21.10.16 blog post - Harry Potter Studio Tour - Kate Curry Photography

21.10.16

Location Photography at Warner Bros Harry Potter Tour London #WBTourLondon

I thoroughly recommend you take a camera with you if you visit the Warner Bros Harry Potter Tour London. As a photographer based in Glasgow there was no way I was going to forget mine. Impressive, immersive and vast -the tour  is a wonderful experience. Whilst I expect that if you take children you could whizz through relatively quickly, I rented the audio guide and took around 4 hours. However I wished I could have had more time! At every turn there is something beautiful and detailed to command your attention .

One of the first scenes you encounter is the Hogwarts Great Hall.

"Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles which were floating in mid-air over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the Hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting." - J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

  • Professor Dumbledore

    Professor Dumbledore

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

The next room contains lots of different Harry Potter sets. In the centre is a fenced off area filled with props, that you could look at it for ages and still not see everything. It really struck me how much time and effort went into creating every single detail. And how the Harry Potter films were a huge industry in themselves involving so many people. At first I wondered why bother - with tiny details the viewer might not notice. But when immersed like this I was so glad that they did. I got a greater sense of the overall cohesive style of the Harry Potter films, which I have to say I didn't appreciate from purely watching the films. A lot of it left me with a sense of shabbiness and dirt (planned...) But once going back out into the real world I noticed anew how shabby things actually are - and that really what they have created by various ageing techniques is more realism.

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

  • Golden Snitch

    Golden Snitch

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

The Gryffindor common room (below) comes across as really worn out or "well-loved". Yet when watching the films it is the opulence of Hogwarts that came across to me personally. Seeing it in detail puts across the idea that it is supposed to be a place that was originally very splendid but the school is no longer that wealthy. Possibly hinting at the lack of support from the high status families who look down their noses at muggles. 

Out of interest the large portrait on the left in this picture is of a young Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall). 

The design style comes across as very nostalgic - frequently harking back to times gone by - be it the 1950s, 1920s (see snitch above) or the Victorian or even Medieval eras (Common room below.) It all combines to create a timeless and unique style to the films, the first of which surprisingly came out 15 years ago, but whose appeal continues to endure.

The tour of course also explores the darker side of the Potter universe. There's the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge's room, Borgin & Bourkes and of course the door leading to the Chamber of Secrets. Given the opportunity to stare for a good long time, you really see how terrifying and chilling some of items and sets really are up close. The death eater's masks and Malfoy Mansion are especially creepy.

After the café, where you can enjoy butter beer (which is well worth trying), you enter rooms which show more props and behind the scenes glimpses. It feels like walking around a beautiful art gallery.

A mermaid, which looks just like it's from a sideshow

  • Mermaid

    Mermaid

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

  • Voldemort

    Voldemort

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

  • Thestral

    Thestral

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

  • Mandrake

    Mandrake

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Beautiful Concept Artwork

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

One of the many gems is, very Victorian, Diagon Alley. Shops like Florish and Blotts, Ollivanders, The Apothecary and of course Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes are all there. I had also visited The Museum of London Docklands on the same trip to London. At the Museum is a street scene recreation from 1840 and I have to say it's somewhat similar! There was even an 'Animal Emporium' at the Docklands Museum similar to 'The Magical Menagerie' on Diagon Alley on the Tour. But rather than the baby pygmy puffs in the HP version, the Docklands Animal Emporium was chocked full of all sorts of 'exotics' that would have come into the London docks - parrots and mammals such as 2 camels living in a tiny space between two shelving units, with a gate across it. 

One of the final items on the tour is a huge, intricate model of Hogwarts. This photo doesn't properly show the scale, but it fills a large room and you get to walk around the edge of it. It elicits a similar reaction as in the book:

There was a loud 'Oooooh!'

The narrow path had opened suddenly on to the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, it's windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers." - J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

If you are a Harry Potter fan and you get the chance definitely visit the tour! It's really quite something. For more info see: www.wbstudiotour.co.uk. Plus they actively encourage photo taking and sharing!

I am a Glasgow photographer and I also work in Edinburgh taking family photography. I take photos of performers and food too. You can find more examples of my work at: www.katecurryphotography.co.uk. To contact me for further information on sessions email: Katecurryphotography-info@yahoo.co.uk

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