Thursday, 30 September 2010

Digital art

It's great when something or someone kick-starts your brain into remembering something that happened a while back.
And so I was talking the other day to my good friend and photographer Keith Curtis about post-photo processing and photographers who specialise in this, when we both recalled the time Keith hosted and I modelled for a brilliant Photoshop tutorial day with demonstrations by the very talented Vincent O Byrne, more than two years ago.
I emailed Vinnie not thinking he'd remember me but miraculously he had finished the image, turned it into a digital masterpiece and posted it to me this evening, after all this time.
Well he's captured me in a light I couldn't possibly disagree with of course! A floating angel, feather wings with an illuminated halo.. a symbol of light and peace in a stormy world.
Ah, to live in dreamland!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Rustic innocence

On checking my emails a second ago, I see Graham Wood has already been working on one of my favourite shots from yesterday's shoot at the Red Rose Studio.
There will be others to follow shortly, including more from this photographer from other recent shoots.

I love this for its rustic tones, innocence and the soft light emphasis on my fluffed-up hair ♥

M a k e - u p ,   h a i r   &   s t y l i n g   c o u r t e s y   o f   C h e r y l   E l i z a b e t h

30 excuses you make for NOT running

1. "I don't have enough money to join a gym" - well get off your gluteus maximus and go running outdoors then.

2. "I'm too unfit for that" - Er... so was I... BEFORE I started!

3. "I'd get two black eyes" - Decent sports bras don't need to be expensive. Look on ebay for brand new packs for a fraction of the cost in shops. I'm a 32C and I manage just fine with normal padded bras.

4. "It's raining outside" - A drop of rain never hurt anybody - if anything it will help to cool you down.

5. "It's pouring down" - Okay, well take a break today or maybe go in the evening if it clears up. You don't have to run every single day without fail, as long as it's regular running every week you're good.

6. "It's been pouring down non-stop for the last 2 weeks" - Not very likely, but sometimes it's hard to want to go outside when the weather seems consistently rubbish. Instead, run on the spot in the coolest room in your house with the windows open. It's not a good long-term substitution for running-and-actually-getting-somewhere, but it's better than not doing anything at all.

7. "There are 2 inches of solid, lumpy ice on all paths and roads within 15 miles except for the M3 motorway. Running around a park in the dark would be pure stupidity unless you have a death wish" -

8. "It's too cold outside" - You will usually start off cooler than normal and come back absolutely boiling. In winter, substitute shorts and t-shirt for tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie over your vest top/t-shirt that you can take off if you need to. Not rocket science :D

9. "The mornings stay darker for longer, the evenings get dark earlier and I don't like running in the dark" - Neither do I and I haven't figured that one out yet other than invest in a treadmill or run during your lunch breaks at work. If you know someone who enjoys running, go with them so you're not on your own.

10. "I don't like running on my own but I can't keep up with my running partner/they can't keep up with me" - If you've both made the choice to run together, then the quicker of the two should challenge themselves by running back to their running partner every now and again when they've overtaken them.

11. "I can't afford decent trainers or running shoes" - You don't need to buy new shoes at first as you're probably not going to be doing high mileage. Just a comfortable, good-fitting pair of trainers will do fine.

12. "I'll have to see my doctor first" - Well hurry up and make an appointment, although you really only need to get advice from your doctor if you have any known problems with your joints, (knees, ankles) are in general poor health, have issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease etc. or are over 45.

13. "It's so time consuming" - No it's not actually. All you have to do as soon as you wake up is stick your running gear on, slip your house key into your bra (er, guys I'm not sure where you'd stick yours!) and charge round the block. A gentle jogging pace will get you 1.5 miles in just 20 minutes and when you get back you're done. There's no drying off or de-tangling hair after swimming, driving to the gym and faffing with your locker, so there's no excuse really! Running is also quicker than swimming and burns more calories per minute than any other form of exercise except cross-country skiing.

14. "I've started loads of times but I never stick at it" - Okay so that's not as good as running continuously 4 times a week, but it's better than never having done it at all. All that means is you're either bad at managing your time or have motivational issues.

15. "I can never seem to motivate myself" - Why don't you ask yourself why you want to run in the first place? Is it to keep your body healthy and fit, to lose weight, to take part in running competitions/marathons to raise money for others/charity, to feel good about yourself, or just because everyone else seems to be doing it/someone has talked you into doing it? If you can't find a good reason why YOU want to achieve something good through running, then how do you expect to stick at it?

16. "I started running and now my calf muscles are killing me" - Yeah that will be your Achilles. It's a common complaint, but completely expected. You're not injuring yourself all the time you are running at a pace where you can still sort of carry-out a light conversation with someone. If your legs really are aching badly, take a day or two out from running, but try not to leave it any more than that. The ache is a sign exercise is having a positive effect, building muscle and losing fat. Try to work through the burn without completely killing yourself.

