Behind the scenes at Vera magazine’s George Ezra photo shoot

George Ezra Vera Magazine photo shoot

The latest issue of our inflight magazine Vera is now onboard, and this month’s cover star is none other than singer-songwriter of the moment, George Ezra, whose new album Staying at Tamara’s is out now. Flick to page 22 for more about the Budapest singer’s creative process and famous friends in a wide-ranging interview with Vera editor Claire Bennie.

George also stars in this month’s edition of The List, our exclusive onboard audio programme featuring the song choices of well-known musicians. The show is a chance for the guest to be the fan, to share the tracks they love and explain how their favourite music influenced them as an artist. We couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic interviewee than George, whose passion for his chosen songs shines through. If you’re flying with us in May, sit back and listen to his eclectic selections, from lesser known tracks by legendary acts like the Rolling Stones and Van Morrison to contemporary artists like American rapper Noname.

But back to the photo shoot, and a look at how the Vera team develop their editorial vision from concept to cover. On a bitterly cold day a few weeks ago, we tagged along to find out… 

Totally tropical

We walk through a gate on a nondescript road in Clapham, London, into what can only be described as another world. The shoot location is a former coachhouse transformed into a contemporary glass-fronted home filled with vintage furniture and taxidermy, flanked by an Asian-style tropical garden with a suspended glass cube that floats above a pond. It’s a freezing day in February, but it suddenly feels like summer.

George Ezra Vera Magazine photo shoot 2

Inside the house, it’s a hive of activity. Coffee is brewing. Expensive-looking camera gear is being unpacked. Photographer Steve, art director Mat, Vera editor Claire and art editor Harry are sussing out the light in the open-plan living space, while fashion and grooming stylists Jessica and Jason are upstairs, steaming the wrinkles from a designer shirt. As for George, he’s squirrelled away in a bedroom, finishing off another interview. And us – well, we’re just trying not to get in the way.

Crafting a concept

An amazing amount of organisation and creativity goes into making our cover shoots a success. The right location is a must, of course, but it’s all the other details – the colour palette, the background, the props, the clothes – that will help bring the editorial vision to life.

George Ezra photo shoot 7

The work of the art editor and director starts way before the photo shoot takes place. Alongside Claire, they’ll develop a visual concept and narrative for the feature, ensuring it’s a good fit for the artist in question and helps to enhance the Virgin Atlantic brand. It’s the art editor’s job to communicate this vision to those responsible for executing it – photographers, stylists, hair and make-up artists and so on, not to mention the artist at the centre of it all. So it’s an incredibly collaborative role.

Fortunately for Harry it seems George is up for anything, which is just as well because at one point he’s asked to practice his golf swing in a Noel Coward-style dressing gown while an endless stream of rolled up paper balls are thrown his way. Thanks to Harry’s eye for detail, photographer Steve’s technical prowess and George’s unlimited patience, the shot is finally nailed – but not before the recurrent phrase “Last time, I promise!” is heard for the twentieth time.

George Ezra photo shoot 6

It’s a wrap

Put a bunch of artistic people in an inspiring setting like our location house and the ideas seem to never stop flowing. With ten minutes to go, George is still being primped and preened without protest, while the team head out into the garden to set up the final shot. Sometimes it’s those last-minute ideas that end up providing the killer image, and even in London’s raw February chill, the good-natured singer takes it all in his stride, coconut and sunglasses in hand.

George Ezra photo shoot 8

As is always the case, it’s a mad rush to the finish but the shoot finally wraps a few moments before the house’s owner returns. With hundreds of photos taken, the main job is done. Now it’s time for post-production and the equally creative work of translating the imagery into a coherent on-page narrative. For that, we leave the Vera team to work their editorial magic in peace.

George Ezra Vera Magazine photo shoot 3

Travelling with us soon? Read the new-look Vera onboard for specially commissioned A-list interviews and stories about our dazzling destinations, as well as full listings of all your movie, TV, music and gaming options this month.

Book your next Virgin Atlantic flight today.

About Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.
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