Tag Archives: redhead

The how, why and where of going “on tour”!

12 Apr

**Illustrated with photos by the incomparable Ben Ernst- from my latest tour of Holland!**

I don’t think there’s a single freelance model around who can live and work full time without touring. That isn’t to say that touring is a last resort or a bad thing- I’ve written a lot about how much I love to travel- so much so that I can’t imagine staying in one place! Still, I often read posts on modelling forums asking how to go about planning tours in the first place. For the first two years I had no idea what I was doing so made a tonne of mistakes and lost a tonne of money. I still enjoy the shooting more than the planning but I no longer assume everywhere is a couple of hours away and have to take a last minute sleeper train across Germany…
BREAKING NEWS: you can’t get to Dusseldorf from Berlin in three hours- you heard it here first!! 😛
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This is the foolproof guide to planning a tour:

LOGISTICS:
So I don’t have to write fifty addendums, I’m going to assume your first tour is in Western Europe at the absolute furthest. America is a legal nightmare, Australia requires some logistics gymnastics and I don’t know a thing about visiting Asia. 🙂

1) Decide where you want to go.
Are photographers constantly asking you to go somewhere? If so, go there. If not, ask on social media and networking sites. There are probably many photographers who want to book you but don’t know you’re about to start life as a touring model. I’d advise going somewhere at least four hours away from your home base as most people wouldn’t travel four hours each way for one photoshoot (though I have had a photographer travel from Sweden, which was a lovely thing to do!)

2) Check your dates- it helps to be flexible.
I usually book my tours 2-3 months in advance. It helps me not panic as days slide closer and closer, and I can rethink my plans if my location looks to be a “touring model hotspot”. Try to make sure that other models aren’t touring there at the same time. It isn’t a total disaster if there’s more than one of you but work can be thinly spread for all involved. (If you do find yourself in the same area as someone else though, it can often be a lot of fun meeting up and either getting booked together or doing something touristy!)
If your tour books up faster than you expected, if you have a day or two either side, you can extend the dates to fit demand.

3) Snoozing and cruising!
Once you have your dates set, you need to know where you’re sleeping and how you’re getting around- then it’s just a case of booking work.
If you drive and are staying with someone, you’re sorted. If not, check train costs on nationalrail.co.uk and nationalexpress.com. Those are the main train and coach sites. This is when it helps to have flexible days as travel costs can vary. For a place to sleep, check hostelworld.com, airbnb or any hotel booking site you like. I recommend laterooms.com though others swear by booking.com

Unless you’ll be absolutely bankrupted if you aren’t booked solid on your planned tour, book the above *well* in advance. It really is cheaper- especially if you’re coming by train. If you have left it a bit late, don’t worry too much- have a look at coach times and fares. Eurolines often have some amazing deals if you’re travelling internationally. If you’re in the UK, try Megabus. There’s usually a hostel available in any city at any time*, but if you’d like to be a chooser rather than a beggar, make your booking quickly.

* Except Amsterdam. If you are going to Amsterdam, book your bed NOW.

Once the above is planned out, that’s the scary part over.

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JOB HUNTING:

1) Start casting
If you’re already working as a model, you know how to post a casting call and advertise on social media. I don’t bother with flyers but I know a lot of models make a nice flyer advertising their dates so that people can share it as an image and get the word of the tour out more easily. If you want to do that, go for it.
I contact photographers who have already expressed an interest in working with me before I start posting public castings as it gives them a chance at a first refusal which is usually appreciated.

2) Language skills
– If you’re going to another country and know the language, say so in your casting. Even better, write the casting in both languages. (Keep it short though.) If you don’t know the language and are going to be working with several photographers in quick succession (for example, a workshop or studio day) check that the organiser or studio owner can help with translation! Nothing is worse than being yelled at by six people at once in a language you don’t understand.
– I almost always list my rates in the currency of the country I will be shooting in- it makes things easier for the photographer booking me if they don’t have to convert cash.
– In the body of your casting, emphasise anything popular in the country- are there any fashions you would suit? (For example, if you work to nude levels, you may get a flurry of bookings in a conservative country that has a large photography scene.)
– I shouldn’t need to say this, but use correct grammar. No txt spk. Try to use spellchecker if you aren’t sure. Not only do you look more professional but if you’re advertising for work in a country speaking a different language, you’ll be difficult to understand if you’re sloppy when advertising.

