“The beauty of a woman, grows with the passing years.”
I’ve got to admit, when Sue Gurr, wife, mother and grandmother from Royston, won the lucky draw for the Luxury Portrait Experience from a field of 50 guests at the Prosecco Party held in September, I was thrilled. Sue is an unassuming, gracious 75-year old who has never had her makeup done by an artist and never even contemplated having professional portraits taken. Her first shocked words were: “I don’t deserve to win!”. My view was: “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.”
Working with her was a wonderful pleasure. Once Sue discovered that she was going to have a triple makeover and be photographed in three different styles, she unpacked clothes she hadn’t had an opportunity to wear for years and joined in the planning process with enthusiasm. She had a look through my brochure to get ideas of how she would like to be photographed and was drawn to the “Relaxed”, “Floral” and “Elegant” styles. She decided that she would like a casual portrait, a formal, dressy photograph and then, because she loved flowers, she was happy to let me get creative and gave me carte blanche on the palette and styling. Music to my ears.
First, I arranged for Sue to have the Silver Service donated by Visage Dental Spa. Esther Hathorn maintains that one’s smile is your best accessory and her wonderful 15-min Silver Service involves an air polish express stain removal and high gloss finish for brighter teeth. (If you fancy trying this out, mention pennybird and camera for a 10% discount).
When Sue arrived back at the studio, Catharine Batour, the talented makeup artist who donated her time and expertise to do three makeovers for the prizewinner, was ready for action. To prepare Sue’s skin for the make up application, Catherine used Neal’s Yard refining cleanser, oil free eye make up remover, Frankincense eye cream, Frankincense Intense Lift face serum and Frankincense Intense Cream.
The first look we created, was ‘relaxed’
Make up: This look was very natural with Eyeshadow by Urban Decay Cosmetics, using Naked 3 Pallet, brown eye liner by Lord and Berry and a subtle peach lipstick by MAC Cosmetics in Koi Coral and Twig Lip liner to enhance Sue’s features for a flawless finish.
Styling: Sue had brought along a selection of tops and cardigans and we looked through them to find the most flattering colour combination. We decided on a light floral top, jeans and a coral cardigan. I used a hair light and a front light, trying to emulate natural light, because I thought this would suit the look best – unfortunately it was too dark not to use my lights! When I began working with Sue in my studio, she was amazing. Graceful, gentle and open, with pin sharp concentration on all the fiddly adjustments I was making.
The second look was ‘floral’
Make up: Catherine added eyeshadow by MAC Cosmetics as a highlighter and pressed lipstick colour sweet copper by No7 on top of the original MAC lipstick to lift the colour, giving a romantic feminine look.
Styling: I sourced the tulle skirt and sparkly top for Sue as she left the styling of this look entirely up to me. I shot her against a painted dark grey canvas, using a hair light and a front studio light and modifier. I wanted the look to be dreamy and romantic and I loved the colour of the flowers with the ensemble. Catherine helped me by throwing the tulle into the air and the three of us thoroughly enjoyed the Cinderella moment!
The third look was ‘elegant’
Make up: Cat wanted a stronger look, so added black eye liner by Lord and Berry and changed the lipstick to sweet copper, giving Sue a sophisticated, more dramatic look.
Styling: Sue wears a lot of white and wanted to contrast this with a dark backdrop. I usually shoot the ‘elegant’ look as black on black, but I was happy to go with Sue’s instinct on this. The portraits must reflect the subject’s personality and her inner sense of self, so working together is important. We got a bit bolder with our posing in this set and Sue was very relaxed. I think the final set of images really shows her beautiful personality.
Sue seemed to enjoy the day and I hope she was able to see how her beauty grows. Our greatest moment was her response to seeing her portraits: “I’ve never loved so many photographs of myself.” Those words are music to our ears Sue. With love from Penny & Cat & Esther xx