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All White Now

April 29, 2013

There’s something about snow.

We only have to have a flurry in the UK for our Facebook walls and Twitter timelines to become knee-deep in Instagrams and phone pics of the white stuff.

But when you book your big day for the end of March you don’t expect that it will literally end up a white wedding.

Bride and Groom photographed under a snowy tree

Jon and Kim in the snowy grounds of Wroxall Abbey

I’m generally lucky with the weather. Even on rainy days I’ve been on the receiving end of some very timely dry spells, though in the seven years I have been shooting weddings I have never had the chance to do one in the snow.

Until last month.

The formal gardens at Wroxhall Abbey under a blanket of snow

What time is it when you can’t see your sundial for snow?

All told I have now done three weddings at Wroxall Abbey. It’s a lovely, grand venue with an authentic period interior and well-kept gardens.

In fact, it’s pretty enough with out a romantic Narnian makeover, but after a heavy fall of snow it was beautiful.

Wren's Cathedral in the grounds of Wroxall Abbey

Guests arriving at the venue and, yes, that is a chap in a kilt

The ceremony was held in Wren’s Cathedral, the small church in the Abbey grounds. So named after Sir Cristhopher Wren who, having done well in the building trade, bought the estate for his son.

A wedding at Wroxall Abbey in Warwickshire

Looking in and out of doorways

Bridal party at Wroxhall Abbey

Fortunately the church was in squelching distance from the hotel

I’d reminded Kim and Jon to bring wellies and happily they were up for braving the elements and taking a few shots in the grounds after the ceremony.

Technically speaking I had to compensate for the brightness, but other than that it was business as usual as we took some formal portraits and tried to capture as many candid shots of guests as I could.

Guests take photos through the windows at Wroxall Abbey

The guests weren’t quite so keen to get out in the cold.

As always I shot in colour and let my instincts guide me as to what shots lend themselves to a black and white conversion after the event. I think a lot of these shots really lend themselves to more stark contrast.

Newlyweds in the snow at Wroxall

Kim by the water with Jon running back after dropping their umbrella out of shot

It’s great that everyone was such a good sport, even Kim’s sisters the bridesmaids came out to help carry the dress over the deep snow. I know we could have taken some shots in front of some stately fireplace or other, but I love these and in Kim’s word’s they ‘captured the magic of their day’.

Bridesmaids in pashminas shelter from the snow

Bridesmaids snuggle under matching pashminas

The ground of Wroxall Abbey in the snow

Shooting through the snowfall has given this the feeling of an old engraving

While our weather still appears to be stumbling towards some sort of spring I remain hopeful we will have a summer full of sunny Saturdays.

Though whatever it does, I’ll be out in it.

RS x

All in the Name of Art (and Other Courses)

March 25, 2013

Whether it’s ad campaigns, retail displays or crisp packets, I often have to wait months between a shoot and seeing any of my pictures in a finished product.

So it was a nice surprise to scroll down an email I received last week and get a look at the results of a shoot I did last December.

It’s still a thrill to see the fruits of my labour working hard for a client.

HTML email and Facebook cover

Digital communications and social media for The Academies

The Academies are school holiday camps, covering a wide variety of subjects for kids between 3 and 17, and I was approached to help them create a bank of imagery they could use to reflect their range of courses.

It was really valuable to be involved in the early stages of the job and I got to work closely with the clients – Paul Clarke and his wife Alex – and Warwick-based design agency Paper Tiger, to determine to best way to tackle the brief. Along with a series of action shots of kids with different outfits and props, each model had to be photographed individually to achieve one overall image of a long queue waiting at the gate.

With desire to get the most out of the budget and a cast of sixteen(!) easily bored kids, the shoot was never going to be a relaxed one.


A budding Georgia O’Keeffe unmoved by the performance of a young John Gielgud

Paul and Alex set out to beg, steal or borrow the majority of the models from friends and relatives, and supplemented these with three young actors from an agency. Along with their parents, chaperones, my team and numerous boxes of props and costumes the studio was soon packed with fairy princesses, teenage rugger boys and one rather timid dinosaur.

