Picture this... You are sat at home on a nice cosy Sunday afternoon and out of the blue pops up a little facebook chat window (with that annoying little sound it makes) with an unexpected request. One of the dancers that I've been photographing with for the past year , also a very close friend I may add, asked if I could possibly do some head shots for her as she was applying for a dance company. In case you don't know who I am referring to... Erica Mulkern is her name ... and serious talent is her game. See photos below.
Of course I said yes to helping her and agreed to a time to meet her in Leeds.
"But Alex, why were you nervous ? It's only a couple of head shots! The title is misleading... Stop making click bait" I hear you cry from the other side of the computer.
Okay. I will tell you why.
When I sat down with her over a coffee on the day of the shoot I asked her what she was applying for... and she told me ... well I shouldn't tell you because that's her business ... but let's just say it's a very big dance company that I highly respect/admire/ARGH they are amazing. Whilst this made me feel very excited and honored to be taking her application photos, I all of a sudden felt an overwhelming self doubt dropping down on me. And I couldn't explain it.
I've shot hundreds of portraits, weddings, gigs , I've photographed celebrities and acts, always kept my cool. Why was I nervous all of a sudden.
Then it hit me like a brick.
I've not touched my camera in 3 months.
At this point, I reached over to my bag, picked up my camera and looked at Erica. With a slight smile on my face I told her what has just erupted in my mind. Her face said it all. She was not scared, she was not doubtful nor was she disappointed. You can tell she felt sad/sorry for me and that I had not done this for so long. With this said and cleared I did what I do best.
"Ahhh it's like riding a bike! You never forget it" I said with a bounce in my voice.
So we went on the search for places to shoot.
Her only request from me was to get some more natural/non forced smiling shots.
And here comes the challenge of the century ladies and gentleman. Get photos of your model smiling and laughing without telling them to smile and laugh... And there is only one way (well in my humble opinion) .... You need to just make them smile and laugh, catch them off guard.
I don't care if you have to make a fool of yourself, if you have to accidentally press the wrong thing, make jokes or do hand stands. Whatever it takes, build a rapport with the model and make sure they trust you. I can't articulate how important that trust is.
When you start working in sync with your model, you start producing your best photos.
It has to be said that I could not start my year off with any better model/friend after being out of practice for so long. The natural laughing and smiles were coming in by the bucket full. To the point that we spent about 5 minutes laughing at each other whilst a security guard gave us the evils and told us to move along...
I fee like I've wittered on enough in this post to cover the rest of the shoot... So what I will do is make another post regarding the actual proceedings and our adventures around Leeds :). Don't worry I will include photos too :D
P.S. If you want to have a look at Erica's work and blog here is the link for that.