At long last – the long overdue, and promised PART 2 for the most beautiful photo shoot I have ever had the privilege to be a part of! Thank you all for being so, so patient – I would like to thank my next blog post* for giving me the kick up the backside to finally get to updating!!
AND SO the day of the painstakingly planned photo shoot arrived. On the morning of Friday 6th July, I woke before my alarm, but of course.
Correction; On the morning of Friday 6th July, I was still awake, struggling to sleep, applying a sheet mask at around 1 AM. I had carefully rolled up any outfits I had considered using, packed a minimalist make-up kit (mostly comprised of lipsticks – which I never even used in the end), some cereal bars (which weren’t eaten until the walk back to the cars afterward) plus some waterproof sandals for the expected river walking. When it came time to sleep I had to resort to listening to a calming podcast to lull my mind into away from worrying whether the lack of sleep would cause puffy eyes in the photos. I eased myself out of bed with more enthusiasm than on a typical morning, washed and styled my hair, spraying it liberally with a temporary grey hair colour, and threw some extra hair products into my bag. Choosing to wear a floral wraparound dress (with the intention of using it as a dressing robe if needed) I fed myself a sizeable stodgy breakfast and filled a water bottle for the day ahead.
Coordinating closely with my model Tegan the night before, we had discussed meeting at Georgina’s salon to tackle the addition of false lashes to Tegan’s eyelids. While it’s a bit much on a typical Friday morning, lashes are an absolute MUST for photo shoots (I’m pretty sure that’s a law, somewhere). When Tegan parked up next to me and stepped out of her car it was perfection. Her hair was GLORIOUSLY curled and her henna had stained AMAZINGLY. Such an exciting sight to behold on the morning of a photo shoot. Georgina, through her jealousy and FOMO swiftly started to apply lashes to Tegan which is when Tegan pointed out that *gasp* a noticeable chunk of the sun emblem henna design on Tegan’s chest had come off with the Tegaderm sealing tape. “You might need to put some more henna on top of it for the photos” she warned me – but then, the henna paste would come off in the water… and then the henna stain would be the wrong colour. What to do??
As coincidence would have it, 7 days prior I had been practicing with the Henna Caravan product ‘HennaGlam.’ This is an FDA approved coloured body adhesive for temporary body art that lasts upto 3 days. I had bought the ENTIRE range of colours on my last trip to Henna Con – one of the colours is “Henna Brown”. Georgina immediately insists “Go. Go geddit geddit geddit geddit!” Me: “But..” “No, just go geddit.” It really was a no-brainer when you consider that my studio, where the henna glam is, is only 0.2 miles walk from Georgina’s salon. Yep, that’s roughly 322m. Or a 0.4 mile drive. It’s ridiculous that I even hesitated. I grabbed the Henna Glam, plenty of alcohol wipes, and even more importantly several J-bottle tips just incase of blockages.
Now jogging out of my studio (I usually never travel faster than a gentle ambling pace) I zipped back to the salon to find Georgina putting the finishing touches to Tegan’s DOUBLE stacked eyelashes. “They’re a bit extra and I wouldn’t normally… but for the sake of the photo shoot, it’s just gotta be done really” Georgie justified. Tegan looked fab – even though her eyelids were now undertaking a major WOD. Once we were confident she was still able to see well enough to drive, we set off in our coordinated white cars (no joke) to Louise’s studio with an ETA of 10 AM.
Under the gaze of a beautiful summer sun we arrived at Louise’s studio, paused momentarily while Louise gushed at the sight of Tegan, swiftly gathered up most of the dresses and fabrics hanging on Louise’s wardrobe rail (along with a new changing tent) and zipped off to meet our photography assistant Charlie, as found on the internet only 2 days before (not at all dodgy – right??) We met him in a car park – public spaces are always wise – haha. He had his camera and drone in his kit. Laden with all our props we began the walk towards our chosen location: Goit Stock waterfalls.
I am not an enthusiastic walker – I am prone to very unbecoming behaviour when forced to walk anywhere. We had heard from others that the walk would be between 10 to 30 minutes. I was praying it would be 10 minutes – that’s when I spotted *a* waterfall – not Goit Stock, but still quite pretty. I didn’t hide my disappointment when we didn’t stop – instead we plodded onwards. Another 15 minutes walk later we could HEAR the waterfall – it was LOUD and as we turned a bend we had our first sight of Goit Stock – It was magnificent. Far beyond what we had hoped for, and the most beautiful sunlight too! Enthusiastically, we threw up the changing tent on a [slighty inclined ledge] and precariously changed into matching dresses, while Louise and Charlie checked their lighting and best vantage points.
While I remember, remind to get contact lenses for my next photo shoot. Wandering around location with slightly blurred vision is really quite impractical.
Cracking on with the shoot, we perched, sat, pointed our limbs, elongated our necks, leaned, gazed, laughed, smiled, glowered and glared until the time came to take the plunge and WADE INTO the river.