3) Locations for dummies
I never used to charge travel expenses thinking “what’s a tenner here and there?” Well, my first ever Scotland tour had four days filled by two half-day bookings on each day- a decade ago, I was charging £100 for a half-day. I was commuting around an hour or two each way and sometimes to EACH shoot. Not a particularly hard commute- I like travelling- but the £20 or so (not booked in advance of course- I wasn’t sure exactly where the studio would be in relation to the station) mounted up. By the end of my tour, taking off the original travel costs to and from Scotland, travel expenses in Scotland, accommodation (even though it was just a hostel) and food, I was left with £500 profit. After a six day tour in which I had run myself ragged. It was heartbreaking but a good lesson in why booking in advance and charging travel expenses when you leave your host city is so important.
Many years ago, I also made the mistake of judging all countries by the UK’s size. So I went to Germany and booked two full day photoshoots- one in Berlin, one in Dusseldorf. To my horror, I realised my mistake halfway through the first shoot and in my lunch break, booked a night train very quickly and moderately expensively. I got to Dusseldorf in time, pretended I’d come from the suburbs and the photographer never knew…. until now. 😛 Make sure you know where you’re going and how you’ll get there!

If you’ve done castings, shouted all over social media and still have gaps in your schedule, consider taking a day off to explore. If that isn’t an option, can you shorten your tour or try another place? (For example if you are casting for Leeds, try Manchester too).
Bear in mind that tours can be unpredictable. I’ve expected visits to sell out in hours and they haven’t, and trips I added as an afterthought have had to be extended by days! If it’s your first tour, you have no client base there… yet. You need to get the ball rolling and things may start slowly but if you’re a skilled model with a good reputation, things will pick up.

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SERIOUS STUFF:

1) Insurance of all kinds
A lot of things are up in the air at the moment due to Brexit but if you’re travelling outside the UK, get health insurance- you don’t want to lose your hard earned money in hospital. There is no reason not to- peace of mind is priceless.
Just in case- because you never know, pack that little leaflet your bank gives you when you travel, as well as the emergency numbers of the country you’re in.

2) Time travel.
If you’re travelling to a different timezone, remember that you may need a day or two to get over any jetlag from long-haul flights. If you travel back and forth a lot, you’ll know how long you need. If this is your first time, set aside a couple of days after arrival and you should be over the worst of it. Keep one thing (phone, alarm etc) on “home time”- especially if you’re on medication or the contraceptive pill, which should be taken at the same time every day.

3) References
I can not stress the importance of references enough. In your own town or country, at least if something happens you can speak the language, call the emergency services, find the nearest train station or taxi company, get cash out etc- it’s familiar territory.
If you’re on the other side of the world with little knowledge of the area, what are you going to do? It is so vital that before you confirm a photoshoot with someone, you contact two or three people they have already worked with to make absolutely sure that they are okay. It’s important in your own area, but doubly so when you’re touring.

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FUN STUFF

Exploring!!

Have a walk around when you arrive. Is there a tourist information point? Any pretty places to look around? Always know where your food is- if your shoot finishes late and the cafes are closed, knowing where your local supermarket or 24-hour store is will save you from breakfasting on anything you can see when you wake up starving. This has actually happened to me in Spain- I finished working with two other models and had luckily noted the 24-hour shop down the road. So we went shopping and had a bed-picnic!

I came to realise that I was travelling to all these amazing places but relying on location photoshoots to show me around! On my days off, I mostly curled up in my hostel to read and do admin work. Set up an auto-reply on your e-mail to let clients know that it may take you a little longer to answer queries, and take yourself somewhere on your free days. If you look in the lobby of where you’re staying (especially in hostels), you’ll find they usually advertise budget tours. Modelling does not last forever and while you’re doing something so amazing, make the most of it!

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p.s. I couldn’t decide which version of the “wrapped up” picture to post! Which do you prefer? The full colour one of this one?
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The Winds of March- shooting in the freezing cold

15 Mar

Spring is springing! I returned from a week long trip away shooting for my sister site to find that even though it was night time, I could smell the blossom on the trees and I woke up in the morning to early sunrise and the annual “East side/West side nesting goose turf war”. The weather has improved and I cannot wait to shoot outside again- I’ve even picked up some new floaty pretty things and am working on improving my art-nude pose repetoire to really wow everybody this year.

I began writing this post as the weather turned in Autumn and though I am optimistically hoping we’ve seen the worst of the really bad weather, March and April can still be windy and cold so… better late-ish than never, right? 😉
Here’s my guide for getting the best from your model in a freezing situation:

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All images by Imaginary Revolutionary unless otherwise credited

BEFORE THE SHOOT

1) Keep a ‘model kit’.
An experienced model will have many of the things listed but supplies can run out and sometimes there just isnt enough space in the suitcase for everything. 🙂 I’ve been so grateful if the cold has really got to me, I’ve slipped on a rock and I’m hungry and the photographer has been able to offer me a plaster or water to wash the cut as well as a blanket and a snack.
– A towel (for changing and/or wet feet)
– Cereal bars or Mars bars (Food is always good but Mars bars are for serious sugar crashes- hopefully it shouldn’t come to that!)
– A couple of bottles of water
– Loo roll. (Especially if you’re in the middle of nowhere!)
– Plasters and painkillers
– A blanket and possibly hand warmers if it’s REALLY freezing
– A flask of hot drinks and a hot water bottle if you know you are really going to suffer for your art.

