Saturday, 17 September 2011

Bridal Open Day

FSM's tres terrific trio of Samantha, Emma and Melissa will be range modelling wedding gowns designed by Debbie Russell at tomorrow's Bridal Open Day being held at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel between 12noon & 4pm. Get along to see the girls in their stunning gowns, and take in some of the other wedding service vendors who will be displaying their wares in the Almond Suite. This is the place to be on Sunday if you are even just considering tying the knot within the next couple of years.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Girl in a red dress.

Modelling isn’t as easy as it looks and, let’s face it, it does look pretty easy doesn’t it?

Having spent a brief period in football as an admin. person, I find the analogies between football and modelling are just such a ‘spoonishly’ good fit for each other. And, on the subject of ‘easy’, well, again, let’s face it, football does look pretty easy doesn’t it? Almost as easy as modelling!

The difference – and that difference can be either overwhelmingly incongruous, or subtly obscure – is that the majority of observers will never have partaken in either discipline. So, while they may be able to appreciate the application and the outcomes, they will have little experience with which to realise the intricacies of the profession.

Now, being a photographer of models I do get a few more insights into the art of modelling that the average magazine reader, and I can see that it is hard. As in football, becoming good at it – let alone great – takes lots of commitment and practice, and even then there is no saying that you’re going to find any success at it. Real success requires that you enjoy a good measure of that ‘other-worldly’ ingredient which can’t be assimilated through hard work, dedication or practice. That ingredient is talent.

Talent is the most complex of components: it can’t be bought, won’t be found and has no preferences. And there’s just not enough room in this piece to go into the why’s & wherefores of what it is – if it can even be said to be an ‘is’ in any case.
However, while it may not be acquired by any known prescription nor defined by description, when you do happen to come upon it, it’s almost instantly recognisable.

So, allow me to introduce you to Teri: Teri is a very charming, unassuming, 17 year old model who hails from Bathgate in West Lothian. As well as being drop dead gorgeous, she also boasts a lovely figure, eyes you could drown in, and the most finely textured, olive-coloured skin - which the camera loves.

On top of all that, she can also model! Teri has a real ‘sense’ of where the light is, and of what the lens is looking for. And that makes it so much easier for any photographer looking to do fashion / modelling work; frankly, there’s nothing as frustrating as having to direct everything from the rear of the camera, so a girl who can actually model just makes everything so much easier. And, if they also happen to be as creative as Teri, then any project you’re involved in can quickly turn from being a rudimentary job of work, to a VERY satisfying collaboration in creative art.

And that pretty much sums up what that much sought-after and ever elusive ingredient called ‘talent’ is all about; it’s having the ability to visualise the next move, perceive the opportunities and develop the startegy. I’m sure if you were to ask a top-class football player or a top-class model to explain what it is that makes naturally good at what they do, then they’d be lost – it’s just part of what they have. It is, therefore, for the rest of us to capture, cultivate and wonder at.

Teri is represented by First Step Model Agency.








Sunday, 7 August 2011

Alan & Cheryl tie the knot.

I can occasionally be guilty of being a bit blasé about weddings; I attend a good few in any given year and, unfortunately, have found that they are not all blessed with the much vaunted hallmark of the ‘perfect day’.

There are many tell-tale signs that things are not quite going to follow the prescribed plan for the day: a Bride who has breached her stress threshold and will spend much of the day in tears; the broody bridesmaid who’s corsage has turned from pink to an almost fluorescent green; the best-man who hasn’t made up with the bride following the tongue-lashing he received when she took him to task for his disastrous handling of the Stag-night. And it’s not all down to individuals; there are, just occasionally, times when you can sense undercurrents of anxiety emanating from whole groups within the larger wedding party; that sort of thing is almost inevitable – it’s not every family that gets on, and occasionally, despite the best efforts of the Bride & Groom, the wedding can appear a little flat.

But, on the whole, weddings – by their very nature – create their own light, joyful ambience; an ambience which can get VERY decidedly lighter and a LOT more joyful as the afternoon turns to evening; the music gets faster, and the bubbly begins to flow.
At best the wedding day will be remembered as a happy, carefree event which exalts the coming together of two people whose love for each other is such that they feel compelled to declare a life-times commitment to one another before family and friends. Weddings are also supposed to be about dressing up in your best finery; about sharing a meal with your nearest & dearest and inviting your wider circle of friends to join with you in joyful celebration. So far as friends and family are concerned, a wedding offers the betrothed an opportunity (too seldom realised in the busy lives we lead these days) to call a gathering together of family members who might not have seen each other for months, or even years. At the very least, wedding are supposed to be about good, old fashioned, fun!

