The Saint Napoleon Is Here

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 Bonaparte! Now there’s one I didn’t see coming.

Earlier this year the St Helena Tourist Office purchased their very own replica Napoleon 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 photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

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 photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

The Napoleon photo shoot on St Helena with Merrill Joshua.

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.

15 thoughts on “The Saint Napoleon Is Here

  1. 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?

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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.

      Like

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

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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 🙂

      Like

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

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s