Europe

Happy Wednesday everyone. A fine day.

Despite technically having a little stretch of days off between modelling trips – I’ve been a busy (tres Oxfordian & cultural) bee with my new book group, poetry workshop, volunteering, piano lessons (and I’ve been asked to play at my brother’s wedding later this year, which is both amazing and terrifying!). I’ll be baking the unbelievably-delicious-n-nutritious ‘glo bars’ again today in time for a couple of friends visiting tomorrow (I REALLY recommend the book as well as the food blog: http://ohsheglows.com/). I’ve also booked my flights for Vienna for next month, which is exciting – along with Venice that will be two new cities I’ve not seen before in just one month. I blimmin’ LOVE living in Europe – all this amazing beauty and culture and history right on our doorstep, all with so much variety and diversity within one continent.

Here are some shots from Thomas Bichler, who was a pleasure to work with in the south of Germany recently.

He wrote about the shoot over on his website here. 🙂

It was such a lovely trip in general, with lots of hiking around to get to the perfect spots; this shoot required a really beautiful walk down to the lake, after amazing views from the top. Plus a few other locations…. Very much looking forward to working with Thomas again in future.

Romantische

I’m back from my 5 days of nature hikes photoshoots in Germany’s beautiful and atmospheric Black Forest. You might have seen a few additions to my rather tongue-in-cheek ‘Today’s Office’ album on facebook. 🙂 Various photographers and I hiked to lakes, stepped across rocks in winding creeks, trekked through tic-filled(!!) forests and visited a small tourist area set up specifically to show enormous roots of trees broken in a storm. I was amazed to realise that the ubiquitous amazingly-tall pine trees were actually the result of neat management and that if left completely natural (as this tourist spot was, to show the difference, and how nature is resilient enough to creatively overcome storm damage and keep growing new life), the plants and trees that grow are far more diverse. I hope to have lots of new images to show soon from this trip.

After consecutive days of hiking and walking up and down steep hills to find the most beautiful locations, I was really pleased to discover that my fitness levels were much better than I thought, after having whooping cough earlier this year had put almost a complete stop to my cardio routine… I’m actually feeling fitter than ever at the moment; and experimenting with a new dietary lifestyle (not to lose weight – I like my curves – but for moral/health/responsibility reasons) is only amplifying the effect. 🙂

In the meantime, here are some more romantische portraits from the very prolific David Bailey

Monbachtal

Another blog post in quick succession, but I’m keen to show off some images from another session in Germany, working with the excellent Steven Billups in the Baden-Wurttemberg area.

These were all taken on film, so we took relatively few compared to the average photoshoot (digital shoots can results in hundreds and hundreds of images), and there are so many that came out beautifully, we think. I love the tones and shapes and textures in these, and the water’s caught really well (not always the easiest thing, capturing moving water). There’s always such a sense of uncertainty with film – it’s not like digital where you can look at the back of the camera for reassurance – you have to trust you’re doing the best job you can (both the photographer and model), so maybe there’s something extra valuable about the feeling of getting it right!

Congratulations to Steven for selling quite a few prints recently of a shot we did last year, too!

Fee Tree

Well, Italy was amazing. Utterly Italy-ish. Rolling orange hills, chickens, a LOT of granita (Sicilian Spirit, lemon, mint, peach…), grapes plucked from vineyards, Botticelli and Titian – I can’t get enough of wandering around in wonder at the talent, myth and stories in the Uffizi Gallery. And Michaelangelo’s David (in the Accademia) really is a sight to behold (is it weird to fancy a sculpture? Hmm). I really must go to Italy again as soon as possible.

In other news, I am now gearing up for my trip to Vietnam, Australia, Japan and Bali. I leave in a couple of weeks! So much to organise it’s insane. It will be an amazing trip. Email me at ellarosemuse@live.co.uk for details!

Anyway, update time, and the following shots were taken in the south of Germany a couple of months ago. I stayed with Peter Gruener and worked with different photographers over two days for this part of the trip (I’ve included links on the first instance of each photographer being credited). We had a good time, despite heat and mosquitos, and I really love some of the images below. Thanks photographers!

