That’s me, the girl reclining on a fallen tree trunk somewhere in London. I’m being photographed by a man who has taken hundreds of stunning pictures of stunning women in stunning places.
How in the name of pigs might fly does this image exist? Well, Ladies and gents Please observe exhibit A (drum roll….)
Private message from exposure studios London: “Would you be interested in shooting with us? We promise the only “macs” we have are computers and we have no interest in unicorns :)”
With a mouth full of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting I stare down at my glowing phone screen, Oooh, I know what this is, it’s a response to my ‘to answer a few questions blog’ (tap dancing!! I’m tap dancing inside!!)
I feel like someone has leaped out of my phone and yelled “BOO!” I’m stunned and don’t quite believe it. I read the message several times and squint at the avi before clicking on it, this could be a prank I warm myself wearing my trade mark frown. But the twitter page looks grand as does their Facebook page, Oooh the photographers name is David Long, there is a picture of him with his wife… Off I virtually trot to stalk everyone who has ever posted on this mans page…. Please make tea, this will take some time.
Returning from my voyeuristic journey I am greeted with another message from David giving me his details and suggesting I ‘check him out’ Ha, dear sir if you only knew, I practically have a list of what you ate for breakfast!
On researching I discovered this isn’t an unusual process in the photography industry. Photographers tend to ask people to help them out in return for prints it’s called TFP (time for prints) this goes hand in hand with MUA (make up artists) hair stylists, set designers, clothes stylists even down to assistants who are looking for more experience.
Mr photographer then asked me for some selfies, Oh pooh! The doubting Thomas on my shoulder begins yelling “See Violet, This is where he changes his mind.”
Of course I instagrammed it!
Bravery triumphed again, David was encouraging and said ‘I initially offered portraits as I hadn’t seen your face properly, but you have a great bone structure and a strong look, I think we could try a lot more, why don’t you take part in my casting call (in just over a weeks time) if its not too intimidating.” Error, does not compute! kept flashing through my brain, could this really be happening? Girls crave this opportunity. Some people desperately want to model as a life skill and would happily tread over glass mountains in iron boots for such an opportunity. I had to say yes and I needed to do so with grace .
Abandoning my delicious cake on the arm of my sofa I dashed upstairs to begin pouting in the bathroom mirror. I mimicked the things I had seen on TV, you know the kind of thing where the model ‘en vogue’s’ it whilst the photographer energetically leaps around clicky happy, his camera flash akin to a 90’s rave strobe light.
For the next ten days I led an amazingly healthy life style of vitamin packed foods and litres of crystal water and green tea. I didn’t touch wine or chocolate (Almost). I wanted to be drop two sizes, grow several inches taller and have flawless peachy skin and I wanted all of this overnight.
I almost crashed Google finding everything in existence on how to ‘model’ I was desperate to do a good job. I researched and rehearsed fashion make up learning about contouring and highlighting in case the MUA didn’t show. I raided my attic and the high street for clothes in case the stylist didn’t have anything to fit me. I took a mirror in to work and planted it on my desk becoming the vainest secretary in Manchester. I practised squinting into it between phone calls and sending emails. Every car journey involved my flipping the sun visor down to have a smoulder into the small rectangular mirror. My hands were constantly on my hips, fingers loose, tummy pulled in, I couldn’t get good posture off the brain. Eventually I wasn’t able to sit or stand anywhere without thinking how it might look on a shoot.
I booked my hotel and arranged babysitters, planned my outfits and packed a ‘models bag’ which contained things such as nude and black underwear I opted for a strapless nude bar. wet wipes, water, a snack, make up, hair grips and a mountain of other unnecessary items I had panic packed.
I arrived at the the studio in Brentwood 30 minutes late due to roadworks, but David still had a big smile and hug to match to greet me. As I followed him into the studio to greet everyone I smacked my goofy head off the door ,well, first impressions are everything after all.
I was introduced to the first MUA who put me at ease, she was very friendly and laid back. I put my intense make up training to good use as we talked about make up brushes and products.
There were two other models working that day, they happily wandered around in their pants whilst I preserved my modesty behind a screen. David had told me he would give me direction and tell me exactly what to do so I concentrated on relaxing in order to help disguise my nerves.
Being in front of the camera isn’t too scary, it’s the not knowing what to do with yourself. Luckily I had the support of the MUA and the stylist who were shouting encouragement and tips. I could also gage from David’s response if something was good as his “yeah that’s good” changed to “YES! THAT’S IT!”
Firstly I was wearing a full length blue skirt with two long splits in the front and bold yellow tights, the idea was to show the contrast of colours by getting lots of movement into the skirt. unfortunately there was a lot of static between the two fabrics and they tended to stick and twist around my legs. I did think of suggesting using one of the chairs as a prop so I could sit and position myself in a way to show off the outfit , but opted to stay stumm as I was the novice in the room and still only just peaking out of my shell. We then did some portraits and I had to pretend to almost kiss a girl, which isn’t’ as awkward as it sounds, it was just a procedure on the set list, I honestly didn’t give it a second thought (I know!).
We three models then formed an orderly queue ready and willing to have bright multicoloured holi powder thrown at us, this was the part I was really looking forward to. The powder was quite heavy and didn’t quite work as expected but some of the tones and effects on our skin was just beautiful. We then shot individually again as we rubbed the powder over our white clothes to blur and blend the colours together.
Blend, blend and blend…
Two professionals and an amateur.
After being wiped down in my bra and pants by a lady I had never met before who was armed with a pack of wet wipes, we all helped to scrabble around and clean up. David kindly let me flick through his camera before agreeing to meet the next morning at a park near his home to take some shots during ’magic hour’ ( that’s sunrise to us.)The evenings temperature had dropped by now and the holi powder was causing my scalp to itch, so we said good night and I headed back to the hotel for a swim and lots of hot food.
I was up giddy, bright and early to put in to practice my newly acquired MUA skills, in the tiny hotel bathroom before slipping into an all black outfit. I thought best to go classic, surely that couldn’t fail. Then off we popped to Holloway for a jolly Sunday frolic in a leafy park. Both David and I were aware time was tight , I needed to head home and David had a prior engagement. Surprisingly I wasn’t distracted or put off by onlookers as they seem equally uninterested in us. I didn’t feel the cold either as I lay on a fallen tree trunk, I was having far too much fun.
On reflection of my time down south, I’m still quite dumb struck I took part, or that I was offered the chance for that matter! Although I could give myself a good old kick in the shin for not taking control of myself a little more, that self doubt is still there, boo hiss! But alas I was a charlatan model for the day and I’d do it again in a heart beat.
I am proud as punch with the above, six months ago
this was an impossibility. I never, ever would have agreed to take part in something like this. But six months ago my self confidence had the upper hand.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zphAHMPtu4g (because it took three rinse and repeats to remove the rainbow from my hair).