Gaynes Park Shoot Report

In the eloquent words of Emma Woodhouse AKA The Wedding Reporter, here is the shoot report that she wrote for us during the Gaynes Park bridal fashion photo shoot which is featured over eight pages in the March / April 2012 issue of You & Your Wedding Magazine. Grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy and good read…

On an Indian summer’s day, beneath an unclouded early morning blue sky, a country park basks quietly in determined sunshine. Lavish gates tucked away on a quiet country road herald the entrance to Gaynes Park. The renovated mansion remains tucked away from view, concealed by sentries of trees.

Travelling upwards through fields of gardens and meadows of hills, the drive winds past walled gardens and British countryside. Away from the 18th century ancestral home of the Chisenhale-Marsh family, the ancillary farm buildings have been converted into an immaculate wedding venue surrounded by gardens considered to be among the best in Essex.

A biplane potters noisily across the sky, leaving no trace of its journey beyond the whirring of engines. A gardener sits astride a ride-on mower, proudly tending to the manicured gardens. Dogs sniff happily around the cars parked in the gravelled courtyard between barns and buildings. Suspicious pheasants patrol the driveway, unsure of the people traversing in and out of the Orangery laden with clothes, kit bags and pretty pieces of paraphernalia.

Before the clock has even chimed nine, a team of professionals are already working industriously on their tasks for the day. In one corner, a girl is secured to her seat with heated rollers and hairspray; in the middle on the airy Orangery, a wedding planner quietly cuts strip after strip of lace to adorn the backs of pretty chairs; boxes of props and buckets of flowers are ferried in during a ceaseless procession whilst a male model basks in the sunshine as he quietly drinks a coffee on a bench away from the hubbub.

In the middle of it all, two women control the situation; one loudly directing who wears what and how it should look, the other quietly reformatting memory cards, adjusting camera equipment and briefing her assistant. Between Peta Hunt, the You and Your Wedding editor-at-large and Chanelle Segerius Bruce, the photographer, Gaynes Park is to be transformed into a stylish editorial location with a quintessentially English feeling about it.

Jaw-dropping wedding dresses that defy stereotypical norms swing happily from the trussed beams over the side entrance to the Orangery. Slips of delicate material flutter ever so slightly in an occasional breeze whilst everyone carries on around them. Appliqué and sparkles hang brazenly next to intricate and delicate fabrics, whilst ruffles, beads and fringing shimmy on their hangers, waiting for their time to shine.

A rail of boyish blazers in kooky colours queues up next to a table full of glitzy gems. Light seeping in through overhead and adjacent windows gets caught in the sparkle, casting prisms of light against the wall and floor. A less glamorous table laden with carbohydrates and nibbles looks covetously on at the display of jewellery and hair accessories.

Beneath both tables, rows of shoes line up like attentive soldiers awaiting further commands. Brown brogues and green suede shoes wink knowingly at dazzlingly cute ballet slippers and skyscraper heels, each one serving an entirely different purpose and collectively looking like a child’s dream dressing up box.

A guided tour of the estate reveals a secret wooden garden gate with a heart-shaped peephole, perfect for first look photos. The romance of the grounds conjures up images of elfin like brides meeting dashing grooms amongst the carefully curated wild flowers; visions of stylish girls on the arm of their fathers dance in the imagination at the thought of having the garden path as an aisle leading to the Orangery; photo shoots practically form themselves in pretty pergolas covered in flowers or on loveseats snuggled away from prying eyes.

Whether betrothed couples want an outdoor ceremony beneath the ancient beams of the Gather Barn, an opulent reception in the Mill Barn or a stylish affair in the Orangery, Gaynes Park quickly worms its way into your heart as the prettiest pocket of English culture to get wed in.

Whilst the Orangery gradually fills up with wicker hearts, vintage signs, gilded mirrors and beautifully shabby chic props, Chanelle and her assistant Dwiko huddle together in a corner of the Gather Barn photographing stationery on an upturned wooden crate. Working quietly and efficiently, they use items that can be taken out of context for detail shots whilst everyone else scurries around to organise set ups.

Peta and her assistant catalogue all of the items that have exploded out of their suitcases whilst Simon from Euphoric Flowers transforms random stems into posies fit for the finest bride. Wedding planner Helen Carter sets about creating a ceremony in the Gather Barn, complete with hanging chandelier from a 15ft truss, whilst her assistant Sarah irons table runners to decorate a wedding breakfast table.

Chanelle pulls out some pages torn from magazines and together with Peta and Dwiko discusses the images contained within the glossy pages. Using the tears as inspiration, Chanelle explains her inspiration for the shoot and her vision for the day. She calls the models over to show them the essence of what they are trying to achieve, explaining what it is she likes about the poses and the ambience of the pictures.

With images dancing through their minds, the team head outside to start the shoot in earnest. Unpredictably, the ‘bride’ wears a dress made of oversized rectangular sequins whilst the red pinstripe suit that the groom wears stops at the knee with unexpected shorts instead of trousers.

Chanelle begins creating, guiding, shaping, moulding and manipulating shots into existence. She multitasks between directing poses and also directing Dwiko with the light reflector in order to get the most out of a shot. She teaches as she goes, explaining what she’s doing and why she’s doing it in a form of running commentary, so that her assistant gets the most from this opportunity too.

