The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Renaissance Punk at Rosefield Mills

"The show-stopping, finale outfit is going to be worn by Angela, the key piece of which will be a 15 metre long cape painted by artist, Emma Visca, and we'd really like a good photo to show it off," said Marie.

I knew from the outset that the stage set up with live audience and low-light conditions were going to make it practically impossible to get the best possible image of the cape on the night of the Re:Dress Slow Fashion Festival, without disrupting the show.

We were going to have to do a separate photo shoot in a separate location.

And so began the search for a suitable venue and a date when everyone would be available. And if we were going to this much trouble, we may as well get a few more models and outfits that reflected the ethos of Re:Dress.

Luke Moloney of the Dumfries Historic Buildings Trust allowed us access to Rosefield Mills - an old building complex on the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries, that ceased tweed production back in the 1930s. Since then it has been slowly decaying, but a few years ago was bought by DHBT, who are now looking into ways to raise funds to convert it for community use.

It has one watertight building that is about 12m by 15m, while still having the paint-peeled brickwork that gives a wonderful urban decay feel, which was ideal for the mood and feel for this project.

Luke also lent us another ladder and a wooden chair for props

On the morning of the shoot, Nelson Brown and his team set to work on the hair for the models, while Alanna Barszczynski did the make up and Circle Vintage the clothing and styling.

Initially I thought our models - Angela, Chelsie, Eva, Joe, Marie and Sahar – would be arriving up one at a time, and I arrived early with Willie Johnston, who was acting as my assistant and shooting some behind-the-scenes video (see further down the page). However, after waiting around for a couple of hours, they all turned up together.

And then it was full on for the next few hours.

While there was a certain amount of ambient light coming from the skylights in the building, it wasn't creating the drama I wanted. So I set up a large softbox as my key light, and then another off-camera flash to use as a backlight. This gave a greater sense of depth with more shadow play coming into action.

Above - test shots: Dan from Circle Vintage in ambient light, then I set the camera to underexposed so he would only be lit by the lights I could control.

Although the lighting was set up to get create photos of the models in the outfits, I quickly realised they could be props in the shoot too. Some of my favourite images are where you see the model and the whole set – it creates more of a story - like this one of Mariel, a Ukrainian ballet dancer who was 8 months pregnant at the time of the shoot.

Willie created a great behind-the-scenes video with the footage he shot, which I think gives a good insight into that part of the day.

The original plan had been the photo shoot would take place a couple of days after the fashion show, and the images would be released within the week while it was still fresh.

Then came the possibility of getting them into a magazine, which would mean holding them back a bit longer.

Then trying to find a date when everyone was available proved more difficult than expected and pushed it back several weeks.

Then it fell through with the magazine.

Then Christmas got in the way.

However, thinking of ways to turn adversity into opportunity, I wondered if it might be possible to make our own online magazine using the images from the shoot.

I thought I was having an original idea, but when I spoke to Marie it turned out she had been thinking about creating a magazine for a couple of years, but the world of the pandemic had diverted her down different routes. 

And then we discovered Nelson had long been thinking about creating one too!

So we are now in discussions about developing something bold and wonderful, but in the meantime have put together what is, in effect, an early prototype to start seeing what's possible.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the link to the online magazine

Below are a few of my favourite images.

Here's the link to the magazine on - - take a look and we hope you like what you see.

Any feedback welcome! 


Anonymous said...

Amazing images of models in urban decay environment

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is FotoPhantasia

Kim Ayres said...

Many thanks, Jacqui/FotoPhantasia :)

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

I can't comment on light and camera techniques...but the drama, the contrast...urban decay vs fashion...brilliant work, everyone, Kim. Brilliant!

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for the feedback, Neena - delighted to get such a reaction :)

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