I must be a mermaid

‘I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living’. 
– Anais Nin

I was so glad I’d decided to pack my raqs sharqi costume (which I generally call my ‘mermaid’ outfit) for my trip to Norway. I can’t imagine a better scene in which to show it off than at this rocky coast in moody weather; the colours worked so beautifully. I wrote a bit about Norway on my last blog post so I won’t repeat myself here – but here’s a little update on some edits I’ve kindly received!

By Hakon Gronning:

By John Erik Setsaas:

🙂

Into the Deep

I absolutely loved working with Clayton Bastiani on the Isle of Wight earlier this year. He is just so incredibly creative and it’s really no wonder that his images have been published on hundreds of novel covers all over the world.

I was thrilled to be booked with the aim of producing a few more for his novel-cover stock (though we also did some different things as well). As someone who is rather fond of books and stories myself, I find it very exciting to be able to find myself on the front of another person’s story, representing some aspect of an imagined world – it’s a similarly wonderful feeling to know that a complete stranger has a portrait of you hanging in their house (or indeed, perhaps a bronze sculpture!) – really quite bizarre and odd (I always wonder what kind of person they are, and what it would be like to meet them and also how odd for them it might be to meet me). It will be interesting to see what stories out there will be matched up to my image, and why… Anyway, I’d better not get too ahead of myself, but I’ll update on here with any news down the line… 🙂

I’m allowed to show four individual images here on my blog, followed by a composite grid of some of the other images. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: all images are strictly owned by Clayton Bastiani and may not be used/reproduced in any way without permission.

I should mention that Clayton wrote a ten-part series on photo creation and photo manipulation for Black & White Photography Magazine, the May edition of which featured the first mermaid image below. In the article Clayton explains all about how it was made, and you may be surprised to hear that I didn’t actually grow a tail especially for the purpose of the shoot (I suppose I’m just not that dedicated.. ;-))

Here’s a snippet of Clayton’s own words (from his facebook page), from when the magazine came out:

One of the driving forces behind many of my pictures is improvisation, finding ways to create images on a tight budget with minimum resources. This month I wanted to make a picture of a mermaid swimming in the murky depths of the sea.At the beginning of a recent shoot with Ella Rose I asked her to stand in the bay window and pretend to be swimming underwater. After the shoot I popped to the shops and bought a small fish tank and an assortment of plastic plants. Through trial and error and a little bit of torch light I spent a couple of days (in my usual to-ing and fro-ing manner) and created the following piece.


The Deep:



It’s always so kind of photographers to send prints to me after a shoot and I was really excited to receive an actual ‘moving image’ of this one; when you walk past it looks like I’m swimming in the reeds! Very magical! 🙂
Mermaid on Rocks:

Moon Dance:
Sword and Fire
And here’s a grid of a few more from the day:
A lot of the images above were created in the most unlikely set ups: a lot of hocus pocus went into them and so the results were such a fun surprise for me (even knowing what the intended outcomes were, via some pencil sketches!). 
You can look through more of Clayton’s work and purchase some prints of his fantasy and storytelling work from Stephen Bartels Gallery here.

Right, time for me to finish packing for France tomorrow!

Otters, Rocks and Water Lilies

Just in case you don’t notice, I’ve now re-jiggled my blog here to have its very own stand-alone ‘Travel Plans, Schedule & Events’ page (see the new tab at the top!). Pretty snazzy, eh? I’ll be attempting to keep it regularly updated with dates and locations, so it’s the place to glance at now and then if you ever find yourself wondering about my wanderings.

I’ve also added a widget on the right hand side which enables you lovely readers to enter your email address into the box to get immediate notifications directly to your inbox every time I update this blog with news and new images. You might find you like it. (And if not, you can unsubscribe at any time.) Do it! 🙂

*****

At the end of July I went on another two-day adventure with Perry (Imagesse) to Pembrokeshire in Wales. I annoyed myself throughout the trip by having a cold which meant I couldn’t breathe amazingly well (urgh), but apart from that it was another very enjoyable adventure! I had my own beautiful little self-catering converted barn in Lamphey, so that was a nice treat (although I vaguely remember demanding that Perry remove a spider from my bathroom shortly after arrival. I am such a girl, it’s embarrassing).

We visited various locations which Perry had thought looked interesting, and as usual there were some beautiful and striking scenes involved. Sometimes a shoot is a bit like a nature-spotting hiking trip in disguise. 🙂 With thanks to Perry (and hoping to shoot again sometime!), here are a few of the results:

With my dance wings let loose like a cape…

In a tiny old chapel set in a cliff:

Down near the water…

And in a huge lake filled with beautiful water lilies. It was quite difficult to find a spot to photograph here, as to be honest, the lake wasn’t exactly very private, but we took the risk… I love the inky hues of Perry’s mono conversions here, but will also add a couple in colour to show off the amazing vibrant blues and greens!

And of course, I promised otters. Well, aside from joggers of the picturesque-location penchantery, this location was also a hit with otter-spotters. One poor man told us all about his efforts to witness their existence, with little success, before moving on. Around three minutes later, we saw one repeatedly popping its little brown head up before swimming around to a slightly different part of the water, sending ripples and bubbles everywhere and popping up again… We were totally spoiled with otter omnipresence! So obviously Perry grabbed a quick snapshot or two (though he hadn’t got the most appropriate otter-watching lens on at the time!):

Cuuuuute! I really hope the man we spoke to saw one or two before he went home.

