Meet Jennie. This is not the first shoot I have had the pleasure of doing with her. A couple of years ago she trashed her wedding dress for me in the lake at Virginia Waters. So I know she's up for letting herself go and has plenty of her own ideas.
I stumbled across this dress in a charity shop last week while on a visit to my Mum's in Buckinghamshire. I couldn't resist bringing it home with me and using for some sort of fun and creative shoot. After all, it's not often you can say you bought your first wedding dress for only £25!
With barely 24 hours notice and very little planning we (Jen and a fellow photographer friend and I) set off for sussex with only the idea that we wanted to see what would happen in the day of the life of runaway bride….
We happened across this beautiful old church en route. Abandoned and most inviting… the church provided us with plenty of beautiful backdrops and portrait opportunities.
There were a few un-predictable moments that occurred during the day. One of which was when a man in a van slowed to a stop down the country lane. Looking very pleased with himself, he seemed to notice our bride and our cameras and realising this was probably not quite the norm down a quiet country lane. I had a peek through his passenger window and noticed that laid out on the front seat was a recently collected beautiful, bright red military coat. He said "use it to take a photo"… and with excitement of course, we naturally couldn't decline his kind offer.
Another random moment… this tractor just so happened to be passing down the lane… what better form of transport to hitch a lift on.. in a wedding dress!
And so we finally made it to our intended destination, the bluebell railway. This historic gem is well worth a visit (even if you're not planning to runaway). It's beautifully maintained and feels like you're stepping back in time. It was drawing towards the end of the day when we arrived here and so not only was it abandoned but we had plenty of lovely light to work with. The subway was probably a favourite for me on this occasion.. a bit grubby and I love a bit of low lighting to set a mood.
With barely a sound this beautiful old steam train rolled in to the station where our bride had been waiting.. a perfect end to a perfect spring day shoot.
Having shot a lot of weddings professionally now, I have to admit I like the idea of a 'runaway bride' theme possibly more than a 'trash the dress'.
With this concept in mind there are far more connotations and scope for creativity and imagination. This shoot was completely spontaneous and therefore opened up to endless possibilities. For me the ultimate goal was to tell a story and come home with some beautiful images.
I love to work with ordinary people i.e. not professional models, especially by getting women in to wedding dresses as it brings out something unique. I even tried the dress on myself just to re-visit that the feeling I must have once had as a little girl who liked to play dress up. Does any woman ever stop being that little girl that loves to play dress up? Even in the throws of adult life there should always be the opportunity to re-visit the old self, a happy child... Is that not all part of a wedding? The search for that perfect dress. It's interesting how many brides admit they end up choosing dresses they never imagined they would wear. Perhaps that has something to do with that 'dressing up' feeling.
So why only wear your dress once ladies? I wonder how many wedding dresses are sat in boxes in the loft, or stored underneath a bed somewhere……. maybe it's time to get yours out…….
WHAT THE BRIDE THOUGHT
comment from Jennie Hinchliffe on Runaway bride Sussex April 2014:
"Kelly, these pictures are just lovely .... Thank you for such an amazing day xxx
Ladies.... I have to say I loved every minute of this and have been like a big kid filled with excitement waiting for more pictures to pop up on Facebook or the memorycake website.
If you have a wedding dress up in the loft, tucked at the back of the wardrobe or stuffed under the bed gathering dust you must ... must... must get it out to try this experience!
As Kelly explained at the beginning of the blog, I have done a 'Trash the Dress' shoot a few years back by jumping in a Lake! Now .. I know this is a little extreme but so invigorating and soooo much fun! When Kelly asked me to do the spoovy 25 quid chazza shop number I nearly snapped her hand off!! The runaway bride idea was brilliant...the possibilities for locations in London are endless!
We set off early Thursday morning and the day just got better and better.. honestly you just wouldn't believe it! Mad things just kept happening!! The Tractor, the lovely van driver who let me borrow his son's jacket, a car accident at the top of the road, finding the old train station was fabulous and to top it all off at the end of the day when a beautiful steam train pulled into the station and everyone got off in old Victoria outfits! Just so happened the ITV had filming a period drama!
Kelly is so much fun to be around and makes you feel so comfortable it almost feels normal to be running around mid week in bare feet in a wedding dress!
I'm overwhelmed with how good the pictures have turned out ..... I think everyone has a little vain cat in them!
Thank you Kelly Smith my lovely talented Southern Friend, I hope lots of adventurous ladies with wedding dresses contact you for a shoot ... I can guarantee they WILL NOT be disappointed