Drinking all of Arabella’s tea

Last few posts about my photographic journey have of course all been about working with models ever since I found the PurplePort website. This post is no exception, and is all about my shoot with Arabella.

When I first joined the site I knew I was going to need some help getting started. When you create an account on PurplePort, they create a list for you called “People I’d like to work with”, and you can add people to the list with the click of a button. Not keen on the name so I decided to create a new list called “Models who could help me get started”. A much nicer name I felt. So I set about the task of searching for some help.

This is a fairly short list, and the models were chosen because they were either nearby, mentioned on their portfolio notes that they would work with beginners, had an outstanding portfolio – images and notes, said nice things in the groups, or, let’s face some facts here, I had a little crush on. Arabella qualified for the list on all counts and was instantly added as soon as I saw her portfolio. Thinking nothing more about it, I continued my search.

A short while later I received a flashing red notification. I had a message. I didn’t get many messages at the time. I wondered who it could be. It was a message from Arabella. I panicked. Models didn’t message me other than to keep their reply rates up with a “Thanks but no thanks Mr No References”. This was a different message however, a nice message thanking me for adding her to my list and would I like to arrange a photo shoot? My hear skipped a beat; several in fact.

I sent a very direct and succinct reply to Arabella, stating …. oh who am I kidding? I prattled on and on about me and Lego, and how I’m new, and how I’m a complete nervous wreck, and who pretty she looks, ladies underwear, and just a whole load of nonsense. Awful message! I pressed send, started looking for the Recall Message button, realised there wasn’t one, had a little cry, and then got back to counting my no references.

A short while later Arabella replied and ACTUALLY AGREED TO DOING A SHOOT WITH ME! I couldn’t believe it! Mad woman!

I was of course overjoyed. I did a little happy dance around the room, got back to the keyboard, and tried to act cool. More messages were sent, a mood board created, and a date arranged. Before I knew it, the date came, and here’s what happened.

Arabella says that she likes to drink a lot of tea. This is good. I love tea. So to get things started we had a cuppa,  had a nice chat about photography, drink some more tea, bit more chatting, and a final get-read culpa, and then we got started.  We began the shoot indoors with a portraiture session. I wanted to practice using my speedlites so we tried some head shots. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get one of the strobes to fire. It would work for two shots then stop. I would like to say that this is the first time I’ve ever had an equipment failure in front of a beautiful woman, but alas that wouldn’t be true.

Me: “This has never happened to me before”

Arabella: “It’s ok, it’s not important”

Me: “But it was all working fine last night when I was practicing on my own”

Arabella: “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. It happens to lots of other men. I have a solution …”

Fortunately Arabella took the matter in hand – now now – and provided some lights and soft boxes of her own, and we got down to creating some photos (at last).

I’ll be honest here, most of the shots from the first session are not my best work. Arabella was great, and had lots of props, hats, nets, and all kinds of things, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Studio type environments are quite alien to me and that’s somewhere I really need more practice. After a quick cup of tea we decided to head outside to a local beauty
spot. I’m much more comfortable in this sort of environment.

There was a nice bridge.

And then we found a bench

I really was starting to feel much better about the photo shoot now, and I think it’s showing in the images.

We wandered over to the bandstand an Arabella stared doing her stuff.

If I look back at the images I’ve taken since starting to work with models, oat are head shots. I like them. The reason I started this little journey was to get better at portraits. So, I moved in a little closer …

And closer …

And even closer …

It was around this point in the shoot where Arabella told me a funny story about how when out on another photo shoot her and the photographer met another middle aged man out with a beautiful young woman and realised they were out on a shoot too. They waved to each other in a photographer-and-model-comradery sort of way. I laughed, but all I was thinking was “Oh no! I’m a middle aged man chasing after young women with my camera. Talk about mid-life crisis!”

So for pointing out the obvious I made Arabella lie on the freshly cut grass as revenge. Wink

We wrapped things up, almost a full hour over time, and headed back to Arabella’s, bu alas she was out of tea bags.

The three models unfortunate enough to have worked with me at this point will have noticed me saying “May I?” whilst gesturing with the camera moving towards my eye, in a may-I-take-a-photo kind of way. This is something I’ll need to get over. As we parted I did ask Arabella “May I?”, but was with outstretched arms in offer of a goodbye hug. I couldn’t even shake the hand of the first model I met, just left her stood there with an outstretch hand for far too long. This I think is personal progress for me.

And that’s the end of the story … almost.

Perhaps I should’t share this with you, but after returning home Arabella and I exchanged a few messages and appropriate feedback was left. She then told me that she’d only recently heard news of a tragic event involving somebody dear to her. She thanked me for a nice shoot. I was utterly gobsmacked that she’s gone ahead with the shoot. I’d have cancelled. Arabella honoured her commitment to a complete stranger, a middle-aged GWAC (Guy With A Camera) she’d never met. This I think speaks more about her professionalism and honour than my words ever could.

Thank you Arabella. x

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