I’ve lost count of how many fashion shoots I’ve been on since we launched Kettlewell back in 2004 – it’s probably close on 40 – but it’s still a great feeling gathering together a team that gels creatively and seeing the process through from the first click of the camera. Not to mention the fact that I’m getting to work with great models in some inspiring locations, and seeing the clothes shown off in their very best light.
Over the years we’ve shot in all sorts of locations, from grand country houses in Yorkshire and beach houses in Cape Town to impressive modernist homes in Oxfordshire, but the funny thing is that however big the property, we invariably end up using the smallest room in the house or corner of the studio. Other brands we’ve spoken to tell us they do the same – there’s something about the intimacy and the light that helps you get that all-important shot.
For our recent Spring/Summer 2017 shoot, we hired out the Penthouse Rome Studios in Hoxton, East London. It’s an old hat factory, and although you won’t be able to tell from the shots, the windows overlook a square full of crows (the story goes that Alfred Hitchcock looked out on the same view every day from his office and the crows became the inspiration for his movie, The Birds). For us, Rome Studio ticks all the boxes: it has plenty of natural daylight pouring in (always great to work with and really flattering), lots of space for setting up the Colorama backdrop and a great textured brick wall for added contrast. It also has that ‘blank canvas’ appeal that means that instead of fighting against the backdrop, the clothes really stand out and look great in the contemporary setting.
As is always the case when we get the team together – Ben, the photographer; Keira, our in-house stylist; and Rachel, our hair and make-up artist – the fun atmosphere really helped bring out the best in our Spring and Winter models, Sophie and Violet , with Rachel cracking jokes and Ben cranking up the Eighties and Nineties playlist to help get everyone in the mood.
As anyone who has ever been on a fashion shoot will tell you, getting the right kind of energy going is key, so we always make sure there are plenty of coffee breaks and pit stops along the way for everyone to recharge their batteries and keep the energy levels up. John will go down to the shop to buy in drinks, fruit and nuts for everyone to graze on, and come midday the studio offers a delicious shoot lunch of sea bass and salad, Indian chicken and falafels, and plenty of veggie options. It may not look it, but modelling is actually incredibly physically demanding, with long periods of standing and holding poses, as well as early starts and late finishes, so a good healthy lunch really punctuates the day and gives the models, and in fact the whole creative team, a much-needed boost. Then of course, come three o’clock, everything stops for tea. With cake, naturally.