The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

A Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Each year, Castle Douglas High School final year pupils have the chance to be part of an Enterprise Group, where they design and create products, which they then have to market and sell.

This year's group have created, among other things, cake stands from recycled vintage china. I was asked by Andrea Thompson, commissioning editor of Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine, if I would take some photos they could use for publicity and she could put in a magazine article about the group.

A Mad Hatter's Tea Party theme was decided on and I met up with a few of the group for a hot chocolate to discuss ideas, strategies and potential venues for the shoot. A little over a week later we all met up at Cally Palace Hotel in Gatehouse of Fleet, with the full team in action. It was like one of those high production shoots with lots of different people in charge of hair, makeup, props and outfits, and there were even a couple of them recording the experience with cameras and video.

I have to say I was extremely impressed with the level of organisation and cooperation, which meant the shoot ran much smoother than some I've been involved in.

And this was reflected in the result. Because I was able to focus my time and energy into getting the lighting and composition right, rather than having to chase everyone and see they were all doing their jobs correctly, I was able to get some great pictures.

However, the point I go click is only one step on the journey to the final images. Once I have the photos on the computer there are a thousand directions I can go in.

In this instance I decided to try and create an illustrated feel by creating an effect so as the image moves out towards the edges it becomes increasingly like a drawing. This has the effect of the characters coming to life out of the pages of a storybook, which I felt tied in with the whole Alice in Wonderland theme.

I then gave the whole thing a slightly desaturated, sepia tone, which creates the look of old hand-tinted photographs. This, I felt, tied in with the Victorian/Edwardian setting of the Lewis Carroll story and the retro crockery you are using for the cake stands - harking back to days gone by.

Here are a few of the final pics, but you can find the full set on my Facebook page here
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1182144885133547.1073741876.114749591873087&type=3


Mad Hatter's Tea Party, with emphasis on the cake stands


Alice


The Queen of Hearts


The White Rabbit


The Mad Hatter

A couple of weeks later I got a call from Andrea asking if I had a version of one of the photos that wasn't faded at the edges. She wasn't promising, but there was the possibility it might appear on the front cover of the January edition of Dumfries and Galloway Life, and they needed a version that would allow for writing to show up on top of it.

Fortunately I had a cleaned up, edited version that I hadn't done the final illustrated effect to, as that had been a key stage before trying out different post-production techniques. I sent it straight over to her.

This week the January edition has hit the shelves and rather wonderfully we did indeed make the front cover!


Front cover for January 2016 edition of D&G Life

4 comments

Pat said...

Kim they are incredible. What a great team you had. By the way I suppose it is mandatory to have hot chocolate at meetings? Congrats on the cover.

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - thank you - I'm really pleased with the way they turned out and that we got the cover - it really is a testament to the hard work and planning by the pupils.

And yes, a meeting over hot chocolate, at In House Chocolates, is mandatory :)

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

The pupils did all the make-up etc? Wow! I'm impressed!

Congratulations, Kim, this is really great story-telling photography. Even without the faded effect, the cover looks fantastic. I'm so pleased your work's on the cover for the new year.

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - the makeup was a little patchy so I spent some time tidying it up in Photoshop. Glad you like the photography :)

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