Exactly one year ago tomorrow Boofuls and me set off onto our Big Adventure. I say ‘our’ but I really mean ‘my’ big adventure. Boofuls, bless him would no more have chosen to come here than fly to the moon ( actually, he’d probably love that) but being the man he is he willingly went along with my dream of travelling inside the Arctic circle in the hope of seeing the northern lights.
We got off the plane and stepped into a magical land. Where dawn and dusk merged for a couple of hours into a dreamscape of blues, pinks and purples and where the night sky danced and twisted in shades of green and purple.
On the coach journey to our hotel, right on the border between Sweden and Finland, I stared out of the window transfixed as I saw what looked like strange and mythical creatures lining our route. Dragons, gremlins, weird and wonderful shapes of the trees bent over and carrying a heavy coat of snow fuelled my imagination. I really felt like I’d stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia.
This is where I experienced one of the most terrifying events of my entire life; husky sledding in the pitch black. The only light being from the torch attached to the driver of the sled shining onto the reflective strip on the suit of the driver in front. I loved it!
I didn’t love it quite so much when it was my turn to drive. Those dogs are fast! I may have sworn once or twice while I clung on for grim death as the huskies galloped at breakneck speed down what looked and felt like a bobsleigh run, slowing down occasionally to fight with each other. I was convinced we were going to die. Luckily we didn’t so we repeated the exercise again a couple of days later.
There are so many highlights of this trip that a post about it would be the size of War and Peace. I’ll let the photographs give you a feel for what it was like. You get a gazillion brownie points if you can tell me what is special about the church.
Winklepop needed cheering up.
I’m afraid I wasn’t a lot of use to her with my miserable arsed posts from the latst couple of days. I’m putting it down to my post Torquay and annual New Year depression. I’m over it now.
I’ve been having a look through this years photographs and put together a selection of my favourite ones. They aren’t in any particular order but they start from January last year when Boofuls and I made the trip to the Finnish/ Swedish border in search of the northern lights and end with this Christmas. Some of the photos you might have seen before, some I know you haven’t.
More discerning readers will, I’ve no doubt, look at some and dismiss it as rubbish. I agree. Artistic or technical merit wasn’t my criteria for inclusion So what did make a photo qualify for the edit? It might just have been because it made me laugh, evoked an emotion, captured a record of an event or because I just plain liked it. No rhyme or reason to it. Here they are, I hope you like at least some of them.
Did I mention I’m the Photoshop Queen?
Not really, I can only do basic stuff. If I could find a good training course on photoshop art I’d be on it like a shot. Here’s my latest effort, Len, Lashes and Munki in the studio.
Yet another wedding fair today, quite busy, busy enough to keep us going all day.
At one point we had quite the little crowd round our table, an excited group of people who were there for quite a while. All the time they were there they kept us quite occupied as they aked questions, holding our attention.
Shortly after they left we realised that our tiny and very popular ‘baby’ wedding album had gone missing.
Obviously we thought it had slipped under another album or been knocked off the table. After a very thorough search it became obvious that it had been knocked off all right, some bastard had stolen it!
I was livid, how dare someone walk off with our kit, we’ve worked bloody hard and paid a lot of money to get a decent display together!!
It turns out we weren’t the only ones, two other photographers also had small albums stolen today. My guess it’s someone building a portfolio the easy way, by nicking it.
It leaves a nasty taste in the mouths of all the professionals there today who paid good money for their exhibition space and who have built their businesses on hard work and determination just to have some nasty little toerag build their tawdry, talentless, sleazy little business by using albums stolen from us.
It seemed to be a bit of a funny day today all round today.
Boofuls was deep in conversation with one couple as I was deep in conversation with another.
My antennae picked up when I saw the woman Boofuls was talking to taking rather too much interest in our professional handbook with information about albums in it. Normally we just give people a quick flash of it to show them the size of a parents album or the show different album covers available but never hand it over.
Well and truly tuned in by this time and still seething from the album incident, my ears pricked up as they picked up odd snippets of conversation that didn’t seem to be what I’d expect from a typical punter.
It was only another photographer pretending to be booking a wedding and pumping Boofuls for information about where we get our albums from!!!
Eventually she admitted what she was doing and then made a sharp exit when my less than impressed voice joined in the conversation. Do your own bloody research like I had to! Never mind pretending to be a potential client. Cheeky cow!!
What on earth happened to business ethics, moral standards and professionalism?
Occasionally I get people phoning up for boudoir shoots. I don’t really encourage it as the studio isn’t ideal for that type of work, too bloody cold and draughty, it might be a different story if it was warm and cosy.
Yesterday was an exception, a dark eyed, beautiful black girl came to see me for a burlesque shoot, bringing a few props with her including this hat:
Ok, not really, I picked up the hat in a shop a few weeks ago and thought it would be fun to use it on the dog for a pet portrait with a difference and since Mrs Woofy is so cute I thought it would suit her. What a pularver!
She didn’t like that hat at all.
