Time and Timeliness

Evening! Hope you’re all having splendid bank holiday weekends (if you have those in your country like we do here)!

I just want to write something quite quickly. A blogging interval or ‘thought for the day’, if you will…

I have a tendency to be hard on myself. Various people have pointed this out to me at various times in my life, which is kind of them. I used to be a terrible perfectionist, but have thankfully shaken that off quite well, I think (though I do always have a strong urge to improve things I do as much as I can, where appropriate; but ‘where appropriate’ is, of course, the crucial thing!).

Anyway, I’ve been feeling quite stressed about the level of admin required by this modelling malarky, recently, and so my natural thought pattern declares that there must be something inadequate in my ability to manage my time. But this evening, I took it upon myself to wonder if, actually, I’m really quite good at managing my time (else I wouldn’t be able to be writing a novel, work as a professional model, be learning two languages, be taking music lessons, be reading a book, be attending dance classes, making my nephew-to-be a handmade blanket, maintaining a busy social life AND managing to sleep), so perhaps, a bit of statistical analysis was in order.

Seeing as my specific problem is often that I worry I am letting people down by letting emails (emails which I’m grateful for, and am interested in, and enjoy receiving) linger in my inbox far longer than they should, and that I am occasionally on the end of the, absolutely justified, ‘You don’t seem to have read my message sent on the Xth of the Xth’ messages (perhaps I have since visibly logged-in to a networking site through which the message was sent). Don’t get me wrong; sometimes I reply to a message within minutes, depending on what I’m doing, how near the computer I am, how easy the message is to reply to, etc.. But sometimes it takes me quite a bit longer to get through things. It turns out there’s a reasonable excuse for this…

 I decided to count how many emails I received on one particular day.

I took the 24th (two days ago) at random, and counted that I had received 98 emails on that day. I looked through again, and counted 70 emails out of the 98 which required a direct response on my part (either a considered reply or an action) – so, effectively, I received 70 different contacts from what can be considered ‘clients’ in one single day, each one requiring my response.

The rest (the remaining 28) were easily deleted (e.g. notifications of posts being added to forum threads I’d contributed to, before I’d switched off that notification feature). So that’s 70 emails in one day requiring my attention and reply (many of which require research before a reply is possible), while also being on the phone to my agency and speaking on the phone to two photographers about arrangements for forthcoming things. I also spent some of the day arranging future modelling trips (looking up flights, accommodation and transport options).

Did I mention that this modelling email account is just one of three email accounts I have and check regularly? I have another personal account (for that social life I mentioned) and another, more formal, one, for important/other/some social matters. (There is a fourth, set up specifically for my ‘Ella Rose’ facebook notifications, but I never look at it ever, so it doesn’t count.)

…Why am I writing this? It might seem like a thinly-veiled boast (‘look how many people are interested in my work and want to hire me!’, ’70 emails in one day – aren’t I great?!’) etc; I really don’t want to sound like that; that’s not the intention of this blog post. It’s more just to acknowledge that this stuff isn’t always easy, and to say to anyone to whom it may apply: please be aware of how much work goes into modelling behind the scenes. Please don’t hate models if they take a little while to reply or keep you waiting longer than your ideal. Bear in mind that this was technically a day off – and a Saturday! – and that this is just one day (I haven’t counted statistics for other days to compare how average this day was, but it felt like quite an average day; there may often be more, or less correspondence per day); one day out of an entire week, out of an entire month… etc.

I don’t mean to sound angry or stressed; I’m actually just quite amused that I had questioned my own ability to be on top of emails so often, without stopping to consider what, exactly, it was that I was asking of myself, and relieved to be able to remember that I’m only human! Ha!

I’m sure many of you feel the same way and have similar demands if you are self employed (I’m hardly alone in this!) and the idea of 9-5 working hours (rather than everything having to be instant in this immediate, seven-day week modern smartphone world!) is not a norm that you can easily relate to, either. I’m still glad I’m self employed and doing a job I find fun and creatively stimulating, despite all the work.

But as a result of this highly scientific experiment… 😉 I certainly feel more comfortable and justified in stating on my various online sites that although I try to respond to emails within a few days, I do sometimes struggle.

