Sunday, 26 February 2012

The edge of the world

Wow, if Carlsberg made photographers, they'd come in the shape of Chicago-based Billy Sheahan. I appreciate and enjoy all of my shoots and often forge friendships with photographers when things have gone particularly well and repeat bookings are made often, but there was something about this shoot that was really special for me.

Billy picked me up from the airport in Mexico after I'd flown west from Mexico City (a place I can't wait to visit again), and drove me towards a week of intense creativity. Billy was the first photographer who'd booked me for a shoot, and we found the most sublime beach, early in the morning, totally empty. We had to walk through various exotic trees and cacti to find it and when we first glimpsed it, we couldn't believe how beautiful it was. So perfect and serene. It was so quiet, too, and the whole thing felt like such a privilege.

Billy is one of my favourite photographers ever. He is such a kind, jolly, positive person that is so much fun to be around. He was, as he called himself, the 'model taxi'; carting us around to grocery stores and to and from meet-ups in his hired car. He even drove us and waited patiently while some of us browsed (slowly) a Mexican charity shop (I think 'thrift store' was the correct term; I bought some particularly eccentric black and white geometric-patterned trousers), looking for Halloween costumes. He crashed his car (well, 'crashed' is unfair; it was a tiny tiny bump) and got over it in half a second. He is always smiling and incredibly open to the moment, which was why this, Billy's first real outdoor-location model shoot as I think he told me, was so successful and such a joy.

I know I sound like I'm gushing, but I just felt so incredibly FREE during this shoot. Billy just left me to prance about along the shore line, in and out of waves, jumping off rocks and strolling around in front of his camera. He was a fair distance away for a lot of the shots, and took millions of frames, hoping to catch the 'moment' of whatever I was about to do at any given time, since we couldn't really communicate well in the conditions. So in some ways I felt, for a lot of the shoot, like I was alone in nature, just experiencing the place in all its head-knocking beauty. I'm so grateful for Billy for allowing me to feel that way, and for framing so much open space in many of the shots that reflect that state of mind. Looking at these shots makes me feel so happy.

Billy has written very eloquently about our shoot here and here. Please do read what he's written - it's so nice and really sets things in context!

Yes, there will be some monochrome/colour indecision. I love the blues in the ones looking out to sea!

Click to view them large (you'll need to; I'm kinda tiny in some of them), and please let me know your favourites!

...And some in colour:



Friday, 24 February 2012

Portraiture workshop

I meant to post these two shots a while ago after discovering them on Redbubble and contacting the photographer. It's amazing what you find sometimes; there is so much out there I haven't seen and I'm sure there are lots of photographic gems floating around in the cybersphere! These were taken by John Buchanan during a portraiture workshop in Lacock I modelled at a while ago, run by Dominic Falcone.

I like modelling for group workshops; you meet so many enthusiastic, budding photographers buzzing to learn and it can be a lot of fun (and requires quite different skills from one-to-one shoots). I've got a couple of good ones coming up in the next few months, and have built up a rather wonderful wardrobe for boudoir, bridal... and bridal boudoir... shoots, etc. On that note, I've spent a frankly embarrassing amount of time recently updating my lingerie collection with some beautiful new additions: vintage-retro pieces, French silk, black lace, elbow-length gloves, a sheer babydoll dress... and lots more. I only learnt to use ebay a few months ago (honestly!), so I suppose I had some catching up to do. I currently have my eye on a beautiful, frivolous and dramatic ball dress, as well as some intriguing and beautiful world costumery, but really should stop while I'm ahead... or should I? 

Clue: I probably won't. Especially as I've recently been adding to my 'bucket list' (now carried around with me digitally on my phone, for when inspiration strikes - or needs to strike!) of ideas and themes I think would work really well and haven't done before. Ah, it's all just an excuse to dress up!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Ceci n'est pas une pipe ('The Treachery of images')

What is an image is only ever an image. That was the point made by Belgian artist René Magritte in 1928/9, who painted a picture of a pipe and wrote in large letters underneath 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe'. The painting is a representation of a pipe, not an actual pipe itself, hence the negative caption given.

Furthermore, any image of Magritte's favourite pipe painting found by googling 'Magritte Pipe image' would only be a digital representation of that painting and not the actual painting itself...

Anyway, it's a little joke photographer Mark C Haskins wanted to play with and refer to when photographing me and a few other ladies. He gave each model a pipe (a real one) and photographed what we did with it. Mine is above and you can see others in a slideshow video here.

It was fun to work with Mark in Mexico after failing to align our schedules in Germany previously. I remember laughing with him over an Eddie Izzard sketch - no idea how we got on to that!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Naked Emotions

1. I found these shots on my enormous ever-growing hard drive full of images of myself which have been kindly donated by photographers. They're by Mark Bigelow, who initially hired me for his 'Rosamund Clifford' project a couple of years ago. I absolutely love them! So 'vintage', in styling, pose and atmosphere. I was so new to modelling at this point, so I'm proud that these are shots I still want to show off. Thank you to Mark.

(Click to enlarge)

I remember Mark saying to me at the beginning of the shoot, when reviewing a few of our first images, that he thought I was very expressive but that it didn't always reach my face, or that my eyes were expressive but the rest of my face wasn't. Modelling is acting, and hopefully I've improved since then. I've gained so much confidence in front of a camera now. Hopefully part two of this blog post will demonstrate my more 'theatrical'/'letting loose' side...


