Fashion Photography by Tommy Martin

Muncaster Castle Test (Part One)

I’ve been working with stylist Maggi on a few commercial shoots recently. A while ago she mentioned that she had been loaned a stunning, genuine 1940s couture silk dress by Jean Dessès. Obviously, we had to shoot it. We had to organise a test. Maggi put together a bunch of other outfits (a few feature here and more to follow in Part Two of this particular adventure). We juggled diaries for a while and found a date that the whole team was free.

I had a different location in mind originally, but they let us down and we, very happily, ended in the awesome Muncaster Castle. The thing I love most about testing is the freedom to just make it up as you go along. There’s as much pressure as a commercial shoot, after all the whole team are giving a huge amount of time and energy to get something amazing for their portfolios, but there’s no specific brief.

Muncaster Castle is sensory overload for a photographer, a stunning set, full of the kind of detail that only comes from hundreds of years of history. The biggest problem I had was deciding where to start. The next biggest problem is that a big part of being a castle is having very thick walls, small windows and acres of dark wood paneling. It is Dark in there. While Jess and Hollie were in makeup, I ran around with Katie setting up a lot of lights that overwhelmed all available light and basically ruined the entire look of the place by trying to recreate the look of the place with several thousand watt/seconds of flash.

Katie found an amazing bedroom two minutes before Hollie was ready to shoot and I made a snap decision to completely abandon everything we’d set up. We dumped pretty much everything and headed for the King’s Bedroom with one strobe and a honeycomb. The trick with lighting this place, it turned out, was to very subtlety augment the available light, with just enough flash to allow for hand-holdable shutter speeds. Which I knew already, but sometimes it’s easy to get over-excited and overlook the obvious.

Huge thanks to the team at Muncaster Castle for letting us into their fairytale…

Models: Hollie Georgie & Jess Watkins
Make Up: Jaye Adams
Hair: Nina Secombe
Stylist: Maggi Toner-Edgar
Photography: Tommy Martin
Assistant: Katie Laura
Location: Muncaster Castle

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin

Location Fashion shoot at Muncaster Castle, in the UK's Lake District, photography by Tommy Martin