2) Book an experienced model.
I know professional models charge higher rates but you will get a wider range of poses and more usable images in a shorter amount of time with a model used to cold weather photoshoots- especially when it comes to art-nude work. Overall, the extra cost is offset by the level of productivity.
If you really want/need to work with a new model, bear in mind that a lot of ‘tips and tricks’ come from experience and what may seem obvious may not have occurred to a total newbie- even down to the fact that they are going to be very uncomfortable in the first place! Tell them to bring warm stuff and food.

3)  Plan ahead
Have two or three overall images in your mind that you would like to achieve. Work on getting those first and then consider everything else a bonus. This counts doubly on windy days when your model will freeze much faster than on still days.

4) Remember that shooting as a duo or group may halve the work for you…. but it doubles the work for your model.
If you’re working with another photographer who can act as assistant, your model must pose for you, wait for your assistant to set up their camera and then pose for them too. You may feel rested and ready to go again after your break from shooting but your model will not have stopped. This is not to say that duo shoots cannot work- they definitely can and I have had some fantastic and memorable times. Comfort is relative and we won’t be warm and cosy but this is how to help models out and get the best from us:
– Offer your model regular fully-clothed, snack-eating warm-up breaks even if that means waiting an extra 5-10 minutes for them. Cold muscles are stiff, tense muscles and you’ll get better results if your model can warm up to a degree.
– Understand that standing still in the cold, half naked while somebody does a lighting test does not count as a break.
– The second you have your shot, chuck the model their clothing or blanket (especially socks or something to warm their feet) and ask if they want a snack or some of whatever is in the flask.
– Your model will be far more willing and happy to push for the extra shot and pose if they feel you care about their safety and comfort.

5) Check out the location beforehand and have a Plan B.
Certain places- especially involving water- are often extremely dangerous depending on the time of year. It’s a good idea to check a day or so before to make sure the pretty little brook has not become a rushing torrent. I highly recommend the fantastic Marmalade- Urbex Model’s article about shooting in watery locations. This woman knows what she’s talking about and takes stunning pictures.
If the location is absolutely impossible in the conditions, have a backup location- even if you have to postpone the nudes in sweeping landscapes in favour of arty beauty shots using the reflections in your car mirror. ;P
I was shooting a project with Magpie Tommy many years ago- we returned to the same bit of woodland and I posed in a similar manner by the same tree. One day, in biting wind, we arrived to find somebody had driven a tractor through our patch. Cue us frantically replanting bracken with numb fingers.
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We got the shot though… 😉

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DURING THE SHOOT

1) Timing is everything
If you’re working with a team of stylists, start somewhere warm, well-lit and indoors so they can get the first look ready in relative comfort and don’t have to contend with numb fingers early. If not, advise your model to arrive ready to shoot so that she doesn’t have to do her make-up outside.
Set up your shot before asking the model to change or undress. Clothes should come off at the last possible second after all the experimenting is over and you have the perfect light and exposure.

2) Check on your model
Experienced models know their limits. Still, it is nice to be asked if we’re okay or need a minute to get warm again. (Though don’t worry- you don’t need to check every moment- we’ll tell you if we need to take five.)
When I first began modelling, I was so fixated on doing a good job and being ‘professional’ that my safety would suffer and I’d push myself to the point of danger especially in the cold. Newer models may be more worried about saying they’re in pain or too cold so check on them at slightly more regular intervals (but not every 30 seconds!) and reassure any model of any experience level in advance that if they are uncomfy or need a break, to say so and they can take a few minutes out.

3) Be on the lookout for warning signs.
Has your chatty, enthusiastic model gone silent? Are they shaking with cold? Pale, or flushed? Ask them if they are okay. Take anything other than an immediate confident “yes” as a signal to wrap the shoot. Most photographers I have worked with have been fantastic if we’re both too battered by the cold to continue but I’ve heard a fair few horror stories about models being asked to stay in the same place with the cold getting into their bones, while photographers shoot and shoot and shoot. I assume anybody reading this post wouldn’t be that photographer in the first place but I couldn’t not mention it.

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ADVICE FOR MODELS

1) Be prepared
Carry snacks and buy a hot drink before you arrive. Make sure you have a warm jumper or coat in your bag as well as plasters and any other medication you want to have. Keep snacks close by as they can make all the difference. The diet may go out of the window but I find a protein bar, chocolate or something like a flapjack is better than nibbling on nuts and grapes, which are healthier but don’t really fill you up.

2) Know yourself.
I know it’s one of my ‘suits all situations’ pieces of advice but seriously- what can you cope with? If you’re okay with cold, still weather but not roaring wind then take that shoot in a freezing, snowy but sheltered mountain valley- not the one with blowing material and streaming hair on the top of the cliff. 🙂
At what point do you need to stop and warm up. When you start to shiver? When your fingers go numb? When can you tell that the cold has reached your muscles? Once the cold has reached your bones, it’s all over so listen to your body and warm up before that.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for a break.
You’re entitled to a break! Especially if your ears are going to drop off and your nose is gushing water down your face. You’re a human being and being warm(er) and less hungry will make you feel so much better- even if you know the pictures will be beautiful anyway.

