House of Flying Daggers

Hello from Belgium! I’ve just completed my final shoot and am relaxing now here in Brussels. Below are two quick behind-the-scenes shots taken on my phone from a shoot with the lovely Johan Verlust and the excellent make up artist and hair stylist Fraukje Van de Wiele.I’m looking forward to seeing the proper images from this shoot (this was just one set we did, but I rather liked it!). 🙂

Highlights in this rather multi-lingual country have so far included free plates of radishes, free limoncello and ouzo(??) (I didn’t have the heart to tell the enthusiastic waiter I don’t drink, so I drank), a successful foray into the world of the waffle (I quite liked it!), restaurants that claim they have ‘no legumes’ after I settle in and  order the one vegetarian thing on the menu, pasta legumes… Seriously? The entire restaurant has no vegetables? Slightly worrying. (I left, obviously, and stumbled instead into an AMAZING restaurant that made me very happy (goats cheese served on a bed of apple, scattered with honey, strawberries, raisins and walnuts), so if that’s not evidence for the ‘it’s meant to happen’ brigade, then I can’t possibly think what is.)

I have also done some non-foody things here in Belgium, I promise – e.g. I spent a lovely, lazy afternoon dawdling around art galleries – including Magritte’s crazy surrealism – (this was my first trip to Belgium, so I left myself a little bit of free time), and topped up my postcard collection by a humble 47. Yep, I don’t buy shoes (though I am hoping to stumble across a new pair of trainers soon, as my super dooper spin spot dance ones make me just a tad too spinny during planking, etc., and really shouldn’t be worn when driving), I buy art postcards! Seriously, though, it really excites me. I’m going to create my third new massive board of them for my room. I even had a practise run on my brand new hostel-friend’s bed, when I got back. (I’m too cool.) I’ll probably blog a picture of the results, along with my previously made board, in case anyone else shares my joy of ‘I get a print of this amazing amazing amazing painting for 1 euro’. And the Grand Place is beautiful, and somehow reminds me of the incredibly brilliant main square in Mexico City. (Though maybe that’s just because that’s the last ‘main square’ I saw. I don’t know.) I also went to Bruges yesterday with a lovely American girl I met, and we had fun jumping around in front of the windmills on the outskirts of the old town. I think I’m going to have to do a bit of research to find out if the vial of blood we saw really is likely to have belonged to Jesus or not; if so, that’s really quite amazing.

Anyway, I get to wander around Brussels a bit more tomorrow before getting on the eurostar, partly on the search for some statues of some kids (and a dog) pissing, or something. I’ve been promised an equal mix of delight and anti-climax. Haha. On my next trip (I might possibly come back sometime in the summer), I’m going to also look around Ghent and Antwerp, I think, as I’ve heard that Ghent in particular is a great place to visit.

And now, I’m blogging some images I’ve been excited to see and show you! There’s something a bit ‘House of Flying Daggers’ about these images, I think (despite that beautiful film being set in China, not Japan). I was asked to model for a photographer on behalf of his friend who is submitting a design project on Japanese modes of dress set in a western context. This kimono was the one actually worn by Ally on her wedding day; so it was such an honour to wear it! It was so beautiful – and very heavy! – and I learnt that, while the western fashion is generally to show off a woman’s waist, the opposite is true in Japan, or at least in this context; my waist was padded to be in line with my hips!! For what I’m used to, that’s not the most flattering stylistic decision, but it’s interesting, isn’t it? Different aesthetics for different cultures… It was such a fun shoot, and I think the photographer, London-based Will White, made them so stunning! The make up was by Ema Doherty. We got quite excited about all the jumping around… and as soon as Will handed me the parasol, we both immediately knew without speaking that I had to do a ‘caught in the wind’ jump. I’m looking forward to a second shoot sometime soon. And I CANNOT WAIT to go to Japan later this year; I just find the culture so fascinating and beautiful, and there are so many different contrasts and aspects to it. I’ve been wanting to go there for so long!

Which are your favourites?

…And if anyone cares to educate me about some beautiful Japanese films I should watch, please do!

Guide us to Thy Perfect Light

Evening! I’m bringing you a special Christmas Edition of blogginess today, courtesy of photographer Karen Jones who booked me recently at Eye For An Image Studio in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and subsequently got an image accepted onto the excellent 1x.com photography site. With no cheesy Santa outfits in sight, here are some of the shots from our festive 2-hour session:

‘Ice Prom Princess’; with my bridal net underskirt and Karen’s beautiful crown tiara.

‘Merry Christmas’; with Karen’s stunning berry extravaganza:

‘Laced Light’; My vintage Victorian-style wedding dress, plus some lights weaved into my hair!

‘Self Doubt’; All done with one exposure:

‘The Powder Room’; Karen wanted to do something a bit ‘different’, so I made asked her to bring some flour so we could make a mess. In the end we used talcum powder, and I smelled utterly amazing afterwards! I love how well the fine powder shows against the black; it looks a bit like smoke, floating in wisps around me!

(I liked then in colour too! Or are they best in monochrome? Hhmm.)
Thank you so much Karen for always being such fun to work with and up for trying new ideas. We did so much! Just shows what can happen in two hours, with a bit of creativity, forethought and fun effects/props! 
I’m really hoping more photographers will want to try ‘different’ things with me where they can, whether that involves stylists for distinctive themes and strong ‘character’ work, make up artists for close up beauty portraits, fun ideas for textures or effects, interesting locations, crazy hair dos… whatever. Why not make 2013 the year you vow to do something a little unusual…? It doesn’t have to be expensive (and the model often has contacts who are willing to collaborate!), but starting with a theme and asking a model what they might already have and can contribute can work wonders!
On that note, I hope all your Christmasses are filled with joy, love and wonder. I’m back from a carol service (Christmas isn’t Christmas without one; ‘We Three Kings’ being a firm favourite), after having decorating the Christmas cake (my traditional contribution; involving some worse-for-wear plastic festive characters, reindeer and edible golden balls!), and then we all decorated the tree together with German wooden decorations, baubles, bells, bows, candles, etc. etc. I absolutely love this tradition of waiting until Christmas Eve to do it; until now the tree has been simply festively green. We have two new cats this year, fresh from a rescue centre, and one of them would win awards for her potent blend of fearlessness and clumsiness. All eyes on the (quite controversial in this house; is it disgustingly tacky? Or does it pick up the candle-light beautifully?) silver lametta.
Merry Christmas everyone! X

Costume changes!

