Sometimes – not often – but sometimes everything runs smoothly, the client contacts you, you find the perfect location, the weather is great and Photoshop doesn’t take an eternity reading your files, the starts align in the sky ( ….. ) and you manage to get the job done without much trouble or worries. But those are not the jobs you remember, and this is not a post about that kind of photo session, this is a post about a series of bad premonitions and obstacles – plus a very good premonition and advantage – that actually came together to let us create a work that exceeded the client’s expectations and made us both proud.
Bad premonition and obstacle number one: Short Budget
The moment Carla Martí contacted me and told me she was a college student majoring in fashion design and needed to do a photo session of her collection I knew we had to make some adjustments because there was no way we could have a big fashion production on a student’s budget. I also knew – because she told me, and by the way I was, and still am stoked by her words, such an honor and at the same time what a huge responsibility – that after a lot of online searching, and starting to feel a bit frustrated, she ran into my work, found it to be very unique, artistic and different from all the other photographers she had seen and knew she wanted to work with me ( I told you… stocked and oh so honored ). So since the first contact we were very honest with each other regarding what she needed and wanted and what I could offer. Renting material, a studio or a location was out of question, hiring a catering service wasn’t even on the table and finding a creative make-up artist that could also work has a hair stylist while understanding the budget limitations was a must. We started getting creative with our options and with every email I would present her detailed information and prices about all the possibilities and suited alternatives that could fit her perfectly and things started to get into place.
Bad premonition and obstacle number two: Location
Oh… location, location, location. As I’ve said before, renting a location wasn’t an option, and it just takes a quick look into my portfolio to know I have a soft spot for dramatic landscapes and abandoned places – and so does Carla. Her collection and concept for the shoot demanded something like a hospital, a reformatory, a factory or a slaughterhouse. Until this point nothing says “bad premonition” because scouting for locations and finding further abandoned places is something I really enjoy, but when all the trips turned out to be a disappointment because that perfect powerhouse I found a few months ago is now being reconstructed, the factory is now occupied with not so friendly squats, the orphanage is no where to be seen and the swimming pool is locked down with big fences, frustration starts rushing in.
Bad premonition and obstacle number three: The inaccessible place
Giving up the “destruction look” wasn’t an option, ruins have not only the weight of the past but also the possibility of a new beginning, they are filled with stories and charged with a strong symbolism, a “ruin really is the road to transformation”. But the thing with ruins is that they attract all kind of different people and, unfortunately, most of them don’t care for the ruin in itself but for the seeming possibility of destroying without consequences, so the previously very accessible place turns into either a total wreck or into a completely locked place with big walls, padlocks and chains like the swimming pool I’ve mention before. I tried to contact the Ajuntamento to get a license but after a few unanswered phone calls and unanswered emails it became very clear that no on wanted to deal with the abandoned swimming pools. Despite these circumstances being far from ideal, the place had a post-apocalyptic feel that really matched the concept of the shoot so after going to the place a few more times just to make sure and explaining the situation to the models and make-up artist - the situation being, we will need to climb a fence, be very quiet and careful with all the materials, clothes and ourselves - we decided we would go yearly in the morning and have a plan B just in case.
Bad premonition and obstacle number four: The mystery man
So day 15th around 7am I arrived to the swimming pool planning to get things ready before the creative team arrive and noticed a man surrounding the place, going around it a few times, peeking inside and looking for trespassers, “where was this man when I was trying to get a permit to photograph here?” I thought. He didn’t look like a security guard, or an officer, it looked more like a concerned neighbor, but still it had bad premonition written all over. I called Carla and explained the situation. This is one of those moments that – even if just for a short time – she had showed me any doubt, we would go for our plan B, but since she was confident that everything would be fine we went for it and guess what? We had no problems whatsoever.
Bad premonition and obstacle number five: Non-professional models
I love working with non-professional models, there is a special energy with people that usually have no idea how to pose in front of a camera and that often feel intimidated by it. The entire process of trying to connect with the subject, making them feel at ease, helping them, collaborating, directing and being surprised by what happens in front of the camera it’s on of the things I love about photography. But fashion photography has different rules, works for different goals and there’s usually a lot of looks to photograph and not an unlimited time to do it so everybody needs to know exactly what has to be done at any specific moment. Years of practice, professionalism, concentration, awareness of body shape and facial expressions and the ability to take directions efficiently while at the same time adding their own creativity and skills are some of the reasons why being a professional model is not easy. Again… my bad presentiment turned out to be easily overcomed by taking a few minutes before every change of set or clothes to explain exactly what was intended and why, showing them how they could do it and by keeping a cheerful and respectful communication during the entire time. They were a.ma.zing. The boy has a very unique face and body type perfect for Carla’s collection and the girl has this incredible “spanish beauty” look with long shiny black hair. Kudos to their dedication and willingness to try every idea, they were both so easy going and fun to work with that I can’t be anything else but thankful.
Very good premonition and advantage: Perfect chemistry
We had only exchanged a few emails about the concept when I started putting together the Pinterest board for the session ( once again, Pinterest proved to be a great tool ), when Carla saw it, her exact words were: “We are the same”… and oh boy was she right. From that moment on and despite all the bad premonitions I’ve mentioned ( and some other I decided not to bore you with ) this sense of a perfect fit between the two of us was always present – she was actually excited and not a bit scared when I told her we would have to climb a fence to get to the place – and continued until yesterday when she finally got the images and gave me one of the nicest testimonials a photographer can have:
Hi Aisa! I LOVE the photos, what a thrill!! It’s exactly what I wanted. Perfect retouch! I am very happy with your work, the creative editing of your photos, a part from your closeness, your dedication and your desire to participate in the project, not only as a photographer but also as a creative. You understood perfectly my needs and were able to express exactly what I wanted. I have no complaints about your services what soever, I just can’t say anything bad! Not even if I’m being objective! Everything was just perfect. I am very satisfied and with great excitement! Thank you very much and big kiss for the great photographer!
Carla, I’m so happy that you found me online and that we worked together, I’m sure you will have great success and happiness in your future as a fashion designer, I’ve told you before how talented I think you are, how I loved your collection and I really hope I can have the chance to work with you again and see you grow and conquer. Thank you so much.
If you wish to see the actual photo session I’ll be posting it online during this week at Aisa Araújo Photography facebook page so be sure to like the page so you can keep up with all the updates.
Thank you for reading.