When I was commissioned to shoot this incredible collection of images for the collaboration between ArtÓ and White Canvas in Stow on the Wold, nothing could have prepared me for how far out of my comfort zone I was pushed. And goodness me it was brilliant!
ArtÓ is all about bringing people together – to appreciate art, enjoy conversation or to work and collaborate on creative projects. Their art is ‘owned not loaned’ and they are passionate about supporting emerging and visionary artists.
Brides Beyond Boundaries was conceived by ArtÓ gallery owner Antony Finn in collaboration with White Canvas bridal boutique owner Lee Griffin. Their creative thinking for the photoshoot was that it should radically reframe the narrative around the role of the bride. Between them they brought together a partnership of creative talents to set bold yet intricately made haute couture gowns against a backdrop of striking contemporary art in a series of scenarios that rip up the rulebook of how we expect brides to behave. Free reign for me to a certain extent with the photography whilst ensuring that the creative direction of Tony was showcased.
It was imperative for me as a professional photographer that the lighting was absolutely on point for each of the ‘scenes’ set up for these images. Four dresses set against the backdrop of the art gallery. Each dress distinctly different and with a story to tell. Each one unique and each one played out in a scenario to push the limits of expectations of how a bride should behave!
Our model for the day was the wonderful Emily Elton who is also a huge talent in the art world. Emily and I have worked together before and so we set about creating the images for this collection and had quite a giggle along the way.
Here is a peek at some of the image from the shoot and commentary from Emma Bovill, Comms & PR Lead | Gallery Manager at ArtÓ…
This beautiful dress is called ‘Kiss From A Rose’. With the embroidered detailing and the huge sleeves and skirt this feels like a very traditional wedding dress. Its the dress you see yourself in as a child dreaming of your wedding day. And yet there is a saucy split up the front of the skirt!
I wanted to really capture the way the light bounces off the fabric. Light and bright yet showing the depths of the folds and the volume of fabric in the dress. I bounced light off the relatively low ceiling and used this as a huge reflector to wash the light over Emily whilst not blowing out the shadows.
“This was the second time we had collaborated with Nikki on a photoshoot at ArtÓ after she delivered our original brand photography when we opened in summer 2022.
We knew she would put the work into planning to ensure everything ran smoothly, go above and beyond on the day, bringing ingenuity and spark, and deliver outstanding results.”
“Nikki’s superpower is listening closely to her clients (whilst also giving a gentle steer and setting realistic expectations when needed) and always bringing talent and pizazz.”
“We initially discovered Carlé & Moss through another company in our local area who had used Nikki for their business photography and recommended her highly.
It was a chance meeting but we immediately saw she was a great spirit and were keen to use her services. She didn’t disappoint which is why she has become a key partner for us on creative projects.”
“Nikki’s attention to detail with the schedule was key to a successfully delivered photoshoot with zero stress and therefore huge opportunity for fun.
She was very accommodating, providing an invaluable planning session beforehand to smooth out the details.”
You certainly can’t forget ‘Forget Me Not’! An exquisite detailed wedding gown. Whimsical and woodland like. At home at a simple country wedding or a more grand affair.
The colour of the dress leant itself to a softer light to showcase the depth and the detail of the gown. Soft light with a small pop of flash where needed.
“We had an idea for a provocative photoshoot, ‘Brides Beyond Boundaries’, to challenge traditional perceptions of the role of the bride.
We needed someone who could get on board with the concept and work with multiple scenarios and props which Nikki did masterfully. She also provided huge added value by creating a timeframe which distilled our ideas into a tangible plan.”
“The photoshoot was a collaborative project with bridal boutique White Canvas, also in Stow-on-the-Wold, setting bold yet intricately made haute couture Bowen Dryden wedding gowns against a backdrop of striking contemporary art in the gallery.
We chose four contrasting dresses and (together with model and artist Emily Eton) Nikki was able to bring each one to life making the most of the accompanying artworks.”
The ethereal quality to this dress creates an air of whimsey brought into focus when teamed with Star Wars props. We always think of Princess Leia being ‘pretty’ and ‘innocent’ and yet she is one of the main protagonists in the Star Wars franchise! Women can be elegant and subtle yet with a core of steel.
Again the lighting on this needed to showcase the softness of the dress yet also reflect the strength of the carbon fibre and the Star Wars props it was photographed with. I bounced the flash behind me this time and at a fairly high power as it had quite some way to travel back. This created a softer, diffused light.