It’s on jobs like these being married to a Creative Director is a bit of a bonus, and I have to hand it to Craig, who along with Paul, did an incredible job of helping the children feel at ease and get into their roles. The lights and all the equipment must have been quite scary for the little ones, and intimidating for the self-conscious older ones, and it took a fair amount of acting daft and improvising with the props to get the relaxed and natural performances we needed from this largely amateur cast.

outtakes from photoshoot with kids

Paul and Craig channeling their inner Mr Tumble

What could have been a nightmare of a day, went like a dream.

The kids, for the most part, were little stars. (Read Paul’s account of the experience here.) As every shot was meticulously planned beforehand, everybody knew what was happening and everything ran to time. Alex and Amy were brilliant at getting folks into their outfits and were ready with the hundreds of props, my assistants Dan and Emma did a sterling job and there were no tears.

It was all a bit of a buzz really and roping in my own three lads as models only added to the fun. It’s always good for them to experience first-hand what Mum and Dad actually do for a living and beats sending them up chimneys.

Spivey_boys copy

The Spivey boys

I’m happy that Paul and Alex are chuffed with these results. It think it’s looking great. The queue device does a great job of summing up everything they do in one bright and engaging image and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll use their new photo library on other stuff.

If they run their courses as well as they organise photo shoots, I’m sure The Academies will continue to be a huge success.

RS x

Carrie On Styling

February 25, 2013

As you know, I do weddings, and I have done a fair few fashion shoots as well, but I’d never had the opportunity to combine the two.

Until now.

And it’s all thanks to one of my previous wedding clients…

I first met Carrie Southall and Tom Legge when I photographed their wedding, at Snitterfield, a couple of years ago. Not only were they great people to work with, she was a stylist and he was a cameraman so we had a fair bit in common too.

Bride and groom kiss in an open topped frog eyed sprite

Carrie and Tom on the way to Charlecote House for their reception

Vintage styled wedding by {re}loved

Of course Carrie did all the styling for her own wedding

Carrie has created looks for top brands such as Marks & Spencer and Waitrose and has worked in TV with such style luminaries as Gok Wan and Trinny and Susannah – in fact she and Tom met while filming ‘What Not To Wear’ – and when she suggested we collaborate on a photo shoot to promote her new boutique styling and vintage rental business – {re}loved – I was only too happy to oblige.

Wedding fashion photography by Rachel Spivey, Leamington Spa

1950s wedding dress with petticoats from Petticoats-a-plenty and shoes from ASOS

It was a while in the planning, but after a bit of diary co-ordinating, prop-sourcing and outfit selecting we finally hit the studio. It was worth the wait to assemble such a top class team on the day.

First off Carrie enlisted the help of respected fashion stylist Katherine Doyle, who arrived with a fantastic array of vintage wedding dresses from the 1940’s through to the 1970’s, along with boxes full of accessories and shoes.

Behind the scenes at a wedding fashion shoot

Carrie and Laura on confetti showering duty (photo by Tom Legge)

Also on hand was local hair and make-up artist Laura Taviner who did a such a great job to create distinctly different looks for each of the outfits over such a short space of time.

Vintage wedding dress inspiration

The only confetti shot I have ever been able to control | Posing with a posie

Bride holding a parasol decorated with flowers

Carrie’s parasol propped with silk flowers worked a treat alongside one of Katherine’s hair accessories

Then of course there was our fantastic model for the day – Maria Gardner – who came courtesy of the Alan Sharman Agency. A stunning Coventry lass, Maria was perfect for the shoot and a dream to photograph.

Fashion photography featuring Grace Kelly style wedding dress

It’s subtle, but I love how the shape of her hair echoes the shape of the train

The list of cast and crew didn’t stop there.

Tom came along to lend a hand and capture some behind the scenes shots while my trusty assistant, Dan Barnes, was there to help things run smoothly behind the camera.

Though last but not least, was my studio pooch Cecil, who loved all the attention and only tried to get in on the action a couple of times.

Cecil, Rachel Spivey's studio apricot poodle

Cecil wears Dilly Knit jumper. Collar: model’s own (photo by Tom Legge)

With such an illustrious crew behind me how could the photos fail?

Leamington Spa fashion photographer Rachel Spivey

You’re all looking at the pretty model and not my messy studio, right? (photo by Tom Legge)

Paloma Faith style wedding headdress

This has to be my favourite outfit of the day – and there was some stiff competition

Carrie had thought out all the shots before-hand and all the pre-planning helped us get through so many different set-ups.

Vintage 1950s dress styled by {re}loved

Vintage 1950s dress (Cecil chasing balloons not shown)

1970s and 1950s wedding dresses

A seventies dress alongside another one from the 1950s

Editing these down was quite hard as there were so many fab images, but I have selected these as together they make a set worthy of any style mag.

Vintage wedding going away outfit with liberty print suitcase

Carrie’s Liberty print covered suitcase and matching belt really makes this shot

It was great working alongside such a large team of creative folks with everyone pitching in ideas and I hope everyone involved got what they wanted out of the day.

I know I did.

RS x

Gathered Together – My Favourite Wedding Photos of 2012

January 22, 2013

Do I ever get tired of shooting weddings?


But I do get tired from shooting weddings.

Despite what ‘Uncle Bob’, with his big camera might think, if you’re not exhausted when you come home from a photographing a wedding, you’re not doing your job properly!

When I’m right in the thick of a busy wedding season it’s hard to take stock of every single photo, but having a break to plan my year ahead and look back on the one just gone, it’s been nice to have the opportunity go through all the shots from 2012 and pull out some of my favourites.

I’ve not tried to crowbar them into a particular theme, venue, or stylistic hook, they’re just the ones that make me smile, get a lump in my throat and, in one or two cases, take my breath away…

Jimmy Choo Wedding Shoes Compton Verney Warwickshire

Beautifully-blinged Jimmy Choos

On the whole weddings are fun and upbeat places to hang out on a weekend, and one of my favourite parts of the day is being with the bridal party while they get ready. It gets me warmed-up and, as well as snapping a few detail shots, it helps the bride, her bridesmaids and family get used to me and the camera as they get on with preparing for the main business of the day.

Bride getting ready for wedding at Wethele Manor Warwickshire

Capturing Harriet in her old grey T-shirt provided a nice context for the transformation to come

Bridal car arrives Compton Verney Wedding Warwickshire

Emily and her bridesmaids in their personalised dressing gowns

Getting ready for wedding at Clopton House Warwickshire

Laura, her mum and Scarlet the bridesmaid as their preparations spread out to every room in the house

Make-up, mirrors and being laced into big floaty dresses – it is all photogenic stuff and is never more emotionally charged than on the morning of the wedding.

Bride and makeup artist at wedding Warwick House Southam Warwickshire

An old work colleague of mine, and a fellow ginger, Lucy made a stunning bride

Bride getting ready for wedding Nailcote Hall Solihull

Natalie at Nailcote

Sister Lacing_up_back_of_brides' dress Hogarth's Solihull wedding

Saira being laced up before tying the knot

Final Touches bridal preparations for Weddings at Compton Verney and Kenilworth Castle Warwickshire

An army of bridesmaids is essential for a final primp and preen

Proud mother of the bride and bride wedding at Compton Verney Warwickshire

Emily and her mum have a bit of a moment

Wedding Hair bride wedding at Walton Hall near Wellesbourne Warwickshire

A lovely shot of Joanna giving her lip the slightest of nervous chews

Hydrangea bouquets at Warwick House Southam Warwickshire paper hearts Crockwell Farm Northamptonshire

Bouquets ready to go, with garlands of paper hearts

It’s not always the women. If a bride and groom are getting ready at the same venue, or live close by, there’s sometimes the opportunity to capture the Groom getting ready too.

Groom all ready for his wedding at Brownsover Hall Rugby Warwickshire

I love these pics of Simon in his room at Brownsover Hall – he really was this happy all day!

Once everyone is set, if there’s time, and the environment is right, and if the bride is up for it, I sometimes take a few posed portraits before the car turns up

Bride_infront_of_landscape_painting by Leamington Spa wedding photographer Rachel Spivey

An epic landscape painting made an impromptu backdrop for this stunning portrait of Saira

Vintage wedding dress bride Northamptonshire Crockwell farm wedding

There’s something a bit pre-Raphaelite about this shot of Helen

There’s often a special moment when the Father of the Bride sees his daughter in her dress for the first time. I have to admit, since my own Dad died in February last year, these shots have taken on a much deeper poignancy.

