Upsetting Models

General

As another shoot passes in an attempt to keep my Lyric Project moving forward I am left feeling a little concerned I may have permanently scarred my lovely and ace model for the day!

Allow me to explain further. My idea was to shoot two lyrics from the same song. The Script’s “The End Where I Begin”. The two lines – “Sometimes tears say all there is to say” and “Sometimes we’ve no choice but to walk away”. The song itself is one that describes love and the after effects of it going wrong. Most of us have been there at some point. The song itself really has a positive message in that our hearts heal but our hearts get ‘scarred’ and we should learn from ‘our mistakes’ in the future.

The two lines I selected are to me the most poignant. As a talker, it’s good sometimes to realise that actions and reactions are always much more powerful. “Sometimes tears say all there is to say” speaks for itself. When love is over, we can analyse, talk, plead, beg but in reality, nearly always, its best to cry, the action says it all. The ‘walking away’ line also resonates with me. Again, its so simple yet so true. However, I particularly like the reference to choice. Often it isn’t what we want at the time and we try to prolong a relationship, flog a dead horse but at the end, despite what we may in our heart want, our head tells us to walk. Just go.

As always, the simplest of good lines can mean so much. So clever and yet so thought provoking and hurtful at the time.

I put out a casting call for a model that could cry. Erin came forward and told me she was an actress and could perform the task. We arranged the formalities and I picked her up from the station. I wanted a typical setting for the shots and decided my street would do perfectly. My thinking was that often these things (relationship splits) become more public than we want them to in our desperate time so I felt outdoors and in a ‘typical’ street would suit the shots nicely.

We spent a bit of time getting to know each other and discussing the song and the shoot requirements. When it came to it, I left the room and let Erin prepare herself. After a few minutes we walked the short distance up to the location not saying a word and me hearing the odd snuffle from Erin behind. I fired off the shots. Poor Erin stood for about 10 minutes crying. Sniffling, lip quivering and clearly upset. My instincts were to tell her how well she was doing but I didn’t want to break her spell so I shut up. In the end, I felt so sorry for her I told her that I just wanted to give her a hug and couldn’t keep it going any longer. I had about 60 shots, various angles, close up, further away, above, below etc and felt we had enough.

We took a break and reviewed what we had. I felt quite cruel and secretly was quite glad it was over.

The rest of the shoot was fun, happy and hopefully made up for misery I had put Erin through in the first half. I even got to be in the shots (albeit out of focus) and managed to do a bit of acting myself! Erin had to expertly walk away from me, not too difficult a task obviously given what I had just put her through!

Amazing Erin claims to be happy to work with me again so hopefully I haven’t scarred her too much this time….

The end where I begin

The end where I begin

All images © Squash Imagery, Ellis Imagery Ltd

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Anastasia

General, Photographs

As part of my ongoing and forever lasting photographic ‘Lyrics Project’, where I take images representing lyrics that have been important to me, I undertook this photo shoot. The lyric in this regard was “Anastasia Screamed In Vain” from the Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil”. I am not a huge Stones fan but think this track is amazing and was big for me way back when.

Anyway, to me, (and this is all that matters really) the lyric refers briefly to Anastasia Nikolaevich (Romanov) of the Russian Royal Family who along with the rest of her family was ordered to the basement of their exiled home and executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Not a cheery story but Anastasia subsequently became a bit of a legend:- a) because she was young at 17 and considered beautiful and b) because there was much speculation that she and her younger brother had survived the attack. There were many rumours and women claiming her identity but the whole sorry tale was only finally proven in 2007 when her and her brother’s remains were positively DNA tested.

So, the idea for the shoot was to take a literal approach and twist the tale into a more modern way. I therefore asked the wonderful model Helen Diaz to sit for me and ‘act out’ this somewhat testing assignment.

We shot in an empty room and the processing is deliberate to try to give the image an overall stark but engaging feel. This image isn’t the one finally used (as Helen isn’t screaming) but it is my favourite of the session and to me has a troubling feel to it as a stand alone image. The image used is available to view on my website if you are so inclined http://www.squashimagery.com/_photo_12409463.html

Needless to say, Helen was an absolute pro, is totally mental (no, really) and is gorgeous looking and to work with. No question I will be hoping to work with her again soon (if she’ll have me back)!

Anastasia-0699_tn

Lyrics

Photographs

After what seems like months I have at last been able to progress my Lyrics project a step further. The shoot we recently carried out for Seagull Guitars involved a very lovely model called Artemis. I noticed how natural she was in the commercial shoot and asked her at the end of that if she would be happy modelling for my project.

Of course, she leapt at the chance to work with such a great and inspirational photographer(!!) again and so I was left to ponder what lyric from my list we should do.

I had for some time had my eye on my buddy’s studio, well more importantly, the bedroom above it, for a particular shot I had been thinking about. However, I felt it would be tricky to pull off as it involved some pretty serious make-up skills. After my discussion with Artemis she declared an ability in this particular technique and was very interested in the idea.