“When Nikki took a look at her camera preview screen mid-shoot, turned to us and mouthed “this is brilliant”.
We had described the theme of the photoshoot to Nikki as ‘edgy fun’ and that playfulness and lightness was apparent throughout thanks to Nikki’s warm personality, with her superb pre-planning ensuring we kept to time and experience meaning each shot was executed with precision.”
“We were keen to raise awareness of the gallery as a photoshoot setting and showcase a range of artworks as well as increase exposure of the bridal boutique.
More than anything we wanted to capture a creative vision showing brides as emancipated in self-expression through the use of four completely distinct gowns and eye-catching backdrops, with juxtaposition a key element to convey.”
Women can be anything they want to be, we all know that. Yet how many times do we revert to stereo types on a wedding day. Women don’t traditionally make speeches for example. And more often than not you have a bride who is holding down a pretty impressive job.
In my other world as an award winning wedding photographer, my brides are doctors, pilots, artists, lawyers, fire fighters, armed forces, farmers (and not the farmers wife – they own the farms!), racing car drivers. The list goes on. They are impressive beyond measure and yet when you see them in a wedding gown you have no clue as to the power that lies beneath.
The Blush Fizz dress demanded something different. Something grittier and action based. And yet the dress is the most elegant of gowns. I love the juxtaposition here.
Lighting was dark and moody. Using harsh flash for the secret agent images. And a more orange ‘street light’ feel for the end of the night vibes on the floor with a bottle of champagne. And for the final images in the loo; the cold bright and harsh lighting you get in the loos at a nightclub or bar. And hey; who doesn’t finish the night off absolutely craving chocolate, make up awry, shattered, and cat napping in the most interesting of places. We’ve all been there!
“To use professionals in their field, have confidence in their input and put the time in beforehand to ensure everyone is speaking the same language.
1. Kiss From A Rose
2. Forget Me Not
3. Flowers In The Mist
4. Blush Fizz
1. Carbon Waves, carbon fibre wall relief – Alastair Gibson
2. Carbon Humboldt, limited edition carbon fibre sculpture – Alastair Gibson
3. God Save The Africa Queen, carbon fibre, bismuth, titanium, PEEK and rare F1 parts
sculpture – Alastair Gibson
4. Grapes From The Moon, limited edition carbon fibre sculpture – Alastair Gibson
5. Zeta Puppis, limited edition print – Alastair Gibson
6. Racing Piranha, limited edition print – Alastair Gibson
7. Baby Piranhas, limited edition carbon fibre sculptures – Alastair Gibson
8. Taylor, original watercolour – Nur Ilham
9. Bond, original watercolour – Nur Ilham
10. Camden Lock, original acrylic on canvas – Colin Brown
11. Coffee With A View, original acrylic on canvas – Colin Brown
12. Like a Girl, limited edition cast bronze – Jenny Nijenhuis
13. Théâtrophone, limited edition poster – Jules Chéret
14. Body Of Lines, original acrylic on canvas – Suki Nabarro
15. A Girl’s Best Friend, original acrylic on canvas – Suki Nabarro
16. Pink (Neon) City, hand embellished print – Candy Canvas – Just Jane
17. Frida, embellished print – Rock Salt Prints
18. Kate, embellished print – Rock Salt Prints
19. Audrey Bubblegum, embellished print – Rock Salt Prints
20. Diversity, original acrylic on board – Silvia O’Neill
21. Falling Sparrow, limited edition hand embellished print – Todd White
22. Star Wars Reimagined, lithographic prints – Law & Co
23. 1993 Jigsaw Mannequin, aluminium and steel sculpture – Nigel Coates
24. Sugar Skull, open edition print – Chris Guest
25. Extreme Is On, hardback book – Chris Guest
ArtÓ – Set, artworks and props
Antony Finn and Emma Bovill, ArtÓ – Creative direction and project
Lee Griffin, White Canvas – Bowen Dryden wedding dresses
Emily Elton @emily.elton.art – Model
Leanne Lishman, Cotswolds Wedding Hair & Makeup @cotswoldweddinghairandmakeup –
Hair and makeup
Nikki Kirk, Carlé & Moss – Photography and creative refinement
Emma Bovill, SaltBaked – Comms & PR
Bowen Dryden @bowendryden – Wedding dresses
Bamford Wellness Spa @daylesfordfarm – Manicure
Allium florist @alliumflorist_ – Bridal bouquets
Beetroot boutique @beetrootstow – Christian Louboutin boots
Stow Opticians @stowopticians – Moscot glasses