Bride and Father getting ready wedding at Walton Hall Warwickshire

A genuinely candid moment of Joanna and her Dad

Bride_descends_stairs_with_father at Wellesbourne wedding Walton Hall Warwickshire

The Bridal party leave Walton Hall

If I have been booked to cover all the preparations, it can sometimes be a bit of a race to the venue to arrive before the Bride. It’s nice get some shots of the expectant Groom and guests arriving when I can.

Venue details Kenilworth Castle dapper groom Warwick House Walton Hall Warwickshire

Everything set for the arrival of the Bride

Wedding guests arrive at Holy Trinity Church Stratfor

Despite another rainy Summer, I was quite lucky with the breaks in the weather

Bride's sister bridesmaid with bouquet arrives at Holy Trinity Stratford

Laura’s sister Ella arrives at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford

Toddler turns photographer Nailcote Hall Solihull

There’s always someone muscling in on my job

Church doorway at St Lawrence Lighthorne Warwickshire and chapel at Walton Hall Warwickshire

Waiting for their big entrance

Different churches have different rules on what parts of a wedding service I can photograph – some are strict, where others are pretty relaxed – hovever all registrars in Warwickshire request that all photographers follow the same guidelines. During a civil ceremony I am limited to; the bride entering, the exchange of rings, the kiss and shots pretending to sign the register.

Wedding ceremony kiss at Princethorpe College and Kenilworth Castle bride and groom kiss

A kiss in the elaborate church at Princethorpe College and one in the gatehouse at Kenilworth Castle

Kiss the bride Fawsley Hall Northamptonshire Wedding Ceremony

A great kissy pic of Andy and Sarah at Fawsley Hall

This year I was honoured to cover my first civil partnership. I really hope to get the chance to do more and I hope they are all as warm, funny and lovely as Becky and Louise’s day was.

Civil Partnership photography Warwickshire by Rachel Spivey

The happiest of couples – Becky and Louise

The middle of England is blessed with some great places to get married – whether it’s a traditional church, stately home, converted barn or a castle or two. I certainly got to visit more quiet corners of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire than ever this year.

Solihull church wedding photography of couple in grounds

Saira and Justin outside their cute little church near Solihull

Newlyweds_in_wedding_car Clopton House Stratford upon Avon

Laura and Nick arriving in style at Clopton House

Informal bride and groom photograph at Crockwell Farm northamptonshire

The formal Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle and the more rustic grounds of Crockwell Farm

Wedding_couple_photographed infront_of_village_shop Gloucestershire

A cracking shot of Siobhan and Karl outside a little shop in Bretforton, Gloucestershire

Wethele Manor wedding photography Warwickshire

Harriet and Lee looking relaxed in the countryside around Wethele Manor

The Bell Alderminster Warwickshire wedding reception

A great view of Warwickshire from The Bell at Alderminster


Joanna and guests on the lawn at Walton Hall

Kenilworth Warwickshire bride fur shrug evening reception photography

Every fairytale princess needs a castle

Photography of Bride and groom on the hill at Kenilworth Castle Warwickshire

Maria and Howard on high ground as the sun goes down

Bridal Flowers Wedding Dress Clopton House Stratford upon Avon

Laura gets the conga started

Marquees are a common feature at a lot of weddings, and some are prettier than others. They can create odd colour casts and the polythene windows and support struts can be distracting, however if the weather is right it’s like shooting in a giant diffused lightbox.

Wedding marquee at Compton Verney bride and groom flowers by Warwickshire wedding photographer Rachel Spivey

Emily and Chris in a quiet unguarded moment, in a marquee

Champagne reception kiss bride and groom stratford upon avon warwickshire

Laura and Nick wait to be announced at their wedding breakfast

Happy photograph of wedding guests looking at photos

Guests check out a display of the couple’s snaps

Groom and groomsman photographed in the marquee

Nick gets an update from his Best Man

I’m never happier than when any group photos are over and I am left to roam the celebrations and snap the guests. As my job involves focusing on faces I always find it interesting to spot family resemblances from generation to generation.

