“Regarding the concept, I think I abused a brief to get a load of farm animals in a studio if I’m totally honest,” says photographer Steph Wilson on her latest cover shoot of Marques Almeida’s collection for Oyster magazine. Steph isn’t a photographer who uses the usual studio props, and her work is all the better for it. Yet this shoot in particular, including a goat, a greyhound, a Pomeranian, a turkey, chickens, a rat, a ferret and sheep, Steph created a setting more like a petting zoo than a fashion shoot.
“The collection featured a lot of cowhide and originally I wanted to bring a dairy cow in,” Steph tells It’s Nice That of the shoot’s initial concept. “They cost about £2000 for the day, however, so, bizarrely, I ended up with half a farm for a third of the cost.” Shot in a studio in Hackney, and not on ground level but “the studio owners didn’t seem too bothered about filling the 1970s lift with goats,” the animals were brought over from Vauxhall farm who Steph credits as being “incredibly accommodating and brought along as many animals as they could fit in their van.”
Rather than casting specific animals, the photographer only made one request “for Trevor the turkey” and as a result got a broad choice of creatures changing from one image to the next, especially when you include Steph’s own dog Ham and Tommy, “the ex-racing greyhound that my photo developer Tony kindly offered to bring along. Tommy and Ham are best friends.”
When you look through the final images from the shoot, your first thought is what an absolute nightmare it must have been to organise and actually photograph, but thankfully Steph says otherwise. “I’ve honestly shot a lot of models and children that have behaved far worse than the animals did,” she explains. “Ham is a regular on set so he knew the drill, and the rest of the farm lot had all been there, done that on past film sets too. If anything the humans were the inexperienced ones.”
Amazingly, “aside from a lot of shitting and pissing (by the animals), the day went impossibly smoothly and we wrapped early,” says Steph. “The worst part was seeing [model] Lorna Foran getting scratched on the wrists by a wriggling ferret and pooped on by a chicken while in a rather uncompromising position. Fashion really isn’t all lights and glamour.”
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