Through the series of Editor's Life posts, I want to give a little insight into my life as editor of 91 Magazine. You can catch up on the full story of how the magazine started and evolved here, but today I thought I'd give you a little look behind the scenes on one of our home tour photo shoots.
Generally, I don't get to go on many of the shoots due to juggling childcare and my other work, but when I can, I do try to get to some. For our current issue we shot the home of Colleen Larmour, owner of Little Carousel, a children's toy and decor brand. I actually went to art college with Colleen many years ago, and she lives very close to where I grew up in Northern Ireland.
I commissioned photographer Jemma Watts for the shoot, and we travelled over to Belfast back in March (nearly missing our flight as we nattered away in departures!)
Jemma had viewed some snaps of Colleen's home before the shoot, but otherwise she had not seen the space before. So the first thing we did when we arrived early that morning was to have a walk around the house and work out what order to shoot the rooms in, dictated by where the light is throughout the day.
With the light at the front of the house, we started off in the bedroom. Generally, I prefer not to change too much about how the homeowner has styled the space, but because we have to consider when the issue will publish we have to think about the seasonality of the images. So for example, here Colleen had a fur coat hanging on the wall, which looked great - but we decided to swap it for this bright yellow vintage dress, which looked beautiful next to the daffodils and tulips - and much more suited for our S/S publication date.
There's a lot of standing on chairs (sorry Colleen!) and squeezing into corners to get the angle of the shot just right, so there's often a lot of furniture moving involved. When it comes to styling, as I say, I like to keep this to a minimum, but it's sometimes just a case of a tiny tweak, like removing a cushion, or rotating a plant that makes all the difference to the shot. Before moving on to the next room, we'll have a check through the images that have been taken so far, to make sure we're happy we've got everything to represent that room.
Occasionally problems arise which you need to solve quickly otherwise it will hold the whole shoot up. For example, in the snug area we had to adjust the height of this (amazing!) light fitting to get the composition just right for the shot. While something like this can look totally fine in 'real life', when you line up an image in the viewfinder on the camera it sometimes just doesn't work, so little tweaks like this make all the difference.
Here's an example of the awkward positions photographers have to get into to get the shot... While in the background Colleen prepares the kitchen for it's close up!
After a quick refuel, we crack on shooting Colleen's studio and her portraits. Jemma positioned Colleen at her sewing desk next to the window so she could get some soft natural light on her face. There is often much hilarity while shooting portraits, as we try to make the subject laugh to get some natural smiling shots! I think Colleen and I were ribbing each other about old college day crushes!
I think sometimes the perception of a magazine photoshoot is that it's kind of glamourous and cool, but I'm sure even some of the top fashion models will agree, it is seriously hard work both physically and mentally. It is a long day and there is often a lot of pressure to make sure you get all the shots you need before the light fades. For me though, there is nothing that feeds my creative soul more than working alongside a great photographer, bringing together the images for a feature like this. It's so exciting to see the story take shape.
If there is anything else about the magazine you'd like to hear about in these posts then do leave me a comment, I'd love to know what might be of interest! x
All photos: Caroline Rowland