Last week was all about preparing for my latest staged photoshoot - A Nordic Wild Elopement - designed to create content for social media and hopefully inspire my target audience to hire me for their wildly imaginative events.
I absorb Scandi dramas and novels like a sponge and at home, the conversation has very much been centred around our son Caleb's forthcoming educational college trip to Iceland.
With that in mind, I've spent the last few weeks assembling an A team of suppliers, one with a very obliging couple of friends who agreed to do the shoot.
Whilst we have some stunning scenery in the West Midlands, we don't have rugged mountain peaks on the doorstep. But I try not to let mere details stop me. I opted for one of our favourite haunts as the location; the picturesque hills and stunning views of The Sheepwalks which passes through the Enville Estate. I think you can probably guess where it gets its name.
I'd carried out a recce recently in an attempt to somehow channel a Scandi aesthetic through my photos and was pleased to note that the sheep were further up the hill and so wouldn't cause me any problems on the day. The photos were also edited in suitably cool tones.
Naturally there was a last minute drama on the morning of the shoot when the original male model jilted his "bride". Having picked up a wedding dress (on loan) earlier in the week, taken delivery of a couture, hand dyed silk flower crown and collected what felt like a fortune in flowers the day before, there was a frantic hour of head scratching and panicked texts to people in our contacts list. Just when all hope had gone, Romana's friend Noel stepped in and saved the day. It was back on.
We met in the car park of The Cat Inn (first mentioned in 1718, before becoming an Inn in 1799). The car park as it is now, was detailed on the Tithe map of 1838, as a large pond. Having made our introductions, we headed to the pub for a swift drink and no doubt a little Dutch courage for Romana and Noel.
Romana was already made up with the requisite outdoor glow by the talented Selina Bhatti Selina Bhatti - Make up Artist | Facebook, who I previously worked with on my Stranger Things shoot here...
...and who joined us on the day.
Romana then proceeded to get changed in the back of Noel's van, where I helped to wrestle her gym and yoga honed body (Romana teaches yoga in nearby Shropshire Yogalates with Marni | Shrewsbury | Facebook ) into a wedding dress bodice that was a little too small. A model's life!
Finishing touches were added - the flower crown, complete with Icelandic poppies and a vintage coat (mine) and we set off on our bracing walk. Just a group of friends taking a walk. Nothing to see here!
Considering Romana and Noel have never modelled before and are just friends, they took to it like ducks to water. I had created a storyboard in my head, which helped with direction. The weather played ball too and there was just the right amount of cloud coverage.
We paused by Temple Lake for a few shots, which, whilst not particularly evoking Icelandic terrain, was too pretty to ignore.
We met some Enville Estate horses and traversed four stiles along the way.
Romana sensibly wore yoga tights beneath her wedding dress and we opted for some rather glamorous looking patent hiking boots to complete the look.
Gareth was weighed down with mobile phones, wallets, my reflectors, a rucksack full of props and at any given time, one of the two bouquets. I couldn't have managed alone.
It was around this time that Marni mentioned that her gorgeous big black cat Lexi, had died suddenly that very morning. We were devastated for her, being cat lovers ourselves and in awe of her for continuing with the shoot.
Making every effort to keep the mood light, we all found that we had some crazy connections and common interests and despite a traumatic start to the day, there was lots of laughter.
I also had to repeatedly break up Noel and Gareth's bromance chats in order to get the shots I wanted.
Who needs expensive jewellery? I sourced two "promise rings" - one being an old silver ring I bought as a teenager which was vaguely reminiscent of a Norse rune ring...
...and a more tongue in cheek online purchase for Noel.
Deciding we needed to show off the dress a little, I asked the couple to dance. After a couple of false starts, there was much twirling to be had and with my camera set to burst mode, I got the shots I wanted, including these two.
A celebratory toast was required after all that physical exertion - from drinking horns naturally. Taking their places on my recently acquired mid century modern geometric blanket, miraculously avoiding sheep droppings, they enjoyed a draught of imaginary mead.
Soon it was time to pack up and head back down the mountain.
Noel had a turn with the bouquet!
We stopped by this impressive tree for a dedication to Norse mythology and Totemism, using our vintage antlers and a wolf mask.
Then back to The Cat for drinks....
before decamping inside for the warmth of the log fire and Enville Ale, opting for the only free table in the snug. We glanced at the reservation sign, noting the later time of 6.30 pm and promptly made ourselves at home, still in mid conversation. Suddenly, Romana drew our attention to the sign. With Lexi at the forefront of our minds, it made our hair stand on end.
A magical day of crazy coincidences. Enville Ale, if you've never tried it, is brewed with honey (as is the Viking favoured drink, mead), giving it it's distinctive taste...a perfect way to celebrate mission accomplished. We were all quite sad not to be able to stay all evening.
Finally, a shout out to the other suppliers who made it possible - to Kim and Laura from The Petal Bar in Bridgnorth (The Petal Bar | Bridgnorth | Facebook
) for their incredible floristry skills...
Oh, and I also created a little video from snippets of footage Gareth took on the day whilst balancing ruck sacks and props. However, Noel, our groom is working on the soundtrack, so watch this space.
Dedicated to Lexi and a life well lived.