I love these shots by Mike Croshaw, taken recently at a studio day (its first!) at Cheltenham FilmPhoto Studios. Considering we only had a two hour slot together, and quite a bit of the beginning was taken up with me having to be laced into my wedding dress (I doubt any bride ever had to dress herself…), I think it’s impressive how much we got done. Here are a few from our session together. Very much looking forward to working with Mike again sometime. And for anyone interested in trying out the studio, I’d recommend it and can get you a good deal!

I’ve not really done ‘pin-up’ before, but Mike wanted to give the theme a try with me and I really enjoyed playing the part of a 50s cheeky-grinned starlet. I’d love to give pin up a real go, actually – I think it could possibly suit me quite well. Thanks Mike for choosing something fun and new to shoot with me!

This next shot has featured here before, but in the interests of comprehensiveness (of themes covered)… Gorgeous lighting and soft pastel hues:

I happened to have brought my brand new Asian bridal saree along with me to the shoot, in hopes of shoe-horning it into a session… I think it’s so stunning – I really really love ‘World’ costumery and I love India in particular so much. I spent some time there a few years ago (mainly in the north) and have been aching to go back ever since. Every year I tell myself it will be THIS year. I think it’s such a beautiful country, and I love how brightly coloured the women’s clothing is, as well; fanciful decoration and ornate, intricate beading is everywhere, and there is no such thing as too much adornment. It’s impossible to take a bad street shot there! Mike and I think a plainer background would probably have worked better for this shot (or I would love to shoot with it in a grand house, with the full works!), but for the garment’s first airing I do love this.

Below is a composite image in a classical ‘Old Masters’ style, which is a theme more traditionally suited to my strengths…

And finally we spent some time doing some movement and ‘swirly’ images. I love the golden curves of the fabric here, and its flaring wisp to my left in the composition (camera right?).


…Let me know which you like! 🙂

A Vintage Bridal Series

My 1970s Victorian-style wedding dress has had quite a few airings over the last few weeks! I often model for BIPP and SWPP’s fashion, bridal and portrait workshops, and thought I’d throw this dress into the mix one day rather than wearing one of my modern wedding dresses, just to get a different style for the photographers attending (it’s also nice and warm to wear, due to the material and sleeves, which is always a bonus!). For that particular BIPP workshop, the excellent wedding photographer Kevin Wilson was teaching. He was enamoured by the dress and asked me to model in it for a series of G F Smith ‘Inspire’ events around the country. He also asked me for another model who could do the fashion workshops (led by Mark Lawrence) simultaneously during these days, so I recommended my friend Ivory Flame for the job, knowing she would do it well and repaying some of the jobs she’s gotten me by way of recommendation in the past.

I’ve now worked with Kevin four times, in Aylesbury, Birmingham, Duxford and Maidstone, with the final event in Leeds next week (I’m shooting with Mark for that one though; Holly and I are swapping roles for a final twist!).

Here are some of the images he’s taken of me over these events. I made sure to vary my hair very slightly for each event. I think his use of tones and compositions are absolutely beautiful, helped here by some rather stunning locations (Holly and I were surprised on one particular day to find we’d be modelling in front of war-time aircraft. I’m particularly wistful in these; the narrative being that my husband is lost to war. It was easy to get in the mood; the Air Museum in Duxford has a sound system playing sirens and bombs.. a very surreal and eerie place in which to work!). Click to enlarge as always…

Birmingham:

Duxford Air Museum:

Maidstone:

I was also sent a few from some of the photographers attending. By Joe Gilbert:

And by Steve James:

Pre-Raphaelite Goodness

The following shots were taken by Keith Cooper at a location (half an hour away from my house in Oxfordshire) which manages to combine the romantic 15th Century ruins of a manor house, a river and woodland – perfect for Keith’s interest in pre-Raphaelite and historical styles. I’ve got two more shoots already booked in with him, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with next!

Some results!

I did promise one commentator some results from my day at the Victorian Pub event in Oxford, and as I’m on a bit of an admin roll (I’ve just updated my availability on my website, having recently decided to make some time available for September bookings. Last minute I know, but maybe you’ll have read my previous post…) I thought I would post some of the images. Many thanks to the kind photographers who have offered me the chance to show them off! It was a great day, lots of fun and I think the photographers enjoyed the unusual location and potential it gave for some funky images. Here are my favourites:

From Martyn Davis (who took one look at this penguin and agreed we had to use it):

 From the lovely Karen Jones, who I’ve managed to work with about a million times now:

Allinthemind

Simon Young is one of those photographers I just had to work with. We spent a full day in Gloucestershire at some brilliant locations with some lovely make up (by Simon) and in beautiful evening light. Rob, who I’d worked with previously, acted as assistant extraordinaire, prime reflector holder and distractor of passers-by, and also dedictated grass-gatherer to protect my feet from sinking in the squelchiest mud imaginable.

My Mum’s Victorian-style wedding dress, as worn in 1979 and brought to life with a dash of Florence and the Machine (Simon thinks) and Wuthering Heights (I think):

More: