Photography Blog by Duncan Holmes
Next Sunday, my work with Psychomoda Ladies Clothing finally sees the light of day at an event in Edinburgh. https://www.facebook.com/events/143970109112080/?ref=ts&fref=ts
. It will be held at Cruz bar (on the shore in Leith, Edinburgh) from 3-5 pm and will feature some of the dresses that featured in our Cluedo themed photoshoot from back in February. The video that was shot that day, a slide show of my pictures and all sorts will be on hand to entertain folk. It's an open event, so anyone who dips into this blog and has an afternoon free would be more than welcome to come along and see, rub shoulders with the fashionistas of Edinburgh and even schmooze a little, if the moment requires it.
The shoot with Psychomoda the other week was an experience with all of us dashing all over Edinburgh for hair, makeup and then the shoot itself, lots of hurrying up and waiting, as is always the case with any big shoot. The results are looking great, but sadly have to remain in the dark for now, until the designer is ready to present them properly. Still, the year doesn't end with February's shoots, onwards I go.
Saturday sees me covering a christening in Greenock, so back to bread and butter photography with a lovely family and their newest addition.
Sunday I'm back in the studio. The studio shoot was originally planned around 1 idea, but due to cirumstances has veered into a whole new direction. With the help of Lesley from Head Strong Solutions, who I've had the good fortune to work with before, Alison of Crikey Aphrodite, and Helen, our MUA, we'll be creating a fabulous look with the model involved. Hopefully I'll have some pics from this shoot to share during the course of next week.
On Monday I have a press pass to the GSA fashion show. I really enjoyed this show last year and managed to find a corner to take lots of pictures from. This year I get to do it officially. Tickets for the show are still available and it's on on Monday and Tuesday, so worth going to if you can make it. Some of the designers from last year went on to show at London Fashion Week recently, so there's a lot of talent to be found.
The week after I'm off to visit my friend, Karen Reid, a milliner based in Melrose, to have a chat and discuss future plans, picking up a wedding dress for another shoot and then assisting a colleague with his shoot on the Sunday.
Anyway, hope everybody's having as productive a time as I am!
So the culmination of the Radisson shoot and the long hours of editing can be found as a graphic novel here:
and as a photo story here:
There are a couple of galleries set up on my Flickr and FB pages with individual pictures from both books, along with some additional material.
I'm quite proud of the finished book as a complete item, though a panel or two may get tweaked later as inspiration hits.
None of it would have been possible without the Scottish Creative Network and the folk behind it, who organised our access to the various rooms of the hotel. I also benefitted greatly from some hints and tips from Greig Middlemiss (Different Light
) who steered me off on the graphic novel tangent that eventually saw life in this book, as well as pointing me at issuu for publishing the final pieces.
We also benefitted greatly from the hospitality and kindness of Cotterell Light Centres
for letting us use the fabulous graffitti in their back yard and to Gibson and Goold
who allowed us a corner for hair and makeup during our shoot of the exterior scenes the day before the big shoot at the hotel.
Back to blogging again after a short break. In the meantime there have been a few weddings, a shoot, a failed fashion show and I’m 5 days into my first ever exhibition.
Louise and Andrew were married at the registry office in Largs, followed by a cosy wee reception at the Lounge restaurant. A nice family affair and a very emotional groom, it’s the first time I’ve seen a groom propped up by the best man due to nerves! Louise was also an interesting bride, racing to her appointed position and leaving her dad trailing 4 feet behind in her wake. The Lounge was a revelation with a boutique styled function room and giant Buddha heads on display.
I went along to see Nightwalk’s A/W show at the Arches,following a brief trip to Mono to see Lorna Shields and drop off some leaflets. I was surprised at the number of folk outside the venue, only to discover that the power was off. An hour or so outside in the cold (the sensible folkd isappeared to a pub, but I was meeting my wife) and they finally called the show as dead in the water. Models, MUA’s and designers were escorted by torchlight to pick up their belongings and that was that. This shot is of a few of the models, before they dispersed.
Then last week’s wedding was with Siobhan and Sean, again at Largs. This was my first trip into St Columba’s Church, with one of their relatives officiating. It was a cold day with hints of drizzle, but the weather was kind to us for the most part, and they got their wish of bouncing on the 4 poster bed! It must be something about cold days and the Brisbane Hotel thatbrings out the mischeivious edge in wedding couples.
