Iceland

… With the brilliant Alex Ingram. We met up in Reykjavik (having worked together earlier in the year at his beautiful – if a little rainy – domain of the Scottish Highlands). We had two days together and spent the first day just driving around in the vague aim of ‘doing’ the ‘golden circle’. Our road trip took us to Pingvellir (Viking site – oldest parliament in the world), Geysir (hot springs) and Gulfoss (massive waterfalls). We didn’t get much done at all that day, because of the constant rain, but it was nice just to sightsee in such an incredible country. We were more organised on the second day, though still it was really just a case of driving around and seeing what we saw!

Around the modelling, I also spent a day walking around on a glacier and seeing some black sand beaches along the southern coast, making friends in the accommodation I stayed at which had a party bar on the ground floor with live music, and some new friends who spent much of an evening determined to fashion me a poncho out of bin bags especially purchased so that I could walk underneath a waterfall the next day (it didn’t really work, but it was a hilarious effort!). I bizarrely bumped into an American model I’d met in Mexico before, Brooke Lynn, in one of Reykjavik’s little streets, too! Other things I did included watching a volcano documentary at a special tourist museum/cafe – it was absolutely incredible to see footage of eruptions and witness the amazing endurance of the people who live in such a unique country, constantly clearing up and dealing with what nature throws at them as best as they can. Iceland is definitely somewhere I hope to visit again, and hopefully not before too long.

A note about these images… You do have to be quite brave to model in these conditions – yes, Iceland is very cold (and I had such a clear picture in my mind of it being simply a land of ice, despite all images to the contrary previously seen; but as the plane touched down I was so enamoured with the lupins which covered so much of the land around the airport with a silvery-violet glow – they were imported from Alaska because they are tough and can survive in Volcanic earth, while rooting it together helpfully to aid with erosion control after the earth has split open again and again). I’m afraid I was also quite gung-ho about modelling nude even in such touristy areas of the country , because getting the images was too important to bother about other people (ruthless? Maybe!); we began early, aiming for maximum privacy (and I stepped quietly over the safety ropes for the scene we had in mind), but of course, the geothermal pools at Geysir (where many of the below were taken) were immediately next to a 70m upward-bursting jet of boiling water, erupting every few minutes. It’s hard to be alone at such a magnificent site as that. Luckily, Alex works quickly and efficiently, and we had the shots in the bag without much fuss. 🙂

The outer (ahem, road-side) pools of the Blue Lagoon, a quick diversion at the end of the day (I explored it fully on my way to the airport to catch my flight home; what a magical, magical place.)

And the lupins:

………..Snapshots:

At Geysir:

Before:
After:

Road-trippin’:

A cafe we loved:

At the road-side outer pools of the Blue Lagoon:

Gulfoss:

Lupins:

Central Reykjavik:

My day-trip poncho brilliance (waterfalls, black beaches and glaciers):

I’m determined that this won’t be my only visit to Iceland. What a wonderful place!

Amphitrite

want to say a huge enormous thank you to Australia for having me. Your sharks didn’t get me, your spiders didn’t crawl on me and your bears didn’t drop on me… And on my last day, I frolicked in the bush with kangaroos in the background. Happy! Big thanks especially to the friends, lift-givers, event-makers, airport picker-uppers and all staff at the various branches of the 5* Model Hotel chain: Cam AttreeMel BrackstoneZoe WisemanMalcolm GrantDzhaminat GrantMichael Marlborough, Jacy, Wick, Mo & Eggbert, Anne Duffy and Glen. You are all thoroughly excellent humans (etc) and made my trip a massive pleasure! Thank you!

I am so, so happy to be home now, even though I didn’t want to leave Australia. There are so many things here that I am looking forward to catching up with and getting stuck into. I woke up last night, having arrived in the UK early yesterday morning and (predictably) couldn’t sleep because I was so excited (and jet lagged, and bizarrely craving weetabix). It’s such a weird feeling, time travelling, and waking up in my own bed after two months away, feeling for a second or two that perhaps the whole trip was just a very good dream!

Anyway, as if I enjoy sitting endlessly on my bum in various guises of transport, this evening I’m getting a train to deepest darkest Somerset for a very exciting shoot for an extremely talented wedding dress designer. The new collection will be shot with such a beautiful theme, and although getting married is absolutely no way near my radar, I see nothing wrong with prancing around like a princess in various manifestations of lace, silk, beads and sparkles for the day.

