Les Misérables opens in cinemas tomorrow, and today we have something super-exciting to share with you – a stunning styled bridal shoot which took place at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, where much of the film was shot! This amazing shoot was dreamt up by Caroline Nicholson. After watching the official Les Misérables trailer Caroline thought about what a great place the set would be for a photo shoot – but surely she wouldn’t be allowed to shoot on the film set… would she?
“I have rather fanciful ideas on many days, but it’s not often I get to see them through to fruition. However, on a very cold day at the end of December one of my ideas became a reality and, boy oh boy, was it worth all the hard work.
“As November of 2012 drew to a close and I completed my last wedding of the year, I started to get that creative itch that I so often get. I adore the weddings I’m lucky enough to capture, but I always come away with more ideas, things I’d love to try, that one shot that we just didn’t have time for, that one image that allows me to push the boundaries of my own wedding photography a little further. So I decided I had to do something really creative, just for me, and just for the fun of it.
“The concept came from my work in the film industry, and my love of film in general. For a long time I’ve adored film stills almost as much as the films themselves, and films influence my work quite a lot. I love the atmosphere that stills capture, the unreality of what they show us, the behind the scenes magic they convey. I wanted to incorporate this into a shoot and I was looking for a really unusual venue for several brides who wanted to wear their dresses again, some of whom I’d photographed before on their wedding days. I wanted it to be something really contemporary, and I knew my lovely brides were up for having some fun – bringing out their inner ‘Diva’.
“Hold that Thought.
“I grew up in Rochester in Kent and still live nearby, and through my contacts I established that much of the new Les Misérables and the recent Sherlock Holmes films were shot on location in Chatham, at the Historic Dockyard. It’s an amazing venue and having shot weddings there before I knew it had huge potential for a dramatic shoot – I just didn’t realise quite how much. I’d been looking forward to Les Misérables for some time, and one afternoon after watching the official trailer for the film I started thinking…
“What if I could arrange to do my shoot on the set of the films?! Nah – never going to happen – there’s no way they are going to let you shoot on a film set; not a chance….
“Only they did let me shoot on the set! Waaaaahhhhhh!
“After a couple of weeks of crazy planning, Pinteresting and discussions with Alana, the fabulous Events, Activities and Communications Manager at the Historic Dockyard, we agreed the shoot. She very kindly took me on a tour of the sets and wedding venues, and told me all about all the amazing things that had been captured there. Suddenly the initial inspiration of a Les Misérables inspired shoot started to develop – my mind was going crazy with ideas with each new area Alana showed me, and I could see shots forming in my mind. The venue was a photographer’s dream and there were just so many inspiring locations to shoot. Straight away I knew this had to be big with lots and lots of drama.
“Once I saw how amazing the place was, I gave my incredibly talented friend Cristina Rossi a call, explained my thought processes and discussed some ideas, and we rather excitedly agreed on a collaboration. She jumped into action in a way only Cristina can (I can’t thank her enough for all her hard work), and we started contacting some amazing wedding suppliers and had people getting in touch with us from all over the country to take part. Once our brides were on board we carried on working with June, the wonderful Hospitality Manager at the Dockyard, who couldn’t have been more helpful. Soon the ‘Les Mis’ inspired theme just didn’t cover it; we wanted full on ‘Drama Queen’, encompassing everything dramatic, theatrical and flamboyant. The Drama Queen shoot was born and boy was it fun to do!”
“With huge thanks to all involved – we couldn’t have done it without you.”
The ‘Drama Team’
Our Drama Queens: Dawn Ferguson, Hayley Griffiths, Samantha Stevens, and Sarah Rogers
The Venue: Alana Almond and June Collins – The Historic Dockyard Chatham and Commissioners House
Make-up: Elaine Barrow and Shamirah Sairally
Brooch Bouquets and Stationery: Jinder Raja – The Finer Details
Cakes: Elizabeth Solaru – Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium
Flower Garlands: Gwenda Wilkes – The Vintage Floral Design Company
Shoes: Marsha Hall – Marsha Hall Handmade Shoes
Props: Sarah Poole – SP Wedding Events
Jewellery: Claire Ogden – Claire Ogden Designs
Behind the Scenes Videography: Johanna and Apos – Urban Cinematography
Next week we’ll take a look Behind the Scenes of a ‘Drama Queen’ Shoot on the Set of Les Misérables