Last week I was invited to help out on a styled shoot with the lovely Ellie Grace. It’s always super helpful to watch another photographer at work, particularly posing a model and setting up shots, so I knew that whatever the morning held I would learn something along the way. As it turns out, I also got the chance to photograph a brilliant model, in a gorgeous dress and flower crown, in the most incredible location. Ellie had managed to get in touch with the owner of an abandoned school building in Sheffield that had been left unused for ten years. Part of the complex of buildings has been renovated as office and studio space and is now the thriving Sum Studios (www.sumstudios.co.uk) but it is a rather expensive venture and so a fair chunk is still waiting for the funds to be given new life. Which is lucky for us as it gave us a photographers dream location!
Had I not been with Ellie and Lily (the model), and had it perhaps been a gloomier day, I think I may have struggled to truly appreciate the beauty in the dilapidation… It has some horror-film vibes about it, as all abandoned places tend to, not helped by the little sprinklings of butterfly wings scattered about the floors. It seems they appear every year, perhaps seeking safety only to lose their way out and end up as brightly coloured confetti amongst the rubble and dust. It was a little heartbreaking, not to mentioned unsettling.
Thankfully though I was not alone, and we were blessed with moments when the suns rays found their way through the cracks in the boarded up windows, making the white dress Lily wore glow, and making Ellie squeal with excitement at the shots we were able to get.
Along with the stereotypical horror-film vibes of an abandoned building, there were also the usual scrawls of graffiti across certain walls, ruining a perfectly good backdrop. Thank goodness for photoshop, I thought. Ellie however, saw an opportunity, and whipped out a little pyramid she’d brought along. Holding it up to her lens, she used it to reflect the clear parts of the wall over the graffiti covered parts, cutting her editing time down in the process…genius, right?! She kindly let me have a go, pointing out it also creates some more fun effects if you play about with it a bit. This is when I started making squeals of my own. I need me one of these.
Thank you to the lovely model, Lily; the creator of the head-dress, Amanda Moon; Jenn Edwards Hair & Make-up team; Campbell’s flowers; and of course to Ellie for acting as mentor and inviting me on the shoot in the first place!