Tag Archives: model

Musings on my muse

This title was just asking to be used…!

What is a muse? What is a muse for me? I have regularly referred to my good friend Stephanie Tait as my muse, and as I am presently hoping she’ll be visiting the UK again later this year (she now lives in Los Angeles), I wanted to reflect on what it is about her that makes me regard her as my muse, and what that means for me.

Stephanie

Stephanie

I have thought about this at various times over the last few years, and, unusually, I have not spent any time researching the topic by reading about it. What I mean by this is that I have not followed my usual academic-inspired route of studying the question of muses and how they have been seen and understood in the past by artists. This has been very deliberate: although I do, of course, have a general sense of the idea of muses and have regularly come across artists who have seen particular individuals as muses (for example, Harry Callahan photographed his wife Eleanor Callahan extensively: Suzanne Shaheen’s obituary in The New Yorker on 2.3.12 described her as ‘[o]ne of the greatest muses in photo history…’).  I have also engaged with artistic representations of the question of muses (narratives such as Jacques Rivette’s La belle noiseuse comes to mind, for example).  However, whilst noting en passant that these are mostly gendered relationships – as is mine! – which almost automatically makes them an interesting object of study, I have not sought to actively research muses in a scholarly way.  Exercising such deliberate restraint is not that easy for me to do, but I have wanted to write this blog posting for some time, and I very consciously wanted to try and write it in such a way that it would be a reflection of and on my own emotional experiences, rather than a treatise on the place of artistic muses in history.  Doing the latter would be easy for me, whilst I knew that doing the former would be more difficult.  However, I was also clear that engaging my own emotional experience would be much more interesting – at least for me, perhaps for Stephanie, and possibly for others.

The idea of muses in western contexts comes, of course, from Greek myth: the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who are the goddesses of the arts are the original muses, though I would not have been able to name them all without a reference work (see, the academic in me breaks out after all…!): Calliope of epic poems; Clio of history; Erato of love poems; Euterpe of music and lyric poems; Melpomene of tragedy; Polyhymnia of sacred lyrics; Terpsichore of dancing; Thalia of comedy; Urania of astronomy. There is clearly an inspirational connection here, but until fairly recently it has not been very clear to me how this might relate to my own thinking about muses. To understand this requires a wider understanding of some personal history… indulge me…

My most beautiful model

My most beautiful model

Although happily married to the person I want to be married to, long before and throughout our marriage I have held – and articulated – the belief that one other person can never be a complete counterpart for anyone, at least, not in the sense of being someone who can reflect all their interests, needs and desires: maintaining otherwise is to create an idol of the other, leading to (self-)deception and unrealisable expectations.  All long-term relationships are unique creations built on certain mutually agreed foundations between individuals, whether spoken or unspoken, and in this case, this understanding about idolatry of the other is one that both of us in this marriage have always understood in broadly the same way, with a similar sense for the boundaries and parameters (of course, my wife might articulate these things slightly differently, but that doesn’t detract from the fundamental mutuality).  This understanding manifests itself in different ways, not least in the form of friends: we have mutual friends with whom we share a great deal, and equally, we both have friends to whom the other has less of a connection or affinity.  Exploring varying aspects of our personalities through relationships to other people is completely normal.

So how does all this connect to Stephanie? Without wanting to elaborate on the details, a few years ago, during a particularly stressful and difficult period, Stephanie became someone I found I could rely on and relate to as a good friend: the kind of person who really was there when needed, if that’s not too much of a cliché.  That this happened is all the more remarkable in that she is (and, I hasten to add, was already at that time) a former student of mine – it cannot be taken for granted that a connection initially based on a structured power relationship (such as lecturer-student) can be transformed into one that is more about people relating to one another as equal human beings.  She knows that she has my immense gratitude for her kindness to me in this period.

Stephanie

Stephanie

As I have described here, it was Stephanie who first suggested I might work on portraits, and she has been a source of inspiration to me ever since (it’s interesting to me that this was a hurdle to her too, but she didn’t give that away at the time – I think she knows that would have intimidated me even more!).  Given that Stephanie is a script-writer, film-maker, and film-scholar, it is perhaps appropriate that she reminds me of Radha Mitchell’s Syd in one of my favourite films, Lisa Cholodenko’s High Art.  For sure, it is rather presumptuous to compare myself to Ally Sheedy’s Lucy, the photographer in the film, but my comparison rests loosely on the inspirational role that Syd plays in relation to Lucy.  Long dormant, Lucy rediscovers her desire to pursue her photographic life through her encounter with Syd, although this has tragic consequences for the main protagonists of the film, especially Lucy and her partner, Patricia Clarkson’s Greta (I’ll say no more, but I do highly recommend the film!). I don’t think I had realised how much I wanted to photograph people until Stephanie more or less made me photograph her.

Now, I’m aware that this perhaps sounds a bit like a teenager’s first proper kiss, with Stephanie taking the role of my first true love!  That is not what I’m seeking to suggest here.  Of course, at the risk of veering into psychobabble, all relationships also involve some form of physical connection, and it would be completely naïve to pretend that didn’t exist: yes, I see Stephanie as a beautiful woman, and in other circumstances I may well have been very attracted to her – but that is not really the issue here.  I encounter a great many people that I think of as beautiful in one way or another, both male and female, but I don’t want to pursue physical relations with all of them.  In that sense, I tend to take a broadly conservative attitude to my marriage! 🙂

Stephanie

Stephanie

Furthermore, I have photographed many other people, and I have enjoyed the engagement with both friends and professional models who have been tremendously forthcoming in their openness to my photographic ideas.  I very much want to continue to do this.  But… but… photographing Stephanie is somehow qualitatively different to all of this.

Initially, I can identify two significant elements that make photographing her such a different kind of experience for me.  Firstly, I have an intimate relationship to Stephanie based on our profound empathetic encounter from a time of adversity that fosters and encourages an almost totally free exchange of thoughts and ideas (insofar as such freedom is possible; even if it is, some ideas are never meant for sharing, even with the most intimate of confidantes).  Secondly, her role as my muse is an active one: she is herself an incredibly creative person who brings her tremendous energies to bear in all areas of her life.  Photographing her becomes an active process of cooperation in transforming ideas into photographs.

These two elements – her profoundly sensitive nature and her own rampant creativity – mean that when I’ve described ideas to her, or developed ideas that she has brought, they suddenly seem totally natural, no matter how crazy they may have seemed at first: I feel as if she intuitively and intimately understands where I am coming from and what I am trying to do, often without too many words needing to be spoken.  Injecting her own personality into the process, she is, for me, an inspirational woman who engages in intimacy with me on a level that makes the attempts to create something just work. The end-result may not always quite reflect the extent of the initial vision, but that is probably down to my technical failings rather than her lack of engagement or understanding.  So Stephanie is not only one of my best friends.  Stephanie is also, for me, an inspirational goddess, a muse: the one model above all others who makes these things imaginable in the first place.

Stephanie

Stephanie

There is, however, a third element beyond the intimate empathy and creativity Stephanie embodies: when I say she is “the one model above all others who makes these things imaginable in the first place”, I find I want to ask both how this manifests itself, and why it might be the case.  When I seek answers to these questions, I find that they are, unsurprisingly, dialectically related to one another.  For a long time, I wasn’t completely clear about this.  However, what has recently helped me understand this is a very simple realisation: whenever I have an idea about something I want to do that involves a model, it is always Stephanie who first comes to mind.  As I seek to try and envision an image, she is the one I imagine posing, she is the one I imagine wearing whatever garment I am thinking of, she is the one who is asking the questions about how and why something should be done one way and not another…  I suppose I am conducting long conversations with her about my images, even when she isn’t there.  She may not be the person who appears in the final image – and given the distance between us that is increasingly unlikely! – but she is always the one I am thinking of initially, to the point where my sketchbook of ideas is, in fact, largely a collection of sketches of her.  In so many ways, she is not only a model for me, she is my model model, as in: my model for other models, irrespective of gender or appearance.