Page boy at Walton Hall Wedding and Usher at Compton Verney wedding

Little men scrubbed up for the big day

Guests relax at wedding reception Kenilworth and Solihull

Candid moments

Mother of the bride groom hats photography Walton Hall and Compton Verney

Not sure of the collective noun for a group of ladies in big hats, but here are some

Grandma at wedding Walton Hall and uncle videographer at Ardencote Manor

Smiles, camera… action

Couples go to lots of effort to personalise their wedding and give their guests a unique experience, something I wholeheartedly endorse, especially with the blank canvas of a marquee.

ladies hats hanging in marquee Clopton House Stratford upon avon by Leamington photographer Rachel Spivey

Hats off to the happy couple

Bunting vintage wedding theme Kenilworth and Wethele Manor

Bunting of all hues and styles was a popular touch at most of the weddings I attended this year

Details stratford upon Avon wedding and Cake at Brownsover Hall Rugby

Drinking straws from Cat and Tom’s wedding and Laura and Simon’s exquisite cake

I try not to use flash at a reception, unless I absolutely have to. Not only does it irritate people, but the results are never that great. So when the sun goes down my primary light source disappears too.

Kenilworth Castle photography wedding

As Warwickshire wedding venues go, they don’t come more iconic than one of our castles

First dance at Walton Hall Warwickshire and Crockwell Farm Northamptonshire

Available light and moving objects make the first dance tricky, but the results can be quite atmospheric

Walton Hall at night shot through the window Warwickshire wedding

Walton Hall at the end of a long day

Big thanks to all the couples, their families and the venues I had the pleasure of working with last year.

I’m looking forward to my first wedding of 2013 in Lapworth on Saturday and watching the skies wondering whether it’ll be my first snowy one too.

RS x

If you’d like to know more about my wedding photography please visit

Ho Ho Hosiery

December 1, 2012

I don’t know about you but I quite like December.

Well some bits of it. Twinkling lights, mulled wine, fruit cake with a thick layer of marzipan, the smugness of having an Amazon Prime button… I like those bits. Hauling my ass out of bed on freezing, dark mornings? Not so much.

So to countdown to the big day and to heat things up on these cold December days, this year I have prepared a little treat…

24 pin-up girls in stockings

The entire Raquel Rouge archive has been painstakingly reviewed and 24 handpicked Advent Angels in stockings will be unveiled exclusively on Facebook every day up until Christmas.

There are some old favourites, some digitally remastered forgotten classics, behind the scenes shots and even a couple of images that have never been released anywhere before. And every one’s a cracker.

So get on it folks! What’s not to, um “Like”?

RS x

More Snaps in Less Clicks

November 27, 2012

It has been a long time coming, but it gives me more pleasure than you can possibly imagine to unveil my shiny new website:

And, while you’re all distracted by the pretty pictures, ask you for a bit of a favour.

As with all freshly launched online endeavours it’s hard to account for all the variables out there in the digital realm. I know we’ve got this thing working on the various bits of kit I use, but if you can have a quick look on whatever you are reading this on and report back any anomalies I’d be eternally grateful. – the online gallery for Leamington Spa photographer Rachel Spivey

Ooh look, I’m on an iPad. In your face old flash site.

It’s not long or sprawling or particularly fancy, just a few pages aimed at giving any commercial clients an overview of me and my work. I’ve pulled together some of the highlights of 14 years of photographing for direct clients, design companies, advertising agencies and publishers and the slide-y galleries mean you can whiz through easily without too much clicking around.

As such, it’s heavy on the images and light on the words.

If you could take the time to have a flick and let me know if you spot any technical glitches or odd bits of functionality or even just let me know what you think.

Much obliged to y’all.

RS x

Snap My Pitch Up

September 28, 2012

Ever been on company website and found yourself sniggering at some embarrassingly bad ‘meet the team’ photos?

Yeah, me too.

Come on you business types, it doesn’t have to be like that!

