Last year Katy and I tried to set up a shoot together unfortunately illness prevented her from coming up to Scotland, however this year we managed it. I picked her up from the train station and we headed out over the river to the studio, picking up snacks on the way….as you do!
Kettle on, lights organised, snacks munched and with a whiz and a bang off we went…
A few glugs of tea and a light change….more shapely shapings of the shape sort…
Then…unusually, some…erm, clothes!…I know but it has to be done now and then! We took these in between much laughter and funny voices
Then finally we took some portraits, we had spent quite a lot of time being exact on the shapes that we nearly ran out of time for portraits….well it might have been that or we were larking about….I refuse to say which it was…(erm larks)
Another fab shoot with a fab model, lots of fun and shenanigans along the way. Katy is lovely to work with, great attitude and professional. Quick to laugh and have fun with whatever pose was asked of her, and she excelled today as some of the poses were very strenuous indeed. She pulled out all the stops and the results show. Highly recommended that everyone have the Katex experience…..find her on Purple Port.
Holy Moly, another 5am start to photographic shenanigans, and the weather was as soggy as a haddocks bathing costume. It was dark and cloudy and the light was terrible, just the kind of challenge I like, it was obvious the cameras were going to struggle in these kinds of conditions. Anyway we all poddled off in the mini bus and headed out to the location, where exactly I don’t know, it was too foggy and dark to follow. By the time we got to the location the sky had brightened from dark to very dim, and once we got set up it started to rain too.
Plans were drawn up as we all had to work quickly, the cold and wet meant the models were going to suffer a bit and the chances of freezing up beyond the point of working were quite high. Once everyone knew what was going on we dived in to get some images. Helen and Keira started off at one location close by.
By the time these were done Scarlot and Rachelle were set up on a distant outcrop. And these dark and moody shots were taken.
Finally for that early morning I spotted a scene and Keira stood in for the last 2 minutes to catch the dense fog amidst the rugged landscape.
It was a challenging shoot, the air quality was bad and the lighting very poor but I have to say I love it like that, it makes for a very moody edgy grainy set of images. You end up shooting the feel of the scene rather than striving for perfect imagery.
Anyhow…back at the hotel a shower and breakfast was very welcome. We had the morning left to shoot before departing in the afternoon. The plan was to shoot on the banks of Loch Assynt and head round by Inverkirkaig for the final location. When we got to the loch we split up and worked one on one, so Helen and I teamed up and found some interesting rocks, trees and scenery. I also managed the odd capture of Scarlot and Rachelle. Fortunately the clouds parted and the sun came out…turned out to be a nice day.
After this was a quick journey through Lochinver and around near Inverkirkaig where we all managed to squeeze into a very small car park and climb over a hill to reach the plateau that looked over Cul Mor. The scenery was quite majestic, rugged and wild.
And lastly before heading for a well earned lunch at Ullapool…
The road to Ullapool from here had changed a lot over the years, when I first went over it on my old Triumph Bonneville about 20 years ago it really was an ordeal. At that time the road had grass growing up the middle and had no verge, just a sudden drop or a cliff face. It was dubbed the ‘Road to Hell’ at the time. We got to Ullapool and paid a visit to one of the best fish n chips restaurants ever. There was a short hunt looking for replacement wellies for Keira, hers had given up the ghost during the weekend. Then after a fond farewell to everyone I jumped in the car and headed home. It was great to meet old friends and make new ones, and so the Adventure ended, quite a weekend, great fun and highly productive.
They run well organised workshops throughout the year and I highly recommend checking them out. Howard works with top class models and all are professional and experienced, and I highly recommend them to beginners and experienced photographers alike.
Breakfast at the Inchnadamph Hotel was a real feast after the breezy early morning shoot, I did intend to stink the place out with a plate of kippers but I was swayed by the thought of bacon, sausage and egg. After a hearty feed with copious amounts of coffee we all headed out to the Bone Caves, the weather had warmed up a little but the sky looked ominously gloomy and stormy. The Bone Caves are a good walking distance from the car park and well worth going to see even if you aren’t shooting, our first stop on the way there was lovely waterfall and pool.
Further up the track there was an old tree that looked ideal for a shoot, however on closer inspection the tree was just too old and fragile for doing much with, sadly it had seen better days and was simply too dangerous to climb etc….however the fallen branches looked interesting.