This can sometimes have interesting and slightly strange repercussions: I have a small series of images in mind that picks up on something important that has happened to me, but I very much want to ask Stephanie to be the first model in that series.  I haven’t spoken to her about this yet so she doesn’t know what I’m thinking of – that’s something I’ll describe to her when I see her – but I have already partially created the second and third set of images.  What is rather strange about this is that I feel I can’t show these other images until I have created the first one, ideally with my muse, my inspirational goddess, addressing issues of pain and beauty that are very personal for me.

Incidentally, I have long been enticed by her online name: in various places, such as her blog and her Twitter account (do read and follow!), she uses “Queendom of Mab” to identify herself. From Shakespeare’s description of a fairie who comes to lovers in Romeo and Juliet, to some of the stranger usages by other authors, there is something about the inspirational, unexpected, and supernatural in her usage of this moniker that really appeals to me – but perhaps that’s just my own view, coloured by the emotional attachment I have to my friend.

I would like to think that this muse-relationship will continue: that when we’re both old and rickety, even though we will perhaps still live on different continents, I might see Stephanie every once in a while and want to photograph her – and she might continue to be happy to be photographed. We’d spend time discussing and gently exploring our way forwards in the mutual transformation of a particular vision into a photographic reality – and we’d enjoy doing it.  After all, the inspirational goddesses don’t stop inspiring just because time progresses…

Stephanie

Stephanie

Before concluding, I think it is important to note that muses can take many different forms.  For some, it is a person, for others it can be a place: I don’t know if he would use the term ‘muse’, but a landscape photographer I know has spoken of a particular hill that he has photographed in numerous different ways almost as if it were a person.  When I look at his photographs, which are connected to poems, I feel as if I am eavesdropping on an intimate conversation he is having with the landscape.  It seems to me that ‘his hill’ is a place that he ascribes with conceptions of intimate refuge, occasional struggle, and substantial creative energies – perhaps it is a kind of muse to him?  There are undoubtedly many different forms that such inspiration can take.

Stephanie, muse

Stephanie, muse

I’m interested in other people’s understanding of their muses…

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Nakedness, breasts, ‘art nudes’, sex and photography

I want to return to some issues relating to responsibility in portraiture that I have touched on briefly before (for example, here and here). In particular, I want to offer some reflections on the photographic portrayal of nudity, or semi-nudity. This posting is to be read as an expression of impatience with what I see as the self-deceit and hypocrisy of many practitioners of what is often called ‘art nude’ photography. I’ll steer clear of explicit discussions of critical theory… but it’s there if you’re looking for it! 🙂

Nakedness

An intimate portrait

An intimate portrait

Let me ask to begin with: what do these two images bring to mind?

smiling

smiling

The first is a photograph I am extremely attached to, for reasons that are very personal: it does what I want it to do, and the model is a good friend who is largely responsible for making me realise that I enjoy creating portraits, and that these can even be rather good. I think of her as my portrait muse (that’s a topic for another day!). It’s not a perfect image by any means, as I have acknowledged in my description, but it is special to me. The second image is part of a slightly mad photoshoot: as I described here, this woman is a professional model who wanted a ‘different’ kind of snow shoot for her modelling portfolio, and all the images from that day are… well, ‘different’ snow images.

Neither, of course, are completely ‘normal’ photographs: both models are revealing more of their naked skin than they might normally do in these settings. The lilac dress doesn’t fall away quite as much in other photographs from this shoot that I’ve published, and the other snow images include a couple more bikini shots, but are mostly of the model wearing dresses (albeit light summer dresses in order to contrast with the snow).  However, it would be very naive to suggest that these images do not also involve a sexual element – especially because of the poses and the fact that both women are revealing more of their breasts than we might expect – and in both cases that’s part of the intention behind the images.