Just ask the lovely folks at Pitch, who I went over to photograph a couple of weeks ago…

Fresh, contemporary corporate photography by Rachel Spivey

A team you’d actually want to meet

For a recruitment company like Pitch, good quality photography is crucial. Not only are their clients from the visually literate creative and marketing industries, but what they do is all about people. Prospective candidates are going to want to see who will be holding the next stage of their career in their hands, and clients will want to be assured that the recruiters representing them create the right image.

Pitch in the Nomad Bar

A dynamic business staffed by dynamic individuals

OK, it really helped that the Pitch team are particularly good-looking and they work in cool offices, but most of all they were game for trying different stuff.

It was important that we got some slightly more formal ‘head and shoulders’ shots but we also spent a bit of time setting things up to look casual as well as taking some out-and-out candid shots of folks answering calls, checking their emails and sitting in meetings.

Recruitment agency

Candid shots of the Pitch directors Rob and Ollie

All to often I find that people equate ‘proper company photos’ with a bit of background roll, and while that’s useful to give a consistent look (especially if staff come and go) using real environments like in these more formal portraits give the shots some added vibrancy.

Relaxed corporate headshots

Formal doesn’t have to mean stuffy

In a relatively short space of time we covered off a lot of different shots. It really isn’t a big expense to invest in half a day’s shoot to supply you with a bank of images that can be used online, in presentations and press releases.

Professional contemporary company team photograph

Looking like experts on a new reality show

To give them a good selection of images for their website, part of the brief was to capture their immediate environment in the Custard Factory and getting up on the roof of their building gave the perfect vantage point for a view of Birmingham featuring two of its most iconic landmarks – the Rotunda and the Selfridges building.

Panorama of Digbeth, Birmingham

England’s secondcityscape

The Custard Factory complex is centred around the old Bird’s factory and over the last few years the area has worked hard to establish itself as the epicentre of media companies, artists and small creative enterprises in the Midlands.

Victorian food industrialist Alfred Bird, the father of egg-free custard, could well be spinning in his grave but I dare say he’d also be full of admiration for some of the big hipster moustaches that a few of the gentlemen were sporting about the place.

Custard factory Gibb Street

Signs of life

Stuck out on a limb as it is, I’ve often felt it was falling short of its ambition to be Birmingham’s Spitalfields. Admittedly it had been a while since I’d been, and I have to say was really impressed with how it’s looking. Apparently under new management, impressive urban artworks and a bit of redevelopment have really lifted the place and the improved buzz was noticeable.

Good on yer Brum.

The Old Library and graffiti on Gibb Street

Should have been a fixie really – some Custard Factory details

Photographing in such a quirky environment was a gift really and went a long way to transform this job from just another corporate shoot to something much more arresting and creative.

Modernist walkways

To be honest you could shoot this from any angle and it’d look cool

I had a great time with the whole team at Pitch and I’m really pleased with how the job turned out.

As were they.

RS x

Home Sweet Home Insurance Campaign

August 27, 2012

Even after doing this job for all these years, it’s still a thrill to see my work in print.

And it was particularly nice to see one of my shots for a new home insurance campaign appear in the recent Olympic souvenir issues of the daily papers.

National press advertising campaign photography bey Rachel Spivey

It’s just one of a series of ads designed to illustrate customers’ quotes in support of a well-known financial services company’s impressive run of industry accreditations. In a market full of phones on wheels, nodding dogs, singing tenors and meerkats, these big, bold ads were a stylistic departure for them, and it was the photography’s job to bring in some warmth and gentle humour.

And, by saturation, it’s among the most high-profile things I’ve done.

The campaign has been running since the beginning of August with different ads appearing in daily papers and magazines such as The Radio Times and BBC Gardener’s World. Online banner ads, also featuring the photography, are running on key websites, while the radio counterparts are being aired on Classic FM.

My favourite of all the executions (and the one which is proving to be the public’s favourite too) is this…

Home insurance ad imagery created by Rachel Spivey

Now, if you have been really paying attention to my blogs, tweets and stuff over the last couple of years, that peg bag fabric by Ochre & Ocre might seem familiar. The range actually featured on my very first post back in 2009 and a young Wilf Spivey was featured rocking the look in January 2010.

