Following the launch of our new studio facility with Megan on Monday, the team (we need a name!) were now ready to start accepting our first models that would be using our services for real. We’ve decided to offer models our sessions for free up until Christmas, as we develop and refine our technique and facilities to ensure that every model receives a high quality and enjoyable experience.
As I mentioned last time, our programme is aimed principally at new models with little or no experience, as they find it more difficult to obtain shoots with reputable photographers and therefore establish a portfolio. We’ve set out to establish a warm, friendly, safe environment and aim to create a good rapport with whoever attends our sessions. The shoot proceeds at their pace with as many outfit changes as they want so that each model receives a good selection of portfolio pictures. Evening shoots last around 2 – 3 hours in the studio; Sunday sessions take longer as we also go outdoors into the surrounding countryside for some location work. Models then receive a full CD of images from the shoot, so it’s a comprehensive package.
It all sounds great in theory, but would it work in reality? Well, Kat from Grantham was the first to find out on Wednesday evening. She attended with chaperone Alex, and over introductions and coffee we soon established just the sort of friendly atmosphere we were after. Sian took Kat off for the initial make-up session, leaving me free to set up the camera and run through last minute checks with Spike.
The session began with a simple and natural set using a director’s chair; this was to establish a nice, steady relaxed pace to the shoot and an opportunity to get to know each other and see how we worked together. As always, there was plenty of banter from Sian, which really helped break the ice; everyone was comfortable and we were off to a flying start. This was Kat’s third shoot in total, yet from her relaxed poses and lovely facial expressions you’d think she’d been doing it for much longer. We used a couple of basic props to add interest, including eating a chocolate. This shot had to work first time because Sian only had two Munchies left and obviously one of those had my name on it...
It was soon time for an outfit change and some more creative modelling. Kat’s favoured style is slightly gothic and she’d brought a wonderful wardrobe selection with her. Choosing a corset style red lacy dress, we went for a more dramatic look. One feature that I loved about Kat was her long hair. Naturally dark, she has tinted it with a pleasing autumnal reddish hue that worked very well in the light and really brought out the richness of the colouring.
Because Kat was clearly at ease with posing, Sian suggested trying some of the grotesque broken doll genre that we tried recently. These give a model an opportunity to become a character and take on a new personality. Sian modified the make up and went to town mussing up Kat’s hair; then with the addition of some simple props and wonderfully dark and fierce facial expressions we got some fantastic images. Kat got into her new role with enthusiasm, producing some awesome scenes with a riding crop and a stiletto. She has expressive eyes, a feature I love in a model, and fixed the camera with an eerie and haunting glare. Finally, to make use of Kat’s long tresses, I switched on the fan and went for some lovely windy images with her hair flying around. I’ve always wanted to do this, and now I have. I’m happy. Maybe it’s just me, but many of Kat’s portrait shots remind me of Kate Bush from the Wuthering Heights era.
The mood then changed to try out our light-and-dark techniques. These always look good and can be very effective as we use a soft ambient light for dramatic portraits, plus Spike’s lightning strike effect, which is a trade secret. I can tell you, but then I’d have to eat you. And bearing in mind that the Munchies have run out, be afraid.
Following a break for coffee we reassembled for the final set, which is general portfolio work with our whiteout set. For these we use simple props for Kat to play with, bright lighting to bring out all her features and I couldn’t resist switching the fan back on again. This was a very poised and elegant set, with Kat looking fantastic in another black and lacy number with the addition of red and black socks. Her most striking portraits came from this session, indeed some of the best portraits that I’ve ever taken, which is particularly pleasing.
Before we all knew it, the time had reached 11pm and it was time to call it a day. Everyone had enjoyed the evening and early results on the computer look good. I’m pleased with the overall quality of the photos and have found several quite iconic shots that I just love.
Kat is a great person to work with; she's happy to try new things and put lots of energy into making the shoot come alive. She is most definitely someone that we’d like to work with again, hopefully on one of our more ambitious outdoor escapades. Her chaperone, Alex, was easygoing and pleasant to have around. He was interested in what was going on and chatty throughout the shoot; we try to keep chaperones happy as it can be a long job sitting watching someone else get photographed!
As for us (we really do need a name), we felt that the whole session was fun, welcoming and relaxed. It is great for us when a model tells us they enjoyed the whole experience as that is the point of the exercise, and so we’re looking forward to the next shoot on 14 November – this will be our first daytime session, so all being well will include location work as well.
Model: Kat (Mistress Nightshade)
Photographer: Martin Vos
Location: Nepenthe Studios
Photos from this set will appear in the MVP galleries once editing is complete.