Kowhai girl

LR20150926-12When I am shooting with models for the first time I have absolutely no problem if they bring along a girlfriend for support. I find that it makes them more at ease and therefore the shots are better. It is on the condition that the friend is prepared to help out. There has been the occasion that I have even encouraged the friend in front of the camera as well.

This was the case when Emma arrived for the Spring Goddess shoot with Josephine along for the ride. Josephine is an exchange student from Denmark. When I saw her I instantly wanted to shoot her, and I knew what I wanted.

In preparing for the shoot we had gathered some yellow Kowhai flowers but had not incorporated them (as the colours did not work together). They would work brilliantly with Josephine.

In addition Josephine had a natural beauty that really didn’t need any additional makeup so it meant that there was no additional work required by the makeup artist I was using on the day.LR20150926-13Lighting for the shot was a single light camera right in a white shoot through umbrella with a silver reflector placed camera left.

The Spring Goddess Shoot – Emma

The spring goddess on natures floral mattress
The spring goddess on natures floral mattress

Last year I took a series of images in the Autumn leaves that you can find on this link. At the time it was intended to be a single image, but as I looked around at all of the spring blossom I decided that maybe I should make it a series. So that is what is happening and I will schedule a shoot in each season.

I posted a facebook casting call and Emma agreed to take part and Anahera agreed to be the makeup artist (MUA). I firmly believe that in a collaborative shoot each person should be allowed to bring their own skills and contribute equally. For this reason I never tell the MUA’s exactly how I want the makeup done. Rather I tell them the overall concept and let them bring out their own creativity.

Anahera applies the finishing touches
Anahera applies the finishing touches

In the morning my daughter and I went round the neighbour and did some very selective pruning off the trees in blossom. Now I am no vandal so I ensure that I only removed small sections from branches that were in public areas, and also had grown to a point that the council would trim them anyway.

I had planned to use the bed of flowers that our camellia usually produces but in the week before the shoot it had produced very little so we had to go down the street and collect magnolia petals that had fallen from the trees.

As with the Autumn shoot the dress that Emma was wearing was largely constructed from lengths of material over a hooped petticoat. Lengths of the blossom were then placed over it.

LR20150926-3Now planning an outdoor shoot is always frought with issues and this one was no different. The biggest factor is the weather, and being spring it could not make up its mind what it wanted to do. As the shoot time approached it kept alternating between light rain and sun. As Emma was coming from an hour away I had to make a call at 11:00am and decided to do it regardless. I decided to set up a set in my garage studio and if it rained use that one instead. That is indeed what happened.

The studio setup
The studio setup

We ended up shooting inside which has meant a little bit more work in post than perhaps I originally envisaged.

LR20150926-10 DSC_4708

How do you measure success?

Success is something that we all try to achieve bit often it is not that easy to define outside of the sporting arena (where there are generally scorings to work such things out).

Each year the Hutt Camera Club holds an annual exhibition (mainly of prints) in which members submit works that are then displayed in a local gallery over a two week period. Most years I have submitted images and this year is no different, with three of my images taking part.

The essence of dance. A composite of several shots
The essence of dance. A composite of several shots

As the exhibition came to a close, it made me think about how success could be measured with such an event. I have come to the conclusion that it all depends upon your point of view.

If the exhibition had been run by a single artist then it could have primarily two aims:

  1. For new or emerging artists it could be to raise their profile (which would lead to further works)
  2. Sell their works, and therefore earn a living.

Now this is valid for a professional artist, but is it the same for an exhibition run by a camera club, where the majority of its members are amateurs. In such cases I believe that the exhibition has quite different aims, namely:

  1. Provide its members with the opportunity to have their images appear in an exhibition
  2. Raise the profile of the camera club and as a result attract new members
  3. For the members taking part the opportunity to sell their works.

Because the aims are less measureable (apart from the last one) it is often difficult to measure success.

Close up of a cello
Close up of a cello

In terms of the first aim around half the club members submitted something with quite a number of images coming from members that joined this year, so you could say that it achieved its goal.

In terms of the second aim, with the 2015 exhibition, we managed to get an article in the local newspapers on the day that it opened and as a result attendance numbers have been much higher than previous years. On this basis the profile has been raised but whether that translates into people joining oly time will tell.

In terms of the third aim, four images sold over the two weeks of the exhibition which was great for the photographers concerned. However only four sales out of 71 images would not be considered successful by most people.

Seen better days - shot on an iPhone 5S
Seen better days – shot on an iPhone 5S