4) Relax your face and try not to tense your jaw
I wish I had known this earlier! It’s one of the things that I notice about myself as a new model vs now. Luckily my tensed face suited the style on the left (my first mostly-nude shooting trip back in 2010) as I was going for the water vampire/evil siren look but there were plenty of other pictures from earlier shoots with this same expression and they did not work! The right is a later shoot- 2012. I was memorably freezing during this shoot and running around to keep warm in between shots but I’d learned how to relax my face more.
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Left pic by John Downs, right pic by Imagesse

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GENERAL GUIDE: (This may be different depending on your level of health.)
Shivering, goosebumps: You’re cold. You can usually work through it or do some more active poses to warm up.
Stiff muscles, fingers and toes going numb. The cold is in your muscles. Take a warm-up break and wait for your fingers and toes to regain a little feeling.
Actually shaking with cold, fingers and feet numb, you’re clumsy and cannot get warm: The cold is in your bones and this is dangerous. Stop the shoot immediately, if not sooner.

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Over to you guys! Any more tips about shooting in the cold? Anything I’ve missed? If so, I’ll add things to this post. 🙂

Thankyou to all the photographers I’ve worked with who have been wonderful in freezing conditions, especially Imaginary Revolutionary who was a perfect example of how to shoot in the cold on a dawn photoshoot with me last month and whose images are the illustrations for this post! 🙂

ROSWELL x

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Persephone: Welcome to the dark side!

9 Jan

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Wow- hello, new readers! I had a wave of subscriptions since my last post, so thankyou for the nice messages and interesting discussions I’ve had since then. 🙂

Before I go all mythological on you, I just want to clear some confusion over a particular term and an oversight on my part which I’m planning to fix in a very exciting way. The term “stripper rates” has been used for as long as I can remember and (as far as I have ever heard it) refers to rates that increase per hour according to the amount of skin on show. It is not meant as derogatory to models or strippers. I stand by my original point that there should be no rates increase between fashion and art-nude because it places the value on your nudity rather than your skill… BUT… it had not occurred to me that adult models may also be reading my post and that is a different matter.
Adult models (here, meaning models who pose to open-leg and beyond) charge higher rates depending on various factors and as this is not my area of expertise, I’m currently speaking to some well-known, very well-regarded adult models about appearing on this blog! This will be the first time I have asked other models to guest post so I’m very excited! 🙂

As I expected- life’s getting busy and I’m almost completely fully booked for my studio weekend at Joel Hicks Photographic in April! If you would like a place, I still have a little time free on April 22nd/23rd but otherwise, February 11th/12th is my only other weekend there and there are spaces aplenty! I would love to use some of the grey atmospheric trees and surroundings before Spring comes along and re-greens everything… 😉 Each hour is just £50-all inclusive- get in touch for a place!

As you can see from this photo by Liv Free, Winter is a good time for photo-making…
(Headdress and make-up/hair by Liv Free)
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There are also just two hours still available on my first ever shibari studio day in March! Click here for more information.
NB: You do NOT need bondage experience- all the ropework is done for you by a trained rigger.

I’ve updated my travel page- some of the ‘possible’ places have become definites and I can’t wait to start zooming around the world again. Do let me know your interest as soon as possible as I’m booking as far into the future as I can- or ask me to add you to my ‘short notice’ mailing list. No need to keep checking back- I’ll let you know if I’m available nearby.

Though I’m definitely noticing the lighter evenings, Winter is still very firmly here- the canal’s frozen over and ducks go skidding hilariously past my window every morning! In Greek mythology, the reason for everything being cold and barren is this (simplified massively*):
Once, the earth lived in eternal summer, watched over by Demeter- the goddess of harvest. One day, her daughter Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow when Hades, lord of the Underworld surprised her and snatched her off to be his queen. The grieving Demeter turned the earth cold and lifeless and in fear for the earth’s survival, a rescue mission was mounted. The ‘rules’ in almost every legend involving an underworld or faerieland say that you can return home if you don’t eat or drink anything while there and Persephone, apparently, held out for as long as she could but finally ate six pomegranate seeds in her hunger and so when Hades was finally forced to answer to the other gods and goddesses, he used that fact as leverage (or another god ratted on her) and it was agreed that Persephone would belong to the Underworld for six months of the year and return for the remainder. That is why Demeter retreats and freezes the earth for the months in which her daughter is no longer with her and brings back the flowers and warmth when she returns.

I don’t know about you but something about that has always felt ‘off’ to me…
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(I seem to be replacing Lord of the Rings references with Disney at the moment. I’m not going soft, I swear!)

Anyway, here’s another version…
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She had lived in the tower for so long she was almost used to the vertigo. She had lived with the imposed fragility until she had almost forgotten her strength. She had lived eternally planting flowers that she had almost accepted she would never wear. She hadn’t lived– and all because the key to her door lay in the hand of her mother, Demeter.

