Good days, bad days

It is fair to say that good days are days you cannot wait for.  You itch for them to arrive and when they do you enjoy the time immensely.  Every moment is savoured to the maximum and when you get those moments captured as pictures you have memories to last you forever.

Bad days on the other hand you hope will be few and far between.  They are not what you want to be part of and you don’t want too many of them in your life.  When they arrive they can leave you hating the hours they endure for and you can’t wait for them to disappear.   This post is about both types of days, but I’m going to start with the good day first.  You will have to wait a little bit longer for the bad day stuff.

Training is vital

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know how importantly I value training.  I think it is vital to introduce new and develop existing skills to any photographer’s toolbox.  I know that the same basic photography principles apply to wedding photography as they do to boudoir photography, but fine tuning those skills for each specific style of photography makes all the difference to the finished image.  That applies to post processing too.

I did some training in my early days with a number of excellent photographers.  I got a lot of information from them and they helped to push me in the direction I wanted to go.  Then I met Andrew Appleton and things clicked.  I understood his style from our initial meeting, and knew then that if I wanted to maintain some consistency in my style of photography I needed to stick with him.  I am not saying that I did not get on with the other trainers I had met and gone on workshops with at all, they were all very good in their own ways.  At the risk of showing my age, I am a Ipswich Town football fan,  and I knew I had met my Bobby Robson. If you are not sure about that analogy you will have to look it up.

Things develop

Yes, that heading is an age old and very worn cliché, but it is true.  I worked with Andrew for a number of years, attending his workshops and training days to improve my skills.  It was not always about pure photography and pressing the shutter, it included softer skills like looking at the scene to get natural lighting right, checking obstructions and unwanted movement and using a light meter.  He had an amazing eye, and could look at an area and say what the settings should be without measuring the light and be within a stop every time.  My eyes are not as good as his, so I was trained in the use of a meter.  It’s a longer way to get the shot, but I find it gives consistent results.

He was a judge for the Guild of Photographers, and he mentioned that he thought I would improve more by joining them and entering competitions.  There was never any pressure to do that, but I did and found The Guild friendly, warm and welcoming.  I got access to a lot of things which helped me with my photography business.  Andrew ran his own groups too, so I joined them at the level that gave me access to a lot of his time, called the Gold Group.  One of the benefits was that we got Gold Group days, when we would all meet and go on themed shoots.  We were all photographers of a reasonable level, so Andrew could relax a bit and let us get on with shooting without too much involvement on his part.  It was also a chance for him to do some photography as well.

One of the good days

Now I can get to the point of this post, so if you have got this far stick with me.  The Gold Group produced a lot of good days, not least the day Andrew organised for us to go to some places near Grassington in Yorkshire to shoot some art nude with the lovely Scarlett Foxett who has the most glorious red hair I have ever seen.  It was typical of Andrew, he knew the locations were all a bit special but he was willing to share them.  Some would have kept that knowledge to themselves.

We all met in a car park and set off to the first spot on the list.  It was a place on the river, though we turned it into two locations, one on either side of a beautiful stone bridge.  It was secluded so art nude was not going to be a problem there.  It is always a bit of worry that you find hordes of people around whenever an art nude shoot takes place!

I had worked with Scarlett before, so I knew that she would cope with the chill in the air, even though it was a sunny day.  That was the case, she was straight in the river within minutes of arrival.

Scarlette Foxette in the sun with yellow material by the river
Scarlette Foxette on a rock by the river and leaning back with yellow sheer material
Scarlette Foxette leans back sitting on a rock in the river in an art nude image
Scarlett Foxette sits on a rock covered by sheer yellow material by the river

All the images above were taken from just under the bridge.  The light was falling perfectly, so there was no need for any additional electronic help.

We moved away from the river to go to the second location, up a hill with a drystone wall to work with.  The view behind it was breathtaking, and I wanted to include it in some way.  Shooting in landscape was great to capture Scarlett and the wall, but I needed to switch to portrait to get the view in too.

Scarlette Foxette freclines on a drystone wall in Yorkshire
Scarlette Foxette reclines full length in an art nude pose on a drystone wall
Scarlette Foxette stands on a drystone wall in an art nude pose
Scrlette Foxette against a glorious backdrop in a standing art nude pose

The third and final location was at a waterfall.  Where I live waterfalls don’t exist because the land is so flat, and I am ashamed to say that this was only the second I have seen in my life.  Scarlett was not so fazed by it, without any ado she was off back in the water again.  These are my favourite shots of the whole day, and it is somewhere I would love to go back to again.

Scarlette Foxette sits and reclines on a rock by the waterfall in an art nude pose
Scarlette Foxette reclines an an art nude pose by the waterfall
Scarlette Foxette is in the river in front of a waterfall in an art nude pose
In the river Scarlette Foxette stands in an art nude pose in front of the waterfall
Scarlette Foxette in a three quarters art nude pose in the river by the waterfall
An art nude pose in the river by a waterfall with Scarlette Foxette

That was one of the good days.  Great company, fantastic location, top model and Helen Appleton in attendance to keep Scarlett looking her best in the adverse conditions.  We all thought we would have many more days like that, but fate took a hand.

That bad day

It is the day nobody wants. It can have many effects, but this one ripped my heart out.

On the 24th May, word filtered through social media and the various groups that Andrew ran to say that he had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly the previous evening.  It is the worse sort of news that anyone wants to hear and having heard similar news in the past four times before makes it no better.  There were so many plans for the future, with trips abroad and many more workshops in the pipeline.

Andrew was much more than my photography mentor, he was a friend.  The outpouring of feelings on social media shows that was true for many, many people, photographers, models, make-up artists and hairstylists alike.  Nobody who worked with him had a bad word to say. That shows the measure of the man.

My heart goes out to his wife Helen and their family.  His passing is going to leave a big hole in the photography community and I know I am going to miss him greatly.  Sleep well Andrew.