A Period Drama Engagement Photo Shoot Like You’ve Never Seen Before

Twenty cast and crew members. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear. Authentic costumes and props. A historic location in London.

No, this isn’t for a movie set, but rather for photographer Simeon Quarrie‘s biggest photo shoot to date. Why the big production? Clients Jags and Kiran were getting married, but they didn’t want your run-of-the-mill engagement shoot. They were after something a little different. Something creative, dramatic—an experience. So they called on Quarrie (who happens to be a period film fan). He pitched some ideas to the couple, then threw himself into the challenge. The results—more reminiscent of a BBC drama set than a typical pre-wedding shoot—are both striking and creative, playing with the boundaries of photographic genres.

Quarrie offers a glimpse into his process in the behind-the-scenes video below:

What did Quarrie’s process look like?

Pre-Shoot Preparation

  • Making arrangements with suppliers for costumes, lighting, and other equipment
  • Sketching possible scenes:

“It helps me think of what props I might need in order to fill out the scene.”

Day of Shoot Preparation

  • Setting up lighting and gear
  • Completing hair and makeup for participants
  • Blocking (such as one would do for a play—figuring out where people will stand, use of props, etc.)

He used a medium-format camera, the Phase One IQ160, for the shoot, which was held at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London. The location has been used in many period films, such as Les Miserables, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and the Oscar-winner The King’s Speech.

This shoot, however, wasn’t all about ladies in dresses and bonnets or men in waistcoats and top hats. Quarrie added an unexpected twist, leaving the newlyweds-to-be in modern dress like time travelers dropped into 19th-century London, toting rolling suitcases.

period drama photo shoot

Some of the scenes included the couple showing their iPhone to a street urchin wearing a floppy cap…

behind the scenes photography

…or taking a group selfie with a tablet.

costumed photo shoot

In the video, Quarrie called the amount of preparation “crazy,” but part of the process:

“This wasn’t just about the end result as an image, but it was about the work and the logistics and getting there. It helps me to push myself forward as a photographer.”

This fusion of personal and commercial photography styles allowed Quarrie to stretch himself as an artist. He said in his description of the video,

“I have been desperate to create a period drama photoshoot. My wife and I have always been fans of period dramas. So I set out to create something for me. Another aim of mine has been to shift part of my business to more commercial photography and video. The scale of what I wanted to produce would be a useful exercise as a producer. Essentially, this was the next step in scale and problem solving.”

To add creativity to your photo shoots, check out The Creativity Field Guide.

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2 responses to “A Period Drama Engagement Photo Shoot Like You’ve Never Seen Before”

  1. Fabien says:

    That was excellent!
    Very fun to watch the behind the scene.

    Thank you.

  2. A.S.Martin says:

    This was fun to watch… love the accent!

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