I found Anastasia on Instagram. She had a pretty unique style.
I contacted her asking if she’d be interested in doing a shoot sometime, and she said yes. We had a couple of false starts with arranging things, partly because she’s a relatively long way from me, but we got there in the end. One problem was trying to find somewhere in Plymouth that doesn’t sound a bit dodgy. We gave up in the end and arrange to meet at Plymouth Hoe. It was easier for parking than Place de Brest and other places that sound inappropriate to suggest to a model.
Sam and I managed to get parked quite close to the Hoe, but not quite as close as we thought we were, so we had a bit of a hurried walk to where we were actually supposed to be meeting, and by that time, Anastasia was trying to get to us, adding the extra worry that we’d go different ways and swap places, but it worked out. She’s pretty easy to spot.
We started with a couple of photos using the lighthouse as a background. Ana asked if these were just test shots or if we were actually starting the shoot. I said we could call them tests if they didn’t work out, but we’d started if they did. I think they worked.
We wandered over to the lighthouse next, and it made a good background. The plain red really helped Anastasia’s amazing make-up work stand out.
We used a bench for more shots.
There’s a restaurant with a dome down at the sea front, so we used the dome and railings in front of it.
A few more shots along the wall with the sea behind.
I did’t get any photos, but we met a very fluffy doggo along there. Got to stop and pet the doggos on photoshoots.
I think I may have ended up with rather too many photos using the low wall and hedge here, but Anastasia looks so good in all of them that I just kept processing more.
If anything, it looked even better when she stood up.
I grabbed a few quick portraits looking down, standing on the wall for height – I don’t think Anastasia was so keen on these, but I like them.
At this point, I should mention Anastasia’s boots. She was wearing very high boots. Platform boots. Probably Killstar, it’s their kind of thing. And she decided to climb a tree. Surprisingly, she got up there and down again perfectly well, with hardly any injuries and only very minor clothing damage.
That all sounds pretty good, and much like many other photoshoots. But there were a couple of stories from this shoot. One not good, and one good. We’ll start with the not good.
Right at the start, when we’d only just introduced each other, and started on the first couple of shots, a guy came over with a can of super-strength lager in hand, head and face covered in tattoos. He started asking what we were doing, and was Anastasia a model, and quickly moved on to asking her to give him her number or go for a drink with him. She tried telling him she wasn’t interested, and was kind of busy at the moment, but he kept following along and hanging around close by. He tried again by the bench. She told him she had a boyfriend, and wasn’t interested. He didn’t seem too put off by either.
He seemed to lose interest as we moved on towards the sea front, but he wasn’t gone for good. We got coffees at a cafe and sat in the garden to go through the photos on my iPad so Anastasia could have a first look through the results. He passed by and saw us there. Came straight into the garden and sat down at our table with us. Started telling us again about him being a rapper and singer in a death metal band. Then all about his paranormal investigating. We decided to get going at that point, and left.
We were about to say our goodbyes and go when we realised he was still hanging around close by. We offered Anastasia a lift home, or at least to somewhere else, and she came with us.
Now, technically, he didn’t do anything really wrong. He never threatened any of us. Just chatted in a friendly manner. Maybe if we’d left Anastasia alone there, nothing would have happened. Maybe he’d just have had another try at talking to her. But given how men can be, none of us wanted to take that chance
He probably didn’t think anything he did was scary. But it definitely made me quite nervous, and was probably a a lot worse for Anastasia. It always dismays me that a woman saying clearly that she’s not interested is so often just ignored, or taken as a challenge. If you worry that men can’t even talk to women any more without being accused of sexual harassment, they can. But if you can’t tell the difference between conversation and harassment, you might not be ready for either level of human interaction.
Anyway. The more positive story. While Anastasia and I were shooting, Sam had found a nice bench to sit on, looking out over the Hoe. She heard people near her talking in a foreign language, and asked them “Francais?”. Yes, they were teachers, there with a French school trip. They got talking, and when I returned, Sam had just volunteered to take a group photo of them all. Sam took some with their phone, and I took some with my camera, with Anastasia and Sam joining in.
They’d exchanged contact details so I could send them my photos of the group, and they sent Sam a picture of the school newsletter later, with my photo in it!
Oh, and I was left with one remaining concern. Posting photos of a model hashtagged with ‘#PlymouthHoe’. If you’re not from Plymouth, it might sound a bit insulting.