Thursday, 28 February 2013


Sometimes half the fun of keeping a blog is trying to out-do yourself in contrasting the style of images shown from one blog post to the next. It's a bit like writing a novel, playing the piano and going for a lovely countryside walk, then having an evening of body-popping/winding to slickedy-slick Justin Timberlake, who I think I might slightly fancy again, maybe (despite not actually fancying him).

('I can't wait to get you on the floor, good looking' is currently all I can hear in my mind. '...Going out so hot, just like an oven...oooooowww'.)

(I'm sorry.)

So here, in total contrast to the previous post, is a shot or four taken by Chris Lloyd at Eye For An Image Studio recently. Loved doing these!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

'I only Feel'*

Evening! Just a quick update before dinner to show some recent film images taken in Belgium recently by Dimitri, while listening to Radiohead, Blonde Redhead and other such stuff.

I found Dimitri's way of working quite interesting; he absolutely forbid any posing whatsoever. Instead, I had to just 'exist' in front of the camera, go into my own thoughts and feelings and be completely un-self conscious. I think the results are good, and it made me think of the way different photographers work; there is such a range of methods among those I work with. Some come with exact ideas, some have no plan whatsoever, some take control, some want the model to take control and don't offer any real direction, some want emotions and moods to be acted, some (rarer) want no acting whatsoever. I want to say I think I've noticed a very slight divide between British photographers and mainland European photographers in this last comparison, but I don't know if that sounds pretentious, and I'd need to do more research... And the painter I'm modelling for again here in England is definitely of the 'just be yourself' camp, as we were discussing the other day, though perhaps that's another difference (between painters and photographers). Usually I think modelling is mostly acting... but is it? And when does a stance become a pose?

I always appreciate being able to model while holding my cup of tea...

*I recently found a model's profile and read the words 'I never pose, I only feel.' Made me smile.

Monday, 18 February 2013

House of Flying Daggers

Hello from Belgium! I've just completed my final shoot and am relaxing now here in Brussels. Below are two quick behind-the-scenes shots taken on my phone from a shoot with the lovely Johan Verlust and the excellent make up artist and hair stylist Fraukje Van de Wiele.I'm looking forward to seeing the proper images from this shoot (this was just one set we did, but I rather liked it!). :-)

Highlights in this rather multi-lingual country have so far included free plates of radishes, free limoncello and ouzo(??) (I didn't have the heart to tell the enthusiastic waiter I don't drink, so I drank), a successful foray into the world of the waffle (I quite liked it!), restaurants that claim they have 'no legumes' after I settle in and  order the one vegetarian thing on the menu, pasta legumes... Seriously? The entire restaurant has no vegetables? Slightly worrying. (I left, obviously, and stumbled instead into an AMAZING restaurant that made me very happy (goats cheese served on a bed of apple, scattered with honey, strawberries, raisins and walnuts), so if that's not evidence for the 'it's meant to happen' brigade, then I can't possibly think what is.)

I have also done some non-foody things here in Belgium, I promise - e.g. I spent a lovely, lazy afternoon dawdling around art galleries - including Magritte's crazy surrealism - (this was my first trip to Belgium, so I left myself a little bit of free time), and topped up my postcard collection by a humble 47. Yep, I don't buy shoes (though I am hoping to stumble across a new pair of trainers soon, as my super dooper spin spot dance ones make me just a tad too spinny during planking, etc., and really shouldn't be worn when driving), I buy art postcards! Seriously, though, it really excites me. I'm going to create my third new massive board of them for my room. I even had a practise run on my brand new hostel-friend's bed, when I got back. (I'm too cool.) I'll probably blog a picture of the results, along with my previously made board, in case anyone else shares my joy of 'I get a print of this amazing amazing amazing painting for 1 euro'. And the Grand Place is beautiful, and somehow reminds me of the incredibly brilliant main square in Mexico City. (Though maybe that's just because that's the last 'main square' I saw. I don't know.) I also went to Bruges yesterday with a lovely American girl I met, and we had fun jumping around in front of the windmills on the outskirts of the old town. I think I'm going to have to do a bit of research to find out if the vial of blood we saw really is likely to have belonged to Jesus or not; if so, that's really quite amazing.

Anyway, I get to wander around Brussels a bit more tomorrow before getting on the eurostar, partly on the search for some statues of some kids (and a dog) pissing, or something. I've been promised an equal mix of delight and anti-climax. Haha. On my next trip (I might possibly come back sometime in the summer), I'm going to also look around Ghent and Antwerp, I think, as I've heard that Ghent in particular is a great place to visit.

