FIAP/d1 – Job Done!

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.

A Plea in the Dark – Helen Diaz
An Invocation – Ivory Flame
Attic Life – Amber Castle
Bereft – Ivory Flame
Cancer Survivor – Amber Castle
Dark Angel – Keira Lavelle
Figure Study – Rachelle Summers
Fly with the Wind – Ivory Flame
Gemma in Red Velvet – Gemma Huh
Holding Position – Lilith Etch
How Fragile the Moon – Ivory Flame
How Soft the Heart – Chrissie Red and Artemis Fauna
It was the Smallest of Stings – Rachelle Summers
Portrait o f Talli – Talli Lindsey
Prisonnier de Soi – Stephanie Debois
The Ache Within – Lilith Etch
The Attic – Artemis Fauna
The Darkness of Lilith – Lilith Etch
The Fallen – Rachelle Summers
The Naiads of Assynt – Rachelle Summers, Scarlot Rose, Keira Lavelle
The Shape of Darkness – Rachelle Summers
The Shape of Summer – Rachelle Summers
Through the Secret Door – Helen Diaz
To Sleep, perchance to Dream – Jessica Taylor
Twist – Artemis Fauna
When the Rose Sleeps – Scarlot Rose
While your lips are still Red – Helen Stephens and Keira Lavelle
Witchery – Helen Diaz

And erm…this one which seemed to have sneaked through for an award, really intended as a Nature filler….however…aptly named!

Long Tailed Tit

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!

A Winter Flame

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.

Ivory Flame
Ivory Flame
Ivory Flame
Ivory Flame

Time to narrow down the light for some dark portraits….

Ivory Flame
Ivory Flame
Ivory Flame

And then for something a little Asian in feel…..

Ivory Flame
Ivory Flame

After a quick cuppa and a snack we move on to some clothes and outfits…

Ivory Flame

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.

Ivory Flame

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.

Ivory Flame

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.

Gender Blender – Amber Castle

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….

Amber Castle

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.

Amber Castle – Men will be Men

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!!

Solitary Grace – Keira Lavelle

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…..

Keira Lavelle – Solitary Grace

Moving on to some spotlight lighting for some real dramatic content…..

Keira Lavelle – Braids
Keira Lavelle – Silver
Keira Lavelle

Some dark edgy dramatic portraits…plenty of darkness…..and hidden things.

Keira Lavelle – The Darkness hides many Things
Keira Lavelle – No one will Notice

After a good break with much talk and even more cups of tea we move onto some clothes and overhead lighting and more spotlight.

Keira Lavelle – The Heart of Prayer
Keira Lavelle – Keira on Asia
Keira Lavelle – One Last Perfect Verse

And one final nude before the portrait workshop begins…..

Keira Lavelle – Winter is Coming

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.

Keira Lavelle – Hair Play
Keira Lavelle – The Eye of Keira

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.

Summers in October

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.

Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers – The Shape of Darkness – FIAP Award
Rachelle Summers – The Fallen – FIAP Award
Rachelle Summers – Figure Study
Rachelle Summers – It was the Smallest of Stings – FIAP Award

Moving on to the pearl skirt for some movement and drama…..

Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers – I am the Journey

The some clothed and lingerie images on the table, outfits from Nix Brown….

Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers

Then finally some 3/4 length portraits using horizontal clam shell lighting….using bits and bobs from a recent vintage clothes fare

Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers – Laced
Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers

Rachelle Summers
Rachelle Summers

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.

FIAP blue badge!

So an unexpected result on the first salon of the year, I won a FIAP Blue Badge for best author at Kotor. When I got the results I hadn’t actually noticed, it was only when I downloaded the catalogue in PDF form some weeks later that I spotted it. I have actually won a best author award before but not a FIAP one. Below are the images that were submitted, many thanks to the models who made it possible.

The ‘Woman’ section…

Cancer Survivor – Amber Castle
Fly with Wind – Ivory Flame
Men will be Men – Amber Castle
The Oracle – Artemis Fauna

The ‘Portrait’ Section….

Hold Against the Wind – Ivory Flame
Portrait of Talli – Talli Lindsey
Red Lips Wet Hair – Jessica Taylor

The ‘Nudes’ Section…

A Flame in the Light – Ivory Flame
Attic Life – Amber Castle
The Fallen – Rachelle Summers
The Turn of the Feather – Tillie Feather

The ‘Open Colour’ Section….

Blow Away the Gray – Ivory Flame
I am the Journey – Rachelle Summers
The Lure of the Hedge Witch – Ivory Flame

The ‘Open Mono’ Section…

2000BC – Artemis Fauna
Crevice – Artemis Fauna
Prisonnier de Soi – Stephanie Debois

Anyways, off to a flying start, let’s see what the rest of the year brings!

Lilith Etch

I can’t remember how Lilith and I managed to organise a shoot together, I recall her getting bookings before her West Highland Way hike, anyway I am very glad we did. I also remember it being an evening shoot which is unusual for me, however it was very much a fun shoot with laughs and friendly banter along the way. I picked her up from the station and as I was putting her bags in the boot of the car she went round to the drivers side of the car, as she was from Sweden this would have been the passenger side. I asked if she was driving, she looked confused, looked at the steering wheel then laughed and we swapped places. The whole evening went along in the same jocular and jovial fashion. First some art nude shapes.

