The Annual Orchard Photo Shoot

July 16th – 18th had loomed large on the office calendar for some time.  There it was in bold letters, brightly highlighted, staring down at us ominously PHOTO SHOOT.

As many of you will probably think a photo shoot sounds glamorous, exciting, fun.  I’m also sure that for many of you a photo shoot is something you would probably love to have in scheduled into your diary for three days.  Don’t get me wrong, we love it and get excited by the annual shoot as well but……, IT IS SERIOUSLY HARD WORK!

So as July 16th approached our hearts and heads were filled with mixed emotions.  We have introduced an awful lot of new furniture at The Orchard since this time last year and shooting a furniture collection is no easy task.  As we all looked over the first draft of the shot list and saw multiple wardrobes, sideboards and oversized mirrors, a collective groan went up!

Long before any of the physical work began Laura had been conducting a long search for the perfect venue for the shoot.  When seeking out a venue to photograph a shabby chic furniture collection there are so many factors to consider.  Firstly proximity to Orchard HQ, with so many people involved ideally we wanted to be able to travel to and from the shoot rather than be holed up in hotels for two nights.

Secondly, the styling of the house is critical, can it show many looks; shabby chic, rustic, vintage, country and the latest, hottest trend vintage industrial? Ideally you want as many settings as possible, not the same few backdrops for every style of furniture and accessory.  Thirdly, how big is the venue?  Beautiful shabby chic cottages abound here in the Midlands but such a home comes with low ceilings, narrow staircases and hallways and a lot of stuff already in situ.  Moving multiple pieces of furniture in and out over three days, along with a small army of photographers, stylists and runners busily scurrying everywhere is a recipe for chaos!  When we finally found our chosen venue it could not have been more perfect.

A large family home set in beautiful countryside (with a river running through the garden) and purpose built to stage photo shoots.  The house had so much natural light photographic lighting wasn’t even going to be necessary and the garden was even better than the house so we chose to re-shoot large sections of The Orchard’s garden pots, planters and outdoor living accessories as well.  To boot, our host was supremely hospitable, had a prop cupboard to die for and a super keen eye for how to stage an image that is just right. (I could also write a lot about the incredible integrated coffee machine in the house. How many espressos I drank in three days I don’t know and now have to have one in my own home!)

Shabby Chic Furniture

Shabby Chic Furniture

Back to the shoot its self and it had been determined that large parts of our Old English Painted range, Rustic furniture collection and our Brocante collection in particular needed new images.  We therefore set about preparing pieces for the shoot and loading the vans.  Loading a van from front to back for a shoot is much like moving house and I do not envy for one second furniture removal guys and all they have to contend with daily.  It’s like a giant game of Tetris only much more physically demanding and with more expensive pieces of wood!  Our biggest concern was our Old English Painted Double Wardrobe, a large, solid and heavy piece of shabby chic furniture.

Thankfully it was designed with ease of delivery in mind so the base unit can be transported separately and the cornice removed from the top.  That’s the beauty of reproduction antique furniture, all the styling characteristics of an original but with practical modern design features factored in.  We also had a large rustic double wardrobe to contend with up a big flight of stairs so we set about measuring up for both pieces much as we ask of Orchard customers before accepting orders for large furniture items.  Ease of delivery considerations are a big factor when ordering so we needed to make sure we did our own homework for the shoot!

Shabby Chic Furniture

Shabby Chic Furniture

Eventually the first van was loaded and we set off in convoy early on Wednesday morning for the twenty or so mile journey to Lincolnshire.  The Orchard chariot (named Sir Gaz) creaked and groaned under the strain of various furniture items, assorted ceramic garden pots and countless kitchen and home accessories as we ambled along twisting, undulating country roads.  We arrived on site to be greeted with our first cuppa of the day and a temperature already rising through the low 20’s.

In a matter of minutes the garden was covered in boxes, the good weather was an added bonus in that we could unwrap and store items outdoors safe in the knowledge they would be dry and less clutter inside the house.  Were we grateful for that large lawn, this is just a few boxes from the first van!

Shabby Chic Furniture

Three twelve hour days followed.  Items were unpacked, located, styled, shot, re-boxed and re-loaded onto the van.  Did I mention the temperature reached the high 20’s on all three days!  The temptation to jump into the river grew as each hour passed.  Lunch came and went, some taking the opportunity to rest in the splendour of the garden overlooking the countryside, whilst others ate on the go, that’s commitment!  Some also played on the garden swing but we won’t mention those work shy individuals.

Shabby Chic Furniture

We shot a seemingly endless array of coffee tables from painted reclaimed wood trunks, to chunky plank coffee tables finished with wax.  We spent hours styling traditional dressers, who knew arranging items required so much focus.  We crossed fingers and toes every time we hung a new super heavy mirror, the Venetian Mirrors and the Cathedral Mirrors in particular had us sweating.  Shooting shabby chic table lamps, perfect for snuggling up beside with a book on a cold winters eve, had us in a styling quandary as sun blazed through the windows.

Shabby Chic Furniture

All in all we covered over 400 miles to and from the site, used 2 photographers, 2 stylists, 1 art director (Laura) and 3 runners (including yours truly) We worked 3, 12 hours days, drank in the region of 96 cups of tea, opened and repacked over 240 products and shot an incredible 1600 photographs.  When the owner of the venue told us a certain flower company took up to 4 hours styling a single shot at the house we patted ourselves on the back for what we had achieved.

Shabby Chic Furniture

So that’s a shabby chic interiors shoot for you in a nutshell, still think it’s glamorous?  Thankfully we should have some fantastic new shabby chic furniture images for the site coming soon once the editing is completed.  We are particularly pleased with how the furniture collections look.  Our old images have done them an injustice for too long and we hope you will love the new additions to The Orchard just as much as we do.

Stunning Shabby Chic Furniture From The Orchard

If you would like to know more about any of our shabby chic furniture or any of our other products please get in touch by calling 0845 643 0363 or email

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