And now, I'm blogging some images I've been excited to see and show you! There's something a bit 'House of Flying Daggers' about these images, I think (despite that beautiful film being set in China, not Japan). I was asked to model for a photographer on behalf of his friend who is submitting a design project on Japanese modes of dress set in a western context. This kimono was the one actually worn by Ally on her wedding day; so it was such an honour to wear it! It was so beautiful - and very heavy! - and I learnt that, while the western fashion is generally to show off a woman's waist, the opposite is true in Japan, or at least in this context; my waist was padded to be in line with my hips!! For what I'm used to, that's not the most flattering stylistic decision, but it's interesting, isn't it? Different aesthetics for different cultures... It was such a fun shoot, and I think the photographer, London-based Will White, made them so stunning! The make up was by Ema Doherty. We got quite excited about all the jumping around... and as soon as Will handed me the parasol, we both immediately knew without speaking that I had to do a 'caught in the wind' jump. I'm looking forward to a second shoot sometime soon. And I CANNOT WAIT to go to Japan later this year; I just find the culture so fascinating and beautiful, and there are so many different contrasts and aspects to it. I've been wanting to go there for so long!

Which are your favourites?

...And if anyone cares to educate me about some beautiful Japanese films I should watch, please do!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Cascading Light

A tiny update, rushed before I go away on my date with Belgium tomorrow; don't mind if I do indulge in a few chocolates while I'm there..! So looking forward to this first visit (I don't think driving through on the way to Germany as a child counts).

These were all taken at a workshop run by Trevor and Faye Yerbury (well, except the bicycle one, but it seems fitting).... soooo lovely, I reckon.

By Ross:

and by Ian:

Friday, 8 February 2013

Lilies and Vanity

Hallo! I modelled for the following images in Dusseldorf a while ago with photographer Vernon Trent - a mixture of film and polaroid. So nice to see the results, and I can't wait for my next trip to Deustschland! Vernon and his lovely lady friend were very nice to work with, and I have always found Vernon's photography beautiful. :-)

I really like the fifth shot.

Also, I recently wrote an article about 'vanity' in the context of modelling. (Loyal blog readers might recognise some of the content.) It was published a couple of days ago on the front page of Model Mayhem, and had a great reaction. I was expecting some snarky comments along the lines of 'why does she think we'd want to read about that... Who is she anyway?' etc; forum reactions are unpredictable (and I have experience of this from writing for the Guardian; you get such a mix!)! But I have survived and am pleased to know that people are relating to what I say in great numbers. Over on the facebook page of MM it's had a crazy amount of 'likes' and 'shares', and I've had some really nice messages about it. I have no idea if non-members of Model Mayhem can read the article, so here it is in full, for the record:

Recently, a friend I hadn’t seen in about five years asked me whether, doing what I do, I ever feel caught up in the concept of physical appearance. I replied that, actually, I think I’m far less vain these days than I ever might have been and somehow manage to ignore the media obsession with “perfection” and “irreality” almost completely. So, here are some scattered thoughts on the subject…

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Max Operandi
When it comes to modelling, I have a mental list of things I’m not interested in doing. It’s the closest I have to “terms and conditions,” I suppose. For example, I won’t knowingly wear real fur. I won’t take part in anything I deem potentially offensive (religiously or politically). I won’t pose in ways I feel are overtly sexual or gratuitously explicit. It’s a pretty standard little list (I realize these things are quite subjective, but that’s largely the point), except for one thing I include: “vanity.”
Despite the fact that my images are often described as “pretty,” “soft,” or “romantic,” and despite the fact that I recently responded to a flattering comment with the words “Don’t forget I only show the pretty ones,” I am not scared of looking unpolished, “imperfect,” or “unpretty.” This is what I mean by saying that I don’t want to do “vanity.” I am interested in emotion and expression – and HONESTY. This means I’m not afraid to explore the areas of humanity which aren’t so pleasing to the eye. (I’m rarely taken up on this, but that’s OK.) I’m also happy to be completely unphotoshopped in photos (and often am). I’m totally happy with my body, which is completely different from subscribing to the idea that it is “perfect”–it isn’t–for example, my bones are such that I will always be pear-shaped. Which brings me to…
Self-awareness is the thing. I’m aware of my strengths and my weaknesses. I’m aware of angles which make me look good and angles which definitely don’t. I have a massive amount of body awareness. I can isolate muscles most people don’t know they have. One of the things recommended to new models who want to “learn to pose” is to practice in front of a mirror. I confess I’ve actually never ever done this, but I usually have a good idea of exactly what a pose is going to look like. I think this is to do with my dance background more than anything, and then also from noticing what works and what doesn’t when I’ve looked at the images after a shoot. It’s always fun to see the images on the back of the camera during a shoot, as you can see how the lighting is working for what you’re doing, what kind of crops/compositions are happening, and what’s going on in the background. But what I mean is this: I generally have a good idea of how to work with my strengths. I’m aware that I’m not perfect, but I’m also aware that I can look good, and that I’m lucky to have a healthy body which functions well and does what I ask of it, so I think it would be a bit hideous of me to complain or worry. I think this realization, along with my modelling, has made me completely comfortable and happy in my own skin, so much so that vanity isn’t even an issue.

