Photo shoot with John Sherborne (5th June 2010)

John Sherborne, a local amateur photographer contacted me via Facebook out of the blue asking me if I would model for his portfolio – it would be unpaid work but in exchange for my time modelling for him, I would get a copy of the photos he took of me. Sounds like a fair exchange to me but first, a wee chat with the man in person to find out more…

So John and I caught up for coffee one day to get to know each other better and also discuss the details of what the photo shoot would be like. Turns out John is the organiser of Wellington Life Drawing, which promotes life drawing through art groups, classes and workshops, and while he’s not busy wrapped up in the drawing world, you will find John with his SLR camera taking photos of events or landscapes or working with his new friends aka models (one of his recent models was Rosa Belle, another burlesque performer based in Wellington). John is a family man in his fifties who has a keen interest in photography and arts, open to new ideas and trying different things – he encourages his models to put in their ideas of how they want to photos to look like, suggest locations and even characters they wish to portray. To him, the photo shoot is not about the photographer dictating how the model should pose but a collaboration of both parties. Hmm, I like the idea and might have a few ideas in mind that we could talk through :)

Since then, we’ve kept in touch and finally managed to find a slot in my calendar today to have our first collaborative photo shoot. We had a look at the weather forecast for today and it looked good for a photo shoot! We decided that the shoot would be at the Botanical Gardens with me wearing the red cheongsam (yes, the same one I wore for the MissT photo shoot) – honestly, I don’t know what to expect working with John because it’s not like the MissT photo shoot where it was mainly focused on the pin-up photography; this was outdoors, in public view. Hmm…

Around 2pm, Jono dropped me off near the Lady Norwood Rose Garden at the Botanical Gardens. I’ve to be so careful with my movements in case I rip my aunt’s tiny cheongsam getting in and out of the car! Jono’s a total sweetheart, made me lunch while I was busy straightening my hair, putting on false lashes and make up, getting ready for the shoot. I love my baby – he’s SO sweet :)

I met John by the cafĂ© and we started off taking photos by the pond at the Peace Garden outdoors. We made the most of the sunny afternoon (yes, I’m outdoors wearing just the cheongsam while people walking pass were wearing 2-3 layers), with me posing as John snapped away on his SLR, the gorgeous Japanese garden backdrop of green hues adding vibrancy to my bright red dress. The Peace Garden had a lit lantern in the middle of the pond containing a flame lit from the fires of the Hiroshima bombing that was given by Japan in recognition for NZ’s work against nuclear weapons – you would have to look closely to see the tiny flame dancing away inside.

I must admit, it felt weird at the start posing for John – I’ve never worked with a male photographer before and still building my experience as a model but John was friendly and encouraging, and I felt more relaxed as the photo shoot went on, occasionally playing with the camera with my mischievous pouts. Hehe :P There were photos of just me in the cheongsam and others of me wearing a conical hat (such hats are still worn today in South-East Asian countries, mainly by rice farmers), John stopping now and again to show me the photos he took on his camera – it looked as if these photos were taken in an Asian country and not in Wellington! While we were busy doing our own thing, a couple passing by asked us if they could take photos of me too. I thought it was rather amusing but of course, why not? I even got the female tourist to put on the other conical hat for a photo!

The second half of the photo shoot was done in the Begonia House, the large glasshouse used to store plants that would not survive outdoors, mostly tropical plants including orchids and several varieties of palm plants. Nice and warm in here! Photos were taken with and without the conical hats, some of me pretending to be a tiger hunter or Jane in the Jungle, checking out the surroundings as I come out from my hiding place. John has his own artistic flair when it comes to photography and I was more than happy to play along with his interesting ideas e.g. using the palm leaves to cover my body with only my head visible (I looked like I was cocooned in a huge leaf). Photos taken today:

Thanks John for the fun photo shoot - look forward to another collaborative project together!


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