She jumped around, scraped her head along the floor, ran round in circles and generally went nuts. Most of the time when the hat wasn’t flying through the air it was hanging down forlornly under her chin, feathers dangling and being shaken around, looking a bit like a hen in the process of being murdered.
Eventually, after a lot of laughing, cajoling, wrestling with and bribing with treats, me, Rev and Gembolina had all failed to get the dog to stay still. Gembolina suggested that we shoot the dog ( not actually shoot the dog although so very tempting at that point) and shoot the hat separately.
Damn fine idea!
What she wasn’t expecting though was that she was going to have to be the model because she has black hair so it would be an easier edit. She played her role well, I was impressed. No need for treats or ordering her to ‘SIT!’ either.
The plan worked perfectly. The dog sat perfectly well and posed beautifully without the hat and I got a dozen prim and pretty pictures of her. I notice that she’s smiling on them, probably having a good laugh at having run us all a merry dance.
Last night I sat down to edit the photos and half an hour later. Voila! The picture I wanted. Doggy burlesque!
Funny things, people.
Two sets of couple were due at the studio to view their photos. The first couple I’d found quite hard work last week when I shot their ‘bump’ photos. the second ones, from last Saturday were a hoot, you remember the multicoloured coat? Them.
First appointment this morning, the pregnant couple, not looking forward to this, thought they might be picky. They were picky all right. They picked this, that, the other, spent a fortune and are coming back for more. They loved their photos and stayed with me over an hour and a half planning where they would put the baby photos when he/she is born.
After a good start I was looking forward to freebie the engagement couple. How wrong can you be?
They managed to find only 4 photos ‘they didn’t mind’ out of the whole batch. Tried to get the whole cd of images from me to ‘make their mind up at home’. Yeah, yeah, do I look like I came down with the last shower of rain? I’ve come across that one before.
She complained that she didn’t like her photos but his were ok (only ok) . He complained he didn’t like his photos but hers were ok. In the end they left without making any decisions. I was just glad to see the back of them and near to tears. I wouldn’t mind if the photos really were bad but they aren’t. I was really pleased with them and looking forward to showing them off.
Just goes to show, what people don’t pay for, they don’t value. Freebies? Hate ’em.
Professional assessment day dawned bright and clear. The brightness of the morning didn’t match my gloomy mood and knotted stomach at all. I’d have been much happier if the weather had been gloomy as well.
Over the last few days I’ve gone through hundreds of photos trying to second guess what the assessor would be looking for. I included personal work, a few baby portraits and some wedding stuff.
The drive down was fairly uneventful, except of course the m61/m60/m62/m6/m56/m53 combo which, as normal, didn’t fail to disappoint. The traffic was nose to tail for a fair portion of the journey, sodding great juggernauts and boy racers all jockeying for position on an overcrowded road. As for me I just kept classic FM on nice and quietly to keep me calm and breathed slowly ‘in through the nose – out through the mouth’ Yup, it’s fair to say that I was nervous.
Arriving in plenty of time I decided a quick jaunt through Chester city centre was exactly the thing to calm the nerves. While I enjoyed the early autumn sunshine I strolled along admiring the scenery and the shops while dodging hoardes of oriental tourists who were being led around by shrill tour guides with umbrellas held aloft signalling when it was time to be ached to the next location for more facts, dates, names and places, far more than they would ever be able to recall even if they wanted to. To be honest most of them weren’t listening to their guide anyway .
For the most part they seedmed to be wandering around in ever decreasing circles gazing skywards and bumping into unwary shoppers. More than once they caused me to chuckle aloud. I did notice a sideways glance or two from other pedestrians as they gave me a wide berth having obviously decided I was an escapee mental patient.
Back at the hotel I walked in with my heart beating like a drum to the room where the assessments were taking place to find…….no -one. Evidence of people having been there but as deserted as the Marie-Celeste.
Have I got it horribly wrong? It did say 1pm on the email, didn’t it?
Just at that a porter came to lock the door. A couple of enquiries later established that everything was running late so the assessors had decided to stop for lunch and would be back later. Good of them to let me know.
Words went through my mind that I’m far too ladylike to share on here. My nerves turned to irritation as I plonked myself on a chair to wait till they decided to resume the proceedings.
Eventually they did come back and I was escorted through to a very personable Scottish chap who looked through my photos with hardly a sound.
‘Oh dear,’ I thought as the silence was starting to deafen me.
“Hhhmmmm, let’s go through them again but this time talk me through them.”
‘Oh God!! He hates them!’ I thought.
Once we started to chat I realised it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. I was so impressed that he had worked out from just a few of my images what pushed my buttons and how to build on what I was already doing, which, incidentally, was declared to be of a good standard for the level I’m at.
He quickly identified my influences and declared that my darker and more gothic work was my strongest and that should be where I should try to build. Dammit! I’ve been trying to keep all that stuff under control since I got my degree amidst cries of, “why can’t you ever just take pretty pictures?”
Coz they’re boring, that’s why.
So, finally I’ve been vindicated!! haha!!
Look out Morticia – here I come!!
Here are some of my photos that got the thumbs up: