Monday, August 24, 2009

A Studio Weekend

I was able to spend all day Saturday shooting in the studio and I had a great time. I was able to shoot with my good friend and model, Bridgett, for two shoots and got to work with a fun new model for the last shoot. All in all, I was able to get in about 6 hours of solid shooting, including a couple of hours of shooting with my wife.

I was able to work on two of my projects. Bridgett posed as the Reaper Fae for my Fae in All of Us project, and Bridgett and Wanda both posed for my Women in Chains series. After those two shoots, we went out to dinner in St. Johns with Bridgett, Mark and their son, Morgan, and had a nice time just chatting and catching up with them. Afterwards, Wanda and I went back to the studio to set up for the next shoot which was a reshoot of my Fire Fairy set.

The photos you see here are from the 1st shoot. These ladies weren't the primary models I had planned for the shoot. In fact, they were my back-up models. The primary model was to be shot later the same day that these pictures were taken, but the model was a no show. This was especially frustrating because this model had been planning to shoot this particular set for over a year. Whenever we would plan to shoot, scheduling issues would prevent us from getting together. At the time, I didn't consider this a major issue, since I felt that I had plenty of time to complete the shoot this year and I also knew I could easily get another model for the shoot. Also, the scheduling issues were on both ends of the equation, so I felt I owed her an opportunity to do the shoot.

Finally, this summer, it seemed things were about to come together for the shoot. I found a studio that I could rent for a reasonable rate, although because of the large windows and skylights it would require the shoot to be at night. I was also able to complete a test shoot with the model and she was ready on time and worked well with the camera. She was able to self-direct well, and was also able to take directions easily. Based on her test shoot, I reserved the studio, gathered the needed props, and paid the deposit for a day of shooting.

As you can see from the images above, the lighting for this shoot is quite elaborate. It involved 5 strobes. A large softbox on camera left, a gridded hairlight with a red gel on a boom above the model, and three gelled strobes below the model with barndoors. The model posed on a plexiglass platform with two strobes with red gels lighting her (them) from below, and the third strobe with a yellow gel was set to illuminate the smoke from an industrial fog machine. Additionally, a black velvet background was used to absorb the light and the softbox was flagged to prevent any light spill onto the background.

Earlier in the week the model wrote me (she doesn't have a cell phone or land line) to say she wasn't sure she could make it and asked me to reschedule. This was after confirming two days earlier that the shoot was on. After I told her the studio was reserved and paid for and I could not reschedule, she told me she would be there and we made the final logistical arrangements for the shoot (I was to pick her up at the Max station at 7 pm and she would be bringing her sister along as an escort). That was quite fine with me, but I did have a unsettling feeling about this, so I arranged for the two other models just in case. I also had arranged for a makeup artist for the shoot, but when the MUA called me earlier in the day to confirm, I told her to wait until I was sure the model was going to show before she headed to the shoot.

As it turns out, that was my best move in the whole situation. I figured I could at least use these models to set up the lights and fine tune all the elements of the image so that when the primary model showed up, I would be ready to go for the shoot. Due to the setup time and the time it took the two models to get into makeup and costume, we only got to shoot for about an hour and a half, at which time we all went to the Max station to pickup the third model and her sister.

Since that model had no cell, there was no way for me to call her and confirm she was on her way - so we got to the station early and waited for two trains (a half an hour) before I decided to take the two models to where they needed to be. I came back by the station after dropping them off, and waited for two more trains. At 8:30 pm, I gave it up, called the MUA to cancel and then went back to the studio and spent the next two hours breaking down the studio equipment and stowing it in my truck.

During all this time there was no call at all from the model to explain the situation. In fact, it wasn't until 5 days later that I got a note from the model. She told me she had been in a car accident on the way to a cookout before the shoot, and although she didn't get hurt, her friend who was driving bumped his head and had to go to the hospital and so she had to stay there with him.

I have no idea if this is true or not, but I did tell her in my reply that there was simply no way we'd ever be able to work together given what happened and that a call would have been the most courteous thing to do in the situation.

Fortunately, my shoots this weekend helped me to move forward and I'm just going to chalk this up as a learning experience - never shoot with a model that isn't able and willing to maintain multiple lines of communication. The hassle just isn't worth it!

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