The shoot was a trip to Edinburgh’s old West in Morningside in the company of Psychomoda. Models, Anna and Jen, and makeup from Caroline Stewart were also along. I’ve worked with Alison from Psychomoda a lot, so it was great to catch up with her. I’d also worked with Anna over the summer, so got a chance to see her strut her stuff outside a studio. Jen was new to modelling, but soon adapted to the lunacy that is a shoot. I’d also had the opportunity to work with Caroline once before on a private shoot, it is a small world and it’s always fun to see how easy it is to keep bumping in to folk. Caroline was quick at rustling up the looks for the two models and tweaking them as the day progressed through 3 sets of clothes from Psychomoda’s latest collections. These can also be seen on the catwalk at Edinburgh’s Online Fashion Week which is somewhere out on the internet somewhere. Alison found this amazing location for us to play with, and a pub round the corner for makeup...very civilised.
And finally my exhibition. It launched with some trepidation and minor disasters on Friday 19, with the first full day on Saturday. It will run during the day (10 to 5) for the rest of the week up toFriday 26th. Here’s some pics from Friday setting up, the launch night and Saturday, when I was visited by a couple of models featured in the prints in the show.
After a few days of gallery sitting, it finally sank in that I have this space all week and a nice back gallery that could work as a small studio space for headshots. Needless to say the call is out there for anyone that wants to come and play and interrupt my vigil at the gallery. 1 shoot already arranged.
3 of the largest prints fell off the wall and got slightly bent, but I have managed to sell five others so far! I’d not taken into account the passing traffic when experimenting with my wall fixings, the vibration shook a couple of things loose before the sticky had a chance to set properly.All should be well from here on though, I came into the gallery this morning and everything was where it should have been! There’s been an interesting mix of folk through the doors, some known, some new and I’m looking forward to seeing who walks through the door during the days to come.
So a holiday which involves commuting to Glasgow every day and spending 7 hours gallery sitting. It seems only logical to spend the weekend after doing back to back shoots on Saturday and Sunday as I bring my spy vs spy/androids in love idea to life, with the help of Aileen, Jay, Lee-Ann and Neal, plus extras, designers and assistant. A welcome return to the Radisson Blu hotel and it’s interesting and varied locatons.
And this blog? Typed on the train and ready for upload when I get home from Glasgow. Nice sunset tonight, golden for a change.
So if the day goes ahead, I will be using the shoot (and a second shoot of exterior scenes) to set up a story based piece that will veer between fashion and graphic novel. If all goes well, the novel panels will also feed into a few short video clips of some of the scenes, or little music excerpts.
The story riffs off of some classic film noir themes, Mr and Mrs Smith (spy vs spy) and the look will be an aesthetic based loosely on the Maltese Falcon, Blade Runner and a perfume advert. A certain hint or nod to sci-fi may also creep in, makeup allowing.
It’s quite an ambitious project and I’ll need to pay special attention to finding suitable models for the two lead roles. However, this will be my first shoot that will also involve “extras” as part of the story so casting for them will also be an interesting task, not to mention finding the skilled makeup artist, hair stylist and other backroom support.
Also on the horizon are shoots with Alison at Psychomoda with her new collection, a hair salon and other odds and ends. Weddings are a little quieter in September and October so I have time to do some other shoots now as well, sword fight injuries allowing.
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!
In a busy week, mostly of my own making, I had arranged two back to back studio shoots on Sunday. No plan survives the first battle, so the original idea for the morning shoot for a sci-fi themed piece was kyboshed by a sick model. Luckily the model who was due in that afternoon was able to come in earlier. Then whilst travelling the length of Glasgow in search of a blacklight, I got another text that my makeup artist for the afternoon’s shoot was also cancelling due to illness.
Cancellations are one of the tribulations of shoots, especially casual time for print type shoots, rather than formal paid work, but I was almost in tears and panicking a little as I wandered B&Q in search of blacklights they did not have. Over time one does learn who to rely on for important shoots, especially the paid work, but time for prints or other barter arrangements can be a good way to test shoot with folk and see what they can and can’t do, without the pressure of a brief from a client.
But, all was not lost, the morning MUA, June Long was willing to stay a little later (4 hours later in the end as we did not finish until 5pm), the designer, AJR Designs
, who had been going to provide a Barbarella style costume for the morning shoot was able to improvise something completely different and a blacklight was found at Maplin’s on Gt Western Road by yours truly.
