Fruit, Fog & Romantic Pleasure…

Until quite recently I’d never posed alongside a male model except for during fully-clothed commercial/wedding work. The idea of doing nudes had vaguely interested me on and off, but I was intrigued by the possibility of doing so without creating a body of work which is overly sexual or, well, porny. Having looked around for inspiration in the world of photography I found surprisingly little that inspired me – there’s a lot of modern erotica, some of which is beautifully done, but very little which is more classical, like the kind of thing you’d see in the work of certain painters or sculptors (obviously there is also plenty of explicit erotica in any medium, old or new, but I was looking for something else). I began to see it as a challenge…

I wanted to see if I could create something sensual, loving and intimate without being too erotic; depicting pure love and romantic pleasure, desire and playfulness… all while still keeping a mood of innocence. And yes, the line is so fine in part because it is so vague and perhaps dissolves completely on too much consideration.

Having been in touch for a while with Joel Hicks (who currently stars in the brilliant Harpic ad on TV, amongst many other things), we decided to see if we could find a photographer who might be interested in shooting us together. I asked ManCave, who I’d shot with twice before, if he was interested; and he was, so we made a plan. I waffled looong involved theories (about love versus lust, etc. etc.) at them both, and I couldn’t be happier with the results! ManCave planned these classical sets and arranged everything beautifully, and Joel was absolutely perfect in both looks and professionalism. His facebook page is here, and is well worth a ‘like’ in my humble opinion; he’s inspiring both within and without his modelling work, and competent male models are massively under-hired in the freelance world.

Anyway, to the images….

Quick plug: We think we worked quite well together and make quite a good combination, so just in case anyone is interested in booking us as a duo this summer, possibly in a beautiful outdoor location (Joel happens to live on a 13 acre plot in the Midlands, which incorporates a fully-equipped studio as well as the lake, ponds, stables and wood), please let me know. I’ll be available to model there alone or along with Joel, for commercial/wedding images, classical or a mix. The opportunities there mean some really amazing images could be made, and as a photographer himself, Joel is also able to mentor any beginners.

Thanks for looking!

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Earth Blood

I’m just about ready-ish for my imminent far-flinging-of-self to outward geographical extremities, from Kuala to koala, with some rice paddies, dragon-formed island cliffs, yoga classes & treehouse bars, ‘old quarters’ and kaleidoscopic underwater creature-greeting in between. I’m getting those last minute heebyjeebies, of course (well, they’ve been creeping up for a while..), but I’m used to that and I know things always tend to work out once you’re there. It’s hard to tear myself away from home, but hard not to! Adventures are calling.

I’ll be back sometime before Christmas (I’m not currently sure exactly when), and am now taking bookings for January. (Also, just to note, I’m keeping a list of photographers who’ve asked me to contact them to let them know when I’m back, in case we can fit something in before the end of the year. Please let me know if you’d like to be added to that list. My email address is ellarosemuse@live.co.uk.)

A final update before I go:

Modelling for the extremely talented 19-year-old woman that is Katie Eleanor was a pleasure. I had a quick jaunt to Hampstead Heath on a recent Saturday, to cavort with papier maché toadstools and have paper cut-out moths stuck to my body, before meeting friends in a Caribbean bar staged in an old shipping container in Shoreditch.

Katie is such an exciting, passionately creative person, and her style and penchant for whimsy and ethereal confusion and myth, stories and (tainted) nature is right up my street.

These were shot on film, then painted by hand afterwards. I think they’re a bit Victorian looking; a grown up flower fairy minus the flowers? I’m excited about following her work and seeing what she does next!

Norwegian Black – On an Island

Memories of this trip include lighthouses, rocks, funny Norwegian pancakes, beaches, sculptures, sub-sea tunnels and outdoor cats. We had a very productive four days, and so I will endeavour to divide the results into more than one blog post. I love so many. This selection, the ‘indoor’ side of things, was mostly taken while listening to Alicia Keys and Mark Knopfler’s brilliant Privateering.

A huge thank you to the multi-talented Sjur Roald, whose hospitality, too, was fantastic.

Heavenly Stairways

Iceland was amazing. I can’t wait to tell you (and show you) all about it!!

In the meantime, though, and before I jet off to Germany, I want to show you these, courtesy of Ian Parry aka Maximus Operandi. He has taken some incredibly idyllic, romantic images and I really love the shots we did.

My travel plans are getting more and more exciting as I go on; I’ve just added arrangements to Norway and Italy to the mix for the next couple of months! I am disgustingly lucky. 🙂

In other news, I have mostly been designing customised converse trainers (how can I ever decide on the final design??? Arrghh!!) and admiring this incredible, wonderful lady.

Enjoy your hot weekends!

