With their new venture The Contented Nest, Dan Duchars and Sara Bird have forged an inspiring imagery collaboration.
Dan, a prolific and respected interior and lifestyle photographer and Sara, a hugely experienced stylist and art director, have used their industry experience to come together and create a complete photoshoot service.
At Light Locations, we have worked with Sara and Dan individually on shoots for many years. And last year, they took over shooting our Light Locations, producing stunning photos to showcase new and updated locations.
We caught up with Dan and Sara to learn more about the Contented Nest and their views on how stylists and photographers work together.
We work with brands to create inspiring and engaging images and content for commercial and editorial platforms and publications. We offer a complete photoshoot service including concept, styling, photography and post-production.
We pride ourselves on listening and understanding what a brand wants to portray and who they want to communicate with.
Both of us have about 20 years of shoot experience working with some of the most well-known retailers, designers, and artisans. (Sara) After studying architecture, I became an interiors stylist, writer and art director for magazines and commercial shoots.
Dan has worked as a leading interior photographer on numerous campaigns. With each of us working independently in the media industry, it gave us insight into how we could create bespoke photography for clients together with image assets and stories for a wider publishing audience.
We met on a photoshoot commissioned for a magazine. It was one of those occasions where we needed to get lots of images done, the lighting was against us, and we were thinking on our feet.
Basically, there was a lot of problem-solving for both of us to overcome whilst still producing beautiful images. I think we both realised how well we worked together. Nowadays, we can second guess what each other is visually thinking. Mostly!!
It came about quite simply to start with when we initially explored working on features together. It was after this we realised; we were potentially onto something. Four and a half years in, I think we still are!!
Typically, stylists and photographers collaborate on a small scale before a shoot. A stylist does most of the pre-shoot prep, location booking and propping. The photographer jumps on board nearer the shoot date and does any post-production work afterwards. A photographer might also sometimes help with a location recce or discuss how the lighting might work. They can also help with any special equipment or specific requirements.
Dan and I collaborate a lot more than this. Not only do we operate as a shoot production company, but there is all the background planning for our business. Namely the day to day running, sales, accounting, social media, and admin. We also have a studio we run, so we catch up on most days to check where we are and how we are doing.
We talk a lot – Dan is probably eye-rolling with how much I chat – but communication is our key. There is also a shared connection with our soulful approach to image creation. Rather funnily, this is the one thing we don’t need to discuss. It’s a mutual understanding and goes without saying.
She is super organised and a powerhouse for pushing projects forward. I could happily live without the clipboard coming out on every shoot, but if old fashioned paper and pen work for her, I’m happy to go with it!
Styling-wise, Sara has an innate sense of what a shot needs to give it a natural lifestyle feel. It’s as if someone has just left the room for a second, and we’ve nipped in to document real life.
Dan is a fantastic combination of someone who is an absolute master of his craft and has a sensitivity with his photography. He is a perfectionist….in a good way! It means that I know he is on board for working at the highest level.
Dan also understands that an image works on many points other than just the actual item or idea and he connects spiritually with a subject. In addition, he is very knowledgeable in his field but also loves trying new things to perfect or do something better. He also (secretly) loves the fact I carry a clipboard around!!
The ethos was about finding a way to create, style and live in a home that reflected our personalities whilst introducing sustainable and mindful ideas to try or undertake. It encourages us to embrace our hand-me-downs and heirloom history, really connect with our interiors and have greater intent with our purchasing.
Pretty much yes. Doing the book was an amazing experience, and it was wonderful to work with the brilliant Ryland Peter’s and Small team. It gave us the chance to present a body of our work, beautifully presented, on a global platform.
We shot the book just before the lockdown, which was, at the time, a bit of a panic. Once this took hold, the subject became even more poignant about how we felt about our homes.
All sorts – and lots of shoots. We’ve bucket loads of ideas to explore!
If you want to see more from this inspiring collaboration duo, Sara and Dan’s Book Home for the Soul; sustainable and thoughtful decorating and design is available now on Amazon. In this gorgeous offering, they show you how to create a beautiful home while causing minimum damage to our increasingly fragile environment.