17. "I've heard running can damage your knees/ankles later on in life" - Yes this can be true but the risk can be significantly reduced by running on grass, or for an even harder workout pebbles or sand on the beach. Anything that gives way slightly as you run on it will reduce the constant pounding on your joints. This is also where a decent high-quality pair of trainers come in. The more mileage you do, the more you will need this.

18. "If I started now, I'd have to give up in December because it'll be xmas!" - Even more reason to keep running then eh? How many Christmas puds have you had? Yeah I have to admit, even I take Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day off as well as New Year's Eve, but why give up on the other days? Don't wait 'til January to make another weight-loss resolution that you never stick to - keep going with the workouts and there'll be no weight gain in the first place.

19. "Oh no, I've woken up to late, I've missed my scheduled run" - If you have to go to work, then go running after work before dinner. If you don't, it's never too late to go; it doesn't have to be first thing in the morning and you are allowed to sleep-in on your days off believe it or not!

20. "It's too hot to go running" - This can be a problem and sometimes really off-putting. Try sticking to the shade and take a bottle of water with you. If you start to feel dizzy, stop and walk a while.

21. "The only time I can run is when the kids are just going to school, people are in traffic jams getting to work; it's a pretty busy time of day and I get embarrassed running when there are so many people about" - Try to avoid the main roads and maybe walk first to a place where you know is a bit more secluded and then do your run. Wearing dark sunglasses helps to hide your identity, or at least feels like it does!

22. "Why would I exercise when I can just reduce how much I eat and cut-out all the foods I love" - Why would you even do that? I eat everything under the sun (no jokes please) and haven't weighed myself in ages. I'm reassured in knowing a quick run every day will keep me trim without having to give up ANY types of food. Surely what you look like in the mirror and seeing the tummy definition is worth so much more than sticking to what the scales say, getting the correct BMI and spending your time calorie counting, which is probably more time-consuming than running anyway!

23. "I just ate" - Ideally go running before you've had breakfast or anything to eat that day as it will help prevent getting a stitch. Some people prefer to eat something small beforehand to give them energy. If you've just eaten a meal, wait a couple of hours and go then.

24. "I've left it too long between getting up and going for a run and now I feel shaky because I'm so hungry" - Eat an apple or a banana or even just drink a glass of squash or something similar (that has flavour) and then eat something else when you get back. You probably won't be hungry for about half an hour after you've come back from a run, even if you were starving before.

25. "I get bored" - Vary your route. Not every time necessarily, but maybe once every few weeks.

26. "I'm scared of varying my route in case I get lost" - ;)

27. "I don't want to lose weight, just tone but crunches and sit-ups don't seem to be doing anything" - You might not look like you have extra fat or want to lose it, but if you want to tone your stomach and maybe other areas but having difficulty, it probably means your muscles are trying to tone under the excess skin. Running helps to sculpt the body perfectly. Any excess weight that you might not even notice at first will fall off quickly and your muscles will start to tone. You may want to continue toning exercises alongside running for even quicker results.

28. "I get called a fitness freak by my friends for just running twice a week and I'm embarrassed" - The only person who'll be embarrassed in the long run is the one making jibes because they will leave it a lot longer to do anything to keep their body in shape (if at all) and they'll probably let it get out of shape first! People unfortunately find it easier to make fun of those doing the things they'd like, but really can't be bothered to do. And that's not your problem. Just agree and be proud of caring about your health.

29. "I'm far too big to start off with running. I can hardly get off the sofa let alone jog down the street!" - Nothing wrong with walking to start with. In fact brisk walking burns more calories than the same distance cycling or swimming. Walking in heels is even better as it tones the bum. Guys - I can't possibly comment!

30. "I'd only get too good at it. I'm like that with everything I do" - Ah, what we'd all give to be like you! Maybe you're exceptionally good at fighting middle aged spread and heart disease too.


At the end of the day its just willpower. There are still days I would rather do anything than go outside. I often don't enjoy it when I do go out with that attitude but when I come back I feel so much better for it. It's that which makes me go.

It's difficult explaining that to people who don't run. I don't believe anyone who says they have never had a bad day....
By varying routes, speeds and terrain (sometimes even a treadmill provides a welcome change) all provide diversions from thinking "I've got to do another run around the same loop in the same time".

Anybody who has been denied mobility at any stage in their life would give their right arm to get on their feet and charge down the road. You have one body, one life - get out and use it.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Art nude workshop - Sunday 24th October 2010

I would just like to take a moment to plug Helen Diaz's art nude workshop taking place Sunday 24th October at the gorgeous Harwood House, Warwickshire. While Helen is typically a talented and established model herself, she will be working 9am-5pm on the day as host and organiser only.
Photographers, both amateur and professional will be given the opportunity to photograph four professional models on the day,  Amie Dodgson, Raphaella, Tinna and myself. You are guaranteed to come away with beautiful memorable and creative photographs for your portfolio.
Six photographers are confirmed out of eight possible places. Unfortunately space is limited so if you're interested in such an event, book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
The total cost for the day is £250 per photographer, this includes the hire of four models, hire of the entire mansion, model travelling expenses, a buffet lunch and refreshments. This is an eight hour day.
Contact Helen:

I've been to Harwood House many times and am familiar with the surroundings; the last time with Joel Parr July 31st. We worked on achieving dark erotic imagery alongside a few moody lifestyle photos, joining up with glamour model Carrie Lucy for one particular set in the master bedroom.


