Venus under wraps
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Photography Blog by Duncan Holmes

Venus under wraps

Hmm...how to tell the story of a shoot without blowing the whole concept, showing too much or otherwise interfering with the chance that it might, possibly, perhaps, maybe make it into print.
 
This was an idea of mine that was originally inspired by a classical painting, the Birth of Venus. I wasn't interested in shooting nudes though, so I thought of using the idea as a springboard to shoot a model in a dress in a similar kind of setting. This was tentatively pencilled in with one model for a day in August.
 
But, the more I thought about the idea, the more I thought it could be expanded on and 1 shoot with one model and 1 dress became 2 shoots with 7 models and 8 dresses. I had originally planned for 3 locations, but couldn't stretch the logistics that far. So the shoots settled down to one at Loch Lomond and another back on the beach at Ardrossan.
 
I'd first reached out to a number of talented Scottish designers, to gauge interest and see who might be willing to loan pieces for the shoots. We actually had more interested than we ended up shooting, but slight kerfuffles meant that we never got to shoot two of them. We still ended up with some spectacular works by Psychomoda, nicci.n, Sweet Danger and Claudette. Alison at Psychomoda had even designed a dress specifically for the shoot!
 
The day before the shoot the original stylist pulled out due to work commitments, which left me a bit in the lurch, especially as she was bringing dresses from one of the designers, so that was us down one.. Luckily my friend and talented stylist, Jacki Clark, was able to step into the breach and provide styling for the first of the shoots at Loch Lomond.
 
Early on in the process of planning the shoot I had been contacted by Rachel Gallagher, the makeup artist. Coincidentally we ended up working in between on the Betty Spoke and Lady Jojo shoots, which just goes to show what a small world it is. I'd had all sorts of plans to send her some ideas for inspiration, but time caught up with me. The night before the shoot she came up with a brilliant idea of her own, and hey presto the makeup was ready to go too.
 
Shoot day dawned for the first of the two shoots, grey, wet and miserable. Naturally, I was thrilled. With some trepidation I picked up my assistant for the shoot, Benita and the first of the models, Nicola Creen (the only 1 of the 4 models I'd not shot with before) and headed for Balloch. We met the other 3 models and Rachel at the station. This is where I found out that another designer, who had planned to come with us for the shoot, was unable to attend due to an emergency with a friend. This meant that we were also down a car.
I ferried Rachel, Nicola, Jacki and Tuma up to the shoot location, left them with a cool box, a chair and instructions to start makeup and hunt good spots for the shoot, then headed back for Sharon, Nisha and Benita.
 
Hair and makeup was done at a picnic table and though overcast, the weather was kind to us. Jacki had found a spot a wee walk away, and once everybody was ready and dressed for the shoot we trudged, waddled and strode to the shoot.
 
We ended up shooting for about an hour and a half with the 4 models, with some of them proving very adventurous in the rocks they were willing to climb, needless to say I did suffer an occasional heart attack or two as they wobbled at the Loch's edge!
 
We managed to call it a day, just as the rain returned. So once again I was on ferrying duties. Only to find, as we reached Balloch, that all trains were cancelled due to flooding. Once I'd collected the remaining folk, I shoved 4 women in a taxi, 1 in a car with her boyfriend and dropped two home. Not the best end to the day, but the pictures are looking great.
 
After the relative complications of Sunday's shoots, Venus part 2 dawned with another grey and showery morning. Scotland in summer. But it was just doing it to fool us as the shoot itself took place under glorious blue skies in the sunshine.
 
This was a simpler arrangement, with just Rachel and 3 models, Jenna, KT and Nikita. With the styling tips from the day before and a better grasp of my aims I did not miss the absent stylist this time. We were fortunate that The Waterside were kind enough to let us set up shop on their patio again for the shoot, though the sea breeze meant that the models were hiding under blankets as they got their makeup done. I'd shot before with Jenna, but KT and Nikita were both new to me. We chatted and teeth chattered as Rachel worked her way through makeup. The first dresses were decided on and the models had the luxury of toilets for changing.
 
We then zipped along to the same spot as I'd used for the Warrior shoot. We tried shooting with the prop again, as we had the day before, but the sea breezes were just a little too frantic and the prop a little too light. So, this shoot became a bit more generic. Though I tried to use the rocks and beach features to still play on the goddess theme.
Both KT and Nikita were agreeable discoveries, with Nikita a virtual posing machine, and all three models looked spectacular. I was most impressed by their ability to change in the back of a car!
 
Post shoot we were able to have a light meal at the Waterside, before I dropped them at the station for their trips home. No cancelled trains this time!
 
 
 
 

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