I’ve read many, many magazine articles and books about photographic techniques and styles. Some of them, those that caught my eye, I’ve read again because I have a passion for photography. I love it, to the detriment of a few things, not least my private life, housework and eating properly. That’s the way it goes; my house is reasonably tidy and I’ve grown accustomed to gaining weight at a steady rate because of all the rubbish I eat, and who needs a private life anyway. Private lives cause problems and problems should be avoided. Anyway, back to the subject matter.
Reading and the accumulation of knowledge gained from that is great, but there comes a time when you’ve simply got to apply that learning. That means swallowing hard, getting your head down and being prepared to make mistakes however painful and costly they might be. That’s why days such as the last Andrew Appleton Portfolio Builder Day I went to make perfect sense to attend. Every attendee gets the opportunity to work with four great models in the style you choose, subject to the model’s own levels. Experiments can be made, tweaked if necessary and advice sought from other photographers so you can get that killer shot that you want.
Saturday 7th June found me at WindmillArt, the studio owned and run by Conrad Webb, to take part in Andrew Appleton’s Portfolio Builder Day 3. At the start of the day the weather was a little gloomy, but the atmosphere at the venue was the complete opposite. A full compliment of photographers were going to shoot four models, Zara Watson, Vicky B, Charli Meredith and Romanie Smith over seven hours in a fantastic location. What could be better? Not only that, we also had the chance to shoot with a Hasselblad if we wanted.
The group I was in consisted of three photographers, Tim Steele, Darren Skidmore and me, and the first model for us was Romanie Smith. I had never worked with Romanie before so didn’t know what to expect, but we quickly agreed on the the style of the shoot and set about it. The weather was still poor at this point, but Tim had brought a multi-coloured umbrella with him that we could use as a prop so we got ourselves outside and started shooting. I’ve got a number of shots using that umbrella, but this shot shows Romanie in her orange dress against a nicely textured brick wall. The rain had eased off by the time this shot was taken, and I think the dress contrasts well against the wall.
The second model for our group was someone I had worked with before and that was Vicky B. I had the pleasure of shooting with Vicky at another event organised by Conrad and and I was keen to do some more stuff with her. The increasingly good weather meant that we were able to do two sets, one outside in the varied and beautiful grounds and the other set indoors. The outdoor set was to be a portrait and fashion styled shoot and the indoor work was an edgy art nude and erotic set. The image shown here is from the outdoor set, chosen because I want this post to be available to the widest possible audience! I will post links to the other set soon.
The grounds at WindmillArt have little features dotted everywhere that can be used to add to shots. The stone bench was perfect for this shot, although I did feel a bit guilty about asking Vicky to sit on the moss that covered the stone. Ruining the model’s dress is never a good idea, but I’m glad to say that Vicky wasn’t worried about it at all!
The third model of the day was Charli Meredith. Like Romanie, I had never worked with Charli before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. She was completely charming throughout the shoot which we decided to do in a mainly portrait style. We were able to utilise a number of features in the garden, including one of the many stone statues that can be found just about anywhere! I particularly liked the head and shoulder shots I took of Charli, but I’ve decided to show her here in a full length shot using on of those many stone figures.
The final model was Zara Watson. I’ve worked briefly with Zara before on one of Andrew’s workshops and I was pleased that she was modelling on this portfolio builder day. Zara wasn’t in the best of health on the day, but you would never know that from the shots they everyone got, and she soldiered on for the full seven hours when it could have been so easy for her to call it quits. That’s the sign of a true professional and I know that all of the photographers who went to the event were impressed with her attitude and commitment.
The shot I’ve chosen for this blog is one of my favourites. When I’m shooting indoors I like to keep backgrounds simple and uncomplicated. I don’t like shots to look too busy, I like to have just enough in the shot to support the model who should be the main focus of the image. I think this one works.
That was the shoot, seven hours in total but over far too quickly.
So what about the sharing thing then? Well, the shoot was all about sharing. The photographers got the models time, expertise and knowledge that was essential. For me, good collaboration between the model and photographer is very important. The photographers shared their own knowledge and expertise amongst themselves, which in turn allowed new techniques to be explored and used. The two Andrews, Appleton and Griffiths, were on hand to share their experience too, as was Conrad. The whole day was about sharing, providing food for thought and an increase in knowledge. That’s got to be the recipe for a good day.