It was a bit of a climb to the caves as they are halfway up the mountainside and cliff face, the caves were fabulous but so was the cliff face outside of them.
Just inside one of the caves…shapes happened!
And inside one of the larger caves I decide to shoot outwards, the lighting was trickier and I ended up using the built-in camera flash for a little fill on occasion.
Meanwhile back on the cliff face, Keira decides to go climbing!
Although it’s a great place for a shoot, it’s also a popular place for the general public. We had limited time there but fortunately we all got more than enough shots out of the location. And we meandered back down the track stopping off at places we had seen on the way up.
Once we got back we cleaned up, relaxed and headed for dinner. Afterwards there was an image review which was fun, a bit of social time and banter before calling it a night, It was another early start again in the morning. I will leave that for the next blog in part 3.
Spring time on Scotland was a bit of a scorcher, well…relatively speaking that is. Helen Stephens was scheduled to come up for a shoot but an opportunity arose that meant that I could attend a PhotoClassics workshop – Art Nude in the Landscape in which Helen was participating as a model. A happy happenstance, so Helen came up for a couple of days before going up to the Lochinver area. It worked rather well as we had a good couple of days hanging out, with lunch at the V&A and general silliness…which our norm! This also meant we could travel up together, we left early in the morning as I wanted to take advantage of the good weather to take some landscapes or wildlife on the way up. It had been a while since I’d been up that way, I used to travel to Inverness regularly when I was working. We stopped of at Perth for fuel and snacks, cuz like…….snacks are important!
Now the A9 isn’t the place for landscapes and wildlife so we battered on til we got to Ullapool, where we stopped for a break and more snacks!. We also blagged our way into the Ferry Inn without buying any booze just to use the loo…as you do! We had a wee walk around and ended up in the ‘Hillwalking’ shop, where I picked up a bargain. We caught this landscape from outside the Ferry Inn, a pub I highly recommend.
The weather was roasting for April and had been for several days, but of course that was bound to change soon. In the meantime we made the most of it and slowly meandered up to Ardvreck Castle near Inchnadamph taking landscapes on the way before the workshop started.
We were staying at Inchnadamph Hotel and when we got there we were just 5 mins before Keira Lavelle, Rachelle Summers and Scarlot Rose arrived. And of course Howard and Karen Kennedy who were running the workshop. It was a real delight to meet old faces and new ones too.
Once we got settled in and relaxed, Howard ran through the workshop details and some presentations to start us of, all very well organised. The afternoon was wearing on a little and it was decided that we would go a reccy to a nearby location. Stupidly I took my little bridge camera thinking that this was just a simple ‘look see’, I should have known better and taken my usual camera as once we saw the location it was ideal for a full nude shoot. In saying that the little Canon SX50 did a fairly decent job considering. No sooner had we had a look at the location when Keira decided to go for it and it turned into a fantastic wee shoot around the waterfall.
Not to be outdone, Scarlot and Rachelle gleefully joined in, Helen was having a snooze at the Hotel. So it wasn’t long before we got some fabulous shots with all three models. Having three talented top class models makes it easy to get good images especially when you are ad libbing and adapting to the situation/location.
The little camera did alright as I managed to get a couple of FIAP awards and acceptances out of these images. I have to say it’s no substitute for a large sensor DSLR though.
In the Evening we went for a light painting session near Lochinver (ish), a bit of a trek and an adventure to find the right spot. Tripods, headlamps, slow shutter speeds etc etc…..loads of fun, and exercise.
Then bed for an early start in the morning, a 5am wake up call and a drive in the dark to catch the morning light. On the way we saw a huge amount of deer coming down from the hills to graze and drink by the lochside. Sadly the weather had turned and the morning light became morning mist and a cold wind with it. We had to wait for the light to get as good as it can be and for supplies for the models, such as hot soup, towel and blankets.
There was limited time before the models got too cold to work, so plans were worked out beforehand. The stones were like ice and the bog they posed in sucked the heat right out of you very rapidly.
A quick wash and some hot soup for the ladies and we were heading back for a well earned breakfast…and a shower for Keira and Helen who were just covered in slimy bog goo!