Lilith Etch

A little more shapes using the cylinder props…..

Then adding some raggedy clothes to add textures and flow….

Lilith Etch

Some more colour and textures and floor work….

Lilith Etch
Lillith Etch
Lilith Etch

And finally when time was marching on we did some three quarter length shots before packing it in for the night….

I know this blog is more image heavier than normal but there were so many varied images that I felt needed shared, this is indeed a testament to Lilith’s versatility and modelling ability. The time was up on our shoot and yet I felt there was still much left to do, perhaps some other time I hope. Lilith is a lovely person, very much a free spirit grounded in reality and experiencing whatever the world has to offer. It was a delight working with her and I hope everyone takes the opportunity to get the Lilith experience when they can. Highly Recommended.

FIAP at a Crossroads

So it’s been over 2 years since I entered a FIAP salon, this was due to FIAP rules. However my FIAPp distinction should be coming through soon which means I can enter salons again, but what do I aim for? I have 2 paths I can take; I can follow the Diamond levels which means I am no longer listing acceptances but listing awards instead, or do I compile an MFIAP panel. It’s a tricky decision, I have more than enough for a panel but I think I would value the Diamond levels more, even though FIAP say the MFIAP is the pinnacle distinction. I must admit I miss entering salons so maybe I could do both. I’m not sure, perhaps the easiest option is to do both but at a leisurely pace.

I have to say I’ve hated waiting the two year gap, it feels like being in limbo or waiting for a bus that never arrives. Anyways I thought I’d post some random awarded images from the Platinum level…there were 33 of them so I wont post them all. All of them can be found here

Curvaceous, Fredau – PSA Gold

The Cross, Salon Gold – Lulu Lockhart
Rachelle S, DPW Gold, Salon Bronze 4 x HMs – Rachelle Summers
When Angels Sleep, 2nd Prize, Salon HM – Joceline Brooke Hamilton
A Red Diaz, Salon Silver – Helen Diaz
Madame Bink Salon HM
Shelter, GPI HM, CFU Bronze, Salon Gold – Rachelle Summers
Kimono and Ivory, IAP HM – Ivory Flame
Snared, ICM HM – Stephanie Dubois
Red in a Red Hat, Salon HM – Chrissie Red
M Lavelle, Salon Praise -Keira Lavelle

Normally during the EFIAP levels I park an image once it wins an award, I find it more efficient to do this and move on to other images, strategy is important when entering salons otherwise a lot of money could be spent needlessly. However if I am to do the Diamond levels the strategy changes entirely, instead of parking I need to re-use any awarded images because awards are the main focus. Another aspect is that to gain 50 awards per year is a fairly ambitious prospect but not only that, the first year is only 8 month therefore it would take some concerted effort to gain the first level in the first year. Perhaps that’s a good challenge to do before compiling an Mpanel…..if so I’d better get a move on!

Artemis in Shapes and Colour

So in August 2018 the lovely Artemis came round for a shoot, studio stuff this time as last year we did a stonking full day on location at St Cyrus. Artemis arrived as I was struggling with the overhead octobox, lashing it to the wall to try and balance the thing over the studio floor. So after a quick chinwag and a cuppa we set about getting some shots of shapes and shadows.

Artemis Fauna
Artemis Fauna

Then a little colour for good measure…..

Artemis Fauna
Artemis Fauna

Then we used the same light source for these two portraits..

Artemis Fauna

So after a quick cuppa…we changed to the table top and again a single light source from a strip box…

Artemis Fauna

A small of touch of red next I think…..

Artemis Fauna

Then for a complete change we did some clamshell lighting for 3/4 length images…

Artemis Fauna

Then…..I showed Artemis my wife’s gown and she fell in love with it, so much so she asked me to get one for her and post it when she got home….it’s the Stork gown.

Artemis Fauna

Then finally I had this idea for twa lads on the sofa pigging out on beer and snacks! Which we turned into a humorous GIF..

And so ended our shoot together…always a fun time with Artemis, always productive and different…..always looking forward to the next Artemis shoot.

Jessica Taylor

On to Summer of 2018 and Dionne and I booked Jessica Taylor for a shoot, in the studio. As you do in the summer! It was a scorching day and I picked Jessica up from a very busy St Andrews and headed to the studio which was also very hot inside, perfect for some art nude though. First of all we had a cuppa while we waited on Dionne to arrive, cuz after all when its hot you drink hot tea…logical really. Once Dionne arrived we got down to shooting…

Jessica Taylor
Jessica Taylor

Then a quick change into some more lacy stuff….a top Artemis sent me.

Jessica Taylor
Jessica Taylor

A couple more changes….an Ivory Flame dress

Jessica Taylor

A change of lighting for some magazine style shots..

More lighting changes for some floor work, some sheer and lingerie..

Jessica Taylor

Some horizontal clamshell portraits

Then finally some art nude to finish the day off…

Jessica Taylor

And before you know it time was up and Jessica was dying for her meat feast pizza!!, It was a fab shoot, Dionne and I got some amazing shots and I cannot recommend Jessica highly enough, she is a lovely personage, engaging, funny and chatty….if she’s in your area make sure you book her.