I’ve decided to keep a photoshoot diary.
Woke up at 8am on a Sunday…couldn’t sleep. I really wanted to write down a shoot that is probably one of my favourites so far. I kind of wish I did it right after we finished but it was so mad and I had to catch a plane back to the UK a few hours after it was done.
It took place back home in Romania with 2 lovely girls I’ve worked with previously, Madalina and Cristina. It was one of those shoots that just happened out of nowhere. Madalina texted me the day before I was due to leave the country “Hey! Wanna shoot?!” I told her the only day I could was tomorrow but I’d have to be finished by the afternoon as I had a plane to catch.
Ok, no problem. By the end of the day we’d managed to find Diana, brilliant make-up artist to help us out the next day and to get 4 dresses from BRIA Design. All in the space of a few hours, it was the best rush ever! Kind of like walking on a tightrope with very little experience and not falling!
I can’t quite remember when I finally went to bed but it’s safe to say I didn’t sleep much. Partly trying to get everything sorted for the next day partly excitement I could barely contain.
When the morning finally came around, I met with the girls at around 9am. They had been up already hours before in makeup and hair and it was nearly done by the time I got there. They both looked beautiful.
As it was so early and me and Dunk had loads of stuff to carry, I asked my dad if he could drop us off at the location. We picked up the girls and headed off. When we got to the location the real fun began.
My mother showed me days ago that around our city, Bucharest, there are some ruins of the old fort that used to protect it during the war. I had to go look them up.
I found the best looking ones, well the ones that were still, kind of, mostly up, and decided that’s where we’ll be shooting.
We tried to figure out a way in on the map before we set off but we couldn’t be sure about anything really until we actually got there. There was no time for me to scout out the location beforehand so we just had to go with it when we got there.
So, we drove as far as we could, parked and got out. There were loads of stray dogs empty buildings (it was a Sunday, no one was working) and a trail leading into some really dense bushes full of garbage. We weren’t sure where to go at this point as, we knew the place was behind all those buildings and there didn’t seem to be a way in except for the bushes. We talked for a bit, I freaked out in my head for a bit thinking “ok I have these beautiful models, clothes and everything…but where am I going to shoot this because this clearly isn’t happening”
Then suddenly we hear a voice saying “Hey you there! What’s your business around here?”(Translated from Romanian) It was a middle aged man, I assume groundskeeper for all the buildings. We told him we wanted to get to the ruins behind so he said sure no problem it’s just through there, pointing and the really thick bush. “Would you like me to show you?”
So, me and Dunk went in with him to see if it was an actual place we can use. So much garbage, and mud and overgrown bushes. We had to walk with great care and holding on to a metal fence (that was really hot from the sun) but eventually we got to a small clearing where I climbed on to what looked almost like an old bridge. I looked around and saw the bit I had seen in the pictures on the internet. Quite a way down and surrounded by trees and bushes. “That’s it! That’s the bit I want!” I yelled out and the groundskeeper said that it’s possible to get there however there’s a very steep drop and he doesn’t want to go down as he needs to look after the place and he’s not sure if he can get out very easily. But we’re free to go if we like!
Me and Dunk looked at each other and said “Why not? We’re here already…might as well!” We went back through the bushy bit to the others, there were so many nettles and flies and just all the bugs you could imagine, I wouldn’t be surprised if I swallowed some. Anyway, we got back and told them it’s a bit annoying to get to but we can go in! They all (including my dad) agreed let’s go in, why not.
Dunk went first and made a sort of path through the buses for everyone else. Oh I did forget to mention the models were already in the first outfit and all made up because we wanted to be prepared what the hell. We got to this steep drop, and the man wasn’t lying…it was. And it was muddy. My main worry at this point was really “how are they going to get down there without running the dresses?!” I’m still not sure how they managed it, they must be magic or something.
So we pretty much slid down this little hill, holding on to trees and passing bags from one person to the other. Great fun! And my dad was there doing all this with us. That was so surreal to me, my dad had never really seen what things I get into for shoots.
The place was huge. Those walls were so thick and just huge.
I was slightly tempted to go in and explore but there was no light inside so it wouldn’t have worked for our shots really. Such an amazing looking place, and completely empty apart from some puppies that were staring at us from the distance. The girls got their makeup touched up a bit and we started shooting. Everything went pretty smoothly from there, the weather was beautiful and warm so everyone was quite comfortable.
Mid shooting one of my best friends Luiza, called and said “Where are you I want to come as well!” We did speak the night before and I said I’d do some shots of her as well in one of the dresses if she wants. I told her all about the trail to get down there but she didn’t care and wanted to come. Dunk went up after her and helped her down while I was shooting …with my dad holding my reflector. Brilliant. We also ended up blinding poor Madalina and Cristina with it most of the time because it was really bright out, however not bright enough to use the white side, we tried and it wasn’t good enough, so we basically did the “I’ll just tell you when to open your eyes!” trick.
When Madalina and Cristina were finished we waited a bit for Luiza to have her makeup finished and did a couple of shots with her as well. It was so much fun because she hadn’t really done posing before so the others were helping…kind of shouting out “Look here, do this! Pout more! Try looking cheeky!” I didn’t really have time to get a word in I just shot as fast as I could so I could get all her expressions.
Now there’s a thing me and Dunk seem to do at pretty much all the shoots I do. Mostly because I’m very short and most of the time the models are taller than me and nobody likes those slightly downward angles. He gets me up on his shoulders so I can get a better angle. Its’ great fun, everyone looks at us like we’re a bit mad. We did a lot of that at this shoot.
We finished and started climbing up and we noticed the nice grounds man tied a rope at the top of the hill for us. He was brilliant really, we couldn’t have done it without him. At least on the climb up we didn’t need to worry about dresses all the much because the girls managed to change when we finished. We got out, it was scorching hot by this point, I got sunburnt on my shoulders but didn’t even notice until I was at home and it started to sting. I drank about a gallon of water because, oh yeah I forgot to mention…we only had one small bottle that got really warm while we were down there, we were all pretty parched.
But it was such an amazing experience. About 3 times I was almost sure we weren’t going to pull it off…but we went with it anyway and it worked! Blind faith for the win! I love days like that.
And these are some final edits from that day.