Twilight Photo Studio owner Yasmine Rock announced on facebook that there would be a "Pinup" themed open day on Saturday 1st March 2014. Based on my previous 2 visits being so good for my photographic progression, I signed right up. With the expectation of 7 models and as many as 18 photographers, the day held much promise.
Models and Photographers were due to be travelling in from all over Essex. As I live in the furthest corner of the county from the studio, I offered to pick up peops en route. Make a day of it I thought, help people out I thought, utilise the extra seats I thought hehe - until I realised how early I'd have to leave home to make it to Gt Wakering by 12:30 that is. Eurgh! Oh well it REALLY was going to be a WHOLE day!
It seems that although 2014 has so far been atrocious on the weather front, Yas clearly has the magic touch. The day as with the last 2 visits to Twilight again brought brilliant sunshine and blue skies, even if a little crisp brrrr.
By the time I was ready to leave home I had unfortunately already lost 2 of my passengers to last minute work commitments and illness, so on the bright side a simpler journey now lay ahead. In hind sight, I should have adjusted my start time but in my eagerness to get there I didn't and after picking my friend Sharne of sfairchildphotography from Chelmsford and then on to pick up Beth of Beth Chambers Modelling from Benfleet, we arrived bright and early at the studio by 11:45- grabbed a prime parking space and set about unloading. Note, we DID learn from the last experience and our coffee/caffeine intake at this point was a lot lot less than last time.
In the few days leading up to the event, there had been a slight worry that the multitude of photographers expected to attend wouldn't have enough flash strobe kits to make it a proper event and although the natural light in the studio's rooms is fantastic, the weather had been non stop rain and rain and oh erm rain, grey skies and gloom. Not a huge amount of natural light to be had, so a last minute flurry (erm Panic) and a plea for lighting equipped photographers to bring their kit just in case needed was issued and fingers crossed we'd be ready to shoot come rain or shine.
I should just mention here that the day was FREE, completely and absolutely gratis. The models were providing their modelling skills on a TFP/CD (Trade For Pictures/Compact Disk) basis. Anyone who deals with portraiture and models will appreciate how good this arrangement is and the fact that all 7 models agreed to it was credit to Yasmine. Another bonus for me personally was that members of the Facebook group in which I have been contributing to for 5 months or so were due to be among the photography contingent so a good time to put some names to faces.
The day was great, started off at pace and there was a wide mix of expertise from amateur up to fully pro photographers. Personally that was fantastic for me because although not a total beginner, I still appreciate the guidance and insights of other enthusiasts and pursuers of the same passion. Seeing a pro working with a model, I can learn immense amounts on how to interact, the sorts of poses to direct a model into and suggested camera settings to be using.
Starting with a few group shots of all the models gathered with a 50's diner atmosphere, cakes, smoothies and hair bows aplenty, a quick little tutorial ensued from one of the present pros (Peter Kelk). The importance of checking the background and all around the edges of our scene for "things" that can be moved easily now while shooting rather than later with the efforts required in PhotoShop. Very simple yet effective advice, we cleared out a carrier bag, some make up bags, costume props and a couple of the photographers' bags from the background in a couple of seconds (MUCH quicker than cloning or filling away in Post).
Everyone initially somewhat nervously began finding their feet, setting their cameras up and figuring out ettiquette on triggering and using the lighting due to not having enough wireless triggers. We all used a speedlight on lowest power to trigger the bigger studio strobes which were set to Slave firing mode. The speedlight flash triggered them, they recycled and then a "beep" indicated that they were ready for the next shot. That "beep" became the rythym of the day over time, but I digress.... here are the first couple of images to introduce the models (by this point unfortunately we were actually 2 models down) but focusing on the models that did arrive, here they are from left to right, Kerry Rose, Beth Chambers, Betz 'Lily' Blackwood & Frankie Smith.
With only one set of lights and all the models in the same place, the queue of photographers awaiting their turn was growing as more people arrived - ALL CHANGE. Breaking into groups of 2 or 3 photographers to a model, the group dispersed. Much more manageable, much more time working with the models and most importantly, more time making pictures.
The first of these round robbins was to work with Beth and try some natural light shooting whilst it was flooding into the living room.
At this point a poor unsuspecting ice cream van had strayed into the road outside the studio music playing announcing his arrival to a studio full of photographers open to new and interesting ways to take pictures MUAHAHAHAHA- naturally he was commandeered for a photo opp of the girls and some iced confectionary. The Ice cream van man and the rest of the traffic trying to get past, seemed amused and confused rather than furious luckily. A strange turn of events but something else to make the day all the more memorable.
After a bit of fun that would make the day even more memorable, it was back into the natural light with Beth - Strangely the little interlude outside had helped settle my nerves and I began having less issues thinking about what settings to use and just going with the flow a lot easier. These next few pics all came from that new found relaxed state:
All Change and next up was Betz being a 50's gal, using the Strobe setup in the kitchen area our next subject. Admittedly, at this point I was taking my lead from one of the pros, on how to pose the model and not really doing much "directing". Something that is definitely a weakness for me to work on moving forwards. Couldn't decide between the colour and black and white so I thought I'd share both. Feel free to let me know which you prefer.
Then Beth came back down to the kitchen and this time I was without the guidance of a pro so all my own work - nerve wracking and stressful but Beth is such a natural that things went smoothly enough even if a little TOO silently, except of course the "flash > Beep" of the strobes. Coincidentally, this is my best image of the day I think personally, so I cant have done too much wrong in all the watching and listening to the pro I'd done up to this point. :)
Time for a long awaited coffee - phew, some great shots so far (I hoped at least), it is a fairly tiring exercise so I have no idea how the models felt after being stared at and and blinded by flashes of light for hours at a time.
Coffee drained and rather fortuitously as I wondered "What next", Kerry wandered through looking for her next set so we took the opportunity to pair Beth and Kerry together with each other and a couple of the fruit smoothies from earlier. Another note - the Fruit smoothies were really rather past their best after sitting on the side for a couple of hours hehe: ~"Pretend to drink the smoothies girls" tee hee...
My last shot of the day was a quick impromptu one of Frankie sat in Yasmine's car outside, framing the portrait perfectly and somewhat opportunistically while a couple of other photographers were liningup their next shots :).
OK, so day over and a reflective cuppa as well as chat to the models. Chatting all things from their views on how much PhotoShop "touching" they thought was acceptable, to how the lights really dont bother them as much as they were me by that stage of the day. Yvette Goodman had joined us late and although several other photographers grabbed some lovely shots, I however regret that I didnt get the chance to work with her :(. (Sorry Yvette, definitely next time, I'm gutted!!)
My lasting impression of the day was that it was a great event, it showed the relaxed atmosphere of the Twilight Photo Studio experience, it gave me the chance to work with 4 models (5 if I'd paid more attention), AND get the guidance and experience benefits of some pros. Oh oh oh and I met several more of the members from the Essex Photographers and Models Facebook group.
Despite Yas threatening to turn it into Tog-A-Job Day by getting us to cut grass and clean windows, it was a lovely day.
There were probably more parts to the day than I have recounted however it was so action packed that it hardly matters if I've missed off anything.