When my little sisters and I were younger, my Irish grandparents decided to buy their own little place this side of the Irish Sea so they could come and visit us as much as possible. An apartment came up for sale in a beautiful old house called Whitbourne Hall. Although it wasn’t at all what they’d been looking for, they fell in love with the place. And who could blame them; it’s a stunning place set in rolling countryside between Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
When I was staying at Whitbourne in the summer, I was taking some photos of myself in a new ballet skirt for my one of my ambassador roles. I felt frustrated at not being able to get just the right shot, the right light or the right angle, and thought to myself ‘I wish Kate Frost was here!’, and that was the seed of my idea for a location shoot. I was thrilled when mum and Dad agreed to consider this as an extra-special Christmas treat.
After my first term at Elmhurst Ballet School, I was looking forward to getting home and beginning to feel Christmassy and got so excited when Mummy told me she’d managed to book a shoot with Kate in the weeks before Christmas. I so enjoyed choosing my outfits and coming up with creative ideas for shots: fluffy winter jumpers, silky, shimmery skirts, a rainbow of leotards and some elements of sparkle. And, just as I was going out the door on shoot-morning, mummy threw in my nutcracker doll for fun…
We arrived at Whitbourne, had a cup of tea and briefing with Kate and Alex before we got started. Determined to make the most of the daylight, we began the shoot outside. Whitbourne is more used to game shoots than photography ones. It was FREEZING outside (well, it was mid-December)! Thankfully, Kate always pays attention to how you’re feeling and puts you at ease.
We got the most beautiful shots in the gardens, the maze, the old palm house, the portico, the beautiful hall with its blue stained-glass atrium and sweeping marble staircase. Kate always comes up with creative ideas and ways to make the most of colour and shape.
Some of my favourite shots were taken in the drawing room just as the sun was setting, in the twilight.
Kate was so determined to make the most of the light in that room and its huge windows that she decided she had to come back the next morning if it could be arranged. Of course, it could! It was too good an opportunity to miss having my favourite photographer in my favourite place?!
Among all the twinkly Christmas lights, even my nutcracker doll (and one of the neighbour’s little dogs) made special cameo appearances!
The end result of Kate’s hard work has been the most exciting bit of it all. I cannot wait to share my photos with everyone.
By Isla Bird