• esmeloasby

17th century Halloween bridal shoot.

A few weeks back I received a message on Instagram asking me if I'd like to collaborate on a halloween styled bridal photoshoot. The theme was to be '17th century dutch still life' (honestly, google it- it's beautiful!). I loved the brief, the historical style ideas were totally my cup of tea, and the location was to be The Guildhall in Leicester, a beautiful old building with stunning features and a rich history. I thought about it for a good few days, I very nearly said no. I almost tried to convince myself ‘I didnt have time‘ and would it even be worth it? Such a defeatist attitude, nothing can come from doing nothing. Time was genuinely tight, as it always is with a toddler, but my heart was saying YES, so I committed.

I am SO glad I did. I met a whole bunch of lovely creatives. This was the first shoot I have worked on like this and it was such a positive experience, and somehow I miraculously found the time to create some of my best floral/taxidermy pieces to date-funny how that happens when you take a chance.

I needed to provide a table centre piece, and a bridal bouquet, buttonhole and flower crown. I started working immediately on a beautiful crow. I've been putting off starting 'bigger' specemins since I've had Cassius as often time is so unpredicatable still and I overthink the process. Funnily enough, again, the crow came together much quicker and more smoothly that any taxidermy I've done in the last year. I'm an absolute sucker for the tiny song birds and mice, but they are SO delicate, they can be really tricky work.

I was encouraged by the progress and had an end vision for the centrepiece by this point. I painted a large chunky candlestick black and wired the bird on to dry in position. Once ready, I made a webbed support around the top of the candlestick with a copper hoop and lots of wire and started to weave in stems of dried flowers and this is where the magic starts happening for me. I don't start with hugely specific end goals when working with flowers, I like to go with the flow and see what the flowers want to do. I like to see how they fall naturally and what fairytale-esque shapes the petals have crinkled into. The stems on some are more bowed and twisted than others and this is all so important to work with and not against. I used my stash of Peonies, that I had been saving! And lots of huge Dahlias, beautiful speckled Lunaria, and tonnes of grasses and seed heads, my favourites. I loved how the piece came out, it really evoked emotion in me, it was moving. The colours, the shapes and textures of the flowers next to the silky shine of the crows feathers. I'm really proud of this piece of work, I named him Edgar.

After the centrepiece was done, it set precident for the other pieces, and the bouquet, crown and buttonhole flowed out so easily. I'd done it, and with time to spare! I was kind of amazed really, it proved that generally you can find time and energy somewhere if you really want to, and I felt so good for creating in all my spare time and really applying my focus to the project.

I arrived at The Guildhall on the day and met Abi, who had co-arranged the shoot with the photographer. The hair/make up artist and dressmaker were already there and the models arrived shortly afterwards, as did the stylist/prop hire, stationary designer and photographer. Everyone got to work. There was an exciting but calm atmosphere as the table set up began to take shape. My job was to work fairly closely with Caz, who provided the props and also designed the overall aesthetic of the set. She had a beautiful collection of old glass vials and bottles, and a whole selection of larger copper jugs and vases. I got to work filling them with huge lengths of pampas grass and alliums, tonnes of different grasses and lunaria. The delicate bottles I placed tiny collections of single stem dahlias and daisies. They looked so romantic and luxurious and as the set up grew and neared completion with luscious looking fruits and a series of glass domes I brought along, the overal picture was an absolute dream.

It was an explosion of textures, soft feathery grasses, smooth glossy fruits, the shine from the glasswear and the most extrodinary fireplace as the background. I hung some delicate stems from the chandelier just in the foreground, it was such a feast for your eyes. The colours were just divine, so rich and inviting, dark magenta’s, golds, it was so beautiful.

The models looked incredible, the dress maker had created such a beautiful gown and veil, and paired with the flowers, it was just perfect. Vicky, the photographer, captured it so flawlessly, just take a look at the images.

Overall, it was such a good reminder that you have to go with your heart sometimes, I feel like I gained a whole host of skills and experience that day, that simply wouldn't have happened if i hadnt said 'Yes'. Pretty sure I will somehow end up working with some of the other creatives I met there again, and it's so nice to make new connections with like minded people, now more than ever. And ultimately, the work I created would probably not even exist if I hadn't gone for it, and that alone, makes it worth it. Each of these steps pushes our skills to keep progressing, it can be so easy to get stuck in a rut.

Take a look at the creatives (on Instagram) who worked on the shoot, it’s so important to support small businesses more than ever right now!

Esme x

Venue The Guildhall @Leicestermuseums @abigailrose_creative

Photography @vickiclaysonphotography

Styling @theweddingalchemist

Florals and Taxidermy @EsmeLoasby

Bridalwear and Accessories @bexbrides

Hair and make up @Kollective_by_Kellyodell

Stationary @lornaboyerdesign

Signage and jacket @handmadesignco

Shoes @inannabespokeshoes

Models @ravenlenore_rl and Mike

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