Behind the Scenes at the Antoinette/Highbury Photoshoot

Feb 17, 2014 25 comments
Last week Chris and I worked on a new shoot for Antoinettes and Highbury. We wanted to create a ladies' boudoir space, similar to the interiors in these paintings:
Francois Boucher, La Toilette, 1742  
Young Woman at Her Toilette, attributed to Niklas Lafransen, c. 1780s
"Portrait en pied de la marquise de Pompadour," 1748-55, Maurice Quentin de La Tour
Leonard Defrance, "The Breakfast"
Elegant Lady at Her Toilette, by Michel Garnier

Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh

Out here in Nevada, we're a little - uh - lacking for Georgian and Regency interiors, so we decided to build one in our living room.  A quick analysis of the paintings pointed out a few commonalities - a chair, a table, a door/screen/mirror, a curtain, and brick-a-brack, paired with a healthy amount of chiaroscuro, and with the model being the main focus, of course.

While I had a few of the items that could be used (fabrics, letters, etc.), most of the set we rented from The Entertainer, the same company that dressed our wedding in shabby-antique-vintage-goodness. The chair, screen, table, firescreen, books, pitcher, and Neoclassical column all came from them..

Mr. Chris starts the build with a dark grey backdrop, and fabric swagged for a curtain look.
I fiddled and rearranged things until we got a good composition - takes longer than you might expect
The first version of the set, ready for the shoot the following day.
With the set built, the attention turned to lighting. Lighting plays a super important part in all photography, and can be especially challenging for interior shots. A quick look at the reference paintings indicated natural light from a large window off to one side, so this is what Mr. Chris re-created with artificial light:

Artificial light mimicking soft natural light.
And here is the result of all our effort...

Mandy represented the Regency in the same set, just re-arranged a little.
I'm representing the 18th c, with Historical Dog.
I have lots more photos to show you soon!

Photography: Chris Stowell
Set Decor: The Entertainer
Set Dressing and Art Direction: Lauren Stowell

Regency Model: Mandy Grosvenor
Regency Gown: Lauren, Lady of Portland House
Regency Spencer: Maggie, Undressing the Historical Lady

Regency Shoes: "Highbury" Regency Slippers, dyed to match the spencer.

Georgian Model: Lauren Stowell
Georgian Gown: Lauren Stowell
Georgian Shoes: "Antoinette" Mules in French Blue
Historical Dog: Avi, the Attention Hound.


  1. Wonderful! The set looks brilliant.

  2. Very nicely done!!! Just gorgeous!

  3. Gosh Lauren! You look just like a painting!

  4. Gawd woman!! You are so crazy talented! You two did a stunning job and you, my dear, are absolutely beautiful.

  5. Lauren, these are beautiful. You got all the details just so, the lighting is perfect, and your new dress really glows!

    1. Thank you! The dress came out pretty okay in the end. I'm glad I finished it.

  6. Wow, you all did a beautiful job. I can't believe how much everything looks so real. Especially like the photo of you.

  7. I love XVIII century paintings with legs! They great shows a character of this period. And I love your new photo! It's perfect stylization! :)

    1. Thanks! We did a few with legs sticking out. I'll share them later - pretty silly!

  8. Fantastical! Full marks for resourcefulness!

  9. This looks marvellous. Excellent job!

  10. How fun! I wished more of the photographers at costume events would come up with something like this.

    1. A little set always adds to the ambiance. :-D It can be hard to source all these things, though, and transport them. We had to haul the trailer to carry the Greek column and the screen, in a storm no less!

  11. Wow!!! What a fun and brilliant photo shoot! Now you need someone to make paintings of the pictures! They will look like they could hang in a grand gallery!

  12. Absolutely lovely! I adore it, and definitely agree with everyone else - these look like they could hang in a gallery!

    1. Oh, and I LOVE Historical Dog. Love him! (her? Sorry, not sure!)

    2. Thanks! Historical Dog is a girl...more specifically, a Princess (with a capital P). Spoiled dog!


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