I love when my clients allow me to get creative and take ideas from just a thought in my head all the way to reality. I’ve worked with Twisted for a few years now and it’s a really exciting company to be involved with. Twisted take standard Land Rover Defenders and modify and upgrade them to create a much more usable, and of course much cooler vehicle. Key to this though is that the DNA of the Defender remains. What I really love about Twisted though is that they do things differently to other people, the upgrades are often subtle and some of the upgrades can’t be seen at all. So as a photographer this presents a challenge of how to present what is an awesome finished product in a way that is different to what we’ve seen before.
So this is where the creative on this shoot begins, trying to do something new. Defenders are a strange vehicle and are flawed in many ways, but that’s one of the reasons we love them. They’re cool because of this! So I started thinking “What if we did a shoot which didn’t really make sense?” Leading on from this idea, I thought “What if this shoot was more than just a car in an amazing place? What if we added a character?”
So now the idea starts developing, I start throwing ideas back and forth with Twisted and then get Louise Lace, a brilliant stylist, involved to get her thoughts too. Not long after this we had an idea nailed down and then it was all about making it happen.
So the finished idea of this shoot was to shoot a Twisted Defender in the most amazing scenery possible with a beautiful female model dressed up in her evening wear. We wanted to explain that a Twisted Defender is a car for all occasions which can be driven anywhere by anyone and still fit in. The Twisted
I asked Louise, the stylist, to say a few words about how she styled the shoot:
After I had received the brief from Erica at Twisted my challenges began. The period leading up to a shoot is actually the most stressful and hard work for the stylist, finding appropriate outfits & accessories to create something that in turn is visually exciting.
This is where my knowledge and vast experience comes in and for this shoot I was working with the brief that Twisted & George gave me to create a selection lookbooks for the shoot.
A beautiful car, a beautiful woman in the middle of nowhere! Where is she going? Where has she been? Wow this is stunning! These questions were provoking my thought process in every direction. My aim was to create two looks that would mirror the stunning car, beautiful Scottish backdrop. And suit the model of course! My styling ideas and thoughts led me to ‘evening wear’. I want people to look at the images and ask similar questions that I had done. Drawn to the beauty of everything in Georges magnificent images. This lead me to a beyond beautiful vibrant red “Fame & Partners” evening full length dress, strong yet delicate, bold and stand-out appeal (just like a Twisted Defender), luxury faux fur cream stole and the most delicate red and tipped gold shoes.
My second look was slightly different more sexy, but not in a seductive way (there is a difference). A Jarlo Valentia all over lace dress with thigh split, gold shoes & deepest black faux fur.
Two outfits capturing different feelings, emotions and portray unusual situations. Asking different questions.
The shoot was scheduled for the end of November 2015 and we decided the most amazing scenery for this would be in the Highlands in Scotland. We knew the risk of bad weather was quite high, but we were in Defenders so nothing would stop us shooting. We had made the decision that we would shoot no matter what the weather is, even if that means a soaked dress!
Day 1: So the journey began in Thirsk where we picked up a T40S from Twisted HQ. My assistant, Sixbe, was with me to film video and to do a bit of the driving too. We set straight off for Fort William which was a 300 mile drive from Thisk, so most of the day would be spent driving. This first day was just about getting to the location but not long into the journey it started snowing so of course we had to stop for a quick photo!
Roads were salty with bits of snow at the edges. No worries when in a Defender though!
In the highlands and a quick break for more photos, quite amazing seeing the hills covered in snow.
We then went to the road used in Skyfall and took a few more shots.
Later that evening we meet up with the other part of our crew at the log cabin we’ve got in Fort William for the duration of the shoot. The other Defender was a Twisted T60 110 and had our model Sophie Townend , Louise Lace our stylist and Erica from Twisted in it. Team complete, Pizza cooked and eaten, it was time to get ready for the shoot the next day…
Day 2: The real shoot begins, the weather is perfect, if a little cold and the location was just spot on for what we were after.
So onto the model shots, Sophie absolutely nailed the poses making life very easy for me and meaning I could focus on lighting and composition of the shot. The ideal model!
With the beautiful natural light I decided to keep things simple and only use a little bit of fill in flash (using a soft box) from the right of Sophie. It was important to me that the shot looked natural.
