The Victorian Goth idea came about from a chance meeting in the most unusual of circumstances. You would not normally expect such an encounter from the dull atmosphere of a local business exhibition. It is true though! I met Victoria whilst exhibiting at ‘Woking means Business’. I had been thinking of a new creative project and this was a dream come true.
Victoria was introduced as someone who was just starting out in business looking for advice on local networking opportunities. Of course my eyes lit up when I asked Victoria what business she was starting and she replied that she was a personal stylist. This was just the person I needed to enhance the team of creatives I was building. I swiftly introduced her to one of my networking groups which she promptly joined.
A meeting was arranged where we could discuss collaboration. It was an interesting meeting where we found we had lots of mutual interests. This is where Victoria revealed that she was a Goth in a former life. I then introduced the idea of the Goth styled shoot to which she replied, “Yes, a million times Yes!!”.
The wheels were set in motion and Victoria was introduced to my model Lora and make up artist, another Viktoria. The next step was to create a Pinterest board where we could share ideas. This provided a basis for our plans and was somewhere where everybody could reference progress. Lots of ideas soon appeared relating to styles, fashion and make up.
Meanwhile Victoria busied herself sourcing suitable fashion and accessories from various outlets. It was helpful that she would probably want to wear the items after the shoot and it was also fortuitous that Victoria and Lora were of a similar build. This was the start of building a dream team for the shoot. Ideas for locations were also discussed and it was agreed that we would shoot at Waverley Abbey (ruined Cistercian Abbey) and the military church in Deepcut (of ‘Kingsman’ Fame).
The day of the shoot arrived and Victoria picked me up from home as we were travelling down to Hambledon in one car. The boot was packed with clothing and accessories and on the way down Victoria excitedly described all of the looks that she had created. Some concern about the suitability of the church were raised. We had found that there was a service at 10:30 and felt that it might be somewhat inappropriate that we were conducting a photo-shoot.
By the time we arrived at Viktoria’s house Lora was already there and the make up had started. Whilst this was going on Victoria unpacked the car and began to lay out the fashion for the shoot. Further discussion took place about locations. Then Viktoria’s husband had a stroke of genius. “Why don’t you try the church in the village, that has a decent graveyard.” So we had a plan.
The make up took around an hour and we were then ready to try the first look. This was a traditional Victorian dress complete with choker which we thought that it would be very suitable for the shots in the graveyard.
How amazing was the graveyard!! It was absolutely perfect for the style that we had created. We immediately found a chest tomb covered in ivy and featuring weathered stone. The first shot in the bag was awesome.
We then found a cross which Lora instinctively wrapped herself around. She then moved and I said “No, do that again”. I then took the shot with thoughts in my mind of “It looks like the crucifixion”
We then found another equally weathered and rustic headstone. Lora leaned against this and I asked her to place a hand against the stone, to look distant and forlorn. I named this shot as a love lost. It was very poignant. We then found a hollow in the trunk of a yew tree which Lora squeezed into. A few shots were taken but they did not really work out. It was at this point that people started to appear from within the church, so we decided it was time to move on.
Next stop was Waverley Abbey. Here we continued with the Victorian outfit for a few shots, before Lora changed into a more modern Goth style dress. I then started to introduce gels over my flash to try to produce some bizarre effects. The aim was to use an orange gel on the flash with the camera set to a tungsten white balance. This would mean that Lora would look quite normal, however the background would turn rather blue. We then looked around us and found something that was rather disturbing. What we thought was a bundle of sheep’s wool turned out to be human hair. We also found the remains of some burned down church candles too. What strange events had occurred here? Anyway not being one to let an opportunity pass me by, I utilised the old candles with a view to create something special later.
The next costume change was something a little more funky. Victoria had sourced a dress which was somewhat brighter with coloured lightning bolts on it. We took some shots with the candle before moving into the middle of the cloisters. Here Lora spread her arms out and looked up towards the heavens as if seeking some sort of divine intervention.
The last costume change was more of a punk style which was right up Lora’s street. Victoria had found some leatherette trousers in a charity shop and I supplied one of my rock t-shirts. This was just a bit of fun to finish off with.
The post production for this shoot really got the creative juices flowing. It is often surprising how much difference it can make. I have included a couple of before and after images to illustrate this. It often surprises people how bland the images from a £3000 DSLR turn out. But I always shoot in Raw in order to have the opportunity to be more creative later. Although we shot in the spring, the look that I wanted for the graveyard images was more autumnal. I also used a downloaded Photoshop brush to add a small dribble of blood for the crucifixion shot.
For the shots at Waverley Abbey I wanted the atmosphere to be mysterious and moody, so made the images look as if they had been taken at dusk. The shots with the candle were given the effect that the scene was illuminated by the candle. A downloaded flame brush created the effect along with using a luminosity mask to create the glow.
This shoot was a real game changer and quite a step up from other creative shoots. It can make such a difference by bringing together a team of people with complementary skills. I am really pleased with the outcome and now look forward progressing this even further.
© Andrew Boschier Photography 2018