Pat and I have been blogging buddies for over 6 years, so when the opportunity arose to meet up with her in person 3 years ago, I leapt at the chance (see Meeting a Legend). She turned out to be every bit as interesting, elegant and warm as you would expect from reading her blog, and what was supposed to be just a mid-morning cup of tea and a scone stretched into lunch. It seemed over all too soon as we had to head off. Quick photos were taken in the car park and promises made to meet up again if we were ever back in the area (not that frequent as we live about 400 miles apart).
In the intervening years since that encounter, barely a week has gone by when I haven’t kicked myself for utterly failing to capitalise on the fact that Pat was a model back in the 1950s. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve stared at my camera and pondered that missed opportunity.
So when Rogan and I started planning our road trip this summer, there was only one thing at the forefront of my mind – I had to get a photo shoot with Pat. Of course there were other things like meeting family, climbing tors and visiting Stonehenge, but this was one highlight I didn’t want to miss.
I emailed Pat to see if she’d be about during our trip down South and whether she’d be interested in a photo shoot. To my delight it was a yes on both accounts. But rather than just go for standard poses, we thought we’d have a bit of fun and recreate our own versions of some classic images, with Pat sending me links to photos she particularly liked. I did my best to try and work out how they were lit, and when we set off I made sure I took a portable lighting kit and backdrop with us.
It might have only been the 2nd time we’d ever met up, but being back in the company of Pat was as comfortable as if we’d been friends for 20 years. This time we also got to meet her husband as well as “French Son,” both of whom were very welcoming and friendly. Between long chats, plentiful food, cups of tea and an afternoon siesta we even managed to get some photography done.
Although we were never going to have time to do all the shots we’d like to have, we did manage to construct the couple I was most keen to do.
The first was a classic Hollywood type of photo in the style of Marlene Dietrich, complete with a fake cigarette.
While for the other, Pat wanted to see if we could approach something of the feel of Annigoni’s portrait of Her Maj, the Queen.
The vast majority of people I photograph begin by feeling very uncomfortable in front of the camera, and a fair proportion of any photo shoot is spent building their trust and helping them to relax with me before we start producing images that don’t have an expression like a cross between a grimace and a startled rabbit.
With Pat, however, from the word go she was right there with me – patient while I adjusted lighting, committed to each shot and working collaboratively to produce the best image. If we lived in the same town there’s no doubt I would be making excuses to photograph her on a weekly basis.
You can find Pat's blog about our day here, with a couple of set-up shots and one of me & Pat together, here.