The next shot was a little more challenging, the sun was reflecting brightly in the loch (that’s the lake) but I wanted to work with that and use it to back light Sophie like a goddess! My Profit B1 was set to full power, again with the soft box and it just about had enough power to balance Sophie and the Defender with the background behind. The dress was a little bit wet, but to me this makes the shot more real which I love.
Of course to make it a full set of photos I took some shots of the Defenders without Sophie too. Also, I love an excuse to dip some wheels in water!
On our way to the next location… I do think the two Defenders look cool together with matching plates!
This was a bit of an impromptu, quick shot. The light was amazing so we quickly got Sophie ready and shot a fully natural light shot of her walking towards the Defender.
I was trying to get a shot of the Defender a bit off road. The below shot was the most ambitious place I tried. After thinking the risk of getting it stuck was too high I reversed back to the road and we continued to our next location.
This location was actually more suited to car only shots and the light was starting to fade with the clouds starting to come in too. Time for the second dress as it felt fitting for the scenery.
I managed to park the defender up on a raised part of the car park which made it look like we’d conquered a mountain!
And here’s a photo from Charlie (edited by myself) of me moving the Defender back off the rock so we could head back.
Day 3: The day of the rain. Lots of rain!
I chose a different area a bit further north for the third day of shooting which was a bit of a gamble on location as it was a bit dependent on us being able to get the defenders to a spot I could see on Google Maps. We got there and went for it and it was just about okay, we got both Defenders down a very very rocky track and through a little stream to get to an amazing location for shooting. This is one of the reasons I love shooting for Twisted, you can get them to and shoot them in places that wouldn’t be possible with anything else!
So first shot of the day was with Sophie in the black and white dress, I asked her to really get the emotion across of how she was actually feeling, slightly pissed off at being out in the cold!
I then wanted to contrast the previous image to really make people question what’s going on in the set. So we backed the Defender into the water a little and I asked Sophie to walk towards the camera, but I wanted her looking like she’s in a great mood and actually happy to be out in the rain with a Defender in a Loch! I chose this image as the dress falls perfectly and I think you can look at the image for ages and just keep asking questions…
After the above two photos Sophie needed a chance to warm up in the car, so this gave us a chance to take the Defender dipping in the water more…
Raining really quite hard…
Would have been rude not to dip the 90 in too!
I then saw a rock which was perfect to perch a wheel on… It had to be done!
My next location planned was near Eilean Donan Castle. Unfortunately the rain was too hard to make that location work so we got a quick photo in the car park then turned round and set back for Fort William and the Log Cabin.
On the way back though I spotted this little cut through off the side of the main road which gave us a little shelter from the rain and looked ideal for some photos.
So Louise got Sophie ready again in the red dress and we got shooting. This time with the soft box and a golf reflector to try and get Sophie’s skin to glow. I love the feeling to these last photos of the shoot.
I love the mystical feel to this image, I feel it really makes you ask more questions about what’s going on.
Of course the Recaros are perfect whatever you’re wearing.
By this point in the shoot, the dress has taken two days of abuse rubbing along the ground. Louise looks upset that a beautiful dress is ruined but we’re all really happy with the results.
I thought it’d be interesting to ask Sophie, the model, for a few words on her thoughts on the shoot. This is what she said:
I was excited to be modelling on location in Scotland rather than in a studio. The scenery was beautiful and we as a team were all very enthusiastic about the shoot ahead. Although it was cold, the stylist was helpful passing me a coat in between shots; therefore, my facial expressions and body language did not show how cold and windy it really was! Due to the wind my hair and bottom of my dress did not stay in place, all the elements of the shoot had to be right so we had to take quite a few shots in each location so we got a good one! The rain also became an issue as my hair and makeup would get ruined if it got wet, therefore we opted to use an umbrella, thankfully it worked in the shot. I enjoyed wearing the beautiful dresses amongst the magnificent landscape, it felt quite empowering. The Defenders gave the shoot an edge; it was quite different to anything I had done before which was fun to experience. I also liked being part of such a lovely team where each member was passionate about their role. When each element of the shoot is right it creates something great, so I enjoyed being a part of that.
So that was how we Twisted Fashion with Defenders to tell a story which didn’t make a whole lot of sense! Mission accomplished!