Breasts

Increasingly, it seems to me, women’s breasts are seen solely as sexual symbols (and capitalism exploits this to great effect – think back to the Wonderbra advertisements with Eva Herzigova, and many similar advertising campaigns). This frequently goes to extreme lengths: breasts are abstracted from the rest of the body to the point where they are all that matters (and the taste/level of violence employed in the endless terms used to describe breasts goes rapidly downhill from the almost-endearing language of ‘boobs’).  They become fetishised objects in and of themselves: so-called ‘lad’s magazines’ (like Zoo and Nuts) feature endless photographs of naked breasts, often without the women’s faces or the rest of their bodies (interestingly, these magazines are regularly left on the train I take to and from work, so their viewers – I really cannot bring myself to call them readers – presumably don’t want to be seen with their purchases when they reach their destination).  Breasts, big breasts, are what men want – apparently – and photographs of such breasts are meant to link directly to thoughts of sex (though in general I suspect they just lead to lonely acts of masturbation). The women the breasts belong to are often only valued in terms of their (abstracted) breasts. This is simply pornography – depictions designed to arouse and elicit a sexualised response. Although I’m happy to debate the artistic merits of almost any human creation until the wee small hours, I do not see such depictions as art in any helpful or meaningful sense.

Not what I was hoping for...

Not what I was hoping for...

However, abstraction doesn’t need to be as dramatically obvious or deliberate as the pornography I’ve just mentioned. Although the first image at the beginning of this post reveals more of the model’s breasts than might be expected, I think it does work, whereas this second image of her does not (which is why I have not published it before). She wanted to create an image that communicated feelings of loss and abandonment: she described it in terms of being deserted at a party. The high heels she is holding, the partially-visible but unopened bottle of champagne, the downcast look – all were meant to be a part of this, along with appropriate post-processing (that I have not carried out). But her dress did not co-operate: it fell away from her breasts too easily, and her pose, leaning to her right, means the viewer’s attention is immediately drawn to what happens to be at the very centre of the image: her almost-completely naked breast that her left arm, reaching across her lap to hold her shoes, is inadvertently pushing out of the dress and towards the camera.  With the almost-naked breast the (unintended) central feature of the image, all the other elements become secondary, and so the image as a whole just doesn’t work for either of us. It’s not that the model is ‘too naked’ or ‘too sexy’, it’s that the way the nakedness is created defeats the original intention of the image, creating an abstraction of her breast that then detracts from all the other elements of the photograph. I don’t want to create abstractions of breasts like that: after several attempts, we knew at the time of shooting that this idea would require her to be wearing a different dress. Neither of us wanted to create an image designed solely to offer titillation.

‘Art nudes’

Of course, there are whole genres of photography that deliberately reveal much more naked skin. The term ‘art nude’ is often used in this context. I am deeply sceptical of much of this genre. It is surely no coincidence that an awful lot of ‘art nude’ photography involves older men photographing pretty young women, and no matter how technically accomplished the photography is, much of what pretends to be ‘art nude’ is simply stylish pornography: the focus on particular body parts seems designed to titillate more than anything else. This is very noticeable on photo-sharing sites, where comments regularly descend into raucous objectification of the models’ bodies or parts of their bodies. Such images are everywhere: a cursory look at the constantly-updated ‘popular’ collection of images on 500px.com will easily demonstrate this (I am a member of this photo-sharing site): it is a rare day indeed when the first page or two of ‘popular’ images do not include breasts, often cropped in such a way as to exclude the model’s face. This phenomenon is also observable in some ‘analogue process’ contexts: images of naked women made using Victorian wet-plate methods can be just as abstracting as ones made using a top-of-the-range digital Nikon (as an aside, it seems to me as an outsider to this field that much of this ‘vintage photography’ is really rather tedious, consisting of repetitive motifs displaying little artistic imagination or compositional ability, and though there is a great delight in the method, the process of achieving an image in and of itself does not give the end result artistic merit; nudes photographed with antique cameras still need to communicate more than just the abstraction of a breast etc.). I don’t see any point in linking to more examples, but I would nonetheless maintain that much ‘art nude’ photography is simply stylish (stylised?) pornography – a form of imagery whose primary function for the photographer or the viewer is to elicit a sexualised response.