Copyright: GSXF5

 Copyright: Peter Gruener

 Copyright: Peter Gruener

 Copyright: Peter Gruener

 Copyright: Stefan Engler
Copyright: Stefan Engler

Copyright: Arnold Line

Copyright: Arnold Line

Copyright: Arnold Line

Copyright: Arnold Line

Copyright: Arnold Line

Copyright: Arnold Line

Copyright: GSXF5
Copyright: GSXF5

Copyright: Peter Gruener

Copyright: Peter Gruener

Lilies and Vanity

Hallo! I modelled for the following images in Dusseldorf a while ago with photographer Vernon Trent – a mixture of film and polaroid. So nice to see the results, and I can’t wait for my next trip to Deustschland! Vernon and his lovely lady friend were very nice to work with, and I have always found Vernon’s photography beautiful. 🙂

I really like the fifth shot.

Also, I recently wrote an article about ‘vanity’ in the context of modelling. (Loyal blog readers might recognise some of the content.) It was published a couple of days ago on the front page of Model Mayhem, and had a great reaction. I was expecting some snarky comments along the lines of ‘why does she think we’d want to read about that… Who is she anyway?’ etc; forum reactions are unpredictable (and I have experience of this from writing for the Guardian; you get such a mix!)! But I have survived and am pleased to know that people are relating to what I say in great numbers. Over on the facebook page of MM it’s had a crazy amount of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, and I’ve had some really nice messages about it. I have no idea if non-members of Model Mayhem can read the article, so here it is in full, for the record:


Recently, a friend I hadn’t seen in about five years asked me whether, doing what I do, I ever feel caught up in the concept of physical appearance. I replied that, actually, I think I’m far less vain these days than I ever might have been and somehow manage to ignore the media obsession with “perfection” and “irreality” almost completely. So, here are some scattered thoughts on the subject…

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Max Operandi
Vanity
When it comes to modelling, I have a mental list of things I’m not interested in doing. It’s the closest I have to “terms and conditions,” I suppose. For example, I won’t knowingly wear real fur. I won’t take part in anything I deem potentially offensive (religiously or politically). I won’t pose in ways I feel are overtly sexual or gratuitously explicit. It’s a pretty standard little list (I realize these things are quite subjective, but that’s largely the point), except for one thing I include: “vanity.”
Despite the fact that my images are often described as “pretty,” “soft,” or “romantic,” and despite the fact that I recently responded to a flattering comment with the words “Don’t forget I only show the pretty ones,” I am not scared of looking unpolished, “imperfect,” or “unpretty.” This is what I mean by saying that I don’t want to do “vanity.” I am interested in emotion and expression – and HONESTY. This means I’m not afraid to explore the areas of humanity which aren’t so pleasing to the eye. (I’m rarely taken up on this, but that’s OK.) I’m also happy to be completely unphotoshopped in photos (and often am). I’m totally happy with my body, which is completely different from subscribing to the idea that it is “perfect”–it isn’t–for example, my bones are such that I will always be pear-shaped. Which brings me to…
Self-awareness
Self-awareness is the thing. I’m aware of my strengths and my weaknesses. I’m aware of angles which make me look good and angles which definitely don’t. I have a massive amount of body awareness. I can isolate muscles most people don’t know they have. One of the things recommended to new models who want to “learn to pose” is to practice in front of a mirror. I confess I’ve actually never ever done this, but I usually have a good idea of exactly what a pose is going to look like. I think this is to do with my dance background more than anything, and then also from noticing what works and what doesn’t when I’ve looked at the images after a shoot. It’s always fun to see the images on the back of the camera during a shoot, as you can see how the lighting is working for what you’re doing, what kind of crops/compositions are happening, and what’s going on in the background. But what I mean is this: I generally have a good idea of how to work with my strengths. I’m aware that I’m not perfect, but I’m also aware that I can look good, and that I’m lucky to have a healthy body which functions well and does what I ask of it, so I think it would be a bit hideous of me to complain or worry. I think this realization, along with my modelling, has made me completely comfortable and happy in my own skin, so much so that vanity isn’t even an issue.

