The brief was a fashion shoot in the style of Film Noir. Black and white, moody, dark. A night shoot on location most probably.
Night shoots are thrilling because it always feels a bit different, a tiny bit dangerous. You never know what might happen and who might turn up. Add to that the technical challenges of lighting with no power points and it really gets the creative juices flowing.
Lead time was about 8 weeks which is about as good as it gets in my experience – there is a lot of planning. During this time I have to cast for models, select my creative team, settle on a shooting style and plan each shot in meticulous detail. For anybody out there who has ambitions to take on any similar shoots I can not emphasise how important it is to be organised. It is one thing to be creative but if I don’t hit the mark the client will not hire me again. As it happens I did plan this one thoroughly and it still could have gone horribly wrong. Best laid plans of mice and men etc…..
We’d booked a female model from London and Neil Ovenell who’s based in Notts. On the morning of the shoot I received an email from the female model asking me if I’d received a text, voicemail and email from the previous day saying that she was feeling rather poorly and probably wouldn’t be able to make our shoot. Of course I hadn’t received any such communication. A huge slice of bad luck with communications? or a flakey model? – you decide.
Anyway I didn’t care at that stage as blind panic was close at hand. 4 hours until I start one of the biggest shoots of the year and I was without a female model. Luckily for me I couldn’t actually fall apart because I was in the middle of a another shoot that morning, incidentally with Neil. And the professional in me will not let me fall apart in the middle of a shoot.
After the morning shoot, in amongst hand wringing and spinning on the spot, I spied Neil casually sprawled over the studio sofa texting away. Don’t you care?! What am I going to do!? What am I going to do?! WHATAMIGOINGTODO!?! And why are you just sitting there?!?!!?
Neil looks up at me and smiles.
Why don’t you get on Facebook/Twitter and put out an emergency casting?
Yes! Yes! Good idea! says I. Can’t you do the same?
Already have, says he. Just waiting for responses.
So I did, and waited. And waited…This was getting desperate. 1pm and still no female model. And Neil just sits there. All relaxed and chilled.
Then he looks up from his phone and smiles. Daniella can do it, the girl from a shoot we did together a couple of years ago.
Neil, I love you!!!!!
Honestly I could have kissed him. But honestly I did not.
Do you believe in fate? Because as it turns out, Daniella was a perfect fit for this shoot. Look at the photos and there is no denying it.
When she turned up I could have honestly kissed her. And I did. On the cheek. Honestly.
I love my job and to be able to do what I do is a gift. But as this tale proves it is not all plain sailing. As a photographer you lead the line. Most of the ‘glory’ from a successful shoot is yours. However you are ultimately responsible for everything. If somebody else organised, strategised, did all the paperwork – basically took away all my stress, I’d be on easy street. But life’s just not like that.
Still want to be a fashion photographer? ;0)
Techniques I can pass on to you
On a more technical note I am very excited about this shoot. To create the Film Noir feel we used a smoke machine and some improvised props like the blinds. Techniques I plan to pass on in the upcoming Halloween and Contemporary Glamour Workshops. The really exciting stuff though was how we lit the street scenes and in front of the Council building in Nottingham. We couldn’t bring out a generator because we probably would have been removed by security and portable studio lights are exorbitantly priced. So we ended up using off-camera speedlites. Amazingly versatile and powerful, I had every confidence that I could achieve the look with these units and as you can see they did not let me down. I will be showing how to use those techniques at the Off-Camera Speedlite Workshop.
Keep taking photos!