Of course, there are notable exceptions. In some ways, photographs of men can subvert such understandings of the ‘art nude’: these (from Redbubble, another photo-sharing site I use) play too much into the über-masculine virile alpha-male understanding of masculinity for my liking (though note that when shown, the penis is flaccid rather than erect). However, the photographer also includes nude images of herself in her portfolio, and so I presume these photographs do speak to her, at least (interestingly, she doesn’t include identifiable faces in these images, but her photographs don’t focus simply on breasts or genitalia). More interesting to me are attempts to subvert classical images of masculinity, as Alex Boyd has tried to do in his fourth image here, for example (I have tried similar images, also using myself as a model, but I wasn’t happy with them; perhaps I should revisit this theme). Another form of subversion is the inclusion of scars and visible disability: it seems to me that this photographer’s work (also on Redbubble) is pushing at the boundaries of art nude, but it intrigues me nonetheless – a woman, over 40, using herself as a model, including scars from her breast cancer surgery in her image-making. Of course she is still beautiful with the scars, but this kind of imagery confounds the heteronormative stereotypes of beauty and the traditional ‘art nude’ style of photography that I have described above.

Sex

Imperfect mirrors

Imperfect mirrors

I am not, of course, saying that images should never elicit a sexual response. It is when that is all they do that I think they descend into simply being pornography. What I want is for an image that elicits a sexual response to also do more than that. This is not necessarily difficult. For example, this image, that I created for a book cover about worship in churches, uses a corset to communicate something radically different to the clerical shirt that is depicted in the mirror. The corset communicates something about sex and intimacy and perhaps does so even more obviously from the back than it would do if we could see the model’s breasts and the cleavage created by the corset: her naked back and the elaborate ribbons are – I think – suggestive enough of an alternative milieu to the church’s clerical clothing (it has even been suggested that she looks like a ‘working girl’ – perhaps the term ‘sex worker’ was too much for that commentator – I was present when the model was told this, and she thought it was hilarious!). Here, a suggestion of sex is created through a combination of partial nakedness, and the contrast between the corset and the stuffiness of the church ‘uniform’.

If you’ve managed to read this far, you’re perhaps wondering if I have some kind of problem with nudity and sex.  I don’t think I do, or at least, no more so than most. I see myself as having very broad and liberal understandings on these questions: nudity can be completely wonderful and liberating on many levels, as a physical, emotional and even intellectual expression of self. Sex can be exhilarating, intimate, varied, generous and completely appropriate in a multiplicity of contexts, and the source of great pleasure to those involved. So I am not criticising nudity and sex in photography as such, rather the frequent objectification of a stereotyped image of women’s bodies.

Such objectification is almost always also an abuse of power: abstraction of particular body parts such as breasts or genitalia denies the model’s personhood, their identity as a whole human being. If feminism has taught us anything, it is that power distorts relationships, and performing gender (to use Judith Butler’s language) with a clothed older man wielding a camera in front of a naked younger woman almost invariably leads to asymmetrical power relationships, especially when the focus is simply on certain body parts rather than the individual as a whole. I think photographers and viewers – especially men! – who think otherwise need to reassess their understandings of relationships, and think long and hard about the reasons for wanting to make or view such images.

