Shooting for the Birmingham Royal Ballet

Last year I had the wonderful opportunity of working with the team over at Royal Birmingham Ballet to produce imagery for their Beyond Words productions . The shoots ranged from studio setups to shooting on locations that included a historic shopping centre and an incredible 900 year old home.

Big love to my team for working alongside me to bring the vision to life - Pratik Naik, Indy Sagoo, Wayne Lennon

Now let’s dive in the imagery for the Beyond Words Tour and how it all came together!

Behind the scenes video -

Check out the BTS video for a glimpse into how it all came together!

Beauty and the Beast

The BRB team secured an incredible location for the Beauty and the Beast images. The moment we arrived at Madresfield Court I knew I was somewhere very special. This beautiful house (surrounded by a moat!) has been a private family home for nearly 1000 years. It was the inspiration behind Evelyn Waugh’s, Brideshead Revisited and I can see why. Every inch of it is filled with history, charm, and stories.

It was the perfect location to shoot our Beauty and the Beast images. We decided to use the library as it felt so right. I fell in love with this library, honestly if I had a favourite room in the house so far this was it. The walls of shelves were heavy with the voices of so many artists and academics. Needless to say, I was completely enchanted!

Aptly, the books behind Belle are first edition fairytale books. I couldn’t help but look through them and discovered that they held the original drawings by the artist. The value of just that shelf alone was immeasurable.

Our lovely dancers that day were Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence

Here are the Beauty and the Beast tour details for anyone interested in checking out this gorgeous ballet! - here

A little glimpse behind the scenes. Click on the pictures for the full image…

La Fille mal gardée

La fille mal gardée is a colorful, cheerful, happy ballet and this energy is what we aimed to capture in the imagery. One of the things that always makes me smile about this shoot was that it was captured on what was possibly the most gloomy and rainy english day!

Our location was in a theatre inside the Birmingham Hippodrome. The set up for this was pretty simple, we had two huge green backdrops, they acted as our effective green screen. The BRB team brought along all the hay, barrels and sunflowers (I had such fun setting the set). For the lighting we used 2 x Profoto A1s and 1 x Profoto D1 with softbox modifiers.

Our dancers are the lovely Maureya Lebowitz, Cesar Morales Anderson, and Rory Mackay.

The Nutcracker

Whenever I think of the Nutcracker, it makes me think of Christmas, winter, and magic. We were capturing this in early spring and even though it was a rather chilly grey day, there was not a snowflake in sight. While wandering the grounds at Madresfield court I came across a patch of gorgeous evergreen trees. They had the same feeling of christmas trees and that was the starting point of pulling this shoot together.

To create a snowy wintery scene we used three bags of flour to replicate snow and frost covered leaves. We also had a snow machine to replicate a blizzard. For the lighting we had a Profoto D1 with a softbox modifier to the side. I used it to enhance the soft fall of natural light.

Our dancers for this shoot were Karla Doorbar and @edsouzads

Hobson’s Choice

Hobson’s Choice is a comedy with a feisty female character who puts the world to rights, outsmarts her inebriated father, bags herself the perfect man and starts up her own business. Our perfect location for this shoot was The Great Western Arcade in Birmingham, a place with beautiful victorian architecture that champions independent businesses :)

As we didn’t have the arcade to ourselves we shot quickly in moments of less footfall. I had to capture plenty of empty plates which really helped later when it came to removing walking people in the background! I loved the colours of the arcade and the way the soft glow of the lights played on the scene. My goal in post production was to enhance this warm vintage feeling.

Here’s a link to check out the ballet tour - here

Our dancers are Jonathan Payn, Lachlan Monaghan and Beatrice Parma.

Big love and heartfelt thanks once again to the amazing team over at Birmingham Royal Ballet for such a great experience!

And well done you if you made it all the way to the end of this post :)

Have a lovely week!

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.