Three weeks ago I spent the day at The Goring Hotel’s glorious Royal Suite, just behind Buckingham Palace. You may have heard of it, as this is where Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her family spent the night before her wedding. I wasn’t there to review the hotel, but to find out what was going on behind the scenes at a photo shoot for London-based beauty house Molton Brown.
It’s a bit of a departure for Molton Brown: The brand have decided to change the way they use visual imagery and, to support the September launch of their renewed and revamped core body range, they have decided that the in-store photography and A/W campaign visuals will use two models to embodify their two best-selling fragrances, Black Peppercorn and Pink Pepperpod.
When the customer finally sees the photos of the two gorgeous models, embodying the Molton Brown campaign, what they won’t know is just how much work and creativity goes into making those seemingly effortless images. So Molton Brown asked me to come along to document the process.
When I arrived at The Goring and was ushered up to the floor of the Royal Suite I was met with what seemed like hordes of people each time I walked through a door off this corridor. It felt a little like being transported to Alice in Wonderland.
Of course there was the photographer Tom van Schelven.
These days the technical demands of the digital age mean that he comes with a team of assistants, who variously help organise the lighting, oversee the technical side (the monitors, live image feeds, digital operation, batteries, memory cards), and move furniture for different set ups.
There’s an awful lot of hefting involved with being a photographer’s assistant.
We mustn’t forget the models: Georgia Fowler-Evans
and Adrian Allen.
There’s the stylist, coincidentally my great friend Ursula Lake, and her assistant to oversee the clothing look. On set they tweak, they press, they pin, they dress, they soothe and calm.
(Left: a selection of shoes for the shoot. Right: Kurt Geiger heels.)
Then there is the hair and make up team, who both have assistants to help them. Molton Brown booked Keiichiro for hair and Marco Antonio for makeup. The guys co-opted one of the suite’s bathrooms:
Even men with perfect skin need foundation under strong indoor lighting.
Add in the creative teams, both internal and external, the inhouse marketing people, and the external public relations agency, who all make sure the images reflect their collective vision, a film crew and backstage photographer covering the shoot, the hotel staff making sure everything runs smoothly, waiters bringing refreshments, and, er, me, well, that’s a lot of people to make sure that a photograph of two people in a hotel room both looks wonderful and sends the right brand message.
The hair and make up work doesn’t start and end in the bathroom. Throughout the day there are touch ups on set because of the demands of the lighting, and because different outfits require different colours.
Ursula, in the printed trousers below, will keep an eye both on the models and on the monitor during the shoot to make sure that both the clothes are hanging properly, and that they are reading correctly on screen.
Just a small part of the technical equipment needed on the shoot.
In one of the bedrooms the creative and marketing team watch a monitor which feeds the live images from the shoot so that they can check that it matches their vision for the day. And here’s a sneak peek of one of the set ups:
Huge thanks to Molton Brown for the behind the scenes access for their new campaign, which breaks next week. As part of this sponsored series in association with Molton Brown I’ll be running two more insight posts.