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Iain Thomson
As well as my body, I also have a lot more self knowledge about my face, and confidence about which angles work best for it. Seeing your face on camera repeatedly means that such awareness is unavoidable (even if I did only realize the other day that I can raise one eyebrow); I can also recognize a few of my fellow model friends only by a tiny part of one of their features. There is a detachment that comes alongside such intimate knowledge, which is essential for modelling. At the beginning, when shown a picture of myself during a shoot, I would comment on the angles or proportions of “my legs,” or “my chin,” whereas now I am equally likely to say “the legs,” or “the chin,” which sometimes makes photographers smile. (Just the other day I was looking at a shot of myself in a two-pose double exposure and, pointing at one of ‘the figures’ said “I like that she is actually touching the other person,” which is extra weird, thinking about it.) Anyway, before I talk myself into an existential crisis, here’s the crux of it: while knowing their body and face so well, good models must simultaneously become more objective about what image is being presented via the camera; I can now see myself as a sequence of shapes putting forward an overall mood or expression. And such knowledge is inevitable, when pictures of yourself are thrust at you so often; after all, the camera, consistent to the end, doesn’t lie.

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Jewelled World
It’s possible to pose so much, for example for eight full days in a row, that when you get home you find yourself noticing the way your cat is sprawled out on the grass outside and think, “Oh, good pose; nice shape; good leg angle.” At these times, you wonder if you’re more than a little mad, but that’s OK. I know at least two people who pose in their sleep. (Incidentally, I always appreciate people who, like me, sit weirdly without noticing, just because it’s comfortable, with legs stretched or curled in unexpected possibilities. I get particularly creative in the cinema.)
In some ways, I am probably less vain now than before I started modelling. I wasn’t massively vain then either, but I worried more about what people thought of my appearance, which in my opinion is closer to the true definition of vanity. I remember the first time I got on a train for a shoot with zero make up on (as I only had time to do it on the train). My younger self would have found this perversely exciting, a sort of thrill, but mostly terrifying, since people would see my ACTUAL FACE. I now realize that A) I really don’t look different without make up on, it’s just that my features aren’t “enhanced,” and B) even if I did look rough, gross, half-dead, etc. (although see “A”), absolutely no one would care or even notice. It’s silly to think that they would. I’m just another stranger in the street, not out to impress anyone, and that’s fun.

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Rebecca Parker
I have always thought that most people are beautiful if you look at them properly. What’s beautiful to me is character and a person’s story. If you can see that in the way they hold themselves, in little details about their manner and in the movements they make with their unique features and structures– if they have grace, kindness, un-selfconscious openness, an endearing awkwardness, stress, fear, vulnerability, humor, slight hints of emotion, history–the things which make up a life and leave traces on their physicality, then a person holds massive interest for me. There will always be “bad” photos of me existing out there in the unforgiving world of the internet, and sometimes these can simply be learned from, but maybe the truly “Zen” model would not fear them so much as understand that, just occasionally, “imperfection,” when coupled with self-confidence, can make a shot.

....And soon I'm getting around to looking at some questions I've had posed to me for an interview for an excellent website, getting ready to let loose on some more of my thoughts about this modelling business... Such a compliment to be asked, and you just can't shut me up at the moment.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Curves & Refraction


That's the sound of me zooming through my emails, obviously. I am really terrible at keeping on top of them and frequently tell myself off about it (though I have been told I'm not as bad as some!), but have made a good dent this evening (got some lovely ones, too, including being asked to be interviewed for an upcoming feature) and may even carry on for a while after a quick detour to blogsville. To anyone waiting for a reply, thank you (as always) for your patience.

Today I shall be showing you some images shot by Bob in California ( - and the website comes with some incredibly relaxing music), which I think are quite special. Enjoy!

I love the steps in that last one. Bob's asked me to suggest a title for it; I'm thinking 'Drift' or 'Launch'. It has elements of both.

And thanks for your comments, both on and off the blog - it always amazes me how many people I meet who tell me they read it.