For the past year I have been taking self-portraits almost exclusively. It has been a goal of mine to start shooting other people because I think at some point doing self-portraits can be rather limiting. Although I have to admit, that being both the photographer and the model has its advantages too. When Theodora asked me to take her picture of course I accepted, but right away I started feeling very nervous about it. I had no location in mind, no concept and no idea what kind of image would suit her the most. She didn’t have anything specific in mind either, so it was all on me.
I started to think about what kind of concept would be more suitable for her, because I wanted to create an image that would be somewhat representative of her as a person. I decided to shoot a more “romantic” concept, nothing too dark or creepy. Also, I had to think of something that would let her face be seen, so a bunch of ideas were rejected right away, since I usually don’t care about showing faces. Then I thought that summer is the best time to do a seaside shooting and why not use paperboats as a prop? I had a couple of different ideas about exactly what I would have her do and in the end I decided to have her stand on the shore with a boat in her hands and more boats laying on the shore close to her. Initially I had also imagined a couple boats floating in the waters but, well that did not really work out.
Theodora told me she had this fishnet dress and I thought it would be very fitting for this theme, so I asked her to wear that. My first thought about the boats was to make them out of newspapers, but they would not stand a chance near the water, so I tried making some from a magazine. I didn’t like how they looked though, so I decided to go for plain white paper and Theodora made the coloured ones. I am ashamed to admit it, but this is the first time in my life that I actually learned how to make a paperboat! It’s embarassing, I know!
As for the location, this is a small beach just outside Thessaloniki, in a place called Aggelochori (which means “the village of angels”) and as you can see, there is a lighthouse there. The thing is, when I was thinking of a location for the photoshoot, I decided to go visit the lightouse area and the beaches that are close by. I read about this lighthouse online and saw some pictures and decided that I definately wanted to check the place out because I was sure it would be a great location. You see, not only is there an old lighthouse on that cliff, but there is also an old fortress and a really great view. So on the day of the shoot, we decided to start early, so we woud have enough time to scout the area before sunset. As soon as we got there, I asked for directions to the lighthouse and the answer I got was: ” Oh, you can’t go there, because it’s a navy base and it’s close to the public. Maybe it will open next year!”. Talk about a huge disappointment! Nowhere online did it say anything like this! We headed there anyway, secretly hoping it was all a lie, only to be greeted by a huge sign reading “no entry, all photographs are prohibited”. Well, thanks a lot! It seems that a huge area around the cliff has been closed off by the navy, so there was absolutely no way we could get anywhere near the lighthouse or the fortress. Sadly we returned to the beach, where at least we could see the lighthouse from a distance.
Theodora’s photoshoot was going to be on the beach anyway, so there was no problem there. Having the lighthouse in the backgound was actually not planned, but very welcome! Luckily the sky was cloudy enough to give me the light I wanted, otherwise we would have to wait a couple of hours for the sun to set. I set up my camera, I positioned my model, and I started putting all the boats around her. I think this was the most crowded photoshoot I ever did. There was me, Theodora, a friend of hers and my boyfriend and although they were all really helpful, I was stressed. I almost forgot my ISO setting at 3200 and my focus on auto. Luckily I realised that early enough, otherwise the pictures would have been really destroyed! All in all, it was a good test for me, because I have to learn how to stay focused even when there are more people around than usual. After I had taken all the shots of Theodora that I wanted, I told everyone to throw the boats in the water so I could shoot them. It was a total disaster. Most of the boats sank right away and it just seemed like someone threw their paperwork in the sea. I think it’s better this way, because there would be too many boats everywhere and it might have been confusing.
I wasn’t sure at first about the the beam of light coming from the lighthouse, but come on! What is a lighthouse with no light, right?