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Iain Thomson
As well as my body, I also have a lot more self knowledge about my face, and confidence about which angles work best for it. Seeing your face on camera repeatedly means that such awareness is unavoidable (even if I did only realize the other day that I can raise one eyebrow); I can also recognize a few of my fellow model friends only by a tiny part of one of their features. There is a detachment that comes alongside such intimate knowledge, which is essential for modelling. At the beginning, when shown a picture of myself during a shoot, I would comment on the angles or proportions of “my legs,” or “my chin,” whereas now I am equally likely to say “the legs,” or “the chin,” which sometimes makes photographers smile. (Just the other day I was looking at a shot of myself in a two-pose double exposure and, pointing at one of ‘the figures’ said “I like that she is actually touching the other person,” which is extra weird, thinking about it.) Anyway, before I talk myself into an existential crisis, here’s the crux of it: while knowing their body and face so well, good models must simultaneously become more objective about what image is being presented via the camera; I can now see myself as a sequence of shapes putting forward an overall mood or expression. And such knowledge is inevitable, when pictures of yourself are thrust at you so often; after all, the camera, consistent to the end, doesn’t lie.

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Jewelled World
It’s possible to pose so much, for example for eight full days in a row, that when you get home you find yourself noticing the way your cat is sprawled out on the grass outside and think, “Oh, good pose; nice shape; good leg angle.” At these times, you wonder if you’re more than a little mad, but that’s OK. I know at least two people who pose in their sleep. (Incidentally, I always appreciate people who, like me, sit weirdly without noticing, just because it’s comfortable, with legs stretched or curled in unexpected possibilities. I get particularly creative in the cinema.)
In some ways, I am probably less vain now than before I started modelling. I wasn’t massively vain then either, but I worried more about what people thought of my appearance, which in my opinion is closer to the true definition of vanity. I remember the first time I got on a train for a shoot with zero make up on (as I only had time to do it on the train). My younger self would have found this perversely exciting, a sort of thrill, but mostly terrifying, since people would see my ACTUAL FACE. I now realize that A) I really don’t look different without make up on, it’s just that my features aren’t “enhanced,” and B) even if I did look rough, gross, half-dead, etc. (although see “A”), absolutely no one would care or even notice. It’s silly to think that they would. I’m just another stranger in the street, not out to impress anyone, and that’s fun.

Model: Ella Rose; Photographer: Rebecca Parker
I have always thought that most people are beautiful if you look at them properly. What’s beautiful to me is character and a person’s story. If you can see that in the way they hold themselves, in little details about their manner and in the movements they make with their unique features and structures– if they have grace, kindness, un-selfconscious openness, an endearing awkwardness, stress, fear, vulnerability, humor, slight hints of emotion, history–the things which make up a life and leave traces on their physicality, then a person holds massive interest for me. There will always be “bad” photos of me existing out there in the unforgiving world of the internet, and sometimes these can simply be learned from, but maybe the truly “Zen” model would not fear them so much as understand that, just occasionally, “imperfection,” when coupled with self-confidence, can make a shot.

….And soon I’m getting around to looking at some questions I’ve had posed to me for an interview for an excellent website, getting ready to let loose on some more of my thoughts about this modelling business… Such a compliment to be asked, and you just can’t shut me up at the moment.

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

Hands and Roots

I have a thing about hands and feet. Especially hands. I love hands. (I love lamp.) When I look at other art models’ work I always look at what their hands are doing, and I’ve been told quite a few times that mine are very expressive when posing! Hands can be interesting in shots, to me at least; so I suppose it’s for the best (from a photographer’s point of view) that a tattoo artist refused to mark my thumb pad a couple of years ago with a little symbol I’d asked for, though I was quite annoyed at the time. Probably saved a lot of photoshopping over the years.