Seeds upon seeds, in pots upon pots, the little girl Persephone had treasured her work. The child planted, the mother grew, and the seeds were sent out into the world to flourish. Decades passed and yet the woman Persephone remained surrounded by the embryos of flowers she could only see blossom from her window. It had become an irritation, a complaint and finally an argument of the kind that tells a mother her child has grown.
Demeter took the key she should have handed Persephone, and turned it in the lock. Persephone smiled an innocent accepting smile and bided her time. When one is pushed to the light by force over freedom, one learns to think rather dark thoughts. 

There had been suitors but all had been banished. “When you live alone, you may do as you wish” had been her mother’s refrain. It would be pointless gesturing to her earth-strewn, seed-scattered solitude in the tower. Better, by far, to wait for the retreating footsteps and then lean backward out of the window, balancing and swaying until the sun god (who had already been cautioned about looking at her) couldn’t help but go to her aid. Just a favour, she asked. A quick word with the god of messages. 
The god of messages (who had been banished twice from the gate for asking after her) entered through her window. Tell anyone who will listen that I need to get out! The words were on the tip of her tongue but the footsteps of Demeter were already echoing on the stairway.
“Let the earth swallow me”, she had muttered to herself as her messenger fled, but he had heard and prepared to convey the strange request to somebody who could fulfil it.

Her plan shattered, Persephone took the unexpected way out- through the window. It was not as far a fall as she had thought, even without the assistance from various winged forms (who had been snapped at for attempting to talk to her). She came to her feet and ran. Free!

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Wishes have a habit of granting themselves at the strangest times and Persephone, having made her way across eight fields, a river, one and a half woodlands and somebodys garden, enjoyed the feel of grass under her feet and flowers in her hair for less than a day before her request was honoured.

Fear and flight have been added to every story concerning the events that happened in that meadow, Persephone reflected later. There certainly was none. Perhaps her status as a flower goddess in training had misled people about her fragility. Perhaps it was inconceivable even then that an innocent daughter with blossom in her hair could want anything other than the sun on her skin and birdsong in her ears.
Certainly when the earth opened up before her and he stepped out, she felt many things but fear wasn’t one of them.

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The lord of the Underworld has been painted enough times. Enough songs have been sung about him. Enough people have made up their minds on who or what he is. All Persephone will say is that sooner or later, we all meet him and can judge for ourselves. Only she and the dead truly know, and the latter are in no position to speak on him.

It would be easy to claim that she had merely been picking a bouquet to bring home to her mother when this man split the earth in two in order to steal her but the fact is, when one is forced toward the light, the darkness becomes very, very appealing indeed.
Persephone smiled a smile that made even the lord of the Underworld take a step back. She waited the split second it took for him to recover, waited a second more to enjoy the moment and then descended to the Underworld, shedding her cloak on the stairs. She kept the flowers for she had picked those herself.

Of course, her mother was never going to be happy with the state of affairs. As the earth and stone formed a cocoon around the lord of the Underworld and his new friend, who was learning quickly that flowers could bloom underground if they really set their minds to it, Demeter scorched the sky.

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The other gods and goddesses could never agree on whether Demeter grieved mostly for the loss of her daughter or the control she had wielded but either way, people began to die shrivelled and empty as the earth now was. Only Demeter retained a fraction of her former strength and despite threats from the other deities, the earth yielded nothing. The sky remained black.

The sun, who usually saw all, was blind to the goings on below the darkness and had to rely on his hearing and guess at the despair below. It was in the middle of the starless night- which now looked much like the day- that he heard the decision made by the gods council; happy or not, willing or not, Persephone must be found. And he had seen her. Demeter may have cautioned his god, but she had never told the sun himself that he couldn’t look at her daughter- and so he had seen all. Softly, coughing through the smoky blackness, he called Demeter to him and asked her to listen.

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Had Demeter gone to the underworld herself, it is likely that Persephone would never have been found- the Underworld has its own ways of hiding what it holds. Instead, she sent a man who had once guarded her orchard. He flew through the gates in the form of a black owl and found Demeter’s daughter wearing a black dress and a smile. When he tried to persuade her to return, she asked him simply for a good reason.

The man who was an owl thought for some time and took out a pomegranate he had saved. They were messy and fiddly to eat but he was hungry and Persephone was scary.
“Your mother is, after all, family. Blood is thicker than water…” he offered.
“That saying is incomplete”, Persephone told him gently, taking a seed. “It is ‘the blood of comradeship is thicker than the water of the womb’. But I suppose one conversation with her wouldn’t do much harm.”
“The food up here is tasty when it grows?” he offered her the pomegranate and Persephone ate another seed.
“So is the food down here. But you are right.”
“You would be less lonely up above.”
“Don’t confuse being alone with loneliness. I’d like to catch up with some people though.” She took a seed and looked at it. It was pretty. The man who was an owl almost reached out to pat her arm but thought better of it.
“You could escape and return to the glory of the sun. And lastly, your mother would, I’m sure, let you entertain a better suitor!” Persephone took two more seeds, crushed them between her thumb and forefinger and flicked the sticky juice back into the messenger’s face.
“Let? I chose my own suitor and I don’t need, wish, or want to escape. You have given me four tenuous reasons to return to the above and two reasons to kill you and remain lost,” she snapped at the man who was an owl, who flew from the Underworld and returned in minutes with a guard.

