Celebrating the Purity of Form
Rosa Brighid by Imagesse
It was a grey day. A cold breeze blew, causing the gulls to wheel and cry under a brooding sky. Standing beside me, gazing out across the sea from those Cornish cliffs, was a fabulous young woman with whom I was about to embark on a creative adventure.
Right from the first moment, Rosa’s energy and enthusiasm created a tangible positive aura. She was genuinely excited by the art of modelling, quick to take direction and keen to learn. Moreover, Rosa was comfortable in her own skin, not embarrassed nor coquettish about being nude. She was natural and lovely in every sense.
We made plans to collaborate on a series of shoots over the course of the year, each with a different theme. We started with some classic figure work in a local studio. So we spent a very pleasant afternoon exploring poses and body shapes against a black background. Each of the images seemed to emerge like an epiphany from the darkness.
I put a lot of effort into finding interesting and original locations. One such venue, a 16th century manor house hotel, provided the inspiration for our next adventure. I hired a spacious suite for the day complete with four poster bed and roll top bath. We had a ball, with Rosa loving the glamour and luxury of the setting. We started with some simple natural light nudes beside one of the large sash windows. Seeing Rosa illuminated by the soft morning light, was just breathtaking. We got some wonderful images that day.
Rosa suited the place to a tee. She was like a film star making the spaces come alive. The house has something of a chequered history, and I felt its original owners would have approved of our playful interpretation of their creation.
By the time our fourth shoot came around, the winter had been banished by the verdant surge of spring. I wanted a location that captured the optimism that often abounds that time of year, when new life is emerging all around. So we hiked to an ancient woodland in the middle of Dartmoor.
The huge moss-covered boulders and maze of twisted branches seemed to point and beckon like giant fingers, summoning the curious into the heart of the greenwood grove. Rosa tuned into the spirit of the place, as she played the part of a faerie queen. She has a regal air about her, especially when she is modelling, and reveled in exploring the enchanted glade.
The very best art models have the ability to take a concept for a shoot and absorb the surroundings, distil their essence and convey it through intuitive, thoughtful poses. In this way, the human body becomes more than something beautiful to look at; it’s transfigured into a canvas that can project a whole gamut of emotion and experience, a tool like no other, to express what it means to be alive.
Our next adventure; a road trip, allowed us to visit a variety of locations. The wild moors boast many places that suit artistic figure imagery, from the ruined tin mine buildings – ghostly relics of an industrial age – to the mysterious standing stones that act as portals, linking us to an ancient past. Rosa’s growing confidence became apparent, as she glided gracefully amongst the grey granite, beneath skies that spoke of thunder. Such settings are the fuel for my imagination, but it takes a model like Rosa to provide a spark that fires the creative flame.
We teamed up again towards the end of summer and headed eastwards into Somerset on a humid afternoon. Deep into a secret valley we walked, following a babbling brook through leafy boughs of oak and ash. There, the thick woodland parted to reveal a playground of crumbling walls. Spread before our enquiring gaze was our prize: the remains of a bygone village.
Once part of a grand country estate, the stone buildings were overcome with ivy and lichen, their skeletons visible under the cloak of green. transformed the place into her stage. She climbed and clambered through this lost world and I photographed a sumptuous sequence of sophisticated shapes, an essay in evolving elegance.
We continued beyond the forest edge, down below a rocky ledge, into a field of green pasture. Standing proud in the midst of this rural English idyll, was a folly tower. Its rusticated stone plinth fashioned akin to some ancient grotto. There, like some heroine in a Thomas Hardy novel, Rosa cycled through a number of classical poses, instinctively responding to the place, her poise so aptly suited to the richness of the Arcadian scene. As the light began to fade, we made our way back, smiling at our good fortune.
Our next location was a country house that combined my two favourite ingredients – my love of natural light and the light that comes from within, which in Rosa’s case is a shining beacon. We started in the drawing room, where stained glass windows gave a gorgeous warmth to the morning light. This, coupled with the polished wood floor, illuminated Rosa wonderfully. She was radiant.
Even though we have worked together many times, I was still stunned by the vision that greeted my eyes. Those are the moments, as a photographer, when you realise you are with someone really special, when after hundreds of shoots over many years, you look through the lens and catch your breath, so sublimely beautiful is the view.
The backdrop of leather sofas, mahogany furniture and velvet curtains, created an atmosphere of timeless luxury and elegance with a dash of decadence. I imagined Rosa there 150 years ago, perhaps as a model for the Pre-Raphaelites. That morning in the drawing room, remains branded in my memory as one of my very favourite times.
It’s been amazing to see how Rosa had improved her modelling over the course of our collaboration. She is quick to adapt and play a part, moving between genres and moods with ease. Brimming with confidence and able to call on a reservoir of experience, she has really mastered the craft. It has been my great privilege to know and work with Rosa over the past two and a half years. She is a remarkable young woman, whose outward appearance is surpassed by her inner beauty. She is a very genuine and fabulous person.
I am struck by her vitality and zest for life. Working with her, I come away with a sense of joy, which only grows with each of our adventures. I’ve been rewarded with so many beautiful moments. Rosa’s ever present sense of fun and sheer enthusiasm for life, is irrepressible and infectious. I eagerly look forward to the continuation of our creative journey in the days and years to come.