The Test Shoot

It was a hot day and I was sat in a traffic jam with the driver’s window open listening to a Crosby Stills and Nash tape when it ended so I fumbled about and replaced it with Lawyers in Love by Jackson Browne, which I’d bought cheaply from Our Price for £2.99. The traffic started to move and as I drove along I could see the problem, it was those irksome road works with nobody doing anything.
Suddenly my radio pager bleeped but I managed to read the message, Ring Carol at the model agency. I was a freelance photographer and the pager was my only contact with the world when I was on the move. Fortunately I saw an empty phone box, stopped, wound up my window locked the car and went back to the phone box, luckily it was working. I sifted through the change in my pocket found a 20p coin, dialled the number and said, “Hi Robert here can I speak to Carol please?”
There was a pause and then, “Hi Robert, Stephanie here, would you like to photograph me in underwear and a swimsuit? The last photographer was useless and it cost me money.”
I replied, “I won’t be able to fit you in for a fortnight,” and thought, Did she mention payment; I don’t get paid for these test shots. Yeah ok I’d like to do the shots but I desperately need some money.
“Robert are you still there?”
“Oh sure look, normally I work in jeans and a T-shirt, but if all you want me to wear is a pair of boxers, then that’s fine with me.”
Stephanie chuckled and said, “Oh blast! I’m off to Paris Sunday week and I so wanted the shots done before I go so that I could show the other girls.”
“My money’s running out, I’ll see what I can do. Would next week be ok, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday?”
“I’ll have to let you know as I have an afternoon job on.” Then the money ran out.
I got home and checked out makeup artists thinking, It’s too late to do anything now, I’ll phone around tomorrow.
That night in the pub I was telling Al my mate about photographing a model in her underwear. Al said, “I bet that gets you horny?”
“No idea as so far I’ve only photographed girls with their clothes on, but tell you what; you’re into photography why not have a day off work and assist me?”
The next day I managed to book the studio for the following Tuesday and also managed to get hold of a makeup artist for that day. Great I thought and hoped it would be ok with Stephanie. I phoned the model agency and was told, “We’ll let Stephanie know and she’ll get back to you.”
The following day after lunch the model agency paged me to let me know that the shoot was on for Tuesday. I thought about ideas of how to shoot Stephanie as I didn’t want the usual standing up pictures I’d seen in catalogues.
It was Friday and I was happy as everything seemed to be going well for the shoot next week, until my pager received a message, Hello Robert can you ring Trevor at the model agency?
I called the agency saying, “Robert here, may I speak to Trevor?”
“Hi Robert, we have a new girl on our books, Louise and we’d like you to have a look at her book. The other photographers are raving about her. Do you want to do some test shots with her?”
“Ok sure.”
“Why not come in and have a look at her book?”
Being in town I popped into the model agency and walking down the corridor passed a group of people drinking wine. I burst into another room and said, “Hi there is Trevor about?”
Trevor rose from his seat extended his arm saying, “Hello Robert we’ve not met before have we?”
“No,” I replied shaking Trevor’s hand
“This is Louise’s book.” Trevor picked up a book and handed it to me; I looked at it but wasn’t impressed.
“Why don’t I fit her in with Stephanie on Tuesday?”
“Actually you just passed them both as you walked in. Why not ask them yourself?”
I went back to the group who were still drinking wine, “Is Louise here?”
Stephanie walked over to me, embraced me and kissed me on the cheek. Blimey is this like being a film star, or what?
“Thanks for fitting me in next week. I didn’t like the last shots of me in underwear. This is for my card and I want something impressive.”
“Ok fine, so you’re in the underwear and not me?”
“That’s what I like about you, you take good shots and you’ve got a sense of humour.”
“I just walked passed you a minute ago, apparently you’re with Louise? “ I replied as I looked around the room and saw Louise sitting drinking wine. I beckoned her over and said, “Hi I’m Robert are you coming along on Tuesday with Stephanie?”
“Yes,” Louise replied and we discussed what clothes she should bring and I said, “Great, that’s sorted then I’ll see you both on Tuesday.” I left the agency and the girls drinking wine and chatting.
The following Tuesday I was the first to arrive at the studio with Al as my assistant and I sorted out a few records to play whilst taking the pictures.
Next Stephanie and Louise arrived closely followed by Tracey the makeup artist, who’d worked with me before and also knew Stephanie, who pulled out a Teddy from her bag. She said to me, “This is what I’ll be wearing.”
I stared in amazement as it looked so small and just uttered, “Fine,” adding, “What I thought I’d do is get Al to help as we pull that long box over, cover it with a white cloth and you can stretch out on top of it and we’ll use a white backdrop.”
“I like the sound of that; it’s why I asked you as you have ideas, which the last photographer never had.”
