Location Fashion Photography for The Fibre Co by Tommy Martin

The Fibre Company: Fell Garth Collection

The Fell Garth Collection: Client: The Fibre Co. / Stylist: Maggi Toner-Edgar / Wardrobe Collaboration: The Shepherdess / Designers: Emma Wright & Melanie Berg / Models: Deborah Ingram & Asahi Pollock / Photography by Tommy Martin

I spend a lot of time honing what I do, making steady progress and getting steadily, slowly better. Every so often I make some pictures that change how I think about my work and lead me to a big jump forward. It’s not always a big sea-change in style, more often just a bunch of ideas and techniques and experience that suddenly slot together to make sense. It doesn’t happen very often, and it when it does it’s usually a result of my trying out new things on test shoots. Back in December t happened while I was shooting for a client. Which was nice.

Just as Cumbria was getting flooded by the first wave of once-in-a-century weather to hit us this winter, we were trying to fit a location shoot into the very small space between storm fronts and Christmas. In the end, you just have to pick a date and hope. And have a Plan B. Our Plan B was a veranda in front of the house that was our base. Given the amount of hail that was falling at the start of the day, Plan B was starting to look like the only plan.

Location Fashion Photography for The Fibre Co by Tommy Martin

When the weather is about to break my Landscape Photographer’s Sense wakes up. I don’t always get much warning, but I can generally smell good light approaching. A couple of hours after we started shooting under the cover of the veranda I started to get that feeling. We packed a small set of gear and headed up the fell. I had already planned some specific shots on a recce of the location. We didn’t use any of those. When the light is right, you just follow it.

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One downside of this kind of shoot is that fact that working with the best light almost always involves standing right in the teeth of strongest wind. I’ve never actually lost a model on a shoot, but it was touch and go for a moment. These shots we all available light, attempting to set lights or reflectors in these conditions would have been an exercise in futility.

After lunch was had a bit of a lull in the storm-force winds and we went in for round two. Unfortunately, the light and the amazing big skies had died right along with the wind. In pretty much the opposite direction of every shot I had previously envisaged, I found some amazing light. We were under a blank grey slab of cloud that was obscuring all traces of direct sunlight, but a gap in the cloud high above us was letting light spill onto a huge bank of clouds, providing us with a natural, 2 mile wide softbox. A super-clamp turned a tree into a fairly wind resistant stand for a back light and we were good to go.

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All in all a pretty good day. We returned with the same number of people we set out with, the wind only took down one light stand and, if I do say so myself (and I do) some cracking shots. And I’ve found a renewed excitement for my commercial work and, for the first time in a while, a crystal clear idea of the direction I want to take my fashion photography in, and how it fits in with my landscape and outdoor lifestyle work.