I had the idea that I would like to shoot a Bramhall Calendar Girls charity calendar to raise funds for a worthy cause and to showcase my talents as a professional photographer.
I found a local Charity beneficiary in the form of St Ann's Hospice, and before fully committing, I wanted to test the water with a couple of shoots. Would I get enough volunteers to take part as models, and would I find sponsors and establishments in Bramhall willing to be locations? On approaching Barard Hairdressers, I was greeted with encouraging enthusiasm, so this was to be the site of shot number one.
It was June and very hot, so my models who all worked at Barard, would not find disrobing to be a chilly experience. I did a recce, and worked out a good angle looking into a mirror, reflecting the hair washing area in the background and someone having their hair done in the foreground.
As with all of the shots, the models needed to be completely naked, but it would not do to reveal any naughty bits to the camera. I needed to find a way to preserve their modesty, so I thought magazines would do the trick for the "clients" to hold. I approached "Cheshire Life", but they would only give approval for their magazine to appear after they had seen the final image. I could not afford to risk a veto, so I made up my own mock-up magazines using a couple of images from my portfolio.
There is always a risk, as proved to be the case on subsequent shoots, that not all of the volunteers would turn up, but, happily, although none of them had posed nude before, we had a full complement on the day. Once the salon was closed, I covered the windows with sheets to create a closed set, and set up my camera and lighting. My biggest challenge was to make sure all "bits" were hidden at the same time and in a way which did not look too contrived. It was meant to look like this was just a typical scene in the salon, apart from everyone being naked!
We tried girls in different places, and chose the best at the editing stage.
After a couple more test sessions, I decided the project was viable and there then followed a dozen more photo shoots, each with its own story. The calendar raised over £5,000 for the charity and 51 volunteers had something to talk to their friends and families about for many gatherings to come. Everyone had a great time being Calendar Girls.
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