Having finally taken the plunge and given up my studio, there seemed no other way to get me out of its cozy confines I booked model Meg for a location photography shoot.
The Hazards of Location Photography
The weather forecast the previous day had promised a bright and sunny day with odd local shower and the blue sky looked promising as I pulled up outside her flat. I’ve worked with Meg quite a lot so I knew she would have her makeup done and a choice of outfits laid out. We selected several that would make her look sexy without getting her arrested along with matching shoes and accessories. We also tried to pick clothes that she could do a quick change of outside or put on easily in the back of the car. At least one of the locations I had picked was reasonably secluded so I also included a white dress that buttoned down the front making it easy to slip out of and put back on again if we got the opportunity to do some figure work. I usually tell the model to bring sensible shoes or trainers for the trek from the car to the location but Meg’s choice of flip flops seemed OK since the weather was good.
I was traveling light with my Nikons and a couple of lenses, my Cannon G10, a lot of spare cards, portable hard drive, tripod, Lastolite reflector and a variety of accessories such as insect repellent, drinks and first aid kit. The car was also loaded with an umbrella, a blanket and sheets of plastic for wet weather shooting.
Having left Meg’s flat in bright sunshine we arrived five minutes later at the first location, the bandstand in the local park, under a cloudy sky. The idea was to shoot some stock pictures for possible book covers on the steps and, by cropping in close and using Photoshop to remove the graffiti, make it look like the veranda of a southern US mansion. If that didn’t work I’d use the graffiti to make a nice urban background to the evening dress Meg was wriggling into in the back of the car.
By the time we got started the sky had completely clouded over and the light was horrible; grey, flat and overhead. At least shooting under the bandstand roof meant that Meg was lit from the side rather than above. I must have been subconsciously missing the studio as the first twenty or so shots were done with the colour balance set to tungsten. This actually produced quite a nice moonlight effect and, as I was shooting RAW, this could be corrected, when converting the RAW files. Cursing myself for not checking everything twice I reset the Nikon and continued under darkening skies.
We hightailed it back to the car as the first raindrops started to fall. Unfortunately the zip on Meg’s dress jammed and the sight of a bloke draped in cameras trying to wrestle a model out of an evening dress in the car park caused much amusement to the guy having a coffee break in the next car. Meg was finally freed and she disappeared, giggling, into the back of the car to change into the next outfit.
With Meg now in a gypsy style dress and sexy top we headed for the next location; hoping that the weather would listen to the bright and sunny forecast. The second location was a bit of a gamble. It’s a great spot by the river with a weir, a ruined pump house and water meadows. Unfortunately it is also very popular and the summer holidays were in full swing so I hoped we wouldn’t attract too larger audience or end up with picnickers in the background. Fortunately it wasn’t too crowded and the sun was peeping through the scattered clouds by the time we arrived.
There was plenty of activity around the weir so we only managed a few pictures there before wandering over to the river bank where the only other tourists seemed to be a herd of cows. Meg confessed that these weren’t her favourite animals, unless they are jammed into a burger bun, but was reassured when I pointed out that they were on the other side of the river and happily munching grass. There was a lovely wooden slipway on the edge of the river and Meg stretched out on this in the sunshine. Suddenly the session clicked, the sun was slightly behind Meg and the scattered clouds were giving me a choice of hard or diffused light and I had a fill in flash and Lastolite reflector to lighten the shadows when I needed. Meg sensed that things were going well, she is an experienced model who continually feeds ideas into the session, and she happily dangled her toes in the water and moved around the slipway and river bank. I’d liked to have done some figure work but the herd of cows was occasionally being supplemented by passing holiday makers and a dog walker was having an awfully long rest on a bench nearby so, having exhausted the location, we moved on.
Things looked good as we pulled into a deserted car park adjoining some woodland which is generally private enough for some figure pictures in its depths. Meg quickly changed into a plain white dress that buttoned up the front. Hopefully we would be able to do some glamour shots of her in the dress and then, as she was wearing nothing underneath, she could whip it off for the figure work.
Two paces from the car the first raindrops fell; by the time we were back inside it was coming down like a power shower. We both stared through the windscreen as the rain rapidly turned to hail which bounced off the bonnet. As the hailstones got bigger I began to worry that they would actually dent the car. I was picturing the insurance claim;
‘I was sat in the car in the middle of the countryside with a woman in nothing but a white dress when it hailed – in July.’
“We’ll give it ten minutes to see if it stops” I said without much hope.
Fifteen minutes later someone turned off the tap and the rain abruptly stopped. Cautiously we got out of the car and paddled across the car park. We didn’t realise that, although the rain had stopped, the trees were still laden with water and the first stirring by the light breeze dumped a couple of bucketfuls on us. We tried a few pictures but despite umbrellas we were still getting soaked and I could see Meg’s teeth chattering so we trudged back to the car through the mud. Meg, the ultimate professional, never once complained. In fact, as I dropped her back at home she admitted that the day had been rather fun.
Location photography with a model is not always a disaster. Photographing Nudes on Location