It was early on a Saturday and I was on my way to a riverbank with Heather, an actress in Suffolk who I'd approached to shoot. As with the majority of my tales, it was raining.
"Ah I love this song!" - from the off I could tell Heather was my kind of person. We headed towards a place in Woodbridge that, I was assured, afforded a short walk to a forest where we could get some of the nature-flavoured shots we'd both set our sights on.
On route we got talking about what drives us both and what styles we want to get out of today; I learn that Heather's funny, inquisitive and like me, lives her life thinking of her next meal. I ask what she's really passionate about; "Gender and racial equality." I ask what her experiences are and, to my shock, she's been subject to these, and very recently. "The [redacted] looked at me and asked me how much martial arts I knew. Later, he told me the role had changed and I had to put on Chinese traditional dress and speak in an accent."
There's a way Heather tells a story that's really interesting, it's said with such a lack of malice but enveloped in such a way that you can feel the emotions surrounding it. There's no bitterness or anger when she tells me about this and I think that says alot about her. You can tell she's someone that rolls with the punches and accounts things so you know the detail without trying to convince you of anything. It's like a trust in you to make up your own mind, and my gut tells me it comes from a place of self-assurance.
We find a place to park, get everything together and head-off towards the promised woodland; it's alot longer than mentioned (Heather apologises), there's no woodland (further apologises), I almost stack it (she laughs, then apologises) and eventually we come across an old boat house on this perfect spit reaching out in the river (I forgive all).
She's in a cool retro jacket and we snap a load of shots here, partly testing out my new Sigma 35mm lens. Once we're done, we go to head back and realise the water is tidal, making the way back impassable. We quickly decide to forgo the 6 hour wait for the tide to recede and head off in the other direction; 2 hours, a venture into some woodland (steeped in irony, I appreciate) and one pair of trainers down we arrive back on the right side of the river having got some further shots and learned even more about one another.
I ask her why she's an actor - "I like exploring these different stories and personalities, telling their narratives." It's clear too she's really into film and how stories are built - we have that in common and I'm completely on-board until I tell her one of my favourite films is Interstella and there's a moment where I can tell she's considering dumping me in the river.
Next it's my call on the location, Heather agrees it might be best. We head off to Rendlesham Forest and find places in the alleys of trees to get some nature-vibe shots. We talk about modelling and working safely with people; "I thought you were one of those bots that have good feeds and follow then unfollow, so when you messaged asking if I wanted to shoot I was like..." - she raises her hands in the air, closes her eyes and dances energetically for a moment - "...hell yeah!". Naturally, I'm dead flattered - it's great hearing how people experience your work.
Heather hasn't shot with many photographers so we talk about what can help people remain safe - I've added some tips to the end of this post.
We wrap up a great day that's got us some great shots; you can see Heather's acting profile on StarNow and potentially see her in a new film that's due for release soon. More to follow on that.
- Enlist a chaperone - a genuine photographer won't be worried about someone else joining you on a shoot
- Speak to previous models that have shot with them and ask for references
- Use your common sense; going to someone's house or getting in their car can be risky, so make a judgement call
- Tell someone you trust where you're going and give them all the information - agree check-in times