Chasing the Winter

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Chasing the Winter

Shooting in the French Alps

We went on a 700 mile journey to find the perfect location for our latest photoshoot


Once in a blue moon, England comes through with insanely unseasonable weather. Normally this manifests itself in drizzly Summers, but it has been known to snowing June. Sadly, whilst brainstorming for the location of our next photoshoot (in the midst of the hottest Summer in London since 1976) a mid-summer snowstorm seemed unlikely and shooting our ski wear in the boiling urban jungle just didn’t feel right.

so We decided to take a roadtrip.

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700 miles, 13 hours and 1 ferry crossing further later we arrived in the the French Alps. Admittedly there wasn’t a snowstorm on the other side of the English Channel either, but the snow-capped mountains and the fresh alpine air more than made up for it and provided us with the ideal backdrop for our location shoot.

Working alongside award winning photographer, Brian Galloway, we marked out a 5-day period in which to get the shoot down to a tee. In the days before we drove through the rocky tracks that double-up as roads in the summer and pistes in the winter and scouted out some of the best locations in the Montchavin-Les Coches area, the hidden secret that lies within the huge Les Arc and La Plagne ski-terrain. Unlike the larger neighbouring resorts in Paradiski area, these little villages are tucked away within pine forests and feature traditional alpine chalets scattered alongside the mountain with not a single high-rise ski complex insight. It’s one thing shooting your collection in the mountains, and then there’s another shooting your collection in an untouched rustic ski village with the Mont Blanc in the backdrop. We were definitely in the right place.

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In mid-August we had assumed fresh snow wouldn’t be falling anytime soon and that adverse weather wouldn’t be at the top of our list of things to panic about. As it transpires, the end of August in the French Alps basically guarantees a downpour everyday as the thunderstorms move through the valley each afternoon. We found this out the hard way when our test shoot was cut short when the black clouds rolling towards us all afternoon finally hit and it was a race to pack up lighting stands, camera and clothes into the van before the deluge hit. Crossing our fingers that the day we were planning on doing our full-day shoot would throw up less tumultuous weather, we bunkered down for the night.

The morning of the scheduled shoot started grey and foggy and we were starting to panic that the day might be a write-off as well. Fortunately by 9am the sun was breaking through the sea of clouds - la mer de nuages.

After a bumpy 45 minute drive up the mountain, we’d arrived at our first location for the day. We’d found a hidden gem. A beautiful wooden chalet sat in the middle of a wild meadow. Despite the mid-Summer 25 degree heat, the snow peaked mountains, pine trees and old-wooden panels gave the location a crisp Winter feel. The weathered panelling of the walls was the perfect alpine texture we were searching for and the chalet featured so many hidden details and interesting angles - like the stone bench, the gabled doors and multicoloured clothes pegs - that we shot here for most of the day. Bonus points for the intricate edging of the roof that doubled as a clothing rack. Getting up to this secluded chalet wasn’t the easiest, but the make-shift railing was seriously convenient when it came to saving our meticulously steamed capsule collection from creasing.

That being said, a great location is more than just ease of hanging and the set up of our second location was a little more unusual. We’d driven half way across the continent with a mini-trampoline in the car and we were determined to put it to use.

Navigating around the grazing cattle, we relocated across the meadow to a spot framed by the Mont Blanc. Whereas the first half of the shoot leaned towards a chilled chalet feel, for the second part we focused on something a little more energetic. The vision was that with some cropping and clever angles, we would be able to get ‘flying’ shots of the models jumping so it appeared they were mid-action in the mountains. One of the key design aspects we love about our base-layers is their ability to move with the body, rather than against it with their four-way stretch. We challenge you to find better (and funnier) way to show this off, than leaping around on a trampoline in the middle of the French Alps on a precariously slope.

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Out of the 5 days we planned for the shoot, this was the only one where all 3 of our incredible French models were all available to shoot and the only day that week the weather held up from dusk to dawn.

With a successful shot in the bag, all that was left to do was take the long road back to London and decide which of the 100s of photos we took would make the final edit. More photography from the shoot is released every week so don’t miss out and catch it here. We’d love to hear what you think and keep you eyes peeled for our snowy shoot we’re plotting for when the snow arrives!

Official photography by Brian Galloway

Behind the scenes images by the H. Holderness team

 
 

Henrietta Holderness