Locks and Leaves

As practically everyone who’s ever met me will know, I am not at my best when packing for trips away. Obviously, I’m very excited about the trips that I get to do, and packing now takes me a lot less time than the 2-3 days it used to take me when I was younger (yes, seriously, I would spend days upon days arranging about 5000 outfits on the floor and pondering the possibilities for a one-week trip to Majorca, or Tenerife, or wherever it was we were going as a family). I’m quite good at understanding the idea that outfits can be worn more than once on a trip, now, thank God; not to mention that I don’t need to allow for five or so ‘options’ per day. 

Still, a few of the more mundane things I did today instead of packing: 

– hoovering (though to an extent I actually don’t mind hoovering)
– ironing (I hate ironing with a passion – almost as much as I hate packing, except that it makes me angrier, so this didn’t help me much in any way other than ensuring I don’t turn up looking like a wreck but instead have vaguely neat clothes – which will for the most part not be worn anyway because nudes look rubbish with dresses on)
– napping (only very briefly, but it felt right…)
– answering emails (very productive, eh?) 

In the end, packing has taken me very little time (though, admittedly, I have paused mid-pack, for tradition’s sake) since I am now fairly close to nailing the skills of a good friend of mine in Vancouver who I once watched spend roughly three minutes breezily picking up a few choice items from her room and depositing them into a tiny bag for a trip we did to Seattle/San Francisco (while I looked on in absolute awe), but really, it’s times like these I wish I was more of a minimalist, or just less of a ‘Oooh, I might want to use this thing I never ever use and definitely won’t need but might not be able to buy out there’ person! 

So, now that I’ve got the ‘middle class problem‘ of ‘Oh, damn I have to pack for Iceland’ out the way, I might as well mention something else I caught myself saying out loud a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to show a friend some countries on a map (don’t ask; the friend shall remain anonymous) but failed to reach the globe easily enough to swizzle it around, so I then tried to show her on another globe in a different room but failed to locate the plug to switch the globe’s light on, since the corner of the room it was in is quite dark… (I’m realising as I type this that I’m struggling with telling this story and am going to just give up and get straight to the ‘punch line’ (see no.5 of ‘Very British Problems’ here): basically I ended up blurting out in frustration, ‘Urgh, all my globes are so awkwardly placed!’. I think that would qualify for being on that ‘middle class problems’ buzzfeed, maybe. I embarrass myself so much with the utter drivel that comes out of my mouth sometimes. 

ANYWAY, that was all a completely unnecessary (and probably really boring – sorry!) detour from the fact that I am updating my blog (not packing) quickly before I go away on this next trip, to tide over anyone who likes looking at it.The following images were taken by Steven Bruce, whose photography I love (and who also did these with me), in a Californian garden where I modelled alongside Meghan, who has also featured on this blog a few times before, because she is, to use an Americanism, awesome.


Swiss Alps: Soaring through landscapes

I was lucky enough to be asked to meet Jim Furness in Switzerland earlier this month for a two-day adventure into the high-altitude glorious vistas of the alps! This was my first visit to Switzerland, and I have to say, the country is just utterly beautiful. I really hope to go back sometime. You’ll be able to see from the images how idyllic it really is. I couldn’t believe how fresh and vivid everything looked.

(First, I have to mention that I had a bit of a ‘life affirming’ moment on the way to the airport for this trip, when I forgot that I couldn’t pay for a bus ticket to Heathrow by card after noon and didn’t have enough cash. Before I even had time to panic, a helpful member of staff at the park and ride (Pedro from Portugal) simply GAVE me £20. I couldn’t believe it. I asked him how I could pay him back, wondering if I could do a bank transfer there and then using my phone, but he just shrugged and said ‘take it’. Of course, when I arrived back from Switzerland and saw him there again, I was able to pay him back in Scottish money, which he was fascinated by. For those of you who might be thinking ‘I bet he likes to help out all the pretty girls…’ or something along those lines: firstly, he wasn’t flirting whatsoever, though we had a good conversation about his life (he was a successful artist working with metal, keen to find his way back into that field now that he lives in the UK), and secondly, he told me that he frequently gives money to passengers in a rush who realise they can’t pay by card. I asked him, ‘don’t you go broke just giving your money away so often?’ and he said he often finds stray notes around the car park. I thought he was brilliant.)

We stayed in Jim’s friend’s cabin, enjoyed fondue and Rösti, and spent the days riding up cable cars (which ranged from the commercial and modern to the more… well… ‘wooden box’ variety, being little more than a crate used by locals to transport milk!) and walking around the mountains for the best views. We got the best of both worlds in terms of weather – it was warm and sunny, with snow-topped peaks! I also got to practise my German a bit, despite initially thinking it would be a French speaking part of the country (duh!). As Jim had described to me beforehand, the sound of cowbells is almost omnipresent, as the four-legged wander around the hills.

Here are my favourites:

…You can see a full screen slide show with music: click here
I’ve also got some ‘behind-the-scenes’ shots, courtesy of Wendy, Jim’s friend and host….

