What does it mean to be Quintessentially British?

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What defines the Quintessential British style?

What does it actually mean to be quintessentially British? The British aesthetic has become a popular trend in recent years with a yearning to return to a simple life in the countryside where we imagine riding horses and drinking afternoon tea. Of course, the reality of living in England is more likely to be endless rainfall, cloudy grey skies, fish n’ chips and, and far too much swearing! However, there is definitely something special about British culture that seems to make for the perfect movies, spectacular interior design, and dreamy photography.

Quintessentially British is a theme that works well for fashion and lifestyle photoshoots; this is because the concept of ‘Britishness’ makes us think of the quaint English countryside, posh vintage cars, women in fancy hats, and men in dapper suits. There is an endless stream of inspiration derived from this unique trend.

The British style can be interpreted in many ways, but these are the common associations that we often make.

Where are the best locations to shoot for the British aesthetic?

In photography, achieving the British aesthetic is all about location and drama. Choosing to shoot in this style means that you have a few options with regards to location. The first option is to choose a more nature-focused location such as a field, a meadow, or a dock by the river. These locations centre around the traditional English landscape which remind us of horse riding, boating, and English walks in the country. Take one of my photos for example (see below):

This image presents a dreamy, hazy effect with glimmers of morning light trickling through the long grass. There are a few aspects of this location which scream ‘Quintessentially British’ ; Firstly, the footpath seems particularly reminiscent of our British National Parks, with winding paths that lead off into the distance and wooden fences to shield the farm animals from hikers. Secondly, the wind-blown, wild grass creates the perfect ‘meadow-like’ scene, conjuring thoughts of traditional English literature like ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Other locations that work well are those that utilise British architecture and interior design. Through choosing to shoot at traditional stately homes, manors, and castles, you can encapsulate that dainty English style. The subject of this image (see below) is framed by a beautiful doorway, surrounded by a redbrick building that is entwined with ivy. Although we cannot see the entire building, we see enough to get a glimpse of that sweet, subtle, English lifestyle.

Back to Bond

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

We have all heard of the infamous James bond. If you haven’t, you are in for a treat. Bond embodies the suave, sophisticated side of British culture also known as the English gentleman. English gentlemen are often portrayed wearing tailored suits, sipping expensive whiskey, and speaking in a refined and humble manner. However, Bond brings a little bit of spice to the gentleman’s role; he may wear lavish suits and speak eloquently, but he is also a fearless spy with a license to kill. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that James Bond is as British as they come.

In my photography, incorporating the British theme is very important, but I also like to add a touch of Bond magic. Essentially, this means shooting vintage cars with beautiful women in splendid clothing. In the Bond movies, the female characters play an important role that feeds into Bond’s personality. Once known as a cold-hearted womaniser, Bond grows softer as he meets more women who think in the same way that he does. From Bond’s perspective, there is certainly an element of respect and admiration for these women; they become iconic powerhouses who are able to keep up with Bond’s fast-paced existence, matching his intellect and thirst for danger.

The strong female leads from the Bond franchise inspires the powerful women I depict throughout my work, focusing on giving women a position of authority and strength. There is certainly something about Bond’s style that integrates glamour and danger; Bond offers the perfect balance between a debonair British gentlemen and the suave, deadly spy.

Top photo hack for making quintessentially British images?

One of the main tricks I use when photographing in the British style is de-saturating my images in Photoshop. This takes out the harsh reds and oranges that are prominent in the image, leaving it looking bluer, colder and slightly more dreamy. There is something about images with less colour that appear more dramatic and atmospheric, taking us into the realm of cinematography.

Another top trick is to sharpen images by using the sharpen tool in Photoshop; this finesses all the minute details of an image, making it easier to focus on and resulting in a more striking picture. With regards to the James Bond style, sharpening a photograph invokes a sense of drama and action, whilst also capturing a moment in time. Making images that exude glamour, luxury, and class is something that is vital to my photographic style, taking us into that trend of Bond Britishness.

As you can see, there is a lot more to being ‘Quintessentially British’ than meets the eye.