Persephone’s rage was terrible but the old rule stood- taking the food of a world to which you do not belong binds you to that world and she had taken six seeds from the above, which was no longer hers. As she prepared to spend the rest of her life divided, she cursed the man who was an owl to remain jet black and live only in the dark of the night from then on. Don’t look for him- you’ll never see him.
Demeter kept her job as harvest goddess but only just- the summer comes once a year now, and other gods and goddesses have taken greater precedence. She and her daughter still talk from time to time though half of Persephone’s life remains a mystery that even Demeter would rather not know. Persephone still remains goddess of flowers, but these days her tastes have changed….
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Photo by Lisa Waud

Other images by Leigh Eros (who I am greatly looking forward to working with again this year)
Pink corset by Orchid Corsetry
‘Metal’ corset made by me.

I waited a while for the perfect story to write that would go with the images and was cursing my writers block… and suddenly I realised I was stuck because the story had already been written and it fit so perfectly. We didn’t go out intending to illustrate a myth but somehow it happened- even down to the six main balls of light in the last picture.

I’m excitedly writing something to go with the rest of the set by Liv Free so I’ll show you those pictures as soon as I can as well… 😉

It’s now 3am and I just poured coffee into my cup of tea. Definitely bedtime…

ROSWELL x

P.S. Is there anything you would like me to write about? I’ve had a lot of flash fiction requests and am making a new website for my non-modelling writing, but anything industry-related you wish I’d burbled about long ago? Let me know.

* strictly speaking, being Greek mythology, there’s a lot of cheating, rape, abduction and incest in the long version.

Upping your game- model resolutions

29 Dec

It’s that time of year again- the time we collectively freak out over our tax returns (hey, it isn’t January yet…) and many of us start looking at self-improvement, myself included. As I have a few big projects on the go, my resolutions are little ones this year but one involves upping my game as a model. The other is setting up a new website for my professional and fiction writing.

While I have a blog in the works about the ways people shoot themselves in the foot when trying to make a living as a model (or any professional really), this one’s about the little things that make all the difference. I asked industry people how they knew they were working with a really good pro model and combined their advice with mine.
NB: When I say ‘professional’, I am referring to attitude and not whether modelling is a full-time occupation.

While I detest the phrase, this is how to “take it to the next level” as Tyra Banks would say…

1) Arrive professionally!
I considered this ‘basic’ knowledge but it came up so often I couldn’t not add it to the list.
Wear loose-fitting clothing and no underwear when travelling to photoshoots- it means there will be no lines or marks on your body that will need photoshopping out. During the photoshoot, work from less clothed to more clothed. Nude to fashion. Same reason- starting in lingerie before moving onto nude means you’ll have red marks from your bra and knickers.
If there will be a stylist, come with no make-up on at all. If not, check in advance how the photographer would like you to arrive- some models prefer to come 100% shoot-ready, others apply foundation, powder and eyebrow pencil so they can freshly do any look required with the basics already in place. This works well for studio days or if the photographer is unsure what order to shoot outfits in.

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Arriving “naked”. 

2) Remember your fingers and toes!
Hands are often hard to pose. One of the lessons I learned very early on in my modelling career was that unless you are going for the ‘trapped in a box’ or ‘ugly-pretty’ vibe, hands should be made as elegant as possible by:
– Posing with the sides or backs of your hands to the photographer.
– Keeping the wrists relaxed and the elbows strong. Ballerinas already know this!
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– Consciously paying attention to the way they look and feel, so you’re less likely to get spade hands (picture below), clenched fists or “Dr Zoidberg hands” (which is when you look as though you’re impersonating a lobster and what I end up with if I don’t remember to relax!)
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Left: way back when! (photo by Gothic Image)
Right: last year (photo by Emma-Jane)

Point your toes- especially when shooting nude.It lengthens the leg and tapers it to a point rather than an angle.

3) Embrace your face
I read the BEST article about the ‘contouring’ craze recently, which mirrored my own feelings on the matter (more in a later post). Learning to do your own make-up is ‘modelling 101’ but knowing when to take some of it off is also invaluable.
Pre-Raphaelite style or very high-end Art with a capital ‘A’ photographs often feature a (seemingly) make-up-free face. Though you may rarely have to do it (especially if you’re a glamour or pin-up model), knowing how to do ‘natural’ properly and having at least one photo showing that style on your portfolio can help you if you want to move away from the more made-up genres.
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Case in point- this is Ivory Flame, photographed by Derek.

