Welcome To Austinvilla Estate, With Helena Couture Designs Bridal

Tom Judson – Chapter One Of Three

What Was The Inspiration Behind This Shoot Concept?

The visit to Austinvilla Estate, shoot location for one of our new designs created during COVID-19, ended up being the start of something pretty fantastic! Dressing for the shoot in my usual casual attire of sneakers, gym gear and cap, was the first best thing I did that morning. Austinvilla is a huge estate with many rolling hills and after hiking the property for over an hour with Kris, Austinvilla Event Co-ordinator, ideas for imagery were forming quicker than I could express, and what I considered an ideal shoot spot became so much more.  One shoot ended up evolving into three.

What Are Some Of The Highlights You Had During The Shoot Process?

One of the highlights was meeting and working with new creatives, who were just as excited as I, to be back doing what we love.  Due to COVID-19, our industry ground to a halt, almost overnight, and for several months many of us were unable to practice our craft.  I know the isolation was required to flatten the curve of people infected, but it also flattened the spirits of many.  I felt doing these shoots would help promote positivity and show all those involved that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  It did exactly that, and new work colleagues were also formed.

Did You Face Any Challenges On The Day? If So, How Did You Overcome Them?

One week before the shoot.
Our makeup artist, Nicole Peterson, accepted a second client for the same day, that afternoon.  Originally, I was driving Georgia Phillips, our model, to the Austinvilla Estate salon, where she would have hair and makeup done but this now had to change.  Discovering Nicole’s other job was in Pacific Pines, the suburb next door to us here at Helena Couture Designs in Maudsland, I was able to organise makeup to be done in-house, reducing driving time between us and Nicole’s second appointment to fifteen minutes instead of forty-five.  This also meant the model did not need her makeup done hours before the shoot.  A little earlier, yes, but not hours.  Problem solved.

The weather
Some of the original outdoor ideas planned by Tom Judson, our photographer, were shelved, as he needed sunshine and the weather was overcast. At one stage I thought we might need my backup plan, as the weather forecast showed seventy percent rain, but it was only cloudy, so we were able to shoot both inside and out, which was great.

Time Managment
Whenever I organise a shoot, I always have a meet-up time and a time when the shoot starts.  This gives everyone involved in the shoot time to meet up, introduce themselves and discuss ideas.  It also allows those of us who have been up early, time to have something to eat and drink, while the models change into their garments.  In this case, the male model, flowers, and photographer were late, so when they arrived it was a very quick “hi, how are you?” before we went straight into the shoot. When working with professionals, the shoot still ran smoothly, which resulted in these beautiful images, as you can see.

What Led You To Decide On This Venue/Shoot Location?

I wanted to use Austinvilla Estate, because during the COVID-19 Isolation I found that the outdoors had a very calming effect on me, even if it was being seen through glass doors or while relaxing during a lunch break on the veranda.  I am lucky enough to live in Maudsland on one acre of land with a small lake and parkland behind us.  While I was creating my COVID-19 Dresses, I was imaging where I wanted to shoot them and Austinvilla has always been one place I’ve wanted to shoot at.  I knew the venue would complement several of my new dresses.  It was just a matter of which dress worked best with the preferred vendors.

Austinvilla is loyal to their vendors, which is great, as Helena Couture Designs is now a preferred supplier.  Instead of bringing in a team of professionals, they asked I first invite their suppliers.  They have four photographers and I felt it only fair to ask if all would like to do a shoot at the venue.  Three of the four were available, resulting in me needing to coordinate not one shoot, but three.  They all had to be done and dusted and ready to publish one week prior to their open day, Sunday 26th July.  This gave me less than three weeks to sort, style, confirm and shoot (with my creative team); everything from photography, videography, hair, makeup, flowers, food, dresses, suits, and models, while still carrying on with my limited current COVID-19 workload.

Tom Judson Photography was the first booked in to shoot and I initially discussed some ideas with Tom. Ultimately though, I asked him to take lead of the shoot and if there were any areas of interest he would like to take advantage of, especially ideas of shots he might not be able to take during an actual wedding event.  I asked all the creatives in this collaboration to design what they thought would complement the dress, suit, models, and photographers’ style.

What Was Your Favourite Detail About The Shoot Day?

If you are a creative person, you know that what you want and what you end up with, can vary.  It was purely coincidental that the black jacket and patent leather black stilettos our model Georgia is wearing in some of the images, was only decided when she put her jacket on just before the shoot started, due to the cold weather.  While we were waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive, Georgia was wearing her jacket; Jenna, the hair stylist, Nicole the makeup artist and myself, thought the jacket and stilettos needed to be used, once the detachable silk organza skirt was off.  Georgia, wearing our dress AURORA, demonstrated its fun, free and young design.  The dress with the under-skirt is designed for the formal part of the wedding and the party dress (without the under-skirt) is for the reception.  Georgia’s jacket and stilettos complimented the black tux from Black Jacket Suiting, worn be Montez, our male model.

I would like to thank my team of creative industry professionals, who helped turn my dream, this shoot, into a reality…

Chapter One, Tom Judson
Chapter Two, DK & Co. Photography And Film
Chapter Three, Leigh Warner

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