Well, I had the good fortune, recently, to be asked to shoot the wedding of Alan & Cheryl; an event that ticked all the right boxes.

My first stop of what I knew would be a full day was a visit to Alan at his parents house. Unceremoniously decanted from the comforts of his own hearth & home on the evening before by a soon-to-be-wife who was determined to observe long venerated matrimonial conventions, Alan was having trouble enough piecing together all the unfamiliar bits and pieces of his full highland dress, without having the cyclopic eye of the camera track his every move. But I’m nothing if not persistent.
Moving swiftly on, I then descended on that haven of peace & tranquillity which was the Bride-to-be’s house; a refuge from the terrifying contagion of Wedding Day fever –NOT!

At first it appeared as though some strange sort of I.E.D. packed with all the accoutrements of a wedding had gone off in the kitchen. However, as I picked my way carefully past shoes, shopping bags, boxes of flowers – as well as children, family members, make-up artists and hairdressers accessories - I was directed to enter the lounge. This was, apparently, the source of the primary explosion! Here, among the remnants of what I reasoned was probably a fine room – before the advent of the IED - I found a gorgeous bride whose ivory-white, beautifully detailed dress contrasted succinctly against the light, powder-pink gowns worn by her three lovely bridesmaids, only to be complemented, once again, by the shimmering white of three of the cutest little flower girls I’ve ever seen. Collectively, they made a stunning ensemble, and I quickly ran of a series of frames of what would – for me - become one of the ‘picture-moments’ of the day.
The nuptial ceremony was lovely: family & friends had gathered from far and wide to witness a sweetly understated affair where Alan & Cheryl’s relationship was turned from ‘partnership’ to ‘married couple’. I was especially touched by the fact that, during the service, Alan & Cheryl occasionally stole quick glances at each other, as though perhaps a little embarrassed by all the unfamiliar attention they'd brought upon themselves. Though not a word passed between them while they listened and, in their turn, responded to the official wedding narrative, those shared – almost comically clandestine - glances spoke volumes.

The weather conspired against the newlyweds when the first few glasses of bubbly were downed and it came time to capture the traditional wedding party pictures. Cheryl had chosen the gorgeously landscaped Kirkton Park as the backdrop to her wedding group pictures, and I was particularly looking forward to spending some time alone with Alan & Cheryl in order to capture some more intimate images in a number of excellent situations which the park provided. But the rain put a decided dampener on my artistic aspirations though, and we instead made straight for the wedding breakfast venue.

In 20 minutes I managed to construct a small ‘set’ in an unused, but well appointed room, where I then shot a collection of group and individual pictures. Before following the Bride & Groom through to the function hall where, before the wedding breakfast itself was served, the Best Man served a well chosen menu of quips – mainly at the expense of the groom himself.

I stayed in touch with Alan & Cheryl over the course of the next few weeks as they reviewed their pictures and chose the prints which, I hope, will always remind them of a great day spent with family & friends. And I have to admit that I was a little sad when it came time to wishing them farewell. Though I have a sneaky suspicion that I might get a call sometime in the not too distant future to shoot a family group; that would be something to look forward to :-)

Alan & Cheryl.







Friday, 29 July 2011

Master Connor .... and Mum.

Some portrait sessions are more fun than others, and I was treated to a fantastic shoot with this handsome little chap who brought his stunningly gorgeous Mum - former Miss West Lothian winner - Claire Molloy, along for company :-))





Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Wedding of David & Alice

Each wedding has it’s own ‘signature’ ambience; that overall aire which – when you first walk into a room where the betrotheds guests have gathered – subtly informs you that this is a classy or happy or frenetic or tense or nervous affair, or, indeed, any combination of the aforementioned.
I don’t know where that sensing of things comes from? Maybe it’s just me; a perception I’m able to translate, or a certain sensitivity to the vibes being unwittingly transmitted by the assembly - but it works every time.
Now, being able to read the mood of a room can prove quite a handy talent when it comes to photographing the day itself; picking up on the ‘pulse’ of the wedding party and guests can help you strategise your interactions with them: do you project as funny, serious, laid-back, ultra-professional? One things for sure, if you don’t interpret the signs correctly, then you risk alienating yourself straight away and, while it can often prove difficult to tease guests ever so slightly out of their comfort zone in order to help you create unique pictures, getting on the wrong side of them from the start will make gaining their assistance at any stage almost impossible.
Fortunately, the number of positively charged gatherings I’ve attended far outweighs those which have emitted a negative atmosphere, and it’s always those positively charged gatherings which seed the best memories.
The wedding of David & Alice – which I shot recently – was the perfect example of where, from the moment the guests began to arrive, I could tell that I was to have the opportunity of shooting a really sweet and lovely event. A small group of whom were obviously very close family and friends of the Bride & Groom had gathered in the conservatory of the gorgeously appointed Cringletie House Hotel, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders. Among their number were those who obviously hadn’t had the opportunity to see each other for a long time and, amid the prevailing aire of expectancy, there was a buzz of hushed tones as old acquaintances were reaffirmed.
It may have been the action of my lifting the camera to my eye which signalled to the gathering that the Bride was entering the room, for the buzz of muted conversation quickly reduced to a respectful silence, only to be replaced by one or two appreciative ‘Ahhhhs’ as Alice glided through the room to take her place by the side of her betrothed.
The ceremony itself was very simple, but it was that very effortlessness with which David & Alice took the short journey from individuals, to married couple, that gifted the entire proceedings with such an unpretentious and lovely narrative.
Following the formalities, I was able to spend a little time with David & Alice on their own, and I hope the pictures I captured go some way to illustrate just how happy the couple were in both their own company, and in the company of a group of guests who were so obviously delighted to share the day with them.
I have to say, there’s nothing so lovely as a lovely wedding.

David & Alice





Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Brian & Sam's pre-Wedding shoot.

I had the great pleasure of welcoming newly betrothed West Lothian couple, Brian & Sam to the studio recently.

Brian popped the question to Sam at the end of last year and, since then, Sam’s thoughts have been focused on their July wedding. Now, with the date getting closer and closer, things are starting to move – a welcome distraction to all brides who have to suffer that becalmed period which seems to fall over everything when all the initial arrangements have been made and you’re then just waiting for things to start happening - in ‘real-time’ 

So, having previously booked in for my pre-wedding package, both Brian & Sam were keen to come to the studio – both for the shoot itself, and to chat about final arrangements for the wedding itself.

The primary reason for arranging the shoot was to capture a picture of Brian & Sam which could be displayed at the wedding reception venue. The picture is enlarged and printed at A3 size. It is then sent off to be professionally mounted. Then, on the day of the wedding, it will be set on an easel and family and friends are invited to add their signatures and best wishes to the couple.

While we are essentially looking for a very warm but informal image to display as a sort of 2D guest book, the secondary reason for staging the shoot is to have the opportunity to get back together with the couple again before the nuptials are performed.

Chatting with the couple about the wedding allows them to relax and feel at ease, and presents an excellent distraction for them as they contemplate their big day. It’s also a great opportunity for us all to get to know each other a bit better prior to the formalities of the day, when the opportunity to share a few words, a few laughs, and a bit of casual banter might not present itself again until after the ceremony is over, the formal pictures are captured and the cake is ceremoniously cut.

Fortunately, Brian and Sam are a fun-lovin’ couple; very at ease with themselves and, as such, the shoot itself went really well. We enjoyed a few cuppa’s while, in between sets, we fine tuned some of their ideas for the day in respect of the photography.

All that’s left to do now is for Brian & Sam to choose the picture they want to display at their wedding which, for all of us, can’t now come fast enough.

West Lothian Couple, Brian & Sam.





Thursday, 19 May 2011

Vamping it up

I was fortunate to be invited to work with up & coming Model / MUA, Teri, recently when she suggested that we turn one of her friends into a vampire!

Now, those of you who know me well will realise that those rumours you hear of my being able to metamorphose –at will - into a bat or wolf are simply not true; and, having explained to Teri that there was no way a bite from me was going to send her friend out in search of fresh blood, she decided to opt for a make-up induced reinvention of her friend – rather than the more permanent, vampiric sort.

Terri’s friend and Model, Cara, agreed to take part in the shoot – though she did ask to bring a couple of crosses, a sharpened stake and a mallet along with her (models can be a strange breed – they usually bring water and a fruit salad?) – and Teri duly set about remodelling her cheek-bones, eyes and lips to effect the ghoulish look she was after. I thought the results were quite stunning.

The entire exercise was set up so that Teri could add a few prints to a portfolio that is to be presented to her college tutors as part of her attempt to secure a place in the next stage of her education; leading, eventually, to what she hopes will be a career in theatrical make-up artistry. By the looks of this transformation, she shouldn’t have much trouble convincing the academia. Of course, if they don’t agree with her, she can always send Cara along to bite them. Mwahaaaaaahaaaa.

Countess Cara :-)