Into the Woods

Back at the end of February, on my birthday weekend, we went on a photoshoot in Bourne Wood. It’s just out the back of Farnham, and has been used as a location by a number of Hollywood films – if you remember the scenes of Harry Potter and friends being hunted by dark wizards, for example, then that’s the woodland we’re talking about.

We’d set up the shoot with Toneagraphy Photography just before Christmas after having such a good experience of shooting with Tony in October at MCM. What I didn’t know until that weekend was that plans had also been made for Lady S to join Lady M and myself.

It was a bitterly cold day, not long before the snows hit, so while I was wrapped up warm with multiple layers as part of my costume, the same was not true for my poor partners.

Lady M had updated her Poison Ivy costume to include a winter cloak, while Lady S was channelling her inner Death Eater to present a young Bellatrix Lestrange. My rucksack was full of spare blankets and slippers to try and keep some warmth in people between bits of the shoot.

Bourne Wood is just off the North Downs, so it’s hilly terrain, and well loved by local families and dog walkers alike. The reactions of each to seeing various people in costumes accompanied by a photographer and lighting kit ranged from making a wide berth to simple curiosity and asking what we were doing.

Gender-bent Harley Quinn closeup

Somehow “taking photos” didn’t seem enough, so a brief explanation of cosplay and conventions usually then started. That was pleasant enough, but in near freezing temperatures we did start hoping people would avoid us after a while.

So, it was exhausting and cold, but also fun. Yes, we played dress-up in the woods. The photos that have come back from Tony are beautiful. One of the things I love about his work is his use of light in his compositions. He’s also more than willing to explain what he’s doing and why, and to share views of the raw shots while we work.

It has in turn made me more thoughtful about the composition and framing of my own photos, even if I am only using a phone.

Most importantly, it was fun. If you’ve not done a photoshoot before – and the cosplay element is irrelevant for this part – then consider giving one a go with someone you trust. It’s a fun and collaborative experience that has inspired memories and conversations ever since.