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Gemma @ Box Hill

Back in November you may have seen a couple of images from my session at Box Hill with Gemma. I meant to post a fuller selection but Christmas and wedding work kept me busy! I met Gemma at a wedding fair she was attending with her family. I’m always on the lookout for ‘anti-models’, people with no modelling experience but lots of je ne sais quoi. Gemma was a perfectly example. She came and had a chat to me and seemed really interested in my work but it was only after she’d moved on to other areas of the show that I had a moment to consider how well she fits my anti-model brief. Thinking I’d missed a great potential subject I spent the next hour rueing my slow-moving wits. Luckily Gemma and her family came back into the room for another circuit so I had the opportunity to ask her whether she’d consider letting me photograph her.

Many of the people I ask to model for me either politely decline (generally out of shyness, I’d have myself believe), or initially agree before changing their mind once the shock of being approached out of the blue wears off. I don’t blame them. Society conditions us to be camera shy and a one-to-one shoot with a virtual stranger tends to pique many peoples insecurities. I was therefore extremely glad when Gemma emailed a couple of days later to confirm that she was interested in arranging a shoot.

I always say to people that I ask to model for me that the aim is to have fun and to take some great pictures. I’ve approached them because they have unique faces/shapes/personalities and as long as they rock up and promise to do their best to have fun and enjoy themselves then we can’t go far wrong. If I ever approach you in the future, remember that I’m doing it because I think you’re awesome. If there was an exam to pass, you’ve already passed it. The photoshoot is just the after-party. You bring you, I’ll take care of the photographs!

Despite being really cold (Box Hill is seriously exposed) we had a great time and Gemma was superb in front of the camera. The reason I like working with non-models is because they don’t react to the camera by presenting a considered, well-practiced countenance. Instead we see people as they really are with less artifice and more soul. My whole photographic ethos rebels against excessive artifice and I get a real kick out of what I deem to be ‘honest’ photography.

Anyway, enough chat. Here’s a selection of some of my favourites from the session. My thanks to Gemma for being such an awesome subject and for being brave and saying yes!


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