ZoeFest 2009 Australia Mission Beach

…and we named him Octavius

Like most good things, it started with a delicious dinner.

A month or two before arriving at Mission Beach, Michael Marlborough and I met up to eat Ethiopian food and chat about travel plans (and before anyone says it, yeah, Ethiopian food – kind of an oxymoron, huh? But it’s awesome. Try it). Some wine had been drunk and we were throwing out ideas for shoots. There was a nautical theme going on – we talked about anchors, rope, and sailors. Then I said, “Giant squid!”

Michael’s eyes lit up.

Now, I wasn’t exactly joking when I started talking about cephalopods. You know those images you have in your mind, the ones you hope someday with enough time, resources and the right people to work with, you’ll get down on film? Well, one of the ones in the back of my head, taking up important room, involved a many-legged sea creature. Turns out my photographer friend had a similar affliction. Perhaps we were onto something. Since both of us live inland, shooting near the ocean is not something we get to do very often and our access to sea creatures is limited. We had to take the opportunity while we could.

Weeks later, driving from Townsville to Mission Beach, we procured ourselves the largest frozen octopus we could find, with the help of a very bemused fishmonger. This was Octavius.
He was so big that, once thawed in a bucket of iced water, we needed an assistant just to keep him in position. Plus rubber bands, several chairs and afterwards, a lot of soap. But we worked it out and Octavius turned out to be a pretty decent model.

There is nothing quite like seeing an image you’ve had in your mind, exactly as you saw it, finally come into being on the preview panel of a camera or a proof sheet. It was one of the best moments at Mission Beach and something I’ll never forget. The feeling of having a large octopus draped over my face has been largely blanked out, so there’s nothing but happy endings to this story. Oh, and some pictures.

ZoeFest 2009 Australia Mission Beach

Biodiversity at the Beach

It’s a cliché, but something I love about modelling is the variety of people I meet. There are great photographers from every country I can think of. They discovered their love of photography in many ways – art school, elementary school, post-work hobbies or a serendipitous encounter with a random camera. There are full-time professional photographers and photographers who work different jobs so they can pursue photography in their free time. I once worked with a photographer who made his money digging graves (We had some interesting conversations). Basically, there are a lot of interesting people out there with cameras and great ideas.

One of the places where this becomes most evident is at Zoefest. At Mission Beach this year, on meeting our diverse group, my first thought was – we’re all so different! How are we all going to get along for 10 days?

I needn’t have worried. The problem, it seemed, was how to keep us away from each other. How to stop our post-slide show chatting and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Wrapping up great conversations and actually, y’know, go out and shoot. Turns out when you get together with friendly people who all share a common love of creating beautiful images, it couldn’t matter less where we went to school or how we pay our bills.

No disrespect to the wonderful photographers at our event, but one of the things I enjoy most is meeting other models. Ah, the life of a fine-art model is a solitary one. Working with multiple models is not unheard of, but it’s hardly the norm. We’re often admirers of each other’s work, but it’s rare that we’ll get to meet. One particular model and I had been working with the same photographers for years. It wasn’t until this year’s Zoefest that we actually got a chance to sit and talk. And when models get together, we have a lot to talk about…

At Mission Beach, I also got to spend time with two awesome people who have experience on both sides of the lens. They are models who are also photographers, or photographers who are also models (I’m going to avoid using a cutesy portmanteau like ‘modelographer’ as I value my life). They are great fun to work with and have unique perspective. They give direction on a shoot knowing how a pose feels, not just how it looks. And they understand the concerns of a model completely – from, “This isn’t my best angle” to “I might look awesome on this slime-covered jagged rock, but we need to act quickly.”

Below are a few images created with these two talented photographers.

Vive la difference! I hope I get to see all you unique, exciting and lovely people next year… or even sooner.