After Breakfast more shooty shenanigans in the Mountains, details in Part 2
Spring had sprung with an oingy boingy kinda noise that didn’t really wake anyone up, it was so quiet no-one really noticed it until the daffodils came out and the rain turned slightly warmer. On such a day Helen Diaz turned up at the studio, bright and breezy with her usual sunny disposition. We had a bit of a chinwag and a cuppa, a few laughs and many a loud snort of humour while we made funny faces at each other….as you do!
At some stage we got down to taking some pictures with some kinda pointy shooty camera thing.
More funny faces and a light change…..
So as it happened I was at the Pitlochry Theatre for there costume sale and managed to pick up a large black dress not long before this shoot, using it here for some moody portraits….
Then for a more ‘wild’ look…
Time a cuppa and a complete change of theme and lighting…..but more funny faces!
While changing scenes we went back to Art Nude for a spell…more shapes but with more light.
Then some clam shell lighting for portraits and 3/4 length shenanigans ……. and more funny faces!
So all in all a very jolly day in the studio with much fun and nonsense as we could muster!
Hurrah for funny faces and the ever lovely Helen Diaz
So this year back in April I got my Platinum level FIAP certificate, and I wrote a blog declaring that I would go for the first Diamond level, the first of 3 ‘advanced’ levels. It was a tall order, I would need 50 awards using 15 different images in 5 different countries. Now normally that would be very tricky to do in a year, however it was worse because I had to start in April and submit in the beginning of December which left only 8 months rather than 12. However as of today I can happily report that I finished the requirement in less than 4 months, I attained 50 awards using 29 images in 9 countries, and I still have 6 salons left in the pipeline. Normally I’m not one for blowing my own trumpet but I have to admit I’m pretty chuffed at the result. For those who don’t know the FIAP system…it’s a bit complicated and daunting to start with but basically it’s a numbers game and strategy is needed to achieve the stated requirements without spending a fortune on salons.
The Diamond level is all about awards rather than acceptances, acceptances don’t count at all, though they can give you a good indication to which images are working well. I’ve listed the images that have gained awards, all are nudes/models save one. The list is in alphabetical order with no preference for any image, some got more awards than others but that does not mean the image is any ‘better’. Some have won Gold medals and some have won ribbons, but it must be remembered, it’s a numbers game…it’s better to get 3 ribbons than 1 medal etc etc. In saying that, it’s always nice to get gold medals and blue badges.
And erm…this one which seemed to have sneaked through for an award, really intended as a Nature filler….however…aptly named!
And that’s it, a big thank you to all the models I have worked with, even if you aren’t listed above you most definitely have been featured somewhere and will be again. So what now then? well there’s still Diamond 2 and 3 to go for…..I think a little break first, plus my finances are needing a breather!
Still Winter in early 2019 when Ivory Flame came for a shoot, braving the deep cold forbidding depths of Scotland…actually it was quite warm and sunny for a change when she came up on a tour. We arranged to do a 4 hour studio shoot and a 3 hour practical portrait workshop, pretty much a full day really. So we headed of to the studio armed with snacks and various edibles. For all the time I’ve worked in the studio I’ve never broken a light or dropped anything etc etc. but today was obviously the day for it to happen, and in a spectacular fashion. There is a large over head light with an Octobox which is a real effort to change or work with, today I decided to swap it out and replace it with the spotlight. As soon as I took off the Octobox the whole boom swung round dramatically in a wide arc and the light smacked off the coffee table shattering the modelling lamp….fortunately not the flash ring. The glass went everywhere and we spent a while hoovering it all up and checking for small pieces, fortunately there was a spare lamp and we managed to get it back up and working.
Time to narrow down the light for some dark portraits….
And then for something a little Asian in feel…..
After a quick cuppa and a snack we move on to some clothes and outfits…
By this time we needed to get the studio ready for the portrait workshop, we had people from Dundee Photographic Society and a couple of people from the Dundee Photographic Group. So after more snacks and more tea, people started to arrive and we soon got down to business. These are the portraits I managed to get between teaching topics.
The workshop was a big success and Ivory Flame wow’d everyone with her unearthly beauty and grace. Hopefully I’ll be having another workshop in the Autumn. After everyone had gone we managed to sneak in a couple more shots.