Anyway, much love to all… Thanks for all those wonderful enquiries that keep my modelling world turning, and many thanks to those who patiently accept that things can take a couple of days or three or four (and even more when a model is travelling for work with shaky wifi connections or limited time in the evenings to relax between assignments!) to respond to. And do tell us models if a reply is urgent; we’ll prioritise your message if it’s time reliant and you tell us so. 🙂

P.S. Some gorgeous new images coming your way which I can’t wait to share!

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Moss, Kicks & Lochs

Back when I started modelling, Alex Ingram‘s work was way up there at the top of the ‘inspire’ list; I saw his beautiful work everywhere and hoped I might work with him one day. I had been in touch with him ever since (and we have the message history from 2009 to prove it!) but I never quite made it to his high-up land of lochs and glens until a couple of weeks ago, when I finally met and worked with him. And what a good thing I finally made the journey! Alex is a wonderful host, taking such care to keep me comfortable and happy during my 2-night stay, and even packed me off with a surprise packed lunch afterwards (he did his absolute best to use up all the remaining peanut butter in my rolls since he hated it so much – fine by me, the peanut butter addict!). During a shoot, his way of working comes from years and years of experience and understanding; he is able to visualise a shot (or work with the visualisation of the model), set up, and take only a few frames in order to capture the image – which, in Scotland’s unpredictable weather conditions is an invaluable skill! Despite changing weather (sunny-ish at first then downpours!), we managed to get some great images! I’m so looking forward to seeing what we can come up with on location in Iceland this July!

Alex sent me images from the day in multiple versions, but I’m leaning towards sepia for most. I think sepia is under-used!

Alex wrote this about the high-kick shots above: As we were walking between locations in a remote scattered deserted village high on a hillside I mentioned to Ella Rose to say if she saw anything as a potential location, and within seconds she said this tree. This high kick is totally free standing although it may not look that way, she had to be well away from both the trunk & branch to avoid their shadows. Take into account the rough ground which was soft, and a bog just a few feet away, it was an amazing feat to achieve.’

Also, don’t let the blue sky in the colour shot of the tree above fool you too much… It was beautiful at that point, yes, but torrentially raining for much of the rest of it!

But first, back to the good weather, some restful nudes on moss:

Squeaky clean (and more sepia!) portraits in Alex’s lounge – aka temporary rain shelter:

With these next few (the last of the day’s output!), I thought we could go for a rainy/misty beautiful/desolate effect, and Alex knew what I meant and found the perfect spot. His amazing home location meant it would have been a crime not to have posed next to the loch near the bottom of his driveway, and we decided we could just go for it and shoot in the rain for the last few, walkie talkies ‘n’ all! Amazingly, my hair doesn’t really look wet. The physics of weather makes no sense sometimes. 🙂

Nearby (a few steps away) the local sheep were gathered, soaking wet, and wondering what on earth we humans were doing. Throughout my trip to Scotland I became besotted with all the tiny lambs I saw (I saw some which seemed only a few days old; I’d held a lamb before but never seen such tiny ones!!). I really really want a little lamb as a pet. It would be the most loved lamb in the whole wide world, without a doubt. Siiiigh. I could walk it and everything.

Thank you Alex!

Firebird

In hindsight I’m slightly amazed (if I do say so myself) that I managed to help create the images below while feeling as unwell as I did back in March this year (it was just a cold/flu thing – I was a bit of a wreck but determined to show up as the previous date had already been called off due to snowy roads!).

Photographer Vanessa Mills and designer Asia Prusinowska wanted images with fire, movement and passion, and I think we achieved that!! The purpose of the shoot was to showcase the conceptual side (the drama) of Asia’s designs, and we did three separate pieces during the session. I was pinned into the clothes, which flowed and dazzled in felt and silk as I danced, and Vanessa’s use of blur and capture made for some stunning, dynamic shots! I love this way of working! (All taken in the black room of The Works Studio in Cambridge.)

I think the first and last are my favourites.

(This post, published earlier then almost immediately snatched away from public view, is reposted – with thanks – now that Asia’s designs are ready for public viewing.)

