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Doesn’t He Wear It Well? The Saint Napoleon Bonaparte Uniform

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

Napoleon Bonaparte photo shoot | Darrin Henry

A photo shoot with Napoleon! Now there’s one I didn’t see coming. Earlier this year the St Helena Tourist Office bought a replica Napoleon Bonaparte uniform, made to measure for Tourism Projects Manager, Merrill Joshua.

After learning the uniform was here we enquired whether it was possible to do a shoot with Merrill. Initially we planned to shoot at Longwood House, the emperor’s residence during his exile from 1815-1821. After another day or two considering the shots, we realised the location might compete with the uniform, so perhaps it wasn’t a good idea.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

From experience we knew High Knoll was a great afternoon shoot location. It was generally always bathed in late afternoon sunshine, but at the same time heavy clouds tended to hang over the island’s central peaks, just a few miles away. If conditions were right, it would provide a natural, moody backdrop for our shoot. At the same time the distinctive skyline of the three peaks would supply the St Helena identity. That was the plan, but as always with location shoots, you are at the mercy of the weather.

The uniform comes with an authentic overcoat.

The uniform comes with an authentic overcoat.

 

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon Bonaparte Uniform Photo Shoot

Thankfully, everything fell in to place perfectly on the day. We assembled near the foot of the historic fort walls, scouted a few spots and then Merrill proceeded to strip off and begin the transformation to become Napoleon.

I said the weather was perfect; actually, it was extremely windy. This wasn’t too much of a problem except making it impossible to use the reflector which just collapsed as soon as we held it up.

There are obvious physical differences between our model and the French emperor, which we joked about at the start. However, Merrill did such a super job getting into character that before long it was easy to become totally caught up without making comparisons. Mind you, the uniform itself was stunning in its detail and quality, which brought an authentic feel to the whole shoot.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua. The Napoleon Bonaparte uniform.

Technical details: most of the shoot was done using the natural, late afternoon sunshine. The backdrop was perfect and the balance of sunlight was just right. As the sun dipped to the horizon we reversed the camera angle, shooting Merrill against the orange sky. Strobe lighting (flash units) was now needed, triggered remotely, one unit either side of the camera on light stands. The silhouette was achieved by simply turning the strobes off.

Fifteenth October 2015 will mark 200 years since Napoleon stepped ashore on St Helena as a prisoner. The Tourist Office has an extensive programme of events planned to celebrate this momentous occasion. And Merrill ‘Bonaparte’ Joshua is soon to be in great demand – a lot of people will want to shoot Napoleon this year.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

COMMENTS

  • miguelmoutoy

    October 9, 2015

    L’Empereur portait son Grand Cordon en-dessous de sa veste d’uniforme!

  • March 15, 2015

    Imposter!

  • David Yon

    March 7, 2015

    I love this. Could you follow up with a few shots of Longwood for those who haven’t been fortunate enough to visit this historical site?

    • March 7, 2015

      Thanks David for the comment. We’re away from St Helena at the moment but our e-magazine ‘Breeze’ has some great articles and pictures of the Napoleonic sites at Longwood House and the Tomb, which is free just by signing up to our blog here with an email address.

  • Simon Henry

    March 4, 2015

    Great Pics, think its time to break out the Napoleon brandy 😉

  • Julie Fowler

    March 3, 2015

    Incredible pictures, the setting is amazing, it all fits into place – Merrill looks fab!

    • March 7, 2015

      Thanks Julie, appreciate your support as always. Yes, Merrill really does that costume justice. A career in modelling awaits I think 🙂

  • Shirley Gough

    March 3, 2015

    Great photo shoot!

  • Michael Theobalds

    March 3, 2015

    An excellent and atmospheric set of photographs. Technically and emotionally very proficient. Napoleon is looking appropriately sombre – with the sky reflecting his mood.

    • March 7, 2015

      Thank Michael, really appreciate your feedback. It was fun doing this shoot, the weather was visually perfect throughout which is rare for a location shoot, and of course, Napoleon was excellent 🙂

  • Matt Joshua

    March 3, 2015

    Great pics! Capturing Merrill looking moody must have been difficult.

    • March 7, 2015

      Merrill was a star I’ll have you know Matt! Ha ha. We had a lot of fun doing this but Mr Joshua is a pro when the camera is on him 🙂

  • Patrick G Henry

    March 3, 2015

    Another human intelligence created by What The Saints Did Next, His Excellency St Helena’s very own Napoleon Bonaparte Joshua, well done, amazing pictures.

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