Capturing The Light

Discover photographer Charlotte Bland’s instinctual creative process and how she seamlessly blends sunlight and candlelight to craft captivating tablescapes.

How would you describe your journey in photography?

Taking photos is the only thing I ever wanted to do. I grew up in Devon by the sea and the changing seasons and everyday life I photographed there as a child shaped my future work. Later on I did a history of art degree which helped hone how I see and cemented a natural feel for composition.  

Tell us about your creative process

Mostly it is instinct, it’s very hard to describe! I think I take my favourite photos when I’m not really looking for them, when I see excellent light and have to capture it. Everything else drops away at that moment apart from the way the light falls and how the shot feels. 

“I love watching the way light falls in the same place throughout the day, how the shadows change and how the light moves.”

Who, where and what inspires your tablescapes?

Sunlight or candlelight, preferably both together. And objects that I’ve collected over the years. I have some antique French ceramic jam pots that create a beautiful, warm glow with tealights inside and I use linens and tablecloths I find in Italy while on my Bland Badger retreat. 

Setting the table is something I’ve always found fun and inspiring. It’s nice to create little surprises like posies of herbs in place of flowers, in unusual vessels like Campari bottles, placed down the table. 

Are there any recurring themes in your work?

I love watching the way light falls in the same place throughout the day, how the shadows change and how the light moves. 

How does nature play a role in your life and your work?

I’m lucky to have a small London garden. It is densely planted and hovers on the edge of being completely wild but creates a really nice green view at the back of the house and there’s always something interesting to photograph out there. 

How do the seasons inspire your work?

I am driven by capturing everyday life and my immediate surroundings, and the seasons directly affect this. There is a cherry tree outside my bedroom window that fills the view with green leaves in the summer, red leaves in the autumn and winter and incredible, pink blossom in the spring. The way sunlight falls through the leaves and flowers at different times of year is endlessly fascinating.

What to you makes a beautiful and balanced tablescape?

Beautiful objects with enough room to eat! Setting the table is mostly about practicality, making sure people have what they need in glasses, cutlery etc. and have space to move these things around, while adding objects and colour to make it interesting. My splatterware crockery, made in Cortona by Giulio Lucarini for Ivo Angel Store in traditional Tuscan yellow and green, is a lovely starting point that complements foliage and candlelight. 

What are your favourite recipes or ingredients to use during the Autumn season?

I cook with a lot of autumnal fruit: apples, pears and blackberries in the UK and in Italy eat dishes with fantastic autumnal greens, chestnuts and mushrooms.

What are your go-to items in styling an autumnal table?

Candles, candles, candles.

Any favourite autumnal flowers?

In Umbria we create floral arrangements with flowers and foliage foraged from the local area. Wild artichoke flowers grow by the roadside with bright yellow heads like miniature sunflowers on long, elegant stems. We pair them with olive leaves and seed heads, rosehips and tiny acorns still attached to oak branches.

What do you love most about this time of year? 

Autumn in London can be lovely, those crisp sunny British autumnal days always sound like a cliché but when they happen (which, admittedly, can be rare) they’re magical. 

I spend time every autumn in Umbria in Italy where I run the Bland Badger creative retreat with my friend Ros Badger. We bring groups of people together for a creative house party in a 15th century villa in the Umbrian countryside at arguably the best time of year in Italy… warm, sunny days with crisp evenings and misty mornings.

What do your creative retreats entail?

The retreat is an opportunity for people to take some time out of their daily lives and reconnect with their creativity. We decorate the villa with seasonal foliage and candles and warm up after sunrise swims with coffees by the huge kitchen fire. 

We host workshops - on things like calligraphy, print making and floral arranging - outdoors, where we also eat fantastic food at a long table in the villa courtyard, surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside views in Italy. We take our guests to some of Italy’s best flea markets and also host our own ‘Bland Badger Brocante’ at the villa with local vintage linen and ceramics dealers who have some of the best value and unique pieces I’ve ever seen. That’s where I found my treasured, antique ‘Buon Giorno’ breakfast tablecloth, (below, right) something I use at home in London all the time. 

Any upcoming projects this season?

Swimming outdoors is one of my favourite things to do and over the years I’ve captured lots of pools, lakes, beaches and ponds so I’m thrilled to be launching a small range of swimming pool photographic prints in the autumn / winter that will be available to purchase online. Hopefully they will be a nice reminder of sunny, poolside days and those to come!

Follow the light with @charlottebland and her creative retreats @blandbadger

Discover The Floristry's Autumn/ Winter collection of flower bouquets and flowers jars each made to order by our florist team and available for flower delivery in Singapore.