Photography

Because of the pornographic nature of much of what is supposedly ‘art nude’, the exceptions can be dramatic when we encounter them: there are the examples I have given above, but I have also written before about the brilliant image by Richard Avedon of Nastassja Kinski naked with a serpent: ‘Kinski communicates phenomenal serenity, control, and even power in this photograph, despite being completely naked…’. A friend of mine is in the process of making a series of female and male nude photographs that primarily communicate mystery and longing: very human emotions.  And this is what photography should be about: I want it to elicit some kind of emotional response – and an erection doesn’t count as an emotional response! If a photograph only elicits titillation for either the photographer or the viewer, then we should call it what it is – pornography and not ‘art nude’. If it does more than this, then we can see it as moving into the realm of art.

A little bit of honesty here is all that’s needed.

Warm thanks to Alex Boyd, who read an early version of this text and offered feedback; I am, of course, entirely responsible for the end result.
As always, I welcome comments, but please do not include links to supposedly ‘good’ ‘art nude’ sites – I will not approve them.  Thank you.

Book cover commission

At short notice, and with a tight deadline, I’ve been asked to provide a book cover for a friend’s publishing company, which I’m delighted to do.  As it happens, my sketch book includes a certain set-up with a model, and it just so happens that a little development of this idea could suit the book very well.  My thoughts about this set-up are not necessarily very original, but I nonetheless find the idea interesting (I’ve looked online and recalled a related image, but – though it sounds immodest! – mine is still different, so perhaps it’s even a little more original than I’m giving myself credit for!).  There is something really stimulating about finding inspiration in the creativity of someone else and using that to develop an idea, and it impinges on questions of ownership (more on this shortly).

So, a model has been booked and time has been set aside for the editing… details of all this, including an image or two, to be posted here before long…

Photographic narration – narrating photographs

Stephanie, icon of the silver screen

I have begun to rework some of my image galleries, which I thought were becoming somewhat stale and not very helpfully organised.  In addition, I began to feel that just ‘dumping’ a series of images in a gallery was no longer what I wanted to do.  Photographs should both tell a story, but there is also a story behind most photographs.  So my galleries are now organised by type: land (land- and cityscapes), models, events.  Within these broad categories the galleries will hopefully offer more of a sense of the story behind the photographs, as well as – in part – perhaps suggesting ways in which the photographs might be interpreted.  Of course, this latter approach is broadly about how I understand my own work, and that isn’t necessarily how others see it! 🙂

In the first instance, I’ve done some work on the models galleries.  There are several reasons for this:

  1. there are a limited number of galleries making this a task that was more easily manageable!
  2. for a while now I have felt I wanted to pay homage to Stephanie, who has been a profound influence on my portraiture.  In the introductory narrative to the models section, I describe her role to me as a photographic muse (and I’m already thinking of the beginning of a new series of photographs that I’d like to start with her when she is next in Scotland, whenever that’s going to be).  I have therefore written what are almost little photographic essays about our first two portrait sessions that might be of interest (do start with the Edinburgh narrative and then move on to the London collection!).
  3. although I was very aware that I would have to put a lot of work into these particular narratives, I don’t expect many of the other galleries to involve quite so much work.  This means I am better able to gauge the task, but also see how a detailed textual accompaniment would work.

My next task will be a little tidying up and adding to for the events section, and then I’ll begin to work on the landscapes – this looks as if it will be the most work because there are more galleries and images, but as noted above, I don’t see myself writing quite as much as I did for the two long Stephanie essays.  I’ll be splitting the land galleries up into countries or regions, and will also include some of my photographs from the Middle East.

Of course, this is a bit of an ongoing project for the moment, and so I would be very interested in any comments – good, bad, indifferent – about what I am trying to do here.  Please either use the comments sections below, or write to me directly using the contact page – thank you!

