Thursday, 28 May 2015

Creative Collaborations










A few weeks ago I found myself crouching, somewhat precariously, on a branch many metres above the ground. I was wearing a silver ballgown, naturally. (What else does one wear to scale fallen trees?) We’d caught the last gasps of sunset. I was calm and elated and shaking slightly in the chilly breeze. Over the river the odd jogger and couple were reduced to blobs of colour. I was more focused on the lens below, smoothing my shivers into static poses.

It was sitting up there, grass below and sky above, that I had a moment of utter joy: joy in modeling, in collaborating, in doing vaguely ridiculous things to secure a good photo. Joy in how incongruous I was, but also how natural it felt to be scrabbling for footholds whilst ensuring the thirties bias-cut fabric sat just right. Joy in the adrenaline hit of wind, skin, fabric and a great(ish) height.

To me that enclosed moment points to all the best aspects of shoots. They are first and foremost a collaboration. One in front of the camera, one behind, both working together to produce something exciting. (Obviously there are also those shoots involving a whole team. Different dynamic, just as interesting). More than that though, there’s a sense of working together for the sake of adventure. Take a rough idea, a location, a hastily assembled set of clothes, perhaps throw in a set of interesting weather conditions, and you’ve got some proper fun.

That interlude of perching, standing, lying down and scrambling around also reminded me of the spontaneity I had as a young teen – where, on a weekend, I’d shove some items in a rucksack and head outdoors with a friend and a camera. I had the time to be imaginative and silly, to jump across streams in very impractical heels or hang out in bluebell woods. I dressed up in vintage swimsuits to traverse fields of flowers, skulked among trees at twilight, and jumped across waves wearing chiffon. Those last three were all thanks to Flo, back when we lived in close proximity and had the hours to spare.

During adolescence I sometimes took the pictures, sometimes was in them. Now it errs more towards the latter (though I hope the balance isn’t permanently skewed), and even that is a rare treat now. Although something similar is achieved in most shoots with one of my parents wielding the camera, they’re usually done in quick succession during the holidays – a morning of sun yielding three different outfits to sustain my blog over several weeks. Wonderful in their own way, but less immersive.

What I guess I adore most is the play: playing outdoors, playing dress up, playing with imaginative concepts, playing at being someone else. More sophisticated storylines, maybe. Definitely a better application of red lipstick than I could achieve aged five. But similar principles.

Models are often denigrated, as though their role involves nothing more than standing around and pouting. That’s definitely the case on occasion, but if the shoot is dynamic, it will require skill - plus a willingness to be open and experiment and respond to what’s in front of you.

These are the types of creative collaboration I want to return to more – working on things like this where it’s two-way, whether that’s professionally or just for the thrill of hanging out in the park in ridiculous garments. That reciprocity between subject and photographer can be exhilarating. You may get so cold your fingers go numb. You may have to put up with people slowing to stare or comment as they wander past. But these are minor inconveniences – and besides, at times I really quite enjoy causing a stir.

I'm wearing a thirties dress that belonged to a relative of mine's-friend's-mother, named Moonyeen (see the first outing on the blog, complete with scoliosis scar, here). These photos were taken by the fabulous Paulina Choh. We first got talking after she spotted me leaping around while a friend took a snap of me for Instagram (I am vaguely shameless about these things) - and she recognised me from my blog! It's the biggest/ oddest/ best thrill whenever this happens, and I'm so pleased in this instance that it led to such an exciting creative opportunity. Watch this space for more from her... 

11 comments:

Lally said...

Oh these photographs are beautiful. I love that dress, it is so so wonderful, I am also very intrigued by the relative it belonged to; what a fabulous name! Creative collaborations are marvellous. I've been taking my blogs photos a lot recently due to time but I really really want to get back to collaborating, it's far more fun, and I love the double take on an outfit or concept- you are so right about the model having a little more to do than just pout! XX

Elizabeth Murdock said...

Your photographs are always so utterly beautiful and unique! I'd love to be able to take photographs or look so lovely and defiant in photographs as you do but I'm trying to improve day by day! Your dress is gorgeous, I myself too have a thirties dress but it's burgandy velvet and I'm afraid the studs that adorned it's neckline have fallen of and need repair so it's sitting at the back of wardrobe waiting for the day when I'll be careful with it. x
fashionismyfirstlanguage.blogspot.ie

Melanie said...

Is there anything more dreamy than a silky bias-cut gown? Having another person involved in taking photos adds so much life. Selfies can be empty that way, one way. I'm glad you have people to play with.

Closet Fashionista said...

Such beautiful photos! I should do imaginative shoots more often, haha. They're so fun!
http://www.closet-fashionista.com

AVY said...

Posing like a model, love the first one.

/Avy

http://mymotherfuckedmickjagger.blogspot.com

Ivana Split said...

These photographs are nothing short of perfect...that silver ball gown is magnificent! I adore such vintage pieces, they are really a treasure.

I agree with what you said...shootings are team work, sometimes loads of fun and sometimes challenging and basically hard work...and sometimes all of the above. At any rate, they are a creative process...one that involves the model as much as photographer....

Model is also the one putting herself/himself out there...and that is never easy. Reading blogs, I learned to enjoy and appreciate all kinds of shootings...ones that are more playful and casual, ones that are professional or artistic- they all have something to offer.

Helen Le Caplain said...

Beautiful dress, beautiful pics.

Love that you managed to get up a tree in a full-length dress!

Vix said...

That dress looks absolutely wonderful on you and the setting is the perfect backdrop. Moonyeen will be thrilled.
xxx

Anupriya DG said...

I know JUST what you are talking about! Interesting collaborations get my adrenaline pumping too!!!
And these photos are gorgeous! The lighting, the fallen tree, the thirties gown - all so perfect! <3

FASHION TALES said...

I love it when you can meet someone outside of the blog who recognises you, it's such a great feeling. The photo shoot turned out marvellous, and what an elegant dress. It's certainly a wonderful collaboration.

Gareth From StyleHoney.com said...

Oh WOW! That ballgown is just stunning, Rosalind. And great work on smiling through the shivering! x