Tess Heslop, the owner manager of Ochre & Ocre, has been one of my most regular clients of recent years and when this shoot required a location that captured ‘aspirational rural living’, Tess’s beautiful home and centre of operations nestled at the foot of the Malvern Hills sprung instantly to mind.

As we have used the location for press shots and catalogues before, I knew it had the right views and the right vibe – the fact that it came already packed with great props was a bonus. Shooting in a real home like that, rather than a studio, really adds to the realism of the images and we made full use of the space, shooting in the guest bedroom, the wonderful country kitchen and even Tess’s office space for an ad featuring ‘specialist insurance’.

Commercial ad campaign photography by Rachel Spivey

The shoot took place over two days. The first day we were blessed with glorious sunshine and had ample time to titivate inanimate objects like smiley clothes pegs, dressing tables and office space in the natural light. It was on day two that the challenges arrived in the shape of two lively child models, a dog that wouldn’t sleep, a collapsing cake that had been left too near the Aga and one of the worst downpours in a summer of epic downpours.

We pressed ahead and a scenario of two kids playing in the garden was duly moved indoors. It was a busy, frenetic set and we had to work fast before the novelty of  being a spaceman and an alien wore off, while Tess and stylist Emma did a sterling job repairing the cake with a blizzard of icing sugar and some strategically placed strawberries.

By way of contrast, the last shot of the day was of Clara, a beautiful labrador on loan from Guide Dogs For The Blind. Sitting quietly waiting for her to doze off was much less frantic state of affairs.

Rachel Spivey works with children and animals

The whole job, from planning to handing over the final images, was done against quite a tight deadline and reflects brilliantly on Vital, the creative agency behind the work. A special mention, however, goes to my fab assistant Dan Barnes for creating such charming ‘homemade’ alien and spaceman costumes after a manic afternoon trawling the charity shops of Leamington Spa.

Behind the scenes at a Rachel Spivey photo shoot

Some of the cast and crew – Dan, Clara, Emma, Me, Jack and Adam

I think the finished ads look great, and I’ve heard that, so far, they have done their job and got the phones ringing for the client.

They were great folks to deal with and I definitely know who I’m going to call when my insurance is up for renewal.

Though if you’re looking for a quote for high impact ad campaign photography, DON’T DELAY – CALL ME TODAY 01926 886357 

RS x

My Show Girls

July 2, 2012

I did warn you back in March that I’d be plugging the bejayzus out of my exhibition.

So, true to my word, along with all the tweeting and the facebooking here’s a little blog write-up to tempt you over to see the show…

Rachel Spivey at Warwickshire Open Studios

I’ve been aware of Warwickshire Open Studios (Or Warwickshire Arts Week as it was) for a few years now, and always thought it was a great idea. A celebration of all the independent creative people living and working in the county, it’s an opportunity for the public to visit artists and makers in their workplace, see them in action and buy their work without any gallery owner’s commission on top.

It’s something I wanted to get involved with back when I was working from home, and now I am well settled into my lovely studio in the middle of town, there was no excuse this year.

Putting on a retrospective of the best of thousands of burlesque images from the past five years was a daunting task, but one that was made a whole lot easier thanks to my celebrity curator – Miss Von Vamp. As a burlesque performer herself, she had her own take on my body of work and selected 20 images that summed up life as a burlesquer as she sees it from both sides of the curtain.

Rachel Spivey exhibition private view images

A few snaps from the private view

With lots of help from my other half, everything was hung and looking lovely for my private view on Thursday and I’m incredibly touched so many people turned out to wish me well and see the work. The feedback was fabulous and I was particularly excited by one opportunity to exhibit on a wider stage that I won’t jinx by going into detail here.

Miss V has picked such a great range of shots and has done an incredible job of balancing images of some of the great and the good of the burlesque world – Anna Fur Laxis, Vicky Butterfly, Chrys Columbine, et al – with some of the lesser-known performers.

Two of my favourites, which work particularly well as a pair, are these of Lily Del La Mer who was one of the first burly girls I ever photographed.