Welsh Rain, Reflections

I had a great two days with Richard Spurdens in January, shooting at a grand house in Wales. We’ve worked together a couple of times before and I think we make a good team, having lots of fun and getting lots done in the process! Richard is always brimming with ideas and always happy to go along with mine too – and having packed a large suitcase full of bits and pieces, including my Indian wedding sari and the showgirl costume I bought in Las Vegas, I had plenty for us to work with in the various mini locations scattered inside the house. We worked outside too – in the pouring rain, I might add; I don’t normally offer to pose nude in the rain, but it seemed such a shame to waste the opportunities out there!

Richard has kindly sent me some of my favourite results, which means I get to show them off! 🙂 One of the images has already had a couple of successes/acceptances, so that’s good, too!

My Vegas costume:

Dreaming through a window…

(These were great in colour too, and I’m sure Richard won’t mind me taking the credit for suggesting we switch on the light inside to create that warm glow… 🙂 )

A ghostly movement idea we played around with (doesn’t the map in the background make the shot? I’ve got such a thing about maps, myself).

 Sari (I’m really quite sulky-looking in the first, for some reason):

Some dance-ish hair flicks at the indoor (overly chlorinated, but gorgeously steamy) pool…

Outdoors in that rain…

…’Refreshing’.

And some ‘miscellaneous’ images… 🙂

(Having to duck underneath the chandelier in the shot below made not slipping off the sloping shelf-thing even more difficult than it already was. ‘First world problems’. What a nice house it was!)

Thanks so much Richard for another fruitful experience! 

Queen’s Well, Glen Esk

Hello from Scotland! I’m having a ‘catch up’ evening here in my lovely fresh-laundry-smelling room in Edinburgh (well, let’s be honest, almost every evening is a ‘catch up’ evening when on tour), and wanted to update my blog as I hate leaving it for a week without updating!

It’s been a brilliant trip so far, travelling through Edinburgh, Fife & St Andrews, Dundee, Perth, Strathcarron, Glasgow and back to Edinburgh for a final shoot tomorrow. Everyone on this trip that I’ve worked with has been wonderful, and some beautiful images have been made! The first part of my trip shocked me by showing me some glorious weather, and I actually got a bit sunburned while in Dundee making the images below – could not believe it!! (Don’t worry, the sunburn has already gone.)
It’s been a usual conglomeration of memorable moments, this trip. From guiding a nervous woman through Birmingham New Street Station on the way up (she said that particular station scared her, though she didn’t say why… and then she told me that she was on her way home from her father’s 80th birthday party. ‘Was it good?’ I asked, and she said ‘It was a bit strange.’ It turned out she hadn’t spoken to him since she was 12. She seemed desperate to talk to someone about it. I got her on the right train at Birmingham anyway), to being bought a tartan-scarf clad duck doorstop at Strathcarron’s local weavers, from riding a horse nude to sinking in boggy amber heather in my specially-bought-that-morning polka dot pink wellies, from enjoying a delicious Scottish Brie and Grape sandwich with China Rose Petal tea at Glasgow’s famous Mackintosh Willow tea room to buying socks for a shivering, bare-foot homeless man after realising I had no cash, but only my card (and knowing from various nude situations that having wet feet is the worst thing about being cold) – he seemed so pleased to be given them, and smiled dreamily into the bag looking at them, but I watched him for a while in secret and I did not see him put them on… 😦 
Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed all of my shoots so far – it’s been an action-packed 10-day trip (though it’s not over yet!) and I’m confident that everyone I’ve worked with has gone away with some brilliant images – and it’s been a lot of fun seeing new parts of Scotland!
These images below are courtesy of photographer Jim Furness. We had a great day and got on brilliantly (such that we’re shooting in Switzerland in a couple of weeks!). Reading the blurb on his website, I knew we’d be on the same page in terms of intention and inspiration, and creating. I stayed at Jim’s house the night before and met his lovely family of Bollywood enthusiasts, and we had a fun evening watching clips in their lounge! Considering I love India (and hope to go back there to see more of it sometime – anyone want to book me there..? :-)), love Indian music and love dancing, it became increasingly ridiculous to think that I’d never experienced a Bollywood film. I would seriously love to be in one. The dance moves are a real mix of styles that I already know – contemporary, street, bellydance – flamenco even – and I’m inspired to watch some films once I’m home! After this shoot, by the way, Jim blasted Bollywood music out of his open-top car as we drove back to his via some typically gorgeous Scottish scenery – a surreal, triumphant end to any shoot!! 🙂
First, we walked to Queen’s Well, built over a site where Queen Victoria stopped for a drink at a spring on one of her pony treks in the Angus glens. On the way, we saw an adder – the only poisonous snake in the UK, if I’m not mistaken. Then we continued the water theme on the way back, with me balancing on a rock and Jim balancing perilously himself to get the shot. It was such a beautiful day – no one was around so I really got to enjoy the sunshine! You can see a slideshow with music here
Please click on the first image and scroll through to see them bigger, as always. Small shots don’t have so much impact. 🙂

