Onto the day of the shoot and everything is ready, the car is loaded with everything we might need (and some things we won’t – but they are there just in case). With Ulfet on board, we go to pick up Sacriel. Fortunately my son has agreed to be an assistant today which will make my life much much easier, and will allow me to use off-camera flash with no need to carry a stand around the whole shoot.
After an excellent mini breakfast, the make up is applied and then the dresses are finally donned. All this has taken about two hours, which is quite quick considering the very small team we have. (A small note here. After the model, or models, the team is the most important thing. Choose your collaborators extremely carefully. Things never go to plan on a shoot and things can get stressful, when that happens, you need people with you who help to find solutions and work things out. Also, always listen to the people you are working with, I know what I want but perhaps there’s a better idea I haven’t seen).
Made up and dressed up, we head out into the street to the first location which is a 12th century church, Sant Pere de Maldà. We have to be careful how we set up the shots inside because the church has modern lighting and it has plastic tubes for the cables to run through, which are not very high up the wall. We have to avoid anachronisms as far as possible, although some things will always sneak in. For example, the main church, Santa Maria, has 1798 above the door, if I want to use the whole facade, the date will be there (I will never clone out something like that), I hope the dresses are so stunning that no-one will notice.
There are some good props inside Sant Pere – a nice old wooden chair which would not have looked out of place in Game of Thrones, some basic, wooden pews and a bench that is against one wall of the church. We use all of these and the beautiful masonry, then we go out into the street to use the outdoor locations.
Luckily for us, the thunderstorms which were forecast in the morning did not arrive and we have beautiful hazy sunshine with the occasional sunny spell.
We spend about an hour and a half outside in the bitterly cold wind, taking photos in doorways and near walls, again trying to avoid all traces of modernity, and then we go back to the bar to warm up and have some lunch. The dresses are left on as we haven’t finished the shoot yet and lunch is eaten carefully. Many people who come into the bar are surprised, and thrilled, to see two ladies dressed as if they’ve just stepped out of the 17th century.
After a lunch fit for a queen, we head up the road to the Monastery of Santa Maria de Vallbona to take the final photos of the day. There is just one outside wall that I want to use because it’s unique and will provide singular photos. We are making the most of the last of the light. I left this part for late afternoon as it is when the winter sun reaches around this side of the monastery.
When the shoot is over, the models get changed in the street, and the cold, to save time and we pack everything up and head back to the city. Once everyone has been dropped off it’s time to go home, download the photos from the camera to the laptop, make a back-up copy and another back-up copy of that. The processing will take at least the next four weeks because this shoot is on the artistic side of the spectrum. Photoshop will be invoked to clone out oddities and careful consideration will be given to the use of Nik Collection to bring out the best in each photograph. It is the most time consuming of all the types of photography I do, along with nudes. If I have a landscape or sport photo, I will just tweak it a little. If I have a gig photo, maybe I will apply a little noise reduction. However, the images from today will need far more work and thought dedicated to them. It’s like a chef, the photoshoot is going to the market to get the main ingredients, the real magic happens in the virtual darkroom or kitchen.
The dresses will be returned to the shop the next day. In total, collecting the dresses, dropping them off and the day of the shoot will have used over 18 hours of my time (62 hours for all the team) without factoring in the processing time.
Just one final aside, the financial cost: €60 for each dress, €55 for food and fuel for the car will be another €25 at least. So around €200 in direct expenses, the models gave their time and make up skills for free otherwise you could easily add on another €800. The next time you see a nice picture on the Internet and you think that it is free, just remember that someone has had to invest time and money to create it. You may be able to use it without paying, but don’t forget that somewhere, someone has paid.