My most beautiful model - see the Galleries, Models page for more information

My most beautiful model – see the Galleries, Models page for more information

Getting there, slowly

One of the problems with being off work with an arm injury (and therefore being unable to use the computer properly) is that editing photographs is also a problem: many of the mouse movements are difficult, and repetitive actions strained my arm and hand in ways that prevented me from doing anything very much with any of my images.  And using my Wacom tablet was out of the question – and still is.

Now, I have far too many photographs in my optimistically-named ‘temp’ folder in Lightroom 3, just waiting for me to sort and edit them (oh, and go through the mindless but necessary tedium of adding keywords). For almost all of the photographs in that limbo state, this delay is not a problem – they are just my private photographs. But shortly before the accident I had volunteered to take photographs at an event at my son’s school: the older pupils were running a fashion show to help raise some funds, and these photographs needed to be processed urgently. And… I must be getting better since not only am I beginning to use my cameras again, I have also managed to finish the edits on the fashion show, editing photographs in batches.

This was an enjoyable evening, and the pupils’ enthusiasm was infectious – not much sullen strutting up the catwalk in evidence here!  Even dubious fashion items (a leather kilt, anyone?) were worn with pride, and many of the young women clearly felt like princesses in their prom dresses and the like.  (Must remember not to mention the forthcoming examinations to them…)

School fashion show

School fashion show

Relaxing in the sun

Ngoni relaxing in the winter sun

Ngoni relaxing in the winter sun

I’m not going to create a new blog entry for every image of Ngoni that I process, but this is one of my favourites!  There is something rather mad about being out in the snow in a bikini, but she continually assured me she wasn’t too cold (I was in my thermals, standing in the stream to capture this!).  Before you think I’m a sadist who enjoys inflicting cold on my models, one thing you can’t see is that Ngoni is not really sitting in the snow, but on a hot water bottle wrapped in a white cotton bag – her bum and thighs were probably the only part of her that was really warm!  I’m beginning to put together some images for a little gallery here, but in the meantime I thought it might be interesting to describe a little some of the processes behind making this image.

Trying to capture her naked skin against the mass of white snow was not completely straightforward, partly because (for the camera, at least), the snow dominates the scene.  The camera’s white balance (set to ‘shadow’) still managed to make everything look rather blue, and the snow overwhelmed the camera’s meter, even though I metered for her face (in camera, I didn’t use a lightmeter as I was trying to be as fast as I could to prevent her from getting too cold!  Key settings were ISO400, f4.2, 1/60s, the aperture being designed to create a relatively shallow depth of field).  But because the camera struggled a bit with the dynamic range, along with correcting the white balance and other general edits in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, I needed to carry out some editing just on her body, and others just on the background, involving a tedious selection process (Photoshop’s magic wand etc. found itself being rather confused by the white bikini and the snow, and Ngoni’s legs and the bridge, making a totally manual selection necessary).  Still, this allowed very precise edits to be made for Ngoni and the environment.

Also, although she is, of course, the main feature of this photograph, she occupies a relatively small portion of the overall scene.  I felt that her rather pale makeup, which worked so well in the other shots from the day, got a bit lost here, so I made some adjustments to her makeup as well, which in the small image here is most noticeable in the form of much darker ‘lipstick’ being used.

Photographing Ngoni Namate (in the snow…)

Ngoni in the snow

Ngoni in the snow

I had the great pleasure of photographing a new (to me) model yesterday: the fabulous Ngoni Namate.  When we first met a few weeks ago to talk about possible shoots sometime during the next few months, she mentioned that she would really like some photographs in the snow, were it to snow at some point soon…

Well, providing snow pretty much anywhere in northern Europe is currently not such a big problem!  So we met yesterday, and she spent much of the day in gorgeous dresses in the woods – and she even managed not to freeze to death (for those who wonder what it is about ‘my’ models being cold… no, no, no, it’s just a coincidence, honest!).  This is one of the (unprocessed) snapshots of Ngoni from the day – proper edited images to come once I’ve had a bit of time to go through them (not 15 months for most of them!).