Many more updates on their way!

24 hours in Pareeee!

Originally, I’d planned a 5-day jaunt; half a work trip, half Parisian ‘me time’. I’ve wanted to live in Paris practically forever, and will, I’m sure, at some point – I love the city so deeply. I’ve been lucky enough to have been to Paris quite a lot now, and have ‘done’ various sights and museums, so my plan for part of this trip was to simply ‘be’ there; to write in cafes, pretending I was French.
Alas, these plans were not to be, as the week before I was due to leave I suffered a bout of ill health (after almost 2 months of feeling ‘run down’) and fainted for the first time in my life. The swollen, cut lip, bruised chin and concussion had me swiftly cancelling my trip, feeling very sorry for myself and desperately disappointed not to be boarding the £34.50 outbound train from London to the city where beauty reigns and everything feels like a fairy tale escape world.
Yet, as much as I resented the extortionate last-minute prices of Eurostar, I couldn’t resist zipping in and out in the end, going in at lunch time and returning the following evening on my original ticket. I had worked out that if I didn’t go, bearing in mind things already paid for, I would be down £84. If I DID go, bearing in mind things paid for and the ticket to be bought and money to be made there, I would be down £94. It was a lose/lose situation, and therefore a win/win situation; I was going to go to Paris! 
And then the Eurostar website didn’t work, giving my (absolutely in no need of encouragement) bank an excuse to block my card, after 5 failed attempts at purchasing a ticket. Every single time I go abroad ANYWHERE, Barclays, in the perennial prudent manner of an overly cautious parent, blocks my card. It’s a running joke in my family that I have to use cash abroad. However, this time, I’m blaming the malfunctioning Eurostar website (Barclays merely blocked my card, gamefully, for good measure); I bought a ticket easily by phone on the morning of the journey (yesterday), having packed in the hope that a slice of Paris might be a possibility after all.
Oh, Paris. It isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind. It’s one of my favourite states of mind.
As with two previous visits to Paris, I got to work with wonderful Jeremy Howitt, who managed to arrange a coinciding visit when I mentioned to him that I’d be going (he’s written a bit about the trip here if you like to read things from another perspective). This time we were joined by Jessica Taylor, a sweet, friendly model I’d not met yet but had spoken to online, for some shots Jeremy had in mind somewhat inspired by Helmut Newton. We all took it really easy, especially as I was a bit ‘dazed’ still, so there was no pressure.
The next day, we had lunch at a cafe often frequented by Hemingway, amongst other impressive literary and philosophical characters, and stopped at a cute chocolaterie (I, of course, had to try the ‘Earl Grey Tea’ chocolates, but have to say I much preferred the raspberry hearts). I’m already thinking of planning my second visit for this year, which will hopefully allow me to work with the other photographers I’d originally arranged work with, and do the ‘pretending to be French’ thing, but that will have to wait, probably, until I’m back from my ten-day trip to Scotland. Other trips to be finalised for June/July involve Switzerland, Holland and Germany, and possibly Iceland too.
Disdain and desire:





A ‘behind the scenes’ shot (while the shot is being framed)… 
(Paris wasn’t all that warm… but luckily Jess and I had coordinating purple coats. :-))


My new red ball gown; perfect, we thought, for a red cafe scene. I love the background details in these – the reflections, the handwritten chalk menu, the chairs put away for the night…







Thanks Jeremy and looking forward to the next one! 🙂