Clare West Photography, along with Brides and Beauty, Bouquet Boutiques, and Joanne Flemming Design created a fête that the Cottingley girls would have swooned over. Inspired by the legendary Cottingley fairy photographs (if you’re not familiar you can take a look here), this styled shoot, which took place in the UK, invokes magical woodland whimsy and a free-spirited celebration – a party I’d join any day! Read below for some behind the scenes inspiration.
I first came across the Cottingley fairy photographs years ago and was fascinated by the fact that at the time many people really believed that two little girls had captured the fairies dancing at the bottom of their garden. The photographs were taken in 1917 but it wasn’t until the 1980′s that Elsie and Frances actually admitted that they had faked the images.
We wanted our shoot to illustrate the innocence of the girls and the elegance of the fairies. I was thrilled when Joanne of Joanne Fleming Design said that we could borrow some of her dresses in soft greens and greys that would work so well in the woodland setting. All the bridesmaid dresses were bought from the high street as I know a lot of brides are on a budget and I wanted to prove that you can buy beautiful dresses without breaking the bank.
Joyce and Hayley from Brides and Beauty did an amazing job of creating beautiful hair and make-up. We went for very subtle make-up as we felt there should be a certain innocence to girls’ looks, in keeping with the original photographs. The up-do’s proved trickier than I imagined as I soon learnt that not everybody’s hair does exactly what you want it to when you want it to! Hayley was ever the professional though and created simple yet stunning styles for each of the girls.
I contacted Sylvie Mawer from Bouquet Boutiques after I had seen some of her work at a wedding I photographed at Great Fosters. As soon as I met her I knew she got what we were trying to achieve and she surpassed my expectations. When she arrived her car was brimming with huge bouquets of flowers, table settings and free standing arrangements not to mention all the bags of moss, tree bark and other bit and bobs…and her lovely hubby not only stayed all day to help but also played the part of our groom for a few shots.
All the decorations, table settings and accessories were sourced from charity shops, car boot sales or were things that we had lying around at home or were made especially for the shoot (the fairy wings and hair decorations for example).