This last week or so has been really nice – ultra sociable and busy, as I’ve been putting the effort in to trying new things and meeting new people (since 5 of my friends have moved away from my area in the last month or two; and after super life changes I really felt I needed to make my own changes!!). It’s been fun. I’ve started two new dance classes (ballet/stretch and tap, both of which I hadn’t done in a while, though the ballet teacher said to me ‘goodness, we’ll have you on pointe next week’, which was brilliantly ego boosting and made me feel like the proverbial three-year-old being patted on the back, beaming; yes, I’d sneakily pretended to be a near-beginner. I know; bad of me.) and advanced tap (with amusing burlesque style moves), which is just ridiculously fun, militant and fast paced with no mercy – very good for cardio. I’ve been out for drinks a few times, including once with a friend I hadn’t seen since primary school (but who had given me advice on Mexico last year, since she’d been living there), invited Holly Ivory Flame over to come blackberry picking & nattering with me around the woods near my house (foraging!!! Love it!), and I’ve even joined a ‘meet up’ group and met an amazing (and mad) group of girls last night over a cocktail or three, with book club talks in the running too (all the current book clubs in Oxford seem to be reading incredibly boring books, so we agreed we’d veto those). AND I’ve started a new blog, more writing-based and fewer pictures-of-myself-naked orientated; a series of epiphanies about ‘growing up’ and ‘things I think I know’ about life, truth, art… etc.; that way, I get a writing platform and you lot don’t have to read quite so much of my un-industry-related waffle (like this) here (though there might occasionally be some overlap). Win win. I might link to it on here sometime soon-ish, so that if you want to follow me there as well, you can. I’ll let it grow a bit first though.

The following set of images were taken on film by photographer Steven Billups, during our visit to a ruined castle near Pforzheim in Germany. Steven is great to work with and I think these are very gentle and peaceful. One of them sold quite quickly after they were developed! I like the movement of my hair in the last. Showing lots from the same set here, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the ones we made in the beautiful Black Forest.

Any favourites?

*Now taking bookings for November and December, to finish this year on a creative high!*

Please email me at ellarosemuse@live.co.uk if you’d like me to model for your project. Here is a snippet of blurb from a casting call I posted recently:

I’m available for:

– ART & PORTRAITS: where mood, texture and emotion rule
– NUDE: ranging from abstract, tough strength in the female form, beautiful dream-like outdoor work, soft and sensual studio work, powerful and vibrant movement to dance
– WEDDING: I have my own dresses from Victorian to modern; perfect to boost a photographer’s wedding portfolio
– CASUAL/COMMERCIAL: I’ve got a great wardrobe, from snuggly warm knitwear for beautiful glowing portraits, to sports clothes for fitness/stock shots, glamorous and sophisticated evening dresses… and I can smile on cue with no awkward grimaces in sight!
– STYLISH GLAMOUR/BOUDOIR: I have an excellent range of lingerie with varied colour and textures, and have a classic look perfect for shots which are more classy than seedy.
– WORLD/DANCE: Did I mention my highly eclectic wardrobe? I’ve been a gigging bellydancer and along with my travels have amassed an array of eye-catching garments/costumery for extra-special themes.
– TUITION/WORKSHOP DEMONSTRATIONS: I’ve done a lot of these, with national photographic bodies as well as very highly regarded photographers, so am completely comfortable and relaxed in these settings.

I love to work with photographers, painters, designers and artists of various media, whether they be amateur hobbiests or experienced industry professionals, working indoors or out (I’ll happily recommend studios), for exhibitions, publication, portfolio building or commercial projects. Other than in studios, I’ve worked in ancient forests, lakes and waterfalls, derelict buildings, ruined manor houses and beautiful modern hotels, against famous city landmarks, in cobbled colonial streets and in flower gardens, in the sea, on the beach and in swimming pools, up mountains, in snow, on rockfaces and on the tops of cliffs. I am represented by commercial agencies here in the UK, but take most bookings directly.

I have worked with world-class, award-winning photographers, yet many of my favourite images were shot by beginners with a drive to create something special. My goal is to inspire, to bring into being something that will last and which I can be proud of, and to be the catalyst for expressive and eye catching artwork. When working with me you’ll find that I’m confident enough in my strengths to deliver, while collaborating and listening to you with the aim of bringing your ideas (however vague or particular) to life. I welcome new ideas, concepts and experiments whole-heartedly.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 That email address again: ellarosemuse@live.co.uk.