Friday, September 9, 2011

Pleasant Surprises

I had kind of a strange experience last weekend.  I have my twin girls on alternate weekends, so can only do model photo shoots on the weekends I don’t have them (and, yes, I have a “day job” so can’t normally shoot on weekdays, either).  Last weekend was one in which I had my girls, so wouldn’t have been able to shoot except that on the holiday – Labor Day – I wouldn’t have them and could do a shoot.  I had planned this in advance, and was going to do a shoot with one of my favorite models (she shall remain unnamed here…).
I had made preparations on several fronts, including purchasing some wardrobe items I knew would look especially flattering on her, and getting some props for the shoot.  I did my usual conversion of “home into photo studio”, which is a fair amount of work.  So I was all ready for the shoot, but in the morning as I logged onto my computer, I saw a message from her telling me she suddenly realized she had to go to a family barbeque that day, and could not shoot.

OK, here we go again.  Life offers many opportunities for disappointment, and as I grow older, and hopefully wiser, I learn to avoid asking myself “why”, and instead focus on “what”.  That is, “what” am I going to do about it?  It was still quite early in the morning, so I decided to head off for a run into the forest and grass covered hills just up the road from my house.  This one route I take is really quite a grind, and at the peak I’m a good 500-700 feet higher in elevation than where I started from.   I made it to the summit, and eased down the dirt trail that skirts along the grassy covered hilltop.  As I glanced to my left, to my surprise I saw a four point buck (that’s referring to his antlers, which means eight points in total).  He was a grand specimen, and since bucks are rarely seen, it was a glorious treat and reward for my toil in grinding up to the summit.
I felt amply rewarded as I made my way back home, and tossed around ideas of how to spend the day.  Heaven knows I have loads and loads of pictures waiting for sorting and post-processing, so I thought I could possibly do some of that.  I had also made a tentative plan to do a quick “get to know you” shoot with a model late in the day if I finished my primary shoot early enough.  This was just going to be an outdoor casual shoot, with no special plans for wardrobe or even location.  Just a chance to see if we did good stuff together, and liked working with one another.  I had an idea – I could contact her and see if she wanted to do a more involved studio shoot with me.  It’s a long shot, but what the heck – worth a try.
I texted her after I had returned home and had a chance to shower, and sure enough, she indicated she’d be happy to give it a go.  The only thing left to do was set up the lights, pick out the wardrobe items (she has a different look than my original model, so had to re-think that), and hope for the best.
I have learned that seeing a model with my own eyes for the first time is often quite different than seeing her in the portfolio she offers the world to see.  It should be no surprise, after all.  Everyone will pick the shots that show them off best, and with PS retouching, the real person is often quite different than the one in the shots.  So I was pleasantly surprised when Elly arrived.  For one thing, she had already applied her makeup (which save us time), and for another – she was just great looking.  Nice complexion, beautiful hair, and a body which was better in person than in the photographs.

We quickly got to work.  We only had 2.5 hours to complete the shoot, and I had laid out five or six wardrobe settings.  She was very professional, having brought with her two bags containing her own wardrobe, a selection of shoes, and her makeup touchup kit.  After a quick chat and a mutual choosing of wardrobe sets, we started the first set.
What a pleasure to work with her.  I could just give her a starting pose, and from there she’s improvise in just the right ways.  She came up with some great expressions, followed directions as I asked, only offering ideas to enhance things, and we were off and running.  Working with her was like two musicians playing together who had jammed together for many years.  Each person trusted the other to improvise when needed, and then both would return to the main strain at the right time. 
The time flew.  I changed backdrops twice, and lighting setup three or four times, as she changed wardrobe into five different outfits.  She looked stellar in each one.  I couldn’t have been happier.  The only (slight) disappointment was that she had to leave in a hurry when we finished, so didn’t get the chance to look at the finished work on the computer. (I always like that chance to review the shots for the first time with the model – like opening Christmas presents together!).
It was a great day.  I was so stoked by the time I had looked through the shots, and felt it was indeed a very productive and enjoyable day.  So, once again, I’m reminded about how things often work out: when one door closes, another one opens up in an unexpected area and takes you on a rewarding journey.  We have to remember to let go, not try to control things too much, and just enjoy the ride.

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