50mm f/1.4 for table shots 4. 35mm f/1.4 for dining scenes — additional light added through use of my video light, Lowel id (a continuous light) 5. 70-200mm for all outdoor shots Although Kate s kit consists of professional lenses, you can achieve wonderful results with much less pricey kit lenses. The 50mm f/1.8 and the 35mm f/2, in both the Nikon and Canon ranges, are excellent and reasonably priced lenses. Video lights are available at great prices through your local photo store. A telephoto prime or zoom lens is fabulous for outdoor shots, as this will enable you to  view  the action from a distance and give the viewer of the final image the feeling of being the voyeur — as in Kate s image of the gamekeeper with Lady Chatterley under the trees. Tamron produce a highly thought of 70-200 f/2.8 for both Nikon and Canon at just under 600, as opposed to the professional equivalent which retails for around 2000.  

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