Workshop Review Part 2 - Fashion magazine brief

"Wuthering Heights -the Depths of Drama" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn. Model: Ella McNeil, HMUA: Lauren Rippin, Styling: Caroline Brown. Location: The moors of Haworth, England. The inspiration for this image was an idea held in my imagination for months.

"Wuthering Heights -the Depths of Drama" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn. Model: Ella McNeil, HMUA: Lauren Rippin, Styling: Caroline Brown. Location: The moors of Haworth, England. The inspiration for this image was an idea held in my imagination for months.

What you'll find in today's post:  Describing the brief, how we researched, planned and executed the photo shoot. Finally, I'll write of respect for models and photographers.

The Brief

This day and its content were a total surprise to me.  I never expected we would learn to apply our acquired portrait skills to a fashion magazine layout.  The possibility of responding to a fashion magazine brief was so remote in my thoughts as to be non-existent!  (I had just received a reminder about the Law of Attraction. Be open to opportunity. Anything is possible.)

The brief (from a fictitious fashion magazine) required seven images, in either of the following configurations; 4 portrait layouts, 3 landscape layouts (for full page spreads) or 3 portraits, 4 landscapes. One or two detail images were requested. Our inspiration for the photo shoot was Wuthering Heights.

I soon appreciated the genius behind Carolyn's method of teaching.  She had arranged a total immersion into the world of Wuthering Heights.  Our first day was spent touring the small hill-top town of Haworth, where the Bronte's had lived. We toured the Bronte Parsonage and the attached Bronte Museum.  Living in 19th century Haworth, England was a brutal enterprise.

Later, we transported ourselves to Ponden Hall, the inspiration for Thrushcross Grange. We spent the next days living in the ether of Wuthering Heights.  In her quiet way, Carolyn had arranged for the six of us "to live" the research for our fashion brief experience.

Research, Planning, Execution

Ahhh! Looking for the ideas...what story did my partner (Dani) and I want to construct? Truthfully, this was the easy part because...we were in Wuthering Heights!  But how to put our own marks onto an epic story well-known around the world?

We scoured fashion magazines and snapped photos of poses that fit our ideas.  We selected images based on detail shots. We reviewed our collective Pinterest boards. Then we constructed our storyboard; specifically outlining the composition for each image.

And can we just take a moment to give thanks for the camera function on cell-phones?  These storyboard/inspiration images on our phones proved invaluable when we were out in the field. We flipped through the images and discussed with the model what we were looking for in a particular scene.
The woodcut (l) of a brooding Heathcliff (by Clare Leighton, 1931) was the inspiration for "Heathcliff charges the moors" (r) by Rebecca LaChance (c) 2016. Dani Heaven, my partner, had saved this image to our Pinterest storyboard page. Model: Zak Derler, MUA: Laurel Rippin; Styling: Caroline Brown. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn.  Zak is wearing the cape and fingerless gloves we had requested.  In true "get the job done" ethic, the fingerless gloves were Caroline Brown's (stylist) personal gloves!

The woodcut (l) of a brooding Heathcliff (by Clare Leighton, 1931) was the inspiration for "Heathcliff charges the moors" (r) by Rebecca LaChance (c) 2016. Dani Heaven, my partner, had saved this image to our Pinterest storyboard page. Model: Zak Derler, MUA: Laurel Rippin; Styling: Caroline Brown. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn.  Zak is wearing the cape and fingerless gloves we had requested.  In true "get the job done" ethic, the fingerless gloves were Caroline Brown's (stylist) personal gloves!

We met with the stylist, hair/makeup artist (HMUA) and the models. We showed them our storyboards and the details we wanted to include; fingerless gloves, the cape, a bib necklace. (We did want a photo of bitten fingernails, but all the models had lovely fingernails.)

(L) Ella McNeil wears the cape we requested and (r) Aisling Serrant wears the bib necklace. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. HMUA: Lauren Rippin. Styling: Caroline Brown. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn.

(L) Ella McNeil wears the cape we requested and (r) Aisling Serrant wears the bib necklace. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. HMUA: Lauren Rippin. Styling: Caroline Brown. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn.

Then, we all "hit the moors".  Oh my!....I had NO IDEA how rugged the moors are. Moors are sharp edges camouflaged in puffy greenery, rolling, slippery, "sinky", rocky, steeply pitched and just plain treacherous. And they make a great photo backdrop!  In some cases, the only way I could steady myself on any given perch was by pulling onto the deeply rooted (thank God) flora. At the end of the day, EVERY. BONE. EVERY. MUSCLE. ached. Yet, it was worth every swallowed aspirin.

Respect

"...just a little bit..all I'm asking is just a little bit..." (Thanks to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin).

Here's what you can't see in the images taken on that day. The temperature was in the 40's (F), it was windy and rainy.  Yet, the models were totally professional and followed our pose requests wearing only flimsy costuming. Never once did they complain or deny our pose requests.  And as a group, we asked them to do some pretty exhaustive posing up and down those steep moors.

I felt guilty asking them to take off their coats, to lie down in the greenery, or brave the withering winds.

To those people who believe models have a glamorous, easy job.  No! No! No! These folks worked and they worked hard!  I started mentally planning how I would take care of my models and crew for any future photo shoots.

(l) "Cathy contemplates her decision" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Model: Aisling Serrant(r) "What follows me forward if I should stay with my heart?" Heathcliff and Cathy on their beloved moors. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Models: Zak Derler and Emma McNeil.  HMUA: Lauren Rippin. Styling: Caroline Brown. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn.

(l) "Cathy contemplates her decision" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Model: Aisling Serrant(r) "What follows me forward if I should stay with my heart?" Heathcliff and Cathy on their beloved moors. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Models: Zak Derler and Emma McNeil.  HMUA: Lauren Rippin. Styling: Caroline Brown. Compelling Portraiture with Carolyn Mendelsohn.

"Work? I want your job."

I received this message after an image of me working one of the photo shoots was posted. Once again, the misconception that being a professional photographer is "easy" reared its ugly head.  Just because a photographer (or any artist for that matter) loves what they are doing, doesn't mean it isn't demanding.

In the image that was posted, I was sitting in a bed of nettles.  Have you ever felt the bite of English nettles? Let me be trite and say, they're not "cottony soft". It's what I had to do to make the image I wanted. And I'm okay with that.

Oh, and to those folks who challenged me to take epic images of "real people"? I'm singing with Miss Aretha..."just a little bit".

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Stay tuned for next week's entry in the four-part workshop review.  I requested a portfolio review with Caroline. I'll share the review process and how that single portfolio review has been life-changing for me.

Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.

Rebecca

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