All in all a grand adventure and as usual a great pleasure working with Ivory Flame, if you haven’t worked with her before then you need to ask yourself why not, give yourself a darned good talking to and get with the beat!
If you’re interested in attending a Portrait or an Art Nude workshop then let me know.
An experimental shoot with Amber, playing around with gender based clothes and ideas. Basically we dove into the studio with casual ideas and started playing about with tomboy themes and we moved on from there, not so much androgynistic but just mixing ideas around for interesting results using men’s clothes, women’s clothes and nudity.
The ideas trying to be conveyed are the grey areas between manly poses with a female body and female poses with a partly mannish look. Even with nudity and partly nude we can convey a gender mix….
Just by adding a little lace or men’s jeans doesn’t really separate the blending of ideas because of the look, the drama and the posing despite being partly or fully nude…..
Now to mix things up a little more and to make life even more confusing we can mix the clothes up to the extent that sexuality can be open to interpretation.
One of the things I really love working on with Amber is the experimental side of things, some things work, well most things do but on the odd occasion they don’t. I think it’s important to recognise that not all ideas will work and to realise that it’s ok that they don’t, experimenting is about discovery, failing, improving and generally playing around. Of course we have fun with it all and always get a jolly good laugh in the process. Then afterwards there’s always coffee and cake!!
December 2018 and its a very mild one so far but still cold enough to run to the warmth of the studio. As an extra I managed to organise a portrait workshop for Dundee Photographic Society at the end of my shoot with Keira. All in all a seven hour shoot for Keira. However on the morning of the shoot I woke up with another idea (as I usually do), I had a notion to do a quick documentary slide show on how to shoot and edit a nude model from start to finish. So I headed down to pick up Keira from the train station, on the way I called her to see if she was ok with doing this idea at the last minute. And Keira being Keira is always up for an adventure and creative shenanigans readily agreed. We took turns at taking pictures of each other in amusing ways and gradually we built enough images for a docu/show. You can see the AV in the 2019 AV section called ‘How to shoot Art Nude’
This blog though is about our regular shoot on that day and the workshop after it, so we pressed on after our usual cuppa tea. Again single lighting to begin with, floor work for the most part,
This image below is the one chosen for the Docu/show called Solitary Grace…..
Moving on to some spotlight lighting for some real dramatic content…..
Some dark edgy dramatic portraits…plenty of darkness…..and hidden things.
After a good break with much talk and even more cups of tea we move onto some clothes and overhead lighting and more spotlight.
And one final nude before the portrait workshop begins…..
Sadly our shoot came to an end all too soon, however the workshop was soon about to start, a quick bite to eat and little run through of the proceedings before attendees appeared. I will only add a couple of images from there because this blog is already very image heavy.
Well I think its fair to say that Keira wow’d everyone on the portrait workshop with her unearthly stamina and energy, and they were bowled over with her modelling ability and posing skills. Everyone seemed to love their time and I think they got some stunning images as well as some insights and lessons on the hows and whys of studio work, plus and importantly, how much a professional model can add to an idea or theme.
I think everyone should have the Keira experience, highly recommended to all.
Well into October and it was studio time with Rachelle Summers. By this time I’m still on a shapes and single light project, and I still had some ideas left to try. These took a long time to set up but the results were well worth the time taken. Rachelle did fantastically well at the awkward posing angles. We started off slow and deliberate, warming up into more demanding posing and shapes.
Moving on to the pearl skirt for some movement and drama…..
The some clothed and lingerie images on the table, outfits from Nix Brown….
Then finally some 3/4 length portraits using horizontal clam shell lighting….using bits and bobs from a recent vintage clothes fare
Rachelle and I have worked together on many occasions and this is probably our 14th shoot, or maybe more. In this shoot we really did take more time than usual getting angles right and the lighting just so, it was more demanding on both of us, more so for Rachelle as some of the poses were really quite strenuous to hold. Getting the lighting right before Rachelle got too tuckered out was also quite pressuring, many breaks were needed for both of us. In the end it was well worth the effort and we still had time left for ad hoc and experimentation in our final hour of the shoot.
Considering we have worked together so often we can still knock out some creative work and there seems to be no shortage of ideas on both our parts. Top class model, highly recommended.