Saturday, March 30, 2013

Anatomy of a photo shoot

Over 12 months ago I bought a beautiful gown. Long and flouncey.  Handmade with a fitted boned bodice and  5 layers of fabric in the skirt, yet it was unfinished.  It had never been hemmed. It had never been worn.  I saw it in an op shop when I was looking for clothing for the props cupboard.  Although it was expensive I HAD to have it.   Since the day I bought it, it has hung in my loungeroom window.  Almost teasing me, daring me to make the most of it.  Then, as you know, I got a bit sick and pretty much everything photographically complex was put on hold.  Seeking strangers stopped.  Duna Studios ground to a halt. Walking anywhere with the weight of a camera and lens became impossible and wearing a camera around my neck was just not an option.   Just a little desktop macro stuff  filled my flickr pages.  But nothing more complex or mentally or physically challenging.   Well I am starting to feel human again, having the odd good day in a week of bad.  I ran the idea past the Doc.  She isn't sure I am up for it yet, but agreed I could try.  So I decided it was time to photograph someone in the gown.  To set up a photo shoot from start to finish.

As all I had was the dress I needed a concept, a location, a model and an assistant.  Well the assistant was easy.  Josh is always willing to help out at this kind of gig and he is a genius with lighting and the technical side of the shoot.  I am sooooo not a genius with lighting or the technical stuff.  I rely on some  measure of luck and hope the artistic merit of the shot outweighs any deficiency in the technical component.  Then a concept came to me.  Middle European style,  "girl in a forest" was what my minds eye saw.  The long hot Australian summer kindly provided me with a location.  A bushfire provided me with a stand of burnt out trees and the shot was complete.  Well complete in my minds eye that is.  I was still missing someone to wear the gown.  And that I found was going to be harder to organise than I imagined.

I put a casting call on a model website.  I outlined the gig and said I was searching for a size 8 model with long dark hair willing to do a TFCD shoot.  TFCD means she provides her time freely and in return she gets both Hi and low resolution shots for her portfolio that she has a legal right to use for self promotion.  It is a contracted shoot. Complete with identity confirmation and a waiver.  I planned to shoot to take ONE HOUR.

Over 50 people read the casting call and I had 3 replies.  The first girl had chrome coloured hair...... yep a dull grey.  Not her real colour, just a dull grey.  The second girl wanted payment and the third girl lived 135kms away... but was willing to travel!   I opted for the paid model.  I knew what I wanted, her rates were reasonable and I didn't need her for very long!  She gave me her availability, agreed on a price structure and I set a time and date....... and then she didnt get back to me!  A no show, a flake!  Later I got an email saying she had gone to Sydney for the weekend, but was available "Anytime".

Soured by this I began hunting for a reliable local girl who would spare me an hour of her time.  If I was unable to find a willing model I did assess the viability of putting  my youngest nephew in a wig for the shoot!  He's always willing to help me, but he drew the line there!!!  I knew the look I wanted and contacted a friend of my niece.  I managed to convince a beautiful young lady to be a part of the process.  It took quite a few emails to win her over.   In the end Monica agreed to wear the gown and so in a few short hours we will try to make the image in my head an image on my sensor.

All batteries are charged, lightstands sorted, flash heads and triggers checked, reflectors packed and when I load it all into the car I will be ready to roll.  Also packed are pins and duct tape, just in case the gown needs some "adjusting".  The weather gods are smiling and fingers crossed it stays that way till about 4pm today.

Here's the gown that started this whole merry go round!!


At 2pm the second model sent me a message on facebook that she couldn't make it.   Now I have no issue here as I know this girl and she wouldn't have canned the shoot without good cause!  I sent a mate a message that the gig was off and he made a call, then put me in contact with someone he had recently shot.  This amazing young lady came to the party and two and a half hours later we were shooting in the original location.  She was a complete delight to work with.  Here is one of the afternoon.


  1. Replies
    1. Nearly didn't happen Dodgey!!! Model no:2 had to bale but Model No.3 stepped up to the plate and the shot went off, albeit two hours later than planned.