This all meant that we were able to start at the studio with only a 30-40 minute delay. This does not of course mean that we shot straight away. Hair and makeup have their own laws of time and space and one always has to factor into the studio hire time, the time required to render the attention to the model that the shoot requires. It’s something you often find with folk who book a studio for the first time, they don’t factor in the time required for setup and pack down, for hair and makeup, nor for simple experimentation with lighting. Experience has taught me to plan for such things, though this time I had forgotten to bring my book, so I just interrupted the studio owner for a gossip now and then, much to his despair!
provided a wonderful hairdo for our model, Tuma as well as some beautiful makeup to compliment the glorious skirt that AJR Designs
had provided for us. The addition of a carnival mask was just icing on the cake! So the first session went smoothly and helped everybody relax into the day.
Just after 12, the second designer turned up, frozen stovies and Tron style dresses in hand. Alison from Psychomoda
is a force of nature, so not even a broken ankle held her back from coming along for the shoot to show off her latest creations. Any regular readers of my blog will know that she has been kind enough to loan some of her designs for my shoots in the past, so this was a chance to return the favour a little.
The first outfit this time was a skirt and corset combination, using blue EL Wire
to provide the contouring. June provided some fluorescent makeup on the face and Alison acted as blacklight holder to provide the necessary glow. This was always going to be a shoot with a lot of experimentation with the lighting. A model with dark skin, against a dark background, lit at long exposures to allow the effects of the EL Wire and fluorescence to show. It took a while to nail down, and in the end the shoot did run over by an hour as June was let loose on Tuma’s back for the second outfit, that was backless.
This dress used pink EL Wire. The backless dress gave June a canvas for a surrealist combination of cogs and circuits, trimmed with fluorescent yellow grid work that matched the earlier makeup to the face.
Somehow we managed to squeeze in a few shots at the end with a white wig as well!
We’d been hosted for the day by Dreghorn Photography Studio
and in earlier conversations he had said he would be willing to extend our booking beyond his usual opening hours, but it was still kind of him to extend an hour, on a day when he could otherwise have been spending quality time with his other half.
As thanks for his hospitality, I walked off with the quick release plate from his tripod, I blame the effects of the cold and too many lemsips.
I can now take a breather for a few days before the flurry of July/August work commences, with 4 weddings in 5 weeks, my Venus shoots (more on that in your shell like later) and a small band shoot in a launderette.
September is planned to be quiet, so that I can prepare for my exhibition in October and catch up on any backlog that might have built up in the meantime, just a few weddings to keep me ticking over and from getting rusty.
Last year I took part in a shoot for a charity calendar for the Ranger's Supporters Erskine Appeal. Supporting the latter rather than the former of course.
So Karma kicked in and yesterday's couple who have booked me for their wedding in the summer of 2013 got my name from one of the models who had posed for the calendar.
And as to trading places? This weekend I'm hopping over to Edinburgh to visit with Psychomoda. This time though I am not borrowing some of their fanatabulous dresses for one of my shoots. I will be helpine the owner, Alison, to set up her ASOS shop by guiding her through the art of taking her own product shots. There is a bit of a challenge in this, no flash, no photoshop, simple backgrounds like a wall. Everything has to be right first time out of camera. I will need to learn the ins and outs of her camera in no time flat and then explain it all to her.
I have taught a night class in photography, the basics and a few tricks, in the past, so hopefully I can get the right hints and tips across in our on the fly shoot.
I believe she has a few models who are interested in taking part in this opportunity as it offers them good exposure and regular (if not necessarily well paid) work.
Compared to the previous weekend’s Rock n roll themed shoot, things did go remarkably smoothly this time. A quick text to the barber in the morning before setting off, just in case, and 8 am rolled in with both makeup artists, Aileen and Melanie, two of our 3 models, Jamie and Jenna and our stylist, Jacki Clark all present. Sharon, the third model for the shoot was due to arrive on a later train due to the need to travel from Falkirk.
In the absence of the hairstylist, Aileen and Melanie stepped in and got a chance to improvise with their own skills and did a great job in adding the perfect touches to Jenna and Jamie’s makeup.
The real star of the show though was a dress. This was another dress I had borrowed from Alison at Psychomoda. When I had seen her on Monday that week, dropping off the rock n roll prom dresses, this dress had not even existed. This wonder of creation was to adorn Jenna in her role as a mere Hollywood siren. Jenna donned it just before 10 am and stepped into the barbershop as a screen goddess.
Jamie had been ready a while longer, looking very suave and every inch the ratpacker we were looking for in a tuxedo, loose bow tie,cummberbund and trousers. These were hired from Keogh and Savage in Greenock but were a perfect fit. (the advantages of a model who gives accurate measurements!).
With a simple two light setup we gathered around one of the barber chairs and proceeded to create the first set of images for our shoot.
