A Dream Photography Trip – Part One (NSFW – Nudity)

Every now and then life throws you an opportunity that is just too good to turn down.  This happened to me a couple of months ago, I grabbed that opportunity, and as a result, had a truly life enriching experience.  Let me explain.

I subscribe to a UK based site called Purpleport.  It’s a website that brings together photographers with other creatives, chiefly models, stylists and makeup artists.  That’s where I source all of my models, whether for a commission, for my art, and sometimes, just for a fun shoot.  I spotted a casting from one of my favourite models, Sinopa Rin.  I had worked with Rin in the past, and she was advertising a week long trip to a fantastic chateau, in the French Midi-Pyrenees.

There were three other models on the trip, Valis Volkova, Jezebelle, and Helen Diaz.  By huge coincidence, all three of those models were on the list of those I wanted to shoot this year.  The trip also offered the opportunity to take your partner along, at very reasonable cost.  I immediately booked the trip, and Shirley and I were set for a weeks holiday in the most incredible environment.

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The trip took place from 1 – 8 July, and it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime.  We picked Rin up from home, and headed to Gatwick for our flight to Toulouse.  We met up with Will, another photographer at the airport, and had a pleasant meal together before boarding our flight.  On arrival in Toulouse we met up with the stylist on the trip, the lovely Tabitha Boydell.  We collected our hire cars and headed off on tour 60 minute drive to the Chateau De Goudourville.

Having seen images of the Chateau, I had high expectations.  Those expectations were exceeded the moment I walked into the huge medieval banqueting hall, that serves as a reception area.  I was simply blown away by the grandeur and by the sheer scale of it all.  Trip organiser Sophie Merlo, showed us to our rooms.  Shirley and I had been allocated a huge room at the top of the castle.  It was quite a climb, but worth every step.

Our room was beautiful, and it was massive, ensuite bathroom and a massive “reception hall” leading off the main stairs.  I would be willing to bet that those rooms has a combined floor space larger than my five-bedroom detached house back home.  The Chateau’s rooms are all beautifully decorated, filled with beautiful colour, antique furniture, four-poster beds.  The entire chateau is simply delightful, beautifully preserved and restored, beautiful gardens, a swimming pool, everything you could need for the most luxurious of stays.

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In such a setting, it must be said, that if you can’t make beautiful images, you should sell your gear and give it up.

Sunday was our first shoot day, se we met up with all the models, photographers and our stylist, and decided who was shooting with who.  I spent the day shooting with Rin in the morning and with Jezebel in the afternoon.

I already knew that Rin was a fabulous model.  She is so beautiful, her red hair fabulous, her makeup skills superb.  Rin is so graceful, really knows how to work the light, and she has a real photographers eye for a shot.  She is a more than competent photographer herself.  We worked in the castle grounds, in a beautifully lit corridor, and at a number of different locations inside the chateau.  With a fabulous background, and such a great model, it’s almost impossible to get bad shots.  Rin was just amazing, and I got a host of really beautiful images.

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I had never worked with Jezebelle before, but she has a brilliant reputation and a superb portfolio, so I was very excited.  Jez is such a beautiful lady, very natural, her waist length blonds curls are amazing.  She poses beautifully, is enthusiastic, and she just oozes sensuality.

We spent the afternoon shooting lingerie, boudoir, and art nude, both indoors and around the chateau grounds.  Jez is incredibly confident, very expressive, and she has curves to die for.  It was during this shoot that I created some of my favourite shots from the entire trip.  It was a spur of the moment idea, triggered by the robe Jez was wearing.  The reception area to my bedroom is dark, full of wood and has the most amazing light.  An antique table with a quill and ink pot gave me the idea, and Jez pulled it off with aplomb.  As you can see from this image I wanted to create a renaissance feel, something I felt was in keeping with the location.

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Tuesday saw a switch around of photographers and models.  I had the morning with Volkova, and the afternoon with Helen.  I hadn’t shot with either of the girls before, but their reputations, and wonderful portfolio’s assured me I would be in for a treat, and so it proved.

Valis Volkova is brilliant!  Val is incredibly beautiful, her slavic features, and fabulous make up skills, offer the chance to create incredibly striking, beautiful and glamorous images.  We began with Valis in a red corset dress, provided by stylist Tabitha.  The fact that Tabitha spent countless hours sewing over 4000 petals onto the outfit tells you all about the attention to detail.  The bright reds suited Val beautifully, and some of the shots we took on the castle stairs, are among my favourite shoots of the week.

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Helen is famed for her artistic nude work.  That is no surprise, she excels in this area, but she should not be type cast.  This is a lady who is brilliant at portraying emotion, and some of the classic period fashion shots I took are just gorgeous.  We began the afternoon in the “red room,” a gorgeous bedroom, filled with antique furniture, a four poster bed, and rich red and gold colours.

We used that room to shoot a set that was entirely Tabitha’s idea.  It can only be described as “military boudoir.”  Helen showed her skill by creating beautiful shapes, fabulous expression, and a really sultry mood.  Helen is incredible, you can be mid shoot when she comes out with something outrageously funny, something that has everyone belly laughing, and then a second later she is back into a beautiful shape, creating exactly the right mood.  In short, Helen is just a joy to work with.

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Monday had an extended lunch break, something that allowed Shirley and I to jump in the car for a little drive around the area.  We visited a couple of little villages, finishing up for Ice Cream in the town square of Valence, the closest town to the chateau, just 5km away.

This little trip was important because it allowed us to scout some awesome locations, and we got to use them the very next day. 🙂

Tuesday was changeover day, Joachim was due to leave us, and two new photographers, Hans and Rick were to join our merry little band.  Joachim decided that he was going to stay for the rest of the week.  That was great news for all of us, Joachim had endeared himself to all of us with his incredible passion, and for being an all round great guy.

That meant that we were shooting for half the day, I was working with Rin, and fellow photographer Will , had Volkova for the morning.  We decided to team up, and head out to the area around Valence for some street and location images.  By coincidence, Tuesday was also market day in Valence, something we used to our advantage by shooting around that environment.

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Whilst in Valence we were approached by a smartly dressed and very dapper gentleman.  He had seen us taking photographs and wanted in on the act.  He was immediately adopted by the girls and nicknamed Papi.  We took several shots of Rin and Valis with Papi, it really made our day, because he was so happy, he looked like all his birthdays had come at once.

Below is a gallery of images for the first part of this amazing trip.  Many are unedited, but I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did taking them.

Look out for the concluding chapter of this trip in the next couple of days.

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