For those that don’t know, my project revolves around shooting scenes that have been conjured up mentally over the years whilst listening to some favourite music tracks. Some of these tracks are really well known, others are less so, but all of them have had an influence on my life at some point of time or another. Some of these influences have been positive and others negative. Some of the images I have in my head are literal interpretations of the lyric and others are quite wide of the literal mark. None of this really matters as this is a very personal set of work and one that I hope I will be able to exhibit one day.

This latest edition was the hardest to date as it is taken from the Suzanne Vega song, Luka. The song itself is about child abuse but my interpretation is about partner abuse. My model is female so I guess it is about males abusing females physically. Pretty heavy and emotive stuff and an issue that is a living hell for far too many people across the globe. I do not aim to change anything here, nor am I on any crusade, I am simply displaying my take on the lyric.

The make up was important but only to give the impression of the abuse. I wanted Artemis to portray a beaten woman, but a defiant and resolute one. My heroine is intended to be proud and strong, she will make it through and I wanted to capture signs of hope in the image. I truly hope I have managed to get this across in the final image.

The day of the shoot was interesting for a number of reasons and our journey to Worcester and the excellent studio provided by my great friend and very accomplished Landscape photographer, Ian Thompson of Photophilia, was without hitch but with plenty of conversation. We arrived and set about working the bedroom ‘studio’ to assess exactly what we wanted to achieve.

After make up and wardrobe were ready we started shooting. The look however was proving harder to capture than first hoped. Artemis suggested we ditch the flash heads and use the natural light available (I already know she is a sucker for natural light!) but it was the step we needed to go through. With the lens stopped wide open (f2.8) things started to come together. I used a tripod as we were at slow shutter speeds and the light was perfect as it was bright but not sunny. Using a tripod is slow but that reduction in pace leads to a more considered frame in turn meaning less shots but better quality individual images.

In post I delayed processing for almost a week. I wanted to get in the right mood and feel the image I was trying to create. This may sound a little cheesy but involves getting right into the heart of the song itself and letting the chords and vibe flow through you until you just ‘know’ how you want the image in front of you to look. If you are interested I will let you know how I processed these (technically) but it is nothing too difficult or clever. The important thing to note is that I did want the final image to look slightly devoid of bright colours and to maintain a slightly more gritty feel.

The images below are a couple of the unsuccessful efforts, the final edit will appear on my website in the next day or so. Anyway, I hope you enjoy………Oh, by the way, the lyric in question is “They only hit until you cry”.

Peace.

Quite liked this version but not for the final image, with other things, the 'bruising' is too subtle.

Liked this saturated 70's print style but felt rib cage looked a little odd

Commercial Shoots

General

Its late on Weds the 8th and I have just got back from doing my radio show. Its cool to do, and I keep on getting great and interesting chats and meetings while doing it. It just goes to show that we aren’t on this planet for long and when you are it is worth taking every single opportunity to do as much and to experience as much as you can. Not for any other reason than it just takes and puts you in so many brilliant places! I have just had a chat with the fascinating and obviously brilliant Ian Williams who runs www.itfm.me.uk and whilst chatting he remarks that he has a girl called Gabrielle Aplin on his radio show on Sunday.

So, being on the button, I grab a Gabrielle tune and play it on my show. Well, OMFG! This girl is 18 years old. She is sensational. Absolutely sensational and she lives close by and she writes and sings and plays all her own stuff! Seriously, she is playing Glasto on the acoustic stage this year and if you get a chance, make sure you get along and see her. Visit her website http://gabrielleaplin.co.uk/ and listen, just listen. WOW! 18! Mmmm….. I am going to meet her on Sunday at the Radio Studio where she is playing live after 11am on itfm.

I spent yesterday shooting a small firm of architect’s people and offices. I think the shoot went really well but the truth will out tomorrow morning when I meet the Agency to show them the proofs! I quickly converted them to B&W (which is how they want the web images) and did little else with them so I hope they are as required! It was a challenging shoot as the space (the offices) were quite compact and difficult to get the angles as required. Still, I am sure the agency will have more than enough to choose from! Overall the shoot took about 2 hours and the clients were very accommodating and patient, as a ‘tog with ideas can be a bit tedious to the subjects as we all know!

Today was spent doing further research on the business project and then processing some of the wicked and thrilling Claire Richardson shots. So little time and so much processing to do. I wish there were more hours in the day! I would so love to get so much more processing done but it takes soooo much time.

Some great news though! I got my hard drive back, fully recovered and fully bloody expensive! Feck! (Note to self, NEVER let this happen again!) It is a relief to have ALL my work back with me but soooo scary to make sure that all projects are backed up twice at all times!

Talking of projects, I want so much to move my lyrics project forward so that I can put an exhib together soon! Need to find more models as the last two from MM didn’t respond which is a shame ‘cos they were perfect. Below is a reminder of what it is about and a chance to show a gratuitous naked woman shot! The beautiful Anita de Bauche, nude, doing the famous Travis lyric “I’m being held up by invisible men”.

