It seems like a long time ago that I met up and worked with Lizzie, she was actually the first model I worked with one-on-one, I'd done a couple of studio lighting sessions, but this was the first shoot that I'd contacted a model to arrange. Lizzie was brilliant and was happy for me to come over to her home/studio and take time to learn setups, lighting and how to work with a model. During the shoot we'd chat about many things; work, life and photography - I really enjoyed the session and after a nervous start I felt that I'd actually come away with some great shots.
Of course now I'd do so many of the shots differently and I'd feel more confident in managing the session, but as far as a first attempt into photography went, I'm proud that I was able to meet and work with Lizzie. When I got in touch to ask if she'd mind taking part in these interviews Lizzie was only too pleased to help, which was wonderful for me as I know how busy she is and how much busier she is about to become...
Q - How have you been since we last shot? What have you been up to?
A - Well judging by the fact that I am typing this, that must mean that I’m still alive and have both hands, which is always a bonus. I suppose it’s been a while since we last shot, so I can’t count all the things I have been doing. To list a few, I have been continuing my teaching, photographic workshops and modelling. Me and Tony have spent the last year working on the new house which we use and hire out as a studio (Sandon Studio), and now we want to get more of it finished in preparation for the new baby in March.
Q - How did you get into the world of photography/modelling/makeup - what was your first shoot?
A - I have lost track of how many times I have been asked this, the photography had been a hobby and interest of mine for a long time prior to me starting modelling. I tried to study it at school, but the class was over subscribed, so it was put on pause until I started modelling. Someone suggested that I start modelling when I was at college, and as I was poor and enjoyed the creative arts I thought it would be fun and that maybe I could make a little bit of money, but didn’t expect to be any good or make a career our of it.
Q - What were your first impressions of the industry and how have they changed over the time you’ve been involved in it?
A - I don’t think I was ever under any illusions that the modelling industry was glamorous, like some young girls are. I knew that there were dangers and that it would be a case of working hard to get anywhere. I think that the freelance industry has become more difficult for models since I started, more people are joining the site, and obviously there are a number of those people who aren’t interested in working with a reliable, creative and hard working professional, they are more interested in taking some images of a naked female and don’t seem to care about who that is. There are also a number of new amateurs joining who have only worked with hobbyist models, and so don’t know the value of working with a professional as they seem to presume that all models are the same.
Q - How much do you enjoy it?
A - I do really enjoy modelling, it can be tremendously rewarding, being able to get creative and take on lots of different roles, and have the photographer go away at the end of the shoot with fantastic images and having had a fun time. Of course occasionally I have bad days, but that is inevitable in any job. I love being able to help photographers learn new things as a photography tutor, being able to add to someone’s knowledge and improve their confidence and skills is amazing.
Q - How much preparation do you do before a shoot?
A - It depends on the shoot and the complexity of the shoot requirements, some of the very specific hair and make-up styles take a long time, whereas natural hair and make-up is quicker. When modelling I normally take at least an hour to get ready, even for very basic hair and make-up. There is also the time taken outside of ‘modelling time’ taken to do things every day to keep looking neat and tidy such as nails, shaving and trimming bits, eyebrow maintenance, etc.
As a photographer I normally take two hours to prep for a shoot, collecting items together, sourcing props etc, building sets and researching inspiration images, but again some shoots involve more prep than others.
Q - How involved do you like to be in a shoot?
A - Quite a bit. If I am teaching then I am more involved in the planning than I would be for normal modelling, but I think some of the best shoots are where the photographer has a particular style they want to shoot and we work around that together. I find myself dropping off when I work with non-communicative and vague people. As a model I am providing a custom service and the more information a photographer gives me about what he wants the better I can tailor my posing, expression, make-up and costume to the image.
Q - Biggest challenges you’ve faced on a shoot?
A - Being made to feel uncomfortable. Attempts to touch me inappropriately or lewd comments are always annoying, but I find people who act in a patronising and arrogant way make me feel worse. There’s also the issue of being made to feel too physically cold or pose in an uncomfortable way for long periods. I think most professionals like myself try our damned hardest to please and sometimes photographers get so carried away that they forget that we have limits.
As a photographer I’d say that uninterested or shy models are a big issue. I’d rather photograph someone plain but enthusiastic than a beautiful face with an expression like a doll.
Thankfully none of those things happen very often.
Q - What have been your highlights?
A - Meeting new people. I love meeting different people, hearing their ideas and stories and working on varied assignments. Big productions are always fun, but some of my favourite shoots have been with smaller creative groups where you build a good rapport.
Q - And the downsides?
A - That the great people you meet aren’t there every day. Working for yourself on a freelance basis can be very challenging, and you don’t have colleagues there to support you and give you feedback. I struggle to make friends outside of my work, I’m not good at understanding where the relationship is going. I wish I got to see the ‘modelling friends’ I have more than I do, but they all seem to live miles away.
Q - What advice would you give to someone who was following in your footsteps?
A - Read my book, haha (The Wise Girl's Guide to Freelance Modelling). That’s why I wrote it, there are simply too many things to discuss in this small paragraph. I suppose my main advice would be to become a model for the right reasons- because you like art, and enjoy acting out different roles, not just because you think it will get you fame or bragging rights. It won’t.
Q - What would your dream shoot involve?
A - Does anyone have a ‘dream shoot’? I don’t, although I have a series of lots of smaller ideas, which I would like to try in the next few years. I think the idea of a single shooting idea which a person really wants to try is probably a bad idea which would be likely to lead to disappointment in reality or empty feelings once the euphoria has ended.
Q - Who or what inspires you?
A - Classical art and interesting photography. I particularly love Edward Weston’s still life images, the style of painting in Pre-raphaelite art is very appealing to me. I’m not a fan of ‘modern art’, a lot of it has a very depressing feel to it, and for me art should be beautiful and uplifting. My husband inspires me immensely, his hard working and confident attitude are attributes that I aim for in my own work.
Q - What do you like to do in your free time?
A - I’m quite a homely person. I love baking, it’s very fulfilling creating tasty food and seeing family members enjoy it. Making things in general is thoroughly enjoyable for me, I’ll try anything once and enjoy putting furniture together, I suppose it’s like an adult version of meccano. Going for country walks, racquetball, travel, and visiting museums are also things I enjoy.
Q - What’s next for you; what are your plans for the future?
A - I plan to continue modelling, teaching and photography for the foreseeable future. I suppose my main long term goal is to be a good person.
Thanks so much Lizzie, I wish you and your family all the very best for a very exciting 2016 - can't wait to see photographs of you baby in the spring!!