Daughter of Spring...

Check out the behind the scenes video!

I think it's a beautiful thing when creatives collaborate. I always feel that the work produced feels richer for the talent poured into it. 

Model is Maria Amanda Schaub
Dress and Headpiece by Agnieszka Osipa Costumes
BTS videographer: Richard-Wakefield Photography
Skin Retouching by Solstice Retouch
Camera used Phase One XF 100MP
Lens used: Schneider Kreuznach
110mm LS f/2.8

At the end of Autumn I was talking with the lovely Agnieszka from Agnieszka Osipa costumes as well as model, Maria Amanda. I was coming back to the UK after a few months of travelling in the US and was looking forward to channelling some creative energy into personal work.

Everything fell into place fairly quickly once we decided the date of the shoot. Maria, travelled from Denmark for the weekend, Richard Wakefield was available to capture the BTS, and Agnieszka sent over a box full of treasure for me to play with.

English weather is always a fickle thing. The weather on this day toyed with us in the early morning with light grey skies and little splashes of sunshine. Maria had been up since 5am getting herself ready and once I'd finished working up her hair we headed out to the location. 

The woods were calling me. Most of the time I never have a clear idea of a picture, just an intuition of where I should be and in time I've learnt to trust that inner feeling. On this grey day I wanted to be under the trees. I figured it would offer some shade in case it rained (it did rain, and so much for shade !)

It had just started to drizzle by the time we reached the location. The walk was a little wet and while we had too many things to carry between three people not one person complained. Rather the mood was refreshingly optimistic. 

I spotted a tree stump in front of a huge patch of brambles. The area in front of it was clear. I could imagine a throne set upon it and the small clearing filled with little woodland animals. I knew that's where I would bring my queen to life.

I wanted to capture a queen caught in a slip between worlds. I liked the idea of playing with the delicacy of the soft fragile gypsophila against her powerful presence. A light in the dark woods.

The shoot began along with the heavy rain. Unfortunately you can't really see it in the photographs but the sheen of the brambles gives it away.

I had decided I wanted to shoot this story with the Phase One XF 100MP camera system. I wanted to explore the quality and dynamic range of this camera. I used natural light alone, and in my hurry I didn't notice that the ISO was cranked up to 3200! If you're photographer you'd understand, all the noise ! - I nearly cried when I realised my mistake, I felt sure I'd ruined them! But being Phase One files and processing them through Capture One, I was saved ! (A lesson was learnt that day!)

Because it was a CMOS sensor I was able to get away with having the ISO 3200. By processing the image files through Capture One I was able to reduce the noise seamlessly. The pictures had more than enough room to allow me to play and explore with various colour adjustments until I reached a toning to my liking.

This is why this camera was perfect for this situation where I am shooting with natural light on location.

In the end, it turned out that everything that day was durable. Maria's strength to maintain a delicate dignity in the biting cold, her carefully applied makeup and styled hair slipping away in the rain. My resolve as I shot from underneath an umbrella, more for the camera's sake than my own, capturing moments with one hand, and Richard's creativity to film all the moments despite not being able to use half his equipment due to the wet and mud. 

I learnt the importance of how a good attitude leads to good results. To use the challenges that life and nature throw your way to create something beautiful. And to always check your settings no matter how fast you want to capture a scene!

Bella Kotak

Bella Kotak is a fine art and fashion photographer currently based in Oxford & London, England. An art lover from a young age she always knew that she would work within the creative industry. Photography changed her life when she picked up a camera and began a 365 project. From that moment she was hooked by this medium that translates thoughts and imagination into tangible form and has since been featured in several magazines around the world.