In any art, it’s important to remember to play. If you don’t play, you’re just working all the time, and that’s never good.
It had been a long time since I’d shot any fashion work. Sure, I’d shot something that almost approached fashion with Deja in Austin last October, but I hadn’t done a full-team shoot in quite a long time. So what are you to do in those situations? Put up a casting call and find a studio, of course!
The team fell into place almost immediately: my frequent partner-in-crime and most Scottish friend Lynn Docherty signed on as makeup artist for the day, and after a significant amount of searching I found the excellent Claudia Oliver of Falcieri Designs to act as sylist, providing outfits all of her own making for every single look.
Models would be slightly more difficult. I’d decided that I wanted to work with agency faces, which immediately limits the pool of available talent. There are several agencies in Manchester, so I reached out to one of the smaller ones and asked if they had any new faces available for testing. “Sure,” they said, and we agreed on a couple of models. And that should have been that. Turns out, things don’t always go smoothly in this kind of gig.
Meanwhile, after a lot of searching around (chuck a stone in Manchester and you’ll find a photo studio; you have to have quite a good aim to find one that’s properly fun to work in, though), I’d found the studio I wanted to work in: #22Redbank, an under-the-railway-arch studio and café-bar in the city’s Green Quarter. It’s a cool venue: the studio is downstairs, with a large infinity cove and several monoblocs (can’t remember the brand, but they took Bowens mods, so I was well set on that score). There’s a changing / makeup area too. There was even a long boom-arm. This too would eventually fall into the category of things that don’t always go smoothly.
The brief that I’d sent Claudia was fairly loose — I wanted it to be as much about her being able to bring her creativity into the studio as it was about me shooting whatever came into my head. I did throw out some ideas:
Anyway, things that are in my mind at the moment: Spring and summer; Bohemian / hippy looks;
Dresses — floaty and ethereal rather than figure hugging. Denim is also cool, and coming back.
The selection that she came back with was beautiful and hit everything that I’d been thinking (as you’ll see shortly). But of course, there were a couple of things that didn’t quite work out.
Firstly, the models. About a week out from the shoot, when I called to confirm with the agency, I was told that oh, sorry, those two models are booked with someone else that day. Such things happen in this industry, so instead of getting angry, I just stepped into plan B: panic.
Now, it should be said that I don’t have a huge contact list of booking agents. I tend to book models on an ad-hoc basis, so I don’t cultivate those relationships as much as I probably ought. Nevertheless, I gave Nemesis Models a call — purely because their office was physically closest to where I was that day, and I could run my print book over to them if needs be.
Luckily, my cry of “help me make this shoot happen, please!” didn’t fall on deaf ears, and Nemesis booking agent Shaunna helped me find two excellent models: Cerys and Victoria. Without them (and Shaunna) I would have been scuppered, so I’m eternally grateful. Both Cerys and Victoria are talented, hard working, and great fun to be around, and I really hope to shoot with them again some time.
The boom arm, on the other hand, was fine until I came to rearrange the lighting scheme a bit. As I adjusted it it sheared right around the grip head with a sound like a rifle going off. Bits of shattered metal pinged off into dark recesses, and it was only pure luck that I managed to catch the remains of the arm and prevent the head smashing onto the studio floor.
I’m glad to say that that wasn’t my fault, just a weakness in the boom, and I was able to catch the light, so no harm done. Still, it was trouser-threatening for a moment — I couldn’t help thinking about what would have happened if one of my team had been under there.
But that out of the way, and with lights placed on good old-fashioned stands, we shot on, and made images that I’m pretty proud of.
Here’s a selection. You can see the rest on 500px.