Being Stuck In An Unexpected Situation? Embrace It And Use It To Create Something Inspiring - Rachel Vogeleisen Prints

Being Stuck In An Unexpected Situation? Embrace It And Use It To Create Something Inspiring

It all started with a photography workshop in Tuscany, Italy. I have been following this photographer for years. I loved her creativity and the incredible sense of emotions she displayed through her images. So when the opportunity to join one of her workshops opened, I jumped on it. 

When I arrived, nothing worked as planned. At the same time, I understood from other participants that they had such a fantastic time the previous year and had decided to come back for another workshop. This time it all looked pear-shaped. Unfortunately, with photography workshops, you always take a risk. It's an investment risk we photographers are willing to take to continue educating ourselves, meeting fellow photographers and continuing to be inspired, but sometimes it leaves us dismayed.

The one that had participated in the workshop the year before told me that everything was done on the cheap compared to the previous year. The photographer who organised the workshop that year had one idea: making money. She had just bought and redone this gorgeous house in Tuscany, where we were housed, but nothing went to plan. She didn't book designers to style the shoot, even less so models. She even asked her friends and workshop participants to model for the shooting time!

It had yet to work as planned for me, too. My laptop gave up, I had brought my analogue workhorse camera, the Pentax 67, and it decided to jam! I was left in a dire state, mentally exhausted and starving because we had very little protein, and she provided hardly anything for a gluten-free diet. I could scarcely take this joke of a workshop anymore and decided to leave two days early and booked myself into an Airbnb in Florence.

The lesson I learned from there is. If it's not working for you, don't be afraid to say so and leave. I hoped to get a refund from the workshop but knew it wouldn't happen. This photographer used us to pay for her home, nothing else and tried to spend as little money as possible to make a big profit and cover her building costs. Lesson learned! 

I had no regret, I had a wonderful time in Florence, and the model I found to work with fit the type of photography I was after, dark, moody, black and white. I had also hired a make-up artist, and she understood my vision perfectly. Initially, I didn't know what I wanted to do and went with the idea of promoting a personal branding photoshoot in Florence. But this quickly evolved into something more creative from going with the flow. I had brought a long chiffon dress, which completely changed the mood for the photo shoot. From sleek pictures, it became blurry, moving into a dance movement. I didn't even realise that I had created something compelling. I was happy I had it on camera. It was liberating to create what I wanted.  

Bringing The Project To Life 

Only when I started to consider selling wall art print online and took an online course to learn more about setting myself as a visual artist did I realise that this image of Vera dancing in Florence was limited editions fine art material. I needed fresh eyes on my work to recognise what I had created. Crazy, eh? As an artist, curating our work can sometimes be challenging. I might fall in love with some pieces I made and get little engagement. While not being so fond of other art pieces, being selected for exhibition, and getting raving fans for it. I get it. Art is subjective material. All I can do is put more artwork out there, be consistent with my story and let it go. I have no control over how this artwork will be received.

I planned to continue this project across other European cities, but COVID halted everything. Would this project ever retake centre stage? I was delighted when the model I had worked with got back in touch to tell me that she was planning to travel to Paris. February is undoubtedly the best month for a photo shoot in Paris, but neither was November in Florence. 

Again I was trying to figure out how to start, where I photograph the model in Paris, and how I would style her.

I arrived a day early in Paris to scout locations where I wanted to photograph from. I quickly realised that some places I had selected wouldn't work. Fitting the Eiffel tower in my image meant that the model would look very small, and this was not what I was after. So I had to reassess and figure out which locations would work. I selected a few bridges, among them the famous Alexander III bridge. What I liked about this location was the Eiffel tower pointing in the distance and the gorgeous 19th-century architecture-style lamp post. Shooting early in the morning helped not to have too much of a crowd, but the sun only rising at 8.30 am meant people would walk by, and we had to play between passersby.

I had set 2- outfits for the styling. I knew my images would be in black and white, and the styling would reflect that, so I chose a monochrome outfit with solid graphics to play with movement.

It was cold and grey but the model was very cooperative and we managed to work quickly. The shoot's mood changed only when we moved to the Montmartre location. It was not about creating fine art anymore. Instead, it made something typically Parisian still in black and white with a stripy top, moving winter coat and using the Traditional Art Deco Metro Post.

This Paris photo shoot has rekindled my love affair with the Women dancing in the city, and I can't wait to add more cities to the wall art prints. This aligns with my love of travel and portraiture, sharing the story of independent, free-spirited women.

What do you think? Have you been stuck in a situation where you felt nothing great would come out of it? How did I do it? I listened to my heart. The Universe also called with a broken laptop and a camera that didn't work. It didn't feel great. There was no point staying at this workshop; I would rather travel back to Florence and create something out of that situation, and I did! of course, my head was telling stay. “You might miss a fantastic styled shoot”. Did I? No, I didn't. Later, I learned that others had left a day early to spend more time in Florence too. Remember, you are in control. We always have a choice.

We all know that greatness happens in the unexpected. My message is listen to your heart, accept what is not working and move on from there to create and inspire others with your story.

What do you think? Has this project been spoken to you? How? Do you feel inspired by it? Share in the comments.

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