I now wear minimal make-up for art-nude work unless the photographer is going for something different- which leads me to…

4) Ask the photographer what they want to achieve.
Your job is to get more amazing shots than the photographer needs- so they are spoiled for choice by the end of the shoot. If they have not already sent you a moodboard or plan, ask them at the beginning what kind of images they would like to make.
If they’re all about going with the flow, then put your ‘muse hat’ on and offer a few ideas along with a wide variety of poses, outfits and accessories. Not everybody has a ‘plan’ so as long as they’re happy, you’re doing a good job!
Also, ask where your light is so you know which direction to look and pose toward.

5) Ask to see the back of the camera
We aren’t judging you, photographers! 🙂 Models understand that the finished shots will often look nothing like what we can see in that teeny screen, but we’re looking so that we can check our side of things- the posing- is working. A model who asks to see their work is a model who wants to know if there’s a way s/he can improve and get a better shot.
Photographers: if your model asks to do something again, or asks to change pose so they no longer have a double chin/foreshortened arm/eye bag etc, they are not full of self-loathing, but working hard to make sure the raw photo is the best and most flattering photo you could possibly get! Learning to criticise our own work is part of improving as a model and a couple of photographers have seemed surprised and maybe a little sorry for me when I have pointed out a flaw I could fix. Don’t be! (Unless I run to the bathroom crying that I look like Mad Madam Mim…. and that hasn’t happened yet.) 😛
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“The magnificent, marvelous, Mad Madam Mim…”

6) Communicate en-route
Make sure you have the photographer’s number a few days before the shoot just in case of emergencies. Though I could definitely improve upon promptly replying to emails (though I do clearly note my constant travelling and 100% reply rate on my profile), I always always, always text the photographer when I am on my way to the photoshoot and again if there are any delays to my journey. This means that if I go off radar en-route (e.g. on the tube) the photographer does not automatically assume I have no-showed.

7) Rewrite your profile notes
There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to your profile.
One: keep it concise and invite enquiries.
Two: Tell clients everything they could possibly need to know.
I can’t NOT write so I have a great big burble on my profile, BUT… it is spaced-out, separated, with headlines and font in bold. It may be lengthy to read but it is easy to read. Once you’ve saved your notes, check how they appear on the page- make sure you don’t have a wall of text and that what you’ve written is comprehensible.

8) Lose the ‘stripper rates’
I have never understood why so many models charge according to how naked they are! £15 per hour for fashion, £20 for lingerie, £30 for nude etc etc. How does it even work? If you’re booked for a fashion, lingerie and nude shoot, do you charge a different rate per hour? Divide the rate by the mean and median and consult the calculator? Stop this madness!!
Professionals understand that they put as much effort into a clothed shoot as into a nude shoot. They are posing for people who want to capture an image, not watch a glorified striptease. While the main ‘product’ you are selling is your appearance, it is also your skill at posing, your make-up, the guarantee that you will arrive on time etc etc etc. Therefore, your time should cost the same regardless of your state of undress- this places the value on you, not how much flesh you’re willing to show.

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“Implied clothed”. 😛
Photo by GSTim, dress by Falcieri designs

On that subject…

9) Don’t ever (EVER) have ‘secret levels’.
It is completely okay to be selective about who you work with, especially with higher levels, but hiding the fact that you pose nude (or any other level) does not work. People talk and it gives the impression that some of your work is a shameful secret.

There are many ways to be clear on the subject of levels:
– “I work up to and including lingerie level and take on very occasional nude work depending on the project.”
– “Please note I only work to art-nude level with a few individuals I select- other enquiries about nude work will be ignored.”
– “I only work to open leg level with proven photographers in the genre, with extensive references provided. Thankyou for your understanding”
– Please note that as of __insert date here__ my highest level is now lingerie. (This is a good way to state that any more naked images found are simply old work and not your ‘guilty secret’).

Facial recognition software is now scarily good- photos of you are online to stay and just like celebrities who protest through lips that have tripled in size overnight that of course they haven’t had surgery, trying to hide the obvious is an exercise in futility. Post your levels honestly and people will stop obsessing!

10) Stay pro.
Leave your photographer a reference after the shoot if everything went well! Hopefully, they will do the same for you.
If your photoshoot was TF*, you are being paid in images so make sure you receive those pictures. If it’s been a while, send a polite follow-up message. Communicating well is everything.
If you have been paid, but would like to post images on your blog or facebook etc, ask first!! Some photographers are perfectly happy for you to use the images. Others are not, so always check even if it seems obvious. If you have permission to post the pictures, credit the team if there was one. (The whole team- make-up artist, stylist, etc etc- nobody likes to be left out.)

Bonus point:
Don’t nick the photographers pasty. That’s just not acceptable… 😛

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I couldn’t decide which pictures to share (as per usual) but as this awesome set from Dirk Glassly show me as the polished lady who has it all, it had to be this set! 😉
Outfit by Lady Allura’s latex
Hair and make-up by me.

