For my second entry into The Journal at Miriam Elizabeth, I would love to share all the details with you about my first brand shoot, which took place one year ago at three enchanting locations filled with dense forestry, tranquil sandy shores and intriguing ruins, far from any kind of city hustle and bustle, relentless grind of tubes, or beeping of traffic jams.
A true creative and professional, Hannah from Visible by Hannah (@visiblebyhannah) met us at the Waverley Abbey House car park. I had arrived on the beautiful 10 degree day, wearing my dark green, short sleeved, maxi length (and more!) chiffon gown. To say that there were some slightly perplexed looks from members of the general public, is a little of an understatement. Nevertheless, hiked up dress in hand, as to not completely drench the flowing hem in mud and remnants of the beautiful, yet now deeply trodden autumn leaves, carrying wicker basket, a dried floral bouquet and a variety of beguiling antique props, we wandered our way up to the ruins, with the help of my wonderful partner Callum.
Breathtaking they were at first sight. I was immediately grateful for Hannah’s vision in understanding the core sentiments of my brand. This location was a dream. Open greenery, a sweeping river nearby, complete with charming stone bridge, huge archways and grand winding trees, still in their autumn colours.
Waverley Abbey in its former state, was a Cistercian Monastery, founded in 1128. Nearly 900 years on, a great deal of it still stands, including the space where once was a warming hearth, complete with wooden logs and burning embers.
The English Heritage website has a wealth of knowledge at the following link, where you can even have a glimpse of how the monastery would have looked way back when: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/waverley-abbey/history/
Having never been behind a professional camera before, this really was a first for me, but being in this unbelievable landscape, with such an encouraging and phenomenal photographer, I couldn’t but fall completely and utterly into this little piece of magic that we were creating. Too often as humans, we focus on our worries, too consumed to appreciate the moment for what it is. As I took out my crystal goblet, I understood the meaning of a human being, not doing. At this moment, being my true self, perched on ancient ruins, and enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face, nothing else mattered.
After a quick change of outfit in the car and a fifteen minute drive, we parked up at Frensham Great Pond and I walked to meet Hannah at the edge of the sandy shore, adorned with my walking boots, a loose and floaty white dress and a whole lot of excitement to dip my toes in the icy water ahead of us.
A few years ago, the fact that my fine and rather flat hair had been completely weathered from the wind and humidity, and transformed into a messy boho-ish do in contrast to the polished curled look I had left the house with, would have sent me into a meltdown, feeling fully incapable of being seen by anyone looking such a state.
One thing I found completely magical about this glorious day, is that as I strode into the wintry lake, golden light cascading across me, I didn’t even realise the sheer chill of the water pooling around my ankles. In that moment with my loose fitting dress, that those few years ago, I would have photoshopped to make me look slimmer, and my wild and kinked hair, I had a smile across my face, that only comes from being completely and utterly content. I have always thought to myself, that to live even one year as my truest of true selves, with creativity and loved ones around me, is a life well lived. Whilst I plan to live many years after that, mine starts now, and I challenge you to start yours.
The final location of our day...simply wow. Bourne Woods is an enchanting realm in itself. The scale of the pine trees flanking either side of the entry path up and into the clearing we photographed in, was truly awe inspiring. The autumn season always feels like home for me, but this setting, I would have loved to bottle up to keep with me always. The burnt orange ferns, the heather and the deep green pine needles made this the perfect landscape for the last scene. Wearing my checked green midi skirt and my fedora hat in hand, an ode to vintage attire, the light dimmed and the mist encapsulated us. A gloomy day to most, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect end to my brand shoot with Hannah at Visible by Hannah.
It’s not always easy to stand and face another human (or the multiple humans who were watching us throughout the day) and be unapologetically you. In fact, I know from personal experience, years of it, that it’s often much easier to put up that facade you may, like me, have tried so hard to create. A bit of wisdom that I hope to impart, is that it doesn’t usually work. If you’re desperately trying to be someone else, you’re only going to end up unhappier than ever, unable to achieve it. The most absolutely INCREDIBLE thing, is that the quiet voice inside you, who rarely speaks up, is one million, trillion times more amazing than that which you thought society needed you to be.
Some may have thought me crazy, smiling uncontrollably kicking water up in the air, sunset behind me, standing on rocks in a chiffon gown, or meandering my arms around on the top of a woodland clearing. To me, my brand shoot with Hannah was freedom, freedom to be who I truly am, who I always have been and who I promise, to continue to be.