Finally, I thought I’d show you some images by Peter Cassar, taken on a beach in Geelong, Australia. First, the set up (a shot on my phone; what a lovely, lonely, lost looking chair!):



Later, I’m really not sure what would have looked more strange to the woman strolling past along the beach, me sitting nude on a wooden chair on the sand, or Peter using a house-hold broom to meticulously smooth out the sand around me. He didn’t quite succeed in sweeping up the whole beach, but we did make these images, the first of which is called ‘Amphitrite’:



The chair angled itself so perfectly before crashing violently into the waves (I’m going to take credit for a good throw; no trickery required… :-))

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! 

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!

Charcoal Metallics & Garden Gates

Hot off a high from starting to learn this piece by Liszt (Liebestraum/Dream of Love)…

(Press play and listen all the way through… So far I’m up to the 1min20 mark in the video below. I’ll be sure to update you once I’ve mastered it, since I’m sure you’re all on the edges of your seats about it.

Such a classic, but always surprisingly beautiful every time I hear it.)

… I bring you these images by Steven Bruce. I really enjoyed modelling for Steve – he got some gorgeous stuff and he and his wife are such nice, bright and warm people. We shot mainly in the garden of the place they were staying at, in California. The images are from one part of the session; the other involved a double act; I have been promised more and can’t wait to see them too.

I just think those mono conversions, depths of field and textures, especially in the last two, are so lush; kind of fluid but retaining sharp details. I think they look charcoal-y metallic! 🙂

Blue Sky Desert

Aaaah, Joshua Tree National Park. How we enjoyed you. 🙂 I have such good memories of this place – I was soooo excited to see it! In particular, one happy (but cold) evening was spent lying on top of rocks staring up into the dark sky, watching for shooting stars, huddled under layers and hiding whenever the (very occasional) car came through, pretending to be rocks. Haha. And I have a clear memory of someone sighing in the dark, saying they’d just yawned and hurt their jaw, and we laughed when I pointed out the importance of ‘warming up’ before yawning. Looking forward to hanging out with these friends again!

The following images are more daytime-orientated, evidenced by that unfamiliar (to Brits) azure hue in that-there upward space. You can probably get a sense from these images of how bright the sun was, even early in the morning. I saw two coyotes in this desert!

Taken by New Zealander Brian Connor, with thanks for taking me there.

Snow Deer & Winter’s Wonderland

I was going to blog some shots of me taken in a desert next, but from one extreme to the other, I’ve decided instead to show some images from a much colder shoot, taken recently here in Oxfordshire. Snow galore!

I recently had to cancel my trip to Cambridge due to the snow, which was so disappointing and meant I missed out on a good wedge of work I’d carefully planned, not to mention letting down the photographers who’d been planning things with me, but what can you do… Luckily everyone was very understanding and thought it was a sensible decision (simple fact was that there would be a 99% chance I wouldn’t be able to get out of my road; can’t really argue with that, can you?!).

It’s all very well these gung-ho ‘I’m gonna make it however much snow there is! I laugh in the face of nature – nothing will stop me!’ attitudes from models and photographers on forums keen to show off their ‘dedication’, but with one very local fatality on the roads, the day I would have been driving – a girl in my year at school whose car went off the road due to the snowy conditions (I didn’t know her personally as it was a large school, but it’s such a sad story), I’m glad I made the decision to stay safe, and have luckily already managed to rearrange my trip to Cambridge for the next available weekend, 9th/10th March. It’s just one of those things that comes with the territory of living relatively out in the sticks rather than in a city, where things are probably gritted more consistently.

That said, a lovely, local-ish photographer I’ve worked with lots of times, Karen Jones (or purpleport profile here), came to my rescue at the last minute in her landrover, after I posted my last minute availability on my facebook page, driving to pick me up and shooting with me in the massive woodland that is five minutes from my house. (Those ‘sticks’ I was talking about? They have their perks!!)

We had fun trying out a few different scenes – open fields, close trees and a few things in between – going for a bit of a fashion-y/princess theme with long dresses, bodices and skirts.

(I think I need a deer to the left of the frame in the above shot, which reminds me: we saw one during the very first ‘blue’ set! I’m gonna steal Karen’s facebook snapshot of it to post at the end…)

Here’s the deer. What a cutie, poking its head up to see what was happening. It was quite far away but Karen had her camera around her neck and grabbed a quick snapshot before it sprung away out of sight.

And then, because I’m such a child, Karen let me pretend to throw snowballs at her at the end… 😉

 Dun dun derrrrrr…!