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A little bit of news…

14 Oct

I’ve been all mysterious recently… I had to postpone photoshoots (which I NEVER do). I’ve been in hospital. I’ve mentioned new projects. I’ve hinted annoyingly. It’s time to reveal all!!!
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I hate secrets... 😛

First news: I love my job but I am aware I cannot model forever. As I’ve said, I’m not going anywhere just yet but I have been rather busy behind the scenes. As I travel so much and love to write, I’ve set up another blog/website, twitter and instagram. In fact, it’s a lot like this blog but with more selfies, travel advice, news from my boat and pictures/tales from my adventures around the world.

www.lifeoutthere.co.uk

If you didn’t know already, I’m very into my postapocalyptic everything. I (apparently) look like a videogame assassin from the end of the world when I’m not modelling, and will be sharing my style sources and how-to tips for the interested. I live on a narrowboat and take pictures of her. (Yes, all boats are ‘she’, even if they’re called ‘Thor’.) I know all about travelling cheaply (London to Utrecht for £13, anyone?) as well as weird underground off-the-beaten-track places to go in about ten different countries. I have a LOT of fascinating friends who may also make appearances. If any of this sounds interesting and/or you’d like to continue supporting me in my next (ad)venture, which I really hope you will, then please come and see me at these places and share the links. All are welcome but this is especially true if you’re a fellow adventurer, blogger and/or woman. I’d really like to support you too!

Oh, and yes, “F.Roswell” is also a pseudonym.

Here’s a static visual trailer for the site. (Ahem… what I mean is, here’s a bunch of photos…) 😛
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Seriously though, I’d really love and appreciate your support in this- it’s a completely new project for me and I’m starting from scratch but I have big plans. This little blog couldn’t have got as far as it has without your shares and support- thankyou.

On to the second news: on June 22nd, I was sterilised.

Almost every parent I know says that having a child is one of the most life changing things you can do. (Possibly THE most, in my opinion.) Nothing can prepare you for the reality and it is a permanent, life altering decision. Hold that thought…

As many of you may remember, I’ve been fighting to be sterilised for a long time. If you’re a newcomer, my rant is here but I’ll summarise:

I’ve never wanted children and hormonal contraception is not good for me. As I’m nearly 30, I decided enough was enough and wanted to be free of the worry once and for all. I am aware that this is a permanent decision. I have been reminded of this by friends, strangers and medical professionals and I have been fully aware of the permanence of this option since I was eight.
None of my friends with children are continually reminded by shocked people that their decision to bring another human into the world and be responsible for them for at least the next eighteen years is irreversible. None of my friends have been told “you’ll change your mind” on announcing their pregnancy. The decision whether or not to bear a child is a serious choice concerning our bodies and fertility and if age 28 (as I was) is old enough to permanently become a parent then it is old enough to permanently choose not to. What matters is having the right to make the decision in the first place. You (or ‘one’) may feel I’ve made the wrong choice, but that choice should be mine to make.

As I said in my viral rant, I got a rejection letter regarding funding. What had not been explained to me was that while funding was denied by my local hospital (which could be for any legitimate reason), it was not denied altogether- I’d just have to go to a different hospital. So when a different hospital called me for an appointment, I was grouchily prepared for a stern finger-wagging and another assertion that I was too young to make such a permanent decision. (As though parenthood is temporary…)
Not so. I walked into the doctor’s office and… SURPRISE STERILISATION! I embarrassingly enough burst into tears at the shock and relief. Yes he went through the usual questions (permanent, surgery risks etc, other options) but prefaced each question with the words “I legally have to ask…” which made all the difference. So we set a day for surgery and off I went!
The actual surgery, waiting times and hospital details were stressful and horrid (if you have questions, mail me directly- I’m happy to be open but don’t want to publicly overshare medical stuff) but the nurses were amazing, took care of me and ‘my needy boyfriend’ (the drip I was attached to) and as I was severely dehydrated, I spent the night in hospital where I got a 5am wake-up call in the form of a woman giving birth on the floor below. Changed my mind yet? Naaaaah…

Moving on! Photographers- please worry not. I have two tiny scars- one hidden in my bellybutton, one hidden just below my pubic hairline. I’m back to what passes for normal in my life. 😉

So there’s my news! There’s a lot of change and things moving about in my world at the moment and I’d be lying if I said things weren’t pretty scary. I’ve done casting calls, travelling, photoshoots and all of the everyday things that come with modelling for over a decade and the thought of building another business (Life Out There) from scratch is daunting to say the least. If you know anyone looking for writers or traditional illustrators, there’s someone riiiight over here! 😉

Of course, the day I decide it’s “last hoorah time”, you’ll all be the first to know but for now, lets have more pictures!!

As I’ve blogged about two different sides of my life, what better pictures to post than these ones by KinkyStyle?! Still a fetish model, but almost everything in the shots are mine (and the coat was made by yours truly…)

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ROSWELL xxx