The couple change into and out of 6 different outfits in varying degrees of elegance and glamour. Chanelle poses them in a variety of locations, using a bright red brick wall as a backdrop and leading them out of the garden and into the shade of a weeping willow amidst a meadow.

Without the genuine adrenaline and emotion of a wedding day, Chanelle has the task of trying to illicit a natural response from her models. Whilst real brides cannot help but smile from ear-to-ear from the moment they wake up until their head hits the pillow, a teenage model whose signature look is “sultry” struggles to find the joie de vivre that captures newlywed happiness.

Indoors, Sarah and Helen finish the setting of the wedding breakfast with scrabble tiles as place names just as a selection of sweet treats from The Cake Parlour arrive. Peta and Andriani, the make up artist, follow the shoot around with critical eyes, adjusting the pleat of a skirt here and touching up a flawless cheek there.

The photographer also becomes a director, stylist, art director and personal motivator in addition to artist, creator and visionary. She must use the light to her advantage, seek out locations that not only look great but also help to tell a story and find a cohesive storyline between the different scenarios and set-ups.

A fan full of more flowers arrive and together Simon and Vicky create beautiful pieces of art for the various different sets. They create decadent table decorations to compliment the wedding breakfast table, iconic displays for the ceremony table in the Gather Barn and beautiful bouquets for the different bridal looks throughout the day.

Ginger Rogers said that she did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards. As Chanelle shoots the couple walking through the walled garden towards her, she too becomes an expert in rapidly walking backwards, not falling over, maintaining concentration, encouraging her subjects and, unlike mere mortals, not ending up with a series of blurry images.

The faces on an inquisitive couple viewing Gaynes Park that afternoon proved that the backdrop of a photo shoot is perhaps the best context for showing prospective clients around a venue. With a team of professionals on hand to illustrate how the space could look, potential couples are given the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild and see the place under the best possible light.

Chanelle is a master of light, seeing sunbeams like strokes of paint across her canvas. Sometimes it is a blessing, providing a beautiful bounce on the faces of her young models, at other times it carves up the space with incessant and unavoidable shadows. There is some slight relief from the relentless dazzle of sunlight when just the right amount of cloud cover that allows for five minutes snapping the details of the dining table without the shadows of the Orangery slicing up images.

The group move through the grounds, flanking the picturesque couple as they change guise and location repeatedly. Whether the bride wears a cute little 60s style dress as she cuddles up to the groom on a sweet little bench decorated with hearts, or whether the groom looks dashing in black tie next to an ethereal bride with flowers in her hair, the surrounding professionals ensure that they appear nothing short of perfect.

As the models gather for their penultimate set up of the day in the Gather Barn, Chanelle gives direction to the groom on how he should best hold the bouquet on his new wife’s behalf. It takes the eyes of a seasoned professional to make the smallest of gestures look natural.

Even though these young, unmarried models haven’t got a clue what the difference is, Chanelle has set up enough wedding shots to know that even the merest degree of rotation can simultaneously show off the blooms to their best advantage whilst also making the scene appear less contrived.

Having snapped the couple behind an altar filled with letter blocks spelling out ‘Love’, pillar candles in rustic urns and pots of trailing flowers, Chanelle gets the couple to walk down the aisle in celebratory fashion at the end of their ceremony.

Taking their cue from the clicking of her camera, the group of suppliers huddled around coffee cups at the back of the barn begin cheering and whooping. All of a sudden, the picture comes to life as the bride genuinely grins and the groom triumphantly throws his arm in the air; it’s almost as if noises add an extra layer to the image.

Even as models are slipping out of their couture outfits, their work done for the day, industrious pixies continue to create more imaginative set-ups for the photographer to capture. Whilst the main part of the shoot may have been wrapped for the day, Helen and team continue to scale ladders in order to affix streamers into tree branches for romantic breezy detail shots amidst cackles of weary laughter.

Dresses are packed back into trunks, sets deconstructed and props packed away.
With the final click of Chanelle’s camera and the last car tootling out of the driveway, it is almost as if Gaynes Park has taken off its fanciest outfit and removed its make-up. Through the course of the shoot, the sun has traversed the expanse of the walled garden, peaking its head over the wall on one side in the early morning and now finally melting away behind the opposite wall, leaving streaks of colour across the cloudless sky.

Words by Emma Woodhouse AKA THE WEDDING REPORTER

wedding at gaynes park rustic wood wedding decoration (1)

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Fashion Styling by Peta Hunt for YOU & YOUR WEDDING MAGAZINE

Wedding Decor & Styling by HELEN CARTER WEDDINGS

Wedding Venue is GAYNES PARK


Furniture Hire by OUT OF LOVE

Cakes by Zoe Clarke at THE CAKE PARLOUR

Behind The Scenes Video by THE DREAM CATCHERS

Table details by JONES HIRE

Letterpress weddings stationary by ARTCADIA

Take a look at this Behind The Scenes video of my recent commissioned shoot for You & Your Wedding. The issue is on sale now and is the March / April 2012 magazine.
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