Saturday, 26 October 2013

Icon for a Day

Icon for a Day with Kathrine Anker as iconic Mary Pickford. 
Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version on the right with Kathrine Anker
Recently I did a special photo shoot for Photography Monthly Magazine. It was the end of their 'Icon for a Day' series which I had heard about and seen a couple of the articles for. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted when they contacted me and asked if I'd like to do a Mary Pickford inspired shoot for the magazine. Well of course I would! :-D
Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version on the right with Katherine Anker
The idea behind these shoots was that people who worked for the magazine took turns being an icon for a day. They decided on the iconic image they'd like to portray and found a photographer to help them create the image. It was Kathrine Anker's turn to be in the hot seat so to speak and she picked Mary Pickford from the early 1900's. Kathrine is a Features Editor for Professional Photographer magazine an its sister magazine Photography Monthly.
Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version on the right with Katherine Anker
Kathrine is the one who contacted me about being the photographer for this project. I plucked up enough courage to ask why she'd picked me as we'd never even met before. She said that their group imaging editor for Archant photography magazines had recommend me. Thank you Adam Scorey. :-)
Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version on the right with Kathrine Anker 
We only had a few weeks to sort out props, find a hair stylist, make-up artist (Sabina Yunusova) and sort out a location for the shoot. They wanted to use my studio but sadly I'd recently closed it down. I just wasn't using it enough to justify the overhead to keep it running. Most all of my work is on location. If I need a studio set up I hire a space and sent one up for the day. That's what we were going to do with this shoot but then they found this great studio in Milton Keynes, Unique Capture Studio, which they hired for us to use.
Unique Capture Studio, Milton Keynes
We did a lot of research and Kathrine ordered a book on Mary Pickford which is where we got most of the images for the shoot. She of course sought and received permission to use the images in the magazine. So we set about deciding which images we wanted to recreate. We didn't have to copy the images exactly, the idea was to get the same feel and be similar.
Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version on the right with Kathrine Anker
Sadly we didn't have much time or unlimited resources to work on this but we sure had fun trying. We hunted online and hit the charity shops mostly. In the end we didn't use all the props we'd bought and we couldn't find all the props we wanted. But I think we did a pretty good job with what we had. We all really loved the studio layout of the Unique Capture studio.
Jess liked the studio a bit too much, she said she NEEDED this chair in her life. 
Oh, I  haven't introduced Jess Bracey yet, she's a features writer for both Photography Monthly and Professional Photographer and several other of the sister magazines too. She's also a radio presenter on StroudFM and does a Teacakes and Talk show as well as a Rhyme and Shine music show. And on this day she was videographer! Oh and stylist too! Multi-talented that one. She even helped me test the lighting in between make-up/hair and costume changes.
Jess helping test the lights.
Jess doesn't like the above photo because she's not wearing any make-up. When you're this young and gorgeous you don't need make-up! Speaking of young and gorgeous, Kathrine was a natural in front of the camera, she really got into her role as the iconic Mary Pickford.
Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version on the right with Kathrine Anker
The above photo was the biggest challenge, we just didn't have the props we needed to pull it off. So we improvised. I really like what we came up with. I had quite a bit of fun with this image of Mary Pickford as you can see below.

Setup with Katherine and Jess
I had quite a bit of fun with all the images actually! I can't express enough how much fun and amazing this shoot was. The hardest part for me was making the images look old. Not so much physically as mentally. I've spent a lot of money on equipment to get clear sharp images and I had to add blur and noise to the final images to kinda hint at the early 1900's. I know I didn't take it far enough, that I could have made them look much older, but I didn't want to over process them. So I just aged them a bit. Sabina Yunusova, the make-up and hair artist, did a fab job giving Kathrine that early 1900s look. She even did special make up for black & white photography.

Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version on the right with Kathrine Anker
This next image (above and below) was taken with a Canon 5D MKII (above) and a 1930's Coronet 020 box camera and 120 film (below). As we were shooting an early 1900's icon I couldn't resist taking my box camera along and taking a few images with it in the studio. I wish I'd picked it up more than I did though. I was focused so much on the shoot that sadly I kept forgetting that I had the box. I'm really glad I remembered for this shot though (right).
Original photo of Mary Pickford on the left, my version with box camera on the right with Kathrine Anker
Here's the original version of this image taken with my 5D digital SLR. I quite like all of these versions.

Here are a few more images that I had fun with:

After we got the original of this shot above I couldn't resist moving her to in front of this graffiti wall that was in the studio and retaking the same photo. I made her mono and softened and added a bit of noise to her to try and simulate an older photograph but leaving the background alone. It amuses me. The original image is the second image from the top of this blog post.

These next two images (above and below) are the precursors of the third image from the top of this blog post. I'm really fond of these two. 

Kathrine being herself :-)
Thank you Kathrine and Photography Monthly magazine for hiring me for this job. This is the first time I've called it a job, I had so much fun it's hard to call it that!

Oh, I almost forgot! There's a video to go with this! Remember I told you Jess was videographer for the day, this is what she was working on. Here's a link to the video on their website:
Or you can just watch it below:

Check out Photography Monthly's website and their YouTube channel, Photo TV,  for more videos from their magazine.

Here are the pages from the September 2013 Photography Monthly magazine where my images appear. If you click on them they will open up larger. Use your back button to return to this page. Or if your browser allows, right click on the image and choose open in new tab or window.

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Photography Monthly is a great read and I highly recommend it to any photographer, no matter what your level. You can currently pick up past copies free with current issue of Professional Photographer magazine which is a really cool deal.

Happy Snapping!


  1. An excellent photographer, and an excellent Model to boot!!!

    A winning combination, methinks!