Oh well, keep pluggin’ on!

X

Anita De Bauche

For the lyric project, this is, "I'm being held up by invisible men"

Frustrating Mondays

General

Are Mondays always as frustrating as they are often made out to be? Well if this one is anything to go by then yes they are! After a brilliant week last week, today has been an anti-climax.

I was telephoned on Sunday by Huw from The Old Rectory where I was due to visit and take some images. However, due to an almost hurricane force wind and the prospect of torrential rain, we decided to postpone the session by 24 hours. I was called again this morning to be told that our friends at the Met Office were not forecasting anything brighter on Tuesday and that the trip should be further postponed until better weather was more likely to be forthcoming. Annoying for all of us as the exterior of the Rectory and the grounds themselves were looking amazing before the storm. We will get the job done but it would have been good to make the most of the great weather we had been having and the beautiful springtime gardens. Never mind, we shall return very soon.

I don’t know if I mentioned that on Friday I realised my fantastic file storage system had let me down big time. My Western Digital external hard drive was appearing as “not recognised by this computer” (my iMac) having previously been recognised for months with no issues. Upon many hours of internet trawling I realised that not only was this a fairly common problem for Western Digital external hard drives but also that it was likely to be fairly serious, potentially resulting in lost data! Now, this kind of thing has never happened to me before and I must say I do a fairly good job of backing up most files and images especially given the important nature of some of my work. However, upon further investigation, I realise that my system of backing up was not flawless and I have indeed several months of images that exist ONLY on this damn drive. Well, today (Monday take note), I telephoned the computer shop where I took the drive to be ‘repaired’ (saved more like) to be told that they had ripped it out of its housing and plugged it into a PC whereupon they had been asked to format the drive. The good news is that the PC recognised it and asked the question, the bad news is, they don’t have a Mac there to test it out on. So, I popped over and gave them my little MacBook Pro to test it on, with the promise they would call me later. Yep, you guessed it. They didn’t call me! So, I am still none the wiser re the hard drive and its contents.

Frustrating? You bet.

However, on the upside, we received confirmation that we are indeed invited to attend the Take That ‘pre’ show that takes place at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland the day before the official Progress tour begins. We will be one of only a few hundred privileged enough to see the show before anyone else and we will be asked to sign confidentiality agreements and to hand in ALL equipment that is able to record either visual or audio data. That means no photographs. The upside is that we hope to meet the people that know these things and manage to get a pass to at least one of the big stadium shows and snap away in the ‘pit’ along with no doubt countless other people for the Godin project. I will also take some kit just in case we get a chance after the gig to seek out our main man. To say we are pretty excited is an understatement and the only thing that could possibly stop us is some kind of Icelandic volcanic ash preventing our flight from landing at Newcastle airport the morning of the gig! Haha….wait a minute, have you seen the news today? OMG! Oh yeah, I forgot, it is Monday…

Oh well, I will post a gratuitous image of a lovely lady taken for my ‘Lyrics Project’ to cheer me up!

Voyeur Nude

Voyeuristic Nude

Ups & Downs

General

Well its the weekend after a rather up and down week. Running your own business has some interesting crests and falls along the way and after twelve months things seem to be going well. It doesn’t stop the odd ‘quiet’ period from getting under the skin and making you wonder whether things are going to be ok again! They will be and a day later and a couple of productive meetings and things take on a different perspective and the world is the right way up again. We have decided to have a month of portrait ‘special’ offers and will advertise locally to promote it just to keep the wheels turning in the positive. I do enjoy these sessions hugely anyway and they always throw up interesting challenges and exciting opportunities.

The other exciting news is that we may well be basing ourselves in a different place in the near future that will offer more room and more opportunity for expansion including the desirable chance of a bigger studio. The ideal location would also see us being smack in the middle of a small creative site largely occupied by marketing and creative agencies. Interesting times ahead indeed!

I have also decided to add to my ‘lyrics’ project by photographing another in the series and have made enquiries about one of my more interesting and challenging ideas! I do however need a good MUA and will be sourcing one over the next few days. Keep a watch out for this next instalment. The project itself has stalled a bit lately due mainly to the increased recent work flow but I should keep pushing forward with it.

We went out last night to a gig at The Fleece in Bristol to see Wilko Johnson. Now, that guy and Norman Watt-Roy are totally amazing. I last saw them in Weymouth probably around 1982 in a dingy basement and remember being totally blown away by both the incredible sounds Wilko manages to get from a guitar but also by his and Norman’s manic stage presence. I am glad to say that their incredible blend of rock and attitude has not left them and they totally blew me away again nearly 30 years later!

We have now seen some rain at last in this sunny area of Wiltshire and I really hope we get to see some more spectacular thunderstorms. Who knows, we may even get the chance to photograph some…keep watching, you never know.