Today, or to be more precise - yesterday, I had a good day!
I've put off updating this blog for some weeks now because it was to part of my website reconstruction (a big thank you to Bonnie Cullen) and also because I was so busy and didn't want to dash something off just for the sake of putting words here.
Early morning saw me up at 5am-ish. Takes me a while to get up and even longer to wake up. It takes 2 hours and a bit for me to approach human status where I won't take your head off. :-)
Visited my new Urologist in Beaumont - a long story that would bore you and gross you out at the same. Suffice it to say that everything is working pretty well and there will be a few (unreported) tests in the coming weeks to verify that status. The reason I mention him at all is that my experience of consultants (and I've had a few in the last 20 years) have been quite negative for the most part. This morning was an exception. Friendly, courteous, not patronising, helpful, educational. So the day bode well.
My next event for the day was a photoshoot with a girl called Ivory Flame (real name Holly) who is just exquisite. Her name describes her perfectly. Red hair and alabaster (perfect) skin. Holly is a very experienced art nude model from the UK who is very aware of how lighting works and how her body works with the lighting and camera. I had photographed her once before at a workshop and was bowled over by how relaxed she was with 6(?) guys in the studio with her and how pleasant and friendly she was, on top of how she seemed to defy physics (including gravity) with her poses.
She had sent me an e-mail letting me know she was coming over to Ireland for the week and I jumped at the chance to book her for a 4 hour session in the Dublin Camera Club. I was not the only one!
I had also had a chat with my friend Lily and asked her to come with a special makeup for Holly.
Did the session go well? I don't know if most photographers have days where the images in their heads refuse to translate into images in their cameras and studio flashes seem to produce results that are completely foreign to what they had expected. It seemed that was happening to me. I persevered on a few shots and stopped altogether on others because they weren't working and I didn't want to get frustrated and have it affect Holly.
The amazing thing was that Holly actually guided me on a number of occasions into getting the best shots of the day. This should be one of the reasons any photographer who is considering art nude shots should get a professional because, like the ad says on TV, they're worth it.
Lily did an amazing job on the special makeup. I'm amazed at innovative she is and a lot of other virtues that I won't mention here 'cos she will be embarassed and then not talk to me. I'll stop now before I start gushing.
The shoot ended with me having several serviceable shots for the future competitions in the club and my portfolio. Happy chappy.
The last part of the evening was somewhat special as well.
I had been asked on a few occasions by members of the club if they could sit on one of my art nude sessions. Afraid not. They asked about workshops. Thought about it, discussed it and said no. I wasn't trying to keep secrets but it seemed to me (and another member in the club) that an art nude shoot was 80% about the model and 20% about the photography. Unlike portrait photography there are no defined lighting setups (that I know of) and it's a question of deciding what your want and figuring it out. Also, you don't just take a girl, professional or amateur, and plonk them in a studio, tell them to strip and shoot away with a camera. You will just record a naked model. If that's your bag then you're set but you will become know as the "guy with the camera" not a photographer.
You need to do your homework. Choose the model to suit what you want to do. Approach the model (usually via email) and ask if she works with amateurs, where she is located, is she available, what her rates or conditions are, etc., etc. There can be pre-shoot meeting where you can show her the types of shots you want to do and she can show you her work and both can discuss what's on and not on.
Communication is important. The day of the shoot has its own protocols and so the list continues.
I felt that the reluctance of a lot of members to organise their own shoots might be down to fear of the unknown. When you think about it, asking a girl who is a relative stranger to take her clothes off in front of you will probably get your face slapped. Nakedness is also associated with sex - strippers, Page 3 girls, etc. Remember the model is putting herself into a vulnerable position and it is the photographer who has to instil confidence in her (or him) that he (or she) is trustworthy and serious.
I had a chat with Sarah Burns who is not only a great model but I like to think is a friend of mine. I wondered if she would give a presentation to the Dublin Camera Club about what it's like to do art nude from a model's perspective. We worked on the skeleton of the presentation together and Sarah created a well thought out presentation and gave a friendly and warm talk to the members who in turn had plenty of questions for her. I was delighted on two counts - I'm hopng more will venture into art nude shoots now that they realise the models are human and they have seen the ptifalls that can befall the careless photographer and that the shoot is normally quite clinical and does not reek of sex!
I was also delighted for Sarah to have a wider audience to see the great standard of work that she does.
Yes, I know. There are no links and no photos. It's late. The adrenaline that was keeping me going has started to fade and I think I might be able to go to bed now and sleep. Links and photos will probably appear over the coming days but don't hold your breath. I still have a lot of work to get through.