two girls discovering silver objects on display at york mansion house with reflections in glass
Olivia Brabbs

Olivia Brabbs

Heritage Photography for York Mansion House

view of st helens square in york to showcase location of york mansion house

I absolutely loved this heritage photography commission for York Mansion House.  Two days packed of photography to capture interiors, artefacts and documentary people images to showcase the visitor experience.

In a nutshell, my brief was to create a portfolio of images to be used for venue branding.  The Mansion House is a stunning property in the heart of York packed to the rafters with history and heritage.  It’s a little bit of a hidden gem at the moment so my work with the marketing team was to support new marketing campaigns to make it more visible as a visitor attraction – both for international tourists and the local Yorkshire community.  

view of york mansion house across st helens square in york
blue plaque on front of york mansion house
entrance to york mansion house from front of property

There is the choice with any commercial shoot which will contain a lifestyle element to either go down the staged approach or opt, as is my preference where possible, for a documentary style of photography.  I personally feel you can spot a staged image a mile off.  The smiles are just a little bit too perfect and the poses can be so wooden.  Professional lifestyle models can nail this with careful coaching and direction but there is still the risk of lack of authenticity.  As we did with the Mansion House shoot, putting people in real situations allows them to engage more naturally with locations, physical items and other people.  The real magic with documentary photography happens when you and your camera become invisible.  The families were so wonderful to work with on our visitor experience day.  I always love working with children and as a Mother myself understand how to help put little ones at ease.  

oil painting on display in the state room at york mansion house
white marble fireplace surround at york mansion house

This commission really played to my strengths as a photographer who loves the challenge of different subjects and changing light in a single shoot.  The typical advice given to photographers is that to be successful you need to niche.   I’ve come to realise over the last few years however that my own personal niche as a photographer comes through my storytelling approach and that many different client types and environments can happily come under that umbrella.  This is evident through the diversity of clients I work with but also the different genres of photography I am comfortable bringing into a single commission.

It was such a privilege to receive this wonderful testimonial from the marketing manager at The Mansion House: 

“We approached Olivia with a demanding brief, which involved capturing the entirety of the Mansion House to build an image bank we can use across all our activity going forward. With no images in existence before, Olivia came in and completely blew us away with her incredible eye for detail, and the ability to calmly move from situation to situation. She effortlessly captured hero shots of the house – both interior and exterior -, as well as beautiful archive images of our collections, and documentary shots of children exploring the house, and guided tours. Olivia’s style is perfect to show the beauty of an expansive space, picking out hidden details, and capturing those enticing shots to showcase the best you have to offer. We’re so excited to work with Olivia in the future, and recommend you do too!”


You can view more photography from heritage and hospitality commissions through my PORTFOLIO PAGE

cups on display at york mansion house
georgian kitchen at york mansion house
woman looking at sword display at york mansion house
glasses of wine chocolate created in kitchen demonstration with original georgian recipe at york mansion house
smiling child enjoying interactive georgian kitchen experience at york mansion house
dining table set to show replica georgian feast at york mansion house
chocolate tin and archive letters from world war one on show at york mansion house
close up view of silver teapot at york mansion house
girl looking at interactive screen display at york mansion house showing history of st helens square
dining room at york mansion house
view through secret corridor through to dining room at york mansion house
kitchen ware on display in replica georgian kitchen at york mansion house
child enjoying georgian dining room display at york mansion house
house steward at york mansion house leading cookery demonstration in georgian kitchen
girl enjoying interactive cooking at york mansion house
glassware detail with etching of word ebor at york mansion house
rowntree chocolate from world war one presented by lord mayor to serving soldiers
close up of lord mayor of york silver chain at york mansion house
mother and two sons enjoying a visit to the state room at york mansion house
state room detail at york mansion house
mayoral robes on display in the state room at york mansion house
demonstration of georgian cooking techniques in kitchen at york mansion house
tour guide in stateroom talking to visitors at york mansion house
view of hands during georgian kitchen demonstration at york mansion house
children watching interactive cooking display at york mansion house
aerial view of grand staircase at york mansion house
close up detail of silver ware with engraving at york mansion house
replica georgian feast at york mansion house
mother and son looking at oil painting at the york mansion house
view through secret corridor through to dining room at york mansion house


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Get in touch

Thanks for your interest in my commercial and branding photography. To discuss a commission in more detail please do get in touch. If you’re in the early stages of developing a photography brief I’m always available for a chat to bounce ideas around.

I’m based in central York but it’s very much a case of, “Have camera will travel”, so my client list spreads across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK.

T: 07779 345819 E: