Friday, 27 July 2012

The Very Best of British Wedding Flowers

Hello All

As promised, I'm thrilled to bring you my photo shoot as promised ...

The Very Best of British – A Floral Tale

At the end of March I met photographer Niel Stewart at a wedding fayre and during a bit of a lull we talked about flowers, his love of natural, pared-down photography and our mutual passion for our surrounding countryside.  When I also expressed a desire to work more closely with British grown flowers, the germ of an idea was born. 

That evening, Niel took one of my bouquets home and sent me a few early shots, so I could see his approach.  I couldn’t have been more blown away - it was exactly what I was looking for.  Simple, beautiful, emotive, photography.  No bells and whistles, just all very honest. Over the next couple of weeks our idea developed from a styled shoot to a narrative with a real concept.   The story was to champion local design, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, with British grown flowers at the heart of the tale. 

So, we decided in one packed day we would attempt to showcase the talents of a number of small British businesses and photograph a flower farmer, transport the cut flowers to my workshop, photograph me designing various pieces and then move location to a styled bridal shoot. I’ll just say that again … in one day!

I spent quite a number of late nights researching flower farmers in the UK and even spoke one evening to the very lovely Georgie Newbery, flower farmer and florist, who was fantastically helpful.  Eventually I found what I was looking for, a flower farmer literally just on the outskirts of our home city of Sheffield, in the glorious Peak District.  I set up a meeting with Rachel Dyson of Surrey Farm, in the romantically named Hollow Meadows.  We hit it off immediately, partly because of our mutual love of naturally grown flowers and, partly because it was also her first year of business and she too had left her job to follow her dream.  She was delighted to be part of the shoot and agreed to provide us with as many flowers as she could.

Things moved really quickly from then on.  I set a date and found a gorgeous new licensed wedding venue in the heart of Ecclesall Woods.  Being a member of Chloe Curry’s ‘Wedding Mafia’ meant that The White Room would lend me gowns and Wigs + Warpaint would style the hair.  I even contacted James at Clowance in Cornwall who agreed to let me have a few extra British blooms if needed, as Rachel had found the dreadful weather was really against us poor beleaguered Northerners! We were all set.

I really wanted the shoot to be as honest, simple and direct as possible; keeping styling to an absolute minimum.  Niel and I agreed that only the models would be styled and benefit from professional hair and make-up and that Rachel and I would wear our normal work clothes – anyone who farms or is a florist will know that these aren’t terribly glamorous.  Nor would anyone benefit from a few little adjustments in Photoshop!  I have to say the prospect of all this ‘honesty’ was terrifying.

We kept the shots at the farm as natural and candid as possible amidst the most beautiful backdrop of rolling countryside, focussing on the flowers and Rachel herself. Although, when I spotted a beautiful Art Nouveau style jardinière I couldn’t resist asking Niel to take a few shots – she was so incongruously glamorous, in her farm setting!  As I wanted the story to play out as fully as possible, we incorporated shots of us cutting the flowers and placed them in an old veg box for transportation.

Once we arrived at my workroom, I designed three pieces to camera – a white bridal crown using Allium from Rachel’s farm, a simple, understated, but exquisitely scented Sweet Pea bouquet finished with antique lace and, finally,  a mixed seasonal bouquet using varieties of Allium, Aqueligia and Alchemilla Mollis. Niel also captured perfectly the real essence of my workroom, it’s a very calm, peaceful haven which Brides love and immediately feel at home in, during consultations.

Finally, we moved on to an incredible location set in the heart of the woods - complete with wooden buildings, lily ponds, naturally constructed benches, woodpiles and stunning architectural sculptures.

In keeping with the woodland surroundings, I styled Sophie to have an almost ethereal, will-o’-the-wisp quality and dressed her in ‘Foxglove’ by Jenny Packham.  Inspired by next season’s Oscar de la Renta catwalk show, her hair was crimped to full, gorgeous, boho volume and accessorised with either my floral bridal crown or ‘Daisy’  by DC BouquetsAlice wore ‘Bardot’ by Stephanie Allin and her messy up-do was accessorised by ‘Eva’.  Both the girls are naturally very pale and so make-up by Eleanor Gott was kept to a soft, natural palette of browns and golds with a glossy, neutral lip.

I designed a few bouquets and arrangements in my usual romantic design-style, using the gorgeous seasonal flowers from Clowance the day before.  I really concentrated on letting the flowers shine through and finished the designs with simple bands of twine, wool, lace or ribbon at the binding point.  I even added quintessentially English strawberries to one arrangement, to create vibrant colour against the muted tones of moss and sempervivum, nurtured in my garden.   The containers were chosen for their muted, slightly distressed, old-world charm.

Happily, the current interest in natural, unstructured wedding flowers with a ‘hand picked’ look has helped to create a resurgence in demand for locally grown flowers and I’m really hoping that this trend will have a positive impact on British grown flowers in the next few years.  I’ve always loved working with really creative people and this experience really highlighted what fantastic talent we have on our doorstep.  Huge thanks and hugs go out to everyone who contributed – especially the really rather marvellous NielStewart.

Creative Team
Floral Design:                      Tracey at Campbell's Flowers
Photographer:                         Niel Stewart 
Flower Farmer:                       Rachel Dyson
Gowns & Accessories:             Chloe Curry, The White Room
                                                     Gowns 'Bardot' by Stephanie Allin and 'Foxglove'
                                                     by Jenny Packham
                                                     Head pieces 'Eva' and 'Daisy' by Debbie Carlisle
Hair:                                           Wigs & Warpaint by stylists Junior Lafayette,
                                                     Lauren Smith and Luke Beaumont
Make Up:                                   Eleanor Gott
Models:                                      Sophie Murray & Alice Lindley
Venue:                                       JG Graves Woodland Discovery Centre,


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