Seven Ages of Man- Translating a poem into an editorial shoot

Did you know if you microwaved a rose it becomes soggy? Did you know if you blow-dry a rose, it opens up? Did you know if you take a lighter and candle and burn the edges of a rose, they turn out beautifully, as if you dried them up for days? Neither did I, these are things I discovered while preparing for this shoot of mine. I am capable of writing a thesis on roses.

Talking about the theme, the gamut was rather huge- we were given four elements namely earth, water, fire and air to choose from and interpret them in the light of our own perspectives.

Shakespeare has always been one of my favorite most poets and it was time I translated a poem into a shoot. I recalled one of his most popular poems, “Seven ages of man” and decide to portray that through my shoot.  (Give it a read here, in case you have not: ).

Hence, my chosen element was Earth which signifies the birth, growth and death of us mortals. All I wanted to portray was that man may have seven ages but in the end it is all about death or dying.

Now came the trouble, how do I really translate this wonderful piece of poetry into a shoot. I knew for sure I would pick up elements from all ages such as burnt roses for the lover stage, badges and flags for the soldier stage, pipes for justice and nipples for an infant stage, but what do I really do with them.

Like always, Dan came to my rescue and suggested that I incorporate some Gothic or Victorian influences, use them as a base and then work with these elements as he found this idea very “original”. That gave me the kick I needed, and I started off.

I collected the most impressive images I found talking about Gothic and Victorian influences and put them into my mood board which served as the basis of my progress. (by-the-by, having a mood board really helps, when you  find yourself absolutely directionless).


My mood board for the shoot

Now comes the sourcing bit, if I was to score some Victorian and Gothic looking stuff, Camden Town it had to be and Rokit(a vintage store) in particular( look at their products here: I could procure three Victorian looking dresses which served as different layers of my final oufit(as layers was one of my main points to achieve). During my visit to Southall(which was solely planned to eat some spicy Indian food), I spotted some black lace fabric which was perfect for layering my outfit and finishing the look.

Now came the time to procure the elements which would add the edge to my outfit. I picked up bracelets with spikes which resembled bullets(symbolizing the soldier stage) and used them as handcuffs. I was also lucky enough to find some beautiful charms like guitars and flags which were a perfect metaphor for the lover and soldier stages respectively. I made a trip to my favorite one-pound store too and found some baby soothers or nipples as we laymen call it and painted it black since there was not really much scope for color in the look I wanted to achieve.

I also painted a tobacco pipe black to associate with the justice stage but eventually had to lose it since it was too big an object and was rather distracting. I had picked up a pair of secs to signify old age but had to lose them for the same reason.

I braided some wool and attached the charms and my “elements” to it. It was meant to resemble a Victorian maid’s waist chain which bore keys.

I bought some red roses a day before the shoot and sat through the midnight burning their edges to lend a sad, dungy, depressing look to them. Volia, it worked; turned out exactly the way I wanted them.

Came the day of the shoot, numbing cold, waking up early morning and heading to the location- Notting Hill Church. The church was massive, the cold was depressing but the heaters inside the church saved us. The balcony area was reserved for our models to deck up.


The  lovely venue- Notting Hill Church filled with mewing babies; how adorable


The make up kits were laid( by the make up artist of course)and the shoots began.


When others were shooting

Since, I had opted for really dark eye makeup, I was placed towards the end with a beautiful, dark model called Veronica who was just perfect to pull off my rather dramatic look.


My hair and make up tears



What we do when others shoot



The obsession with Ekta’s headgear- making us all look like ETs



Trying to get that one perfect shot


After the wait, all the behind-the scenes fun and assistance to friends during their shoots, came my turn.

The make up was done, the layers were added and I have to admit, I was pretty happy with my work(slight reflection of immodesty, but a larger expression of my satisfaction). Christopher Hench, who was the photographer for our previous shoot as well, suggested one of the doors as a better option for the shoot, while I was more keen on doing it in the aisle or at least inside the church. We settled on a pillar, took about 15-20 satisfactory shots and relieved the model of the layers.


My final look featuring the layers, charms, ruffles and of course the burnt roses

(All dresses sourced from Rokit, Camden Town and the lace fabric from Southall)


After the long day, we all were really hungry. We hit Portobello Road Market to treat ourselves to some amazing falafel from Falafel King(in case you have not tried it, just finish reading this blog and rush). To celebrate our successful shoot we then headed to Hummingbird Bakery and added a sweet touch to the day. And then came the showers; not of happiness, but of snow. We were drenched in the snow flakes and almost frozen(I miss my tropical India during these times).


The snow showers- freezing moment

Falling sick was not an option and hence we ran into our respective buses and headed home, grabbed a cup of tea to soothe our throats and warm our bodies.

A splendid day, the only catch being it was our last shoot and third last day at LCS. My heart has already started pounding.

Wanna explore some more of Camden Town? Here’s how. 

P.S: All the images have been taken by Ekta(maximum out of these), Divya, Khadija, Mona or me.

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