2. I love wearing make up on nights out and for photoshoots, and I've been known to wear foundation to Zumba and aerobic/dance classes in which I expect to get HOT (my skin flushes so easily!). I have even sometimes thought I would love to train in make up. I really appreciate the artistry involved and the possibilities for total transformation from blank canvas to... any story you want to tell! 

Yet, at the grand old age of 25, I love not wearing it too. I am, of course, a bit of a hippie in some respects, and the more I travel and leave my make up kit at the bottom of my backpack (during my most recent trip, I felt embarrassed to be wearing it at some points; it just looks wrong! And not wearing make up is definitely also an important way of blending into a crowd in countries where attention is unwanted, much like not wearing clothing which is revealing or hugs your body too tightly), the more I realise it's nice to lower your default base-point or 'norm' to the natural face

Make up is an extra, a choice and a decision, not a necessity or essential. Then again, when you're on holiday or somewhere hot, your skin glows with its newly charged pigments, and too much eyeliner on a beach feels silly anyway, yet here in cold England it's easy to look drab, tired and washed out without these brilliant products ready to enhance and 'define' us. And yes, putting on make up (as one act of many that involve efforts to look nice and take the trouble and time with your appearance for yourself as well as for others) can be an important statement. But even so, isn't it nice to just have clean skin sometimes? It feels more innocent to me.

Hhhmmm, this blog post is turning into a natural face apologetic.

I'll get to the point now:

Sooooo, I'd been toying with the idea of doing some self portraits for a while, since getting a new camera recently... Then I totally forgot about that idea until a couple of nights ago, when I was about to go to bed. The results aren't so much self-portraits as 'freak-out time' in front of the camera. Nevertheless I kinda love them and hope you might find them interesting. They're certainly not all that flattering; how liberating! I've been wanting to do a shoot showing different, darker emotions (fear, despair, crying heartbreak, etc) for a long time now, but (understandably) it's not a side of myself I'm often asked to portray in most modelling bookings...So I thought I would have a go at it for myself! The first one is the 'prettiest', and then it gets a little strange, odd and even grotesque (in the truest sense of the word). You might not like them at all, but it's fun to mess around like this sometimes!

Some points...

1. You may have gathered that the following shots involved: no foundation, no powder, no eye shadow, no sneaky contouring, no mascara, no lipstick. My face might have some 'imperfections' ('beauty' spot, pores, freckly things, tiny hairs... etc), but I've decided not to care in the slightest (I'm being stubborn about this). In general, I'm extremely lucky to have good, clear skin.

2. It turns out it's hard to take self portraits when both arms are occupied fully by holding the camera. 

3. Due to the above, plus my light source being above me, my angles were limited (er, to one). Check out how small my eyes look and how large my jaw appears. Kinda funky (maybe?) - I don't look anything like myself in these, and yet I absolutely do, of course.

4. These shots have received ZERO editing in the way of skin retouch and other clever stuff that would have made me look super duper, possibly. I don't have photoshop. Some have been cropped and most have been turned to black and white. These (plus resizing and upping contrast) are the totality of my photo-wizzardry skills.

5. Photographic rules broken include: 'Never shoot upwards at a model', 'Don't get too close', 'Keep still during the shutter release', 'Have an awesome background' and 'Don't pull weird faces'.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Superhero Rose & talks with Aslan

You never know what you're going to get when an email from Rayment Kirby arrives in your inbox. I'm a bit in love with these. The first one casts me as an angelic, peace-giving Superhero (well, that's my interpretation of it anyway!), gently administering good will and benevolence to all humanity below. Ha. This should probably be on my business cards (ya know, the ones I rarely remember to actually give out). Seriously though, I love this image! Thanks Rayment.

I love the second one too - so warming to look at in our current snowy conditions! I wonder what hot havoc I'm stirring up.

And now, to cool things down again quite considerably, here is how beautiful the woodland park where I live is looking at the moment (OK, I don't actually live in the forest, though I did see a tent there recently which made me sad... Seriously, I would HATE to be homeless at the moment. Well, ever; but particularly now). Such a perfect scene for Narnia-esque imaginations...

Finally, an irrelevant and unnecessary facial appearance from my cat, Sascha Tom, aka Mr Fluffy Bum/King Fluffalot/'my darling big boy' (sometimes I address his highness as the latter in earshot of my not-quite-boyfriend, to freak him out for my own amusement), mostly due to his particular talent in the heft and fluff departments.

Well, I had to test out my new camera with a willing (lazy) subject, didn't I? He has been following me around obsessively for the last few days, maintaining entire conversations with me around the subject of 'Meeuugh' and 'Meeuh?'. He's a rescue cat, and couldn't purr for years (or perhaps he was hard to please and wanted us to earn the audible evidence of his pleasure), but now, I'm happy to say, he is an accomplished maker of the rumbling throat music. He also once tried to follow me into the bath (though changed his mind in mid-air and managed a sharp reverse). He's cool. I love him a lot. Look at his lion face.
I've had so many dreams about Aslan appearing (only to stare at me, wisely; he doesn't tend to say much, after all) in my backgarden. Those precious moments normally serve to punctuate the episodes of intense warfare where I (with bafflingly extensive abilities to be violent) have to single-handedly save the world or run and hide (usually through rivers or in caves; I think my unconcscious mind is a few centuries behind current events) from world-destroying bastards. It can go either way.