•Exclusive hire of Harwood House and ALL of its rooms and surrounding land, nestled within the majestic Warwickshire countryside
•The fees of FOUR professional models with a long track record of producing stunning work. All with fantastic references and known for their reliability and professionalism.
•Models working from fashion up to art nude, creating truly memorable images.
•Models will apply make-up before the event and will have a wide range of clothing to change into.
•All model travel costs are included.
•The house has spacious rooms with lots of natural light.
•Indoor swimming pool, perfect for creating water shoots.
•Two acre secluded garden, perfect for outdoor shoots
•A playful snooker room
•A beautiful split level staircase which leads onto a large circular landing and a ‘hideaway’ annex.
•Many double bedrooms to choose from to shoot in, decorated to a high, hotel standard.
•Open plan attic room for the models to change in for the event, which will be their private dressing room.
•Stunning dining room
•Large sitting room
•Detailed coving
•Decorative gold-plated chandeliers
•A magnificent Italian marble fireplace
•Stunning hand carved Brazilian-oak doors.
•A full buffet will be offered for lunch in the large kitchen provided and refreshments will be provided throughout the day for photographers and models.
•Vegetarians can be easily catered for!
•Free car parking on site
•Excellent networking opportunity, to work with other photographers and models.
•You are very welcome to bring your own advertising material, i.e. contact cards.
•A fun and action packed day, gaining experience and confidence and creating sensational images.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Photographer: Manuel Odabashian a lovely photographer, originally from Cyprus, of Armenian descent and residing in London. Two shoots I've had with him have been enjoyable; both at Adrian Pini Studios, but a complete contrast in terms of style, lighting and look.
And Manuel makes me laugh. He introduces me to all his favourite music during a shoot, tells me he goes dancing regularly and is learning to sing opera, that he's often found singing round the studio.

There are only two months between these two shoots, first from March 2010.


This beautiful black scarf is something I picked up from tiny Greek island, Skiathos a few years ago and helps to transform what starts off as a rather ordinary headshot into something more eye catching to the viewer but without detracting from the face. I love how the silver sequin detail and intricate beading is picked up by the flash making it sparklier, but you need not travel Europe to find exotic garments - I try to look for interesting fabrics, textures and sparkly bits in town that I can throw over my skin. Charity shops are great for this; great for materials, hair accessories, jewellery, hats, props and more.

Something so simple can be a fashion statement, a finishing touch to a refined outfit. Not even nude has to be nude. A pretty voile scarf wrapped around a bare figure can be used to enhance shape, emotion even.

These nudes however, from late-May are not telling any story, but are simply a beautiful interaction of light and skin, and shows how light plays on the curves of a nude female figure, defining and sculpting.
I like the way the second image is almost a silhouette on the box.
Who said low-key on white doesn't work?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Close to home

I love it when I'm out walking the dogs or just cycling around my home town and I discover secluded little places that have photoshoot potential.

These shots are taken from a shoot I did back in May with Kevin Goodwin. Surprisingly, this is not a rural area, but a mere 10 minutes drive from my house near Portsmouth. There is a river that leads into a large lake, a couple of old bridges, areas of woodland, fields with brambles and long grass, pathways, a board walk that is heavily sheltered by trees all summer and more.
You wouldn't expect it to be so secluded either, but even at its busiest, you'll see a couple of people fishing, a couple of dog walkers and possibly a cyclist. And usually that's from your little sheltered spot with your photographer; the best parts are away from the vast open areas.

Fringe fever

These new head shots by Brian Hopper, taken at the weekend at my local Lowford Studio are a little revolutionary in that I have decided to reinvent my look for the second time this year, thanks to a number of people! In January I opted for a choppy, shoulder-length, platinum blonde GaGa look but after returning to my natural colour in June for my wedding, I have been varying the styles from shoot to shoot to keep it fresh.
Now I don't technically have a fringe, but on this particular day I decided to curl my short bits in one quick sweeping motion and bring them all the way over my forehead, set in place with hairspray and straighten the rest (which is also new to me as I usually keep it wavy at the very least) for a set of well-lit head shots on black.
And these are some of the results. I am so in love with that little pool of light on the backdrop to give the first image extra depth.

As you can see I had to sweep it to the side a little to keep it from covering my eyes, but since I am off to the hairdresser tonight I plan to ask for a blunt fringe to be cut in. Looks like I'll be asking to upgrade my straighteners to GHDs this Christmas too..