Lily De La Mer and Jeni Aldridge backstage at Darkteaser's Garter Lounge photographed by boudoir photographer Rachel Spivey for Raquel RougeLily De La Mer and Jeni Aldridge backstage at Darkteaser's Garter Lounge

Jeni Aldridge helps Lily De La Mer prepare for her performance at Darkteaser’s Garter Lounge in 2009

Lily De La Mer onstage at Darkteaser's Garter Lounge

…and onstage at the same show

I have had the main collection produced as stunning 16×24″ archive quality giclées on 100% rag stock which I am selling for a reasonably priced £145 each and I am having a bit of a sample sale of a number of one-off framed prints with prices starting at £50, so if you fancy something unique for you own boudoir wall, get down and grab a bargain.

If you can’t make it and are interesting in buying any of the work, please drop me a line at and I can send you samples of the images in the collection.

I’ll be in the studio manning the show on and off until Sunday 15th July and all the details and opening times are here, and if you are coming out I also recommend you check out some of the artists who are exhibiting, especially the ones on my doorstep.

Hope you can find the time to come up and say hello.

RS x

Benn There, Done That.

June 11, 2012

I do like living in Leamington. It’s a quirky little place that wears its origins as a Spa town on its frilly white sleeve,  so I was more than happy to get involved with Leamington Looks Back – the town’s very first festival of heritage and culture.

The two weeks of walks, talks, performances and displays were entirely organised by a small group of volunteers – including Mr Spivey, who helped with the branding and promotions – and aimed to make local history accessible to a broad audience. Although a lot of the publicity material used photos and postcards of old Leamington, I donated a couple of images from my own historical archives for use in the festival programme.

Leamington Looks Back featuring photography by Rachel Spivey

The Leamington Looks Back programme

The above shot of the Linden Arches by the Pump Room Gardens comes for a series of photos I did of the town in the early 2000s when I sold scenic views of Leamington under the ‘Prints Regent’ banner. And the pin-up on the cover is from one of the very first Raquel Rouge sessions that took place my converted garage back in 2009.

However, the highlight for me was getting to meet and photograph one of my heroes, Tony Benn.

Roy Bailey and Tony Benn photographed in Leamington Spa by Rachel Spivey Photographer

Roy Bailey and Tony Benn at the Royal Spa Centre

Tony and his folk singing mate, Roy Bailey, appeared as part of Leamington Looks Back at the Royal Spa Centre and I was there early to say hello and get a couple of shots before they went on stage.

Roy Bailey and Tony Benn photographed in Leamington Spa by Rachel Spivey Photographer

Setting up the show

At 87 Tony is getting on a bit, but he’s still the twinkly, charismatic thorn in the establishment’s side that I first admired in my politicised early teens. Their show covered 1,000 years of radicalism and just went to show how little things change through the years.

Tony would read a bit, then Roy would sing a bit, which all made for a thought-provoking and enjoyable evening in the company of two of the Left’s elder statesmen.

Roy Bailey and Tony Benn photographed in Leamington Spa by Rachel Spivey Photographer

Roy Bailey – right about now, the folk soul brother

And while the show wasn’t strictly about Leamington Spa, it did provide a nice counterpoint to all the flag waving of the Jubilee Weekend.

Tony Benn photographed in Leamington Spa by Rachel Spivey Photographer 2012

Tony Benn – rousing rabbles since 1925

After the show Tony and Roy were presented with framed art prints of the event posters, which they seemed really pleased with. Better than a box of Leamington fudge anyway.

Roy Bailey and Tony Benn photographed in Leamington Spa by Rachel Spivey Photographer

Writing on the Wall posters for the wall

They were a pair of thoroughly charming gentlemen and it was a pleasure to spend a brief amount of time with them.

I’d have liked to have attended more of the events, but falling as it did in the middle of my busiest wedding season I only managed to get out on the history walk around my own little corner of Leam. Getting to know a bit more about where I live was really interesting stuff.

Despite the miserable weather that has dogged the summer so far, the festival appears to have been a big success and is due to come back next year. My heartiest congrats to Fiona and Jenny and the rest of the volunteers.

Here’s looking at you folks.

RS x