My second campaign for Agent Provocateur, a shoot for their 2012 Classics range of underwear, kicked off with a 6am start on a cold, dark February morning at Spring Studios in London. My set was to consist of 20 square metres of charcoal grey silk and a yellow perspex floor. This later became off black in post production but for technical reasons I needed a light floor to reflect some light back onto the model. The AP team built a frame to support it all, at a height off the ground that would allow me to get far enough beneath the models to be able to shoot from the low angle that I wanted to achieve on these.
For inspiration I had been thinking a little bit of Bill Brandt’s work, particularly his beach nudes. I wanted to light these pictures so that there was nothing direct coming from in front of the model. All the lights, 6 in total, heavily softened and diffused, came from behind and were directed towards a long screen of white polyboards in front of the model. I wanted the tone and texture of the skin to take on an alabaster feel which I felt I could only really achieve by bathing the body in purely reflected light. Think of it as being done under the thickest, whitest, blanket cloud imaginable, with only the subtlest kisses of highlight round the edges of the body. This was what I had in my head before we began and, unusually for me, I stuck to it on the day. The second part of the Brandt influence was to take the idea of using quite a wide angle lens and to shoot from extreme low angles, so as to exaggerate the length of the legs. Wide angle lenses are anathema in fashion photography, longer lenses are more flattering to the features and compress the subject so that it’s easier to make everything look softer and more beautified. I liked the idea of going against the grain for Agent Provocateur in this way.
As the crack of dawn showed it’s face outside the studio windows two of my all time favourite collaborators, make up artist Kay Montano and hairdresser Eamonn Hughes, set to work on the blonde Valerie and the brunette Charlotte in their own talented way. Meanwhile, the rest of us sat around and ate carbohydrate products until we were ready to start shooting.
Two wind machines, two laptops and two camera bodies later, we had 19 shots in the bag and a tray of Margheritas to end on. The great thing about working for Agent Provocateur is the attitude and energy that creative director, Sarah Shotton, contributes to the day. She has a brilliant way of ramping up the girls to a level that brings out a great performance. Her red headed presence is the living embodiment of AP, she is the AP girl and can get away with saying things that, coming from my mouth, would just be plain wrong.
To see more of my work for Agent Provocateur please visit my website.
Here’s a montage of behind the scenes shots. Thanks to Nic Serpell-Rand for doing these.