Whilst Stephanie had her makeup applied I chatted to Louise to ascertain what clothes she’d brought with her. Unless a stylist could be arranged then models had to bring their own clothes, as I didn’t know any stylists I looked at Louise’s clothes and all she’d brought were a few tops. I thought we could make do and Louise could wear her black tights.
Whilst the girls were sorting themselves out with makeup Al and me set out the lights, backdrop and draped a white cloth which I had brought with me, over the long coffin like box. I told Al I’d get him a few beers, which was cheap compared to the usual fee for an assistant.
At last Stephanie was ready and Tracey had done a good job, “You look great and if I’m not wrong you’ve lost a bit of weight. It suits you.”
First of all I ran off six shots of Stephanie in a swimsuit, adding a few suggestions to enhance her poses after taking colour and black and white shots then said, “That seems fine, how about changing into the Teddy?”
She didn’t take long to change and I made a few suggestions how to pose and then the doorbell rang. “Al, see who that is?”
“It’s the telephone man.”
“Ok go and see John he’ll be in his office, it’s his studio he can deal with it.”
The telephone man entered and seeing what was going on had difficulty in concentrating on his job. His eyes seemed to pop out of his head like a cartoon character.
I carried on taking shots of Stephanie on the box, off the box, on the floor and a change of light against a dark background. Stephanie was very impressed with the way things were going.
As Stephanie went off to get dressed the door bell rang again and Al answered it saying to me, “It’s Emma, she’s a makeup artist.”
“Oh yeah, let her in,” I replied and as Emma entered the studio, the telephone man left.
Emma entered carrying a large bag and said to Al, “Hi I’m Emma.”
“See Robert,” Al replied pointing to me and I was watching Louise as she chose a few records.
“Hi, I’m Emma.”
“Ok thanks for coming,” I replied, “Would you like a tea or coffee?”
“No thanks,”
“Just as well as I’m a bit busy.” I said as Emma handed me her book, I took my time looking through it and said, “Yes, not bad if you’re up for it, I’ve got two girls to photograph next Wednesday one’s black and the other’s white. Reckon you could do the makeup for me?”
“Sure. Is it okay if I stay as I’ve nothing on this afternoon?”
“Of course,” I replied and said to Louise, “Oi, I choose the records.”
“I’ve found one I like.”
I looked at it, and thought Otis Redding was an odd choice as she was so young, but I put it on and Al and me got rid of the props and changed the lighting. Louise was very happy and I took a few head shots, but it was the full length shots where Louise came alive. She was dancing along to the music, stopping for a few poses and I could now see why the other photographers had raved about her.
I called out a few directions and was answered by Louise, “I did those for the other photographers, I’m not doing it for you.”
Tracey and Emma had been talking and Tracey said, “You seem ok, so Emma and I are off.”
“Oh great, I’ll call you when I have the proofs and thanks for coming.” I said.
“I look forward to that bye for now.” Tracey replied as she and Emma left building.
Once the sessions with Louise had finished she went off to change and I turned off the lights whilst Al started to pack away the equipment which was all stored in long coffin like boxes.
Stephanie said to me, “I think you got some good shots of Louise. As for my pictures I really enjoyed that, you are so much better than the other bloke.”
“Thanks, by the way, do you reckon I’ll ever make it?”
“For sure, you’ve got imagination and every time you’ve photographed me, I’ve really enjoyed it. Also I’ve got some good pics for my book.”
“Great,” I replied as I made my way to the record player and put on Prince. “I’ll give you a call when I’ve got the proofs Stephanie and you can tell Louise.”
“It’s nice to know you’ve got great taste in music.” Louise said.
“What Prince!!” I exclaimed as the girls left the studio and Al and me packed away everything, leaving the studio as I’d found it. I went over to John to pay for the hire of the studio.
“That telephone man said he wished he was doing the internal wiring.” John said.
“Yeah, I noticed how his eyes popped out of his head.”
“That second girl you took shots of was very attractive.”
“She’s new; I’d like to book the studio for next Wednesday if that’s ok? I’ll confirm it tomorrow once I’ve contacted the girls.”
“It’s ok so far, always a pleasure to do business with you, I’ll hear from you tomorrow then Robert?”
“Ok that’s it for now; shall I take the record off?”
“Nah, I’ll sort it out, see you next week.”
I dropped the slides off at the lab, Al and I went for a beer whilst they were developed, as for the black and white films I developed them myself and produced a contact sheet of the shots.
Looking at the contacts there was one picture which stood out from the rest and so I blew it up to a 10×8 inch print.
When Stephanie saw the contacts she said, “I want that blown up and used on my card.”
I handed her the 10×8 picture saying, “I thought you’d like this one and if it goes on your card, I want credits.”
Stephanie hugged and kissed me and yes I did get my pictures on her card credited with my name. As for Louise, she gave up being a model as she got no work and I eventually ran out of money and decided to retire from taking pictures of models, instead I took pictures in black and white of bands whilst they were performing, but that, as they say, is another story.

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