Sharon arrived on the 10 a.m. train and I nipped out to greet her at the station. I’d seen some promising images in her portfolio, likeJenna, but in neither case was I prepared for just how stunning our two female models for the day were. Some more dramatic and severe makeup and a slick hairstyle transformed her into the perfect role in our barbershop love triangle.
As I was waiting for the makeup and hair I had been discussing shoots with the stylist, Jacki. The best, most creative shoots are ones that have a story to tell. Last week’s rock n roll shoot had gone slightly awry with a change in location and an absent model, but I still managed to riff on the original theme of the prim prom girl being chatted up and flirting with the cool “bad boy”. This shoot at the barbershop was titled “Razor”. The idea was loosely that of a man, our model Jamie, who had left his first girl, the darkly jealous and very striking Sharon and was now living a very different, but possibly less passionate life with his glamorous new girl. The resulting love triangle was enacted around a barber’s chair with the eponymous razor being the one main prop and adding the necessary air of danger.
We got some spectacular shots and I was practically jumping up and down as the images in my head became reality. At 11:30 am the first of the barbershop’s staff arrived read for the 12 pm opening time. It was time to pack up. Thebrave and hardy models volunteered to step outside for a few more shots on the Greenock seafront, before calling it a day.
As we were shooting Jamie and Jenna staring moodily out to sea, we had our most surreal moment of the day, as a group of canoeists paddled by with a shout of, “Congratulations”. So, it was not a wedding shoot and there was no happy couple, but congratulations were definitely deserved by all that took part, an amazing, relaxed and beautiful shoot!
Thanks again to Euan at the Harbour Barber’s in Greenock for allowing us to disturb his Sunday morning and shoot there.
Being the careful planner that I am, I had planned a shoot indoors at a local barbershop. I'd arranged things in advance for an early morning start on a Sunday so that we could fit in with the shop's opening hours. It being winter, I figured a nice warm indoor shoot would be just the thing. The potential venue had a lot going for it, with a retro look, freshly repainted and a checkerboard floor.
So the cold Sunday morning found me bright and early in Greenock. I'd lost one makeup artist by the wayside due to ill health, but had planned ahead and had two more people coming with hair and makeup skills. The lovely Katie Ford came to help out again and a new face (for me) Melanie Watson
, who was one of the makeup artists I'd seen at the James Watt College show last year.
Both arrived outside the shop to keep me company, which was when I got the text from 1 model, saying she'd been up sick all night and was off to hospital. A deep breath and a confirmation that our second model was on the way, and I was still feeling positive about the shoot. Jamie, our talented male model was next to arrive, shivering and trembling off of the slightly delayed train from Glasgow. Aimee, our remaining female model, and her mum were then next on the scene, with my assistant for the day, Billy somewhere in between.
Notice that I have not mentioned the barbershop owner?
At 8:40 or so, it was time to gather my horde of teeth chatterers and come up with a backup plan. Billy suggested the train station at Wemyss Bay and it proved to be a great choice. We jumped in cars and convoyed to Wemyss Bay. The Seaview Cafe played inadvertent host to us, but they were very accommodating, and did not object too much when we took over their toilet for changing and makeup. They even let us plug in some tongs in the kitchen (though don't tell the other clientele that!). After coffees and a slight warm up, makeup was commenced.
Some days later we rapped on the door and got Jamie done quickly so that I could start shooting. We dragged him out into the cold and he gave us some mean and moody looks around the station and down on the wee beach beside the ferry landing. He's a very versatile young man and looked the part in the leather jacket we'd borrowed from We Love to Boogie's Vintage shop.
We went back to the cafe and waited some more until finally Aimee was presented to us in all her retro (and slightly pinned) glory, in one of the fabulous dresses from Psychomoda
. The picture above shows some last minute tweaking by Aimee's mum as she fixed the petticoats).
So we continued shooting, with two pauses for dress changes, through the next couple of hours or so, around Wemyss Bay station and down on the beach Aimee and Jamie shivering in between shutter clicks, and being totally professional the minute the camera came up to my eye. There was a little patching to makeup, smudged by dabbing at running noses (it's all glamour), and tweaking of hair disturbed by the arctic breeze.
This post includes some preview pics from the shoot. I'm quite proud of what we achieved in the face of such diversity. Everybody really pulled together and hopefully I didn't drive anyone else into hospital post shoot!
Next week should be the second of the barbershop shoots, for which a barbershop is a key element in the plot and poses. I'll do my best to coordinate it better and smooth things over for that shoot, either that or I find a new shop/salon to try my luck with. Also need to find a suit for Jamie...busy week ahead.