….as well as my own photos, taken while snap-happy-journeying into the sky or while Jim set up his own shots (just a few here, but if you wanted to see more, I’ve got a ‘Nice People, Places and Things’ album on facebook which makes me very very happy to look back through):

(It’s OK, if the wooden box falls apart halfway up the mountain, simply press this red button…’)

(Wendy and I)
Last but not least, one idea Jim had prior to the shoot was the idea of possibly doing some video while out in Switzerland. I was a bit unsure. Having done nude video before I wasn’t new to it, but also feel strongly that it’s something that can easily become a little too ‘erotic’ for my tastes. Often video becomes all about the model, which can be very indulgent, and when nudity is added to the mix it can be difficult to control the mood of the output… Stills, on the other hand, while hopefully portraying plenty of narrative, are miniscule captures of fleeting moments; videos are so much more substantial (literally). There is a lot more responsibility as a model and perhaps a lot more scope for misinterpretation. Then again, I knew that Jim saw things exactly the same way, and wanted a result that was in line with what I would be happy to do, and I’m so glad we decided to just go for it. As such, despite the deliberation beforehand, the video below was completely spontaneous.
Having listened to the music, we did it in just two full-length takes (the one below is the first, and our favourite), and just moments before the camera started rolling I was saying ‘I have no idea what on earth I’m going to do, by the way.’ Jim is completely new to video work, so we are extra grateful that this came out so well! I think we succeeded in making a piece that is not necessarily about ‘me’, but about the glory and beauty of nature, and the innocence of a nude woman within that.
Jim’s portable ‘JamBox’ blasted out the dream-like sounds of Hildegarde von Bingen’s ‘Veni spiritus eternorum alme’ (lyrics beneath the video). The only plan I had was to begin by walking on set, but following the music felt easy, with soft, flowing movements that expressed the splendour of the incredible view and the gravity and beauty of the lyrics.


Here are the words:


Come, kind spirit of the ages,

visit the hearts of your people, casting out ill conduct;
fill with supernal grace
each earth-born heart.

You who are the gift of the most high God, perpetual fount,
balm for the spirit,

promised gift of the almighty, you merit our faith.
Upon the holy apostles
you poured forth fiery tongues.

Give light to hearts, strengthening the wretched
with abiding courage.
Impart true love
and the manifold gifts of charity.

Drive away the envious foe,
grant the joy of heavenly peace.
Thus lead, going before us,
that we may have the strength to climb up

to the vault of heaven.

Translation: Susan Hellauer


So once again, a big thank you to Jim for this opportunity to visit Switzerland, the images and great conversations, and the chance to push boundaries!

PS. This is the book I mentioned a couple of posts back, for those of you who’ve been asking. I’d recommend it! 

La Source, River Adur

After an exciting full-day shoot in a studio with a Norwegian photographer and four other dance models, all posing en pointe and together in various tangles, I met up with Jeremy Howitt for our three-thousandth shoot, a quick themed piece by the River Adur in Sussex.

Jeremy had attempted a version of Ingres’ painting, ‘La Source’, once before, but wasn’t completely happy with his results (I personally quite liked his earlier version, but it just wasn’t exactly as he’d intended), so he wanted to have another go at it using me as the model.

Here’s what I’m talking about – ‘La Source’, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres:

As seems to have been a recurring theme in some of my recent shoots (though I don’t take credit for it) the weather was drizzly and required wellies, so I took my pink polka dot ones, bought in the Scottish Highlands (a lot less cool than the red hunter wellies I was gifted by a photographer once after a shoot, but nevertheless, pretty cheerful), out for another airing, having slung them readily in the back of my car.

It might look easy and serene, but holding a fairly heavy jug of water over one’s shoulder and controlling the angle best suited to photographic purposes while not soaking oneself and turning one’s hair into wet, lank waterweeds, while standing in damp, sinking ground is not the simplest of tasks. Blood (from a mysteriously cut finger) and a lot of mud went into this image, too. I thought you should know that.

Seriously, though, I absolutely love this first image, which is shown here in wonderful sepia, a process I think should be flaunted much more, as well as in a ‘vintage’ colour toning. Feeling like we’d possibly nailed it just a bit too quickly, I insisted that we do a few variations of poses with the jug afterwards (though they aren’t quite as strong, probably), and then, on the way back to the car, Jeremy suggested we do a quick 5-min set on the little wooden bridge we’d walked over on the way there. I love the effect of the lens.

All hail the English countryside!

You can read Jeremy’s forum post on purpleport about this shoot here: http://purpleport.com/group/share-a-shoot/16936/la-source/. Hopefully we’ll be working together again soon – it’s always a pleasure and I love the fact that we always do such completely different styles and distinct themes each time.

In other news, I’m reading an absolutely amazing, though-provoking and mind-opening book at the moment, that left me wandering around London yesterday in a total dream-state of awe at all the things and people around me. No, I’m not on drugs. Will maybe talk about it in my next post…