Gingerly, I made the first steps in and was pleasantly surprised – not that cold, infact quite acceptable considering the cooler temperatures as a result of the waterfall being shaded by surrounding woodland (thus offering the wonderful dappled sunlight we had). Behind me however, plucky Tegan was not so plucky as she accused me of lying – “It’s freezing” she corrects me. “It can’t be that bad, come on!” say Louise and Charlie from their welly-encased positions, trying (but failing) to stifle their amusement at our discomfort. We didn’t curse them… Much. Okay, maybe I shouted a little.
We continued on, trying different outfits, different positions until the time felt right to try out a few new techniques – slow frame photography and DRONE photography. We turned to the old favourite blue floral dress in Louise’s bag of wonders. Fun fact about the blue floral dress: This was a dress I found at a car boot sale with the full intention of wearing for a fancy occasion one day. That day never seemed to come and the dress seemed to fit too loose. In the end I took it with me to do the bath tub photo shoot with Louise – and it has stayed with her ever since! Very slowly I returned myself to the centre of the river, perched on the most accommodating rock, carefully removed my sandals (tucking them behind my legs), adjusted the angle of the flowing fabric around me and tried to looked “relaxed” for the camera. After a few shots, Charlie advised me that the shots weren’t quite working: “We’re just not getting a great shot of the HENNA.” Okay. Duly noted, I tried to turn my henna towards the camera.
I should mention that a few minutes before this there had been an arrival of a group of teenagers. Being the month of July, many year 11/GCSE students were on study leave and enjoying the sunshine – and a group of them had decided to take a long walk from Clayton to Goit Stock. Not an easy feat! It was unfortunate however that it coincided with a day when we were shooting photos. So, as Charlie told me that he needed a better angle of the henna, a group of teens had gathered next to Louise, watching curiously while a woman in a blue dress sat in the middle of the river, staring off into the distance. Then, just when I thought it was feeling pretty awkward we heard a dramatic SPLASH as a couple of the more bold and fearless students plunged into the pool from the top of the waterfall. It looked AMAZING and it crossed our minds that maybe we should try it – for a photo before swiftly changing our minds. But also, the bold waterfall jumpers were in our shots… Oh dear. We were on bought time as we then engaged the help of the students next to Louise, to negotiate with their fellow students at the top of the waterfall, to hold off while we shoot a couple more slow frame shots before switching to the drone so they could resume the pool plunging antics – oh, to be young, restless and immortal again! The shouting back and forth, and the cringeworthy moments of me posing, seriously, resulted in some magical work from Charlie. Behold:
Once done, the celebratory group of students had grown exponentially – they were now a veritable pool party, so we felt maybe it was a good time to wrap it up, pack down and finish for the day. As we towelled off and put our walking shoes back on, a couple passed by and stopped to tell us that they were also planning to shoot at Goit Stock in the following week and had just spent some time scoping out the location for ideal scenery. They advised us that just a few minutes further up river there was another, smaller waterfall but a very lovely pool – quieter, less disturbances, probably ideal for more photos. We all exchanged looks. We had roughly 2o minutes of time left – maybe half an hour, but I would have to call for school-run back up to give us that time. We agreed that we wouldn’t have this chance again – sunlight, bag of dresses, photography assistant, drone! – so we gathered everything up and forged onwards and upwards towards for a second shoot. Greeted by a peaceful pool, we realised immediately that it was worth the extra effort. Even a couple of outfit changes and possibly an optimistic swimming shot – maybe! By this point Tegan and I were tiring. Walking into the river was taking us 3 times longer, with more stumbles and wobbles. I thought the terrain had become more precarious, but the truth was that we were tired. With the drag of wet dresses, the cold water temperature and the (albeit gentle) current of the river, we had been putting our bodies through quite a workout. Gritting our teeth, we plowed on – when would we have such an amazing opportunity again? Truly? When?! Scrambling into the river on all fours, clinging to each other for stability and shouting words of encouragement we achieved the final shots of the day – among my most favourite photos ever.
Finally satisfied we made our way back to the river bank very slowly. grateful for the extra hands from Charlie hauling our drenched and tired asses out of the river. Throwing all our wet outfits back into the bag and accepting Charlie’s offers to carry the heavy loads we began plodding back to our cars, drained but invigorated by the anticipation of seeing the resulting photos.
Bidding a fond farewell to each other as we all parted ways, and hoping beyond our wildest dreams that we would be able to put together another opportunity to meet and shoot more photos we returned home to recover, process, edit and await the unveiling of all our hard work. I knew then and I know now beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the hard work we had put in as a team was entirely worth it. Louise and Charlie produced outstanding work that I am proud and honoured to have been a part of, and having the empowering force of Tegan by my side was a sheer joy. Please, please let this not be the last time! For now, enjoy these beautiful images and always, always be grateful for the beautiful souls that cross your path when you decide to pursue your creative passion <3
More photos (click for enlarged versions):
*My first review post – coming soon!