A few months ago, when the air was warm and the flowers in bloom, I had the pleasure of photographing the beautiful actress Aiysha Hart.
I first came across Aiysha in her leading role of Ariadne in the popular BBC TV Series ‘Atlantis’ next to Mark Addy, Jack Donnelly and Robert Emms, that totally fed that feminist, all ‘girl-power’ side of me. Later, I also came to know her for her performance as Mona in the movie ‘Honor’ next to Paddy Considine and Nikesh Patel.
Being a fan of Atlantis myself, I was very thrilled at the opportunity of working with Aiysha – it doesn’t happen everyday to be photographing someone who is talented and also extremely photogenic!
Together, we were interested in creating a series of images with a little more character than simple portraits. In a first meeting we sat down to discuss the visuals. Starting from an idea I had, we talked about how we wanted every styling element to be: wardrobe, makeup, hair.. everything was discussed in great detail. After the meeting, based on the decisions we made, I created more in-depth mood boards specific for outfits, makeup, hair and even nails and set.
As soon as we had a date confirmed, I grouped together some of my favourite people and, without even realising, we ended up with a strong, totally in synch, all-female team.
I come across many talented people working in this industry, but it is an especially fulfilling experience to meet human beings who are not only talented, but also extremely hard-working and dedicated. And when chemistry kicks in too, then magic really happens. Our shoot day was long and intense, but we all worked in synch and harmony with one another, working towards a clear objective and having fun in the process.
I take all of my shoots at heart. Did I also mention that I’m a hopeless perfectionist?! I plan and organise in detail as early as I can, often waking up and night with ideas (or dreaming that I forgot to reply to an email – that’s a typical one. I know I’m not the only one here!). Always giving 200% on every single project and being extremely hands-on on set. No surprise, the day after the shoot my muscles ache as if I had been running the marathon.
But if there’s something that this industry has taught me is that, no matter how much you plan, some things you just have no control over. And things can go wrong. And that’s fine, because that allows you to develop your other skill, that fight-or-flight, i’m-gonna-pull-my-hair-out kinda mode that kicks in in stressful situations and makes you think fast on your feet and come up with clever solutions that save the day. It allows you to be a true leader.
The night before the shoot I found it hard to relax. I was filled with an adrenaline-like mix of excitement and uncertainty. I had planned so much, but certain things just had to be left last minute. For a start, I still didn’t have any flowers – a pretty important part of the story if you ask me! Being summer, they needed to be purchased fresh in the morning to be able to last the day. I didn’t know if in the morning I was going to be able to find what I needed and as a consequence I had absolutely no idea how the set was going to turn out.
On the day of the shoot I was up at 5AM. I bought a van load of flowers and went straight to the studio to start organising the first set. My assistants Carolina and Anuska joined me shortly after and together we started arranging the flowers in vases, chopping stems, cutting leaves… Almost every outfit required a different set, and it took time to re-arrange all the props and make sure they were in the right position and height, in a good colour sequence, with no gaps and working well with the chosen dress.
Being in charge of the production, photography, set and retouching, this has been a very hands-on shoot for me, probably the one I’ve been the most involved in. I am very pleased with the outcome, but most importantly I am pleased about making a great memory working and having fun with these gorgeous ladies, clearly reminding myself of why I love my job.
It can be easy to forget about the fun side of things under pressures and deadlines, and it’s important to remind ourselves of the love that we have towards what we do by never stopping having fun. Passion and pleasure should never be taken away from us and they most definitely should never be taken away from creativity.
Photography and set: Rossella Vanon
Styling: Alicja Jasnikowska
Hair: Viktoria Toth
Make-up: Virginia Bertolani
Nails: Roxanne Campbell
Photography assistants: Carolina Nikotian & Anuska Rose
Location: Huddle Studios
Behind the scenes images courtesy of Anuska Rose.