Fashionable Shades of Green
Recently, Maureen of The Hummingbird Rooms who I had previously met at the Vintage Fair, asked me to do a fashion shoot to promote her shop. The Hummingbird Rooms sell vintage and modern fashion and accessories at 4 Liberty Street in Cork – a stone’s throw from the mediaeval core of the city along North & South Main Streets.
As Maureen put it herself, the concept was of “a vision of a wonderful elegance on the steps of our very own Cork Courthouse… loving the mix of timeless vintage with elegant modern pieces to create your very own individual style to celebrate Easter in the year of the centenary...yellows, whites and greens perfect for this uplifting time of year”
During a planning meeting, we considered various street locations close to the shop before settling on the nearby Courthouse – early on the morning of Saturday 12 March before there would be too many people around.
Using the Courthouse – had a number of advantages in that the neutral grey colours of the limestone façade would not distract from the outfits, yet the steps and columns would provide background interest and perspective. The steps also provided separation from passers-by on the street and shelter if it rained. I’m also reliably informed it’s only a minute’s walk in heels from the shop!
As the 12th approached, my shoot nerves grew as I thought about everything that could go wrong- particularly for a fashion shoot because I was responsible for capturing the creativity of Maureen’s concept and styling, hair by Dana of Plaiting and Upstyling, makeup by Sarah of Class & Contour, and the models Mairead and Aoife from Pulse Model Agency. Anyway, my response to butterflies is to check the internet and cuttings for inspiration and techniques, to concentrate on the shoot plan - and to check, double check and triple check the cameras, lights, triggers, batteries, chargers etc. Speaking of gear, I decided on very simple handheld lighting because we didn’t have control of the location – this would reduce our profile and allow us to move easily to an alternative location if the need arose. The main task for the lights, in bright overcast conditions, was to fill shadows, and to add some pop to the outfits - as well as catchlights to the models’ eyes. For all of the shots here, I used the 70-200 f4 lens, at f4, with focal lengths in the range of 70-125mm, speeds about 1/200-400thth of second and ISO 100-200. I didn’t use a wider angle lens because it included too much background – whereas longer focal lengths kept the background much tighter and didn’t distort faces. I also didn’t use the 85mm f1.8 even though this would blur out the backgrounds more. This was because the backgrounds were already good and, while shallower depths of fields with larger apertures are good for portraits, for this shoot I wanted to be sure there was enough depth of field to keep the hats and outfits sharp.
Finally, the shoot-day arrived and we all met at 8am at The Hummingbird Rooms. While Sarah, Dana & Maureen got the models and outfits ready in the shop, I setup the location – including brushing away loads of butts. I guess I’m not the only one nervous on the steps of The Courthouse! Then I set up the camera and lights and got a feel for the positioning of the models and camera angles. Malwinia (top left) and Emma (top right) assisted me with the photography and lights. Even with pretty much everything working – we were still only just about ready as Mairead and Aoife, in their finery, arrived along Washington Street with Maureen (bottom centre).
With four outfits plus variations to capture in a few hours before the streets got too busy, the shoot itself was pretty intense. We did outfits 1 & 2 together, then individually. When we finished with Mairead in outfit 1, she went off with Maureen to change into outfit 3 while Aoife modelled outfit 2. Likewise, when we were shooting Mairead in outfit 3, Aoife changed into outfit 4 and finally we did outfits 3 & 4 together. Check out The Hummingbird Rooms page for Maureen’s picks – my favourites from the first half of the shoot are below. I’ll cover outfits 3 and 4 in a follow up post – where I will talk a little about the actual shooting and the posing.
The shots were catalogued and processed in Lightroom to pick best ones with Maureen, to tweak exposures, and to do local adjustments to eyes, jewellery and dress patterns. I also added a vignette to give a vintage flavour and to focus attention on the outfits. Removal of a few stray hairs and curls caused by breezes was done in Photoshop.
Thanks again to all the team for bringing the shoot together and especially to Maureen for giving me the opportunity to capture her vision.
Keywords: 1916, Class & Contour, Cork, Easter, Easter 1916, Emma Finn, Ireland, John Coveney Photography, Malwina Kupidura, Plaiting and UpStyling Hair by Dana, Pulse Model Agency, St. Patrick's Day, The Courthouse, The Hummingbird Rooms, centenary, fashion, green, vintage, www.johncoveney.ie"
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