I remember being in a salon once, flipping through the glossy pages of a magazine while getting my hair done, and chancing upon a high fashion british collegiate themed editorial. I think it must have been for Ted Baker, or a similar brand, but I remember thinking to myself These students are getting their vogue on. And ever since, my unrealistic graduation shoot goals were conceived and left to waste away in the recesses of my head.
But sometime in May, Liyi from StyledStory (formerly Au Lapin Blanc) approached me to do a photoshoot with Bobby, a personal friend of hers and a well known local wedding photographer – she ran a company that specialised in wedding and vintage props, styling, etcetera. I didn’t want to do a wedding shoot because 1. I’m not getting married and 2. I’m not getting married. But what I was getting, was graduated. And immediately the idea sparked off again in my head – my dream old English literary themed shoot was possible again!
I called the goofiest, most spontaneous, least camera shy people I knew – my boyfriend and two of his best friends – and gave them one brief: To look glamorous and ridiculous at the same time. I think they did good. And yes, I was co-erced into smearing lipstick all over my teeth.
Because let’s face it – we were never going to match British Vogue. We could, however, create our own version of ivy league glamor: with high bookshelves, vintage props, and laughable expressions. And have a shit ton of fun along the way.
Half our shoot was done indoors, pressed up against the musty shelves of The Reading Room. Don’t you love the old smell of books? I do. I wish I had more time to actually get down to perusing the shelves – but that’s a visit for another day. After we wrapped up at The Reading Room, Bobby blindfolded us (ok, not really) and drove us to a location I couldn’t name even if I wanted to. There were no roadsigns and I have a bad sense of direction to begin with. But there were a lot of monkeys, very few people, and plenty of space for Liyi to work her magic again.
Neil Gaiman, everybody. Obviously I was still hung up over my Sandman phase.
I actually hate graduation gowns. shapeless potato sacks that they are. There is virtually no way to make a graduation gown look good, or flattering, so we did away with them altogether and kept the motor board. The motar board is my favourite part of the entire graduation ensemble because it’s so distinct, plus I like the way it makes everyone look immediately more scholarly. Also, angles.
While we were goofing around and trying not to get our bags stolen by monkeys (a legitimate concern, I assure you), Liyi was setting up a corner under the tree, trying very hard to stick to the theme of a literary graduation shoot. It’s funny because actually only Shane and I are English majors (Martin does Film, Warren does Graphic Design), but because I was the contact point for the shoot I just shovelled all of them into the mould of English major. LISTEN TO THE WOMAN, YOU ALL!
I think she did pretty good, working with what she had, which is to say: THE GREAT OUTDOORS. I was particularly amazed by the pegged pages of Poe poetry hanging off the branches.. but like a magpie, I am easily distracted by new and shiny things, and jumped soon after at the suggestion of flinging poetry into the air.
However, the boys were obviously not content with just flinging paper into the air, they had to fling themselves too…
And being a couple/wedding photographer by vocation, Bobby couldnt help but sneak in a couple of these:
But overall, it was fantastic. And all props go to this wonderful team:
Very rarely do I get to appear on shoot and not have to get anything done beforehand – I do think much of the fun lies in the tiring process of sourcing your own props, making them at 3am, and pricking your finger on a damned needle five times over… but sometimes, it’s nice to have the professionals lift the heavy weight for you. 🙂 Thank you, Liyi and Bobby for being so game when I suggested the old-school literary shoot (after a period of being slightly stunned; it’s not the usual wedding photography fare, I know) – and for anyone else looking to conceptualise and execute your own uniquely themed photoshoot, you know who to call.