I love my job.

Solarised

Hoping the East Coasters are doing OK. Horrible time for all concerned. Wishing you light, heat and power!!

And here are some polaroids from the wonderful woman that is Zoe Wiseman. Zoe is so brilliant to work with – utterly laid back (we’d pause after every single shot to pull out the image, dip it in the bucket… and get excited each time, so it was a very leisurely pace… and cooling off in the swimming pool became the shoot itself!) but happy to direct too, and always has the models’ best interests at heart, which doesn’t go unnoticed. Half of the roll was of me and half of the very beautiful Meghan (in last shot), who will soon feature here more I’m sure as we also spent a whole load of time shooting together again, including UNDERWATER – that was a really fun challenge for me, and hopefully the images will be very special! We will have to see how the film comes out! Oh, the suspense!

Anyway, I love these! Some are (semi?) solarised, for an extra layer of coolness. Zoe was using a Holga with a Polaroid Back (polaroid Type 85 Pos/Neg film). She solarised the images by peeling the positive away from the negative before it was fully developed and held them to the Californian sun to create the funky stuff. Clever, eh?

Pebbles

Happy Monday everyone! Hope everyone had a nice weekend… I ended up on a boat yesterday for a friend’s birthday party on the river. Lots of fun (and cider and pimms!) and I got to drive for some of it!

Here are some recent shots by Jeremy Howitt, taken on Brighton beach! This was the first shoot of my trip to Sussex at the end of June and resulted in a little monochrome mini-series (and salty beach hair! :-)).



Jeremy’s plan was to keep these in monochrome, but I couldn’t help wondering what they’d look like in colour (despite the uneventful sky; it was a hazy morning) and after a couple of to-and-fro edits (me vaguely suggesting, Jeremy miraculously realising my ideas with the magic of technology), this colour image is what we came up with. I love the peachy-pink blaze at the top of the frame and the soft pastel hues.

Another great shoot – thanks Jeremy!

The edge of the world

Wow, if Carlsberg made photographers, they’d come in the shape of Chicago-based Billy Sheahan. I appreciate and enjoy all of my shoots and often forge friendships with photographers when things have gone particularly well and repeat bookings are made often, but there was something about this shoot that was really special for me.

Billy picked me up from the airport in Mexico after I’d flown west from Mexico City (a place I can’t wait to visit again), and drove me towards a week of intense creativity. Billy was the first photographer who’d booked me for a shoot, and we found the most sublime beach, early in the morning, totally empty. We had to walk through various exotic trees and cacti to find it and when we first glimpsed it, we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. So perfect and serene. It was so quiet, too, and the whole thing felt like such a privilege.

Billy is one of my favourite photographers ever. He is such a kind, jolly, positive person that is so much fun to be around. He was, as he called himself, the ‘model taxi’; carting us around to grocery stores and to and from meet-ups in his hired car. He even drove us and waited patiently while some of us browsed (slowly) a Mexican charity shop (I think ‘thrift store’ was the correct term; I bought some particularly eccentric black and white geometric-patterned trousers), looking for Halloween costumes. He crashed his car (well, ‘crashed’ is unfair; it was a tiny tiny bump) and got over it in half a second. He is always smiling and incredibly open to the moment, which was why this, Billy’s first real outdoor-location model shoot as I think he told me, was so successful and such a joy.

I know I sound like I’m gushing, but I just felt so incredibly FREE during this shoot. Billy just left me to prance about along the shore line, in and out of waves, jumping off rocks and strolling around in front of his camera. He was a fair distance away for a lot of the shots, and took millions of frames, hoping to catch the ‘moment’ of whatever I was about to do at any given time, since we couldn’t really communicate well in the conditions. So in some ways I felt, for a lot of the shoot, like I was alone in nature, just experiencing the place in all its head-knocking beauty. I’m so grateful for Billy for allowing me to feel that way, and for framing so much open space in many of the shots that reflect that state of mind. Looking at these shots makes me feel so happy.

Billy has written very eloquently about our shoot here and here. Please do read what he’s written – it’s so nice and really sets things in context!

Yes, there will be some monochrome/colour indecision. I love the blues in the ones looking out to sea!

Click to view them large (you’ll need to; I’m kinda tiny in some of them), and please let me know your favourites!



…And some in colour:
 
 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Hope things get better and better and reality is aligned with your bestest dreams (and certainly not the creepy dream I had last night about my poor cat being attacked… a little too much NYE wine, I think…) Hope everyone had fun last night, whether it was a big party for you or a quiet night in. I definitely invented some new dance moves with my friends in their lounge, and have now finally recovered. Felt ill all day (well, it’s only once a year, isn’t it?). 😦

Here are some more shots from Ron Skei – somehow I’d lost the email he’d sent them to me in (ooops!!), and so I’m rediscovering them now. The prop in the first set is a chair/basket thingy. Cool huh?

…I’m off now to watch Adele (who reaches into my brain for her lyrics) on TV.