I am open to suggestions for my yearlong volunteering challenge so when Ray Liddy the photographer at the Tameside Reporter suggested I should model for the Ashton Photographic and Imaging Society it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Especially as I’d written a list of the sorts of things I might do as a volunteer and one of those was modelling for an art group. When I originally added it to the list I was a little bit worried what it would involve. More importantly I was concerned about what I would have to wear, or not as the case may be. The Ashton Photographic and Imaging Society is a very friendly bunch of people and they meet every Thursday night at Hurst Community Centre at 8pm. The night I was invited was portrait night and I was the subject. I thought I might be quite good at posing, more relaxing than some of my previous volunteering challenges. I arrived early so I put my make up on in the car. Not that glamorous admittedly but I am sure quite a few young starlets had done that in their time. After a quick change of blouse in my dressing room, OK the toilet, I was ready for my close up. Upstairs in the Community Centre there was already a man sat at a table taking subs, a group of people sat around and some lights set up pointing at a stool. I think they thought I had accidently wandered in from somewhere when they said, “can I help you?” but I explained that I was the model. Ray turned up slightly later and confirmed it. It wasn’t long before I was invited to sit on the stool in the glare of the lights and became the focus of attention.
I thought I would make a good poser as I have had a picture taken for all of my volunteering to prove I have completed the various tasks. However, it wasn’t long before I realised that I had a lot to learn. The photographers took it in turn to take pictures. I alternated between my best smile and a dreamy far away look I invented for variety. In between shots the photographers compared lenses and experimented with different settings on their cameras. One photographer showed me a picture of my dreamy far away look and I looked more sleepy than dreamy. I tried a more serious look and on second inspection I looked quite angry. The photographers kindly encouraged me to stick with a nice smile.
The smile came with its own share of problems. When I smiled I closed my eyes slightly. This was made even worse by predicting the flash of the lights. The photographers encouraged me to open my eyes more. “Eyes and teeth,” one of them said. It took amazing amounts of strength to keep my eyes open. It was like tiny weights were keeping them shut. Did anyone have any cocktail sticks in their pockets I wondered? I smiled with my eyes wide and a photographer looked at me puzzled. “Too much?” I asked. He nodded.
I started to get the hang of it and as the photographers took more risks so did I. I think I added a few more poses to my repertoire, the cheeky look to camera, puzzled over the shoulder and sideways wonder. The smile was the one most of the photographers liked but by the end I felt like a bride does on her wedding day wondering if my smile was starting to look unnatural.
The session ended like all good ones with tea and a biscuit, it was time to get to know the group. Ray explained that he was the President this year and they had different events each week. Sometimes it was out on location at churches in the area or recently they went on Werneth Low. Other weeks they had speakers in to talk about different subjects. I worked hard in the session and they were only photographing my head and shoulders. I dread to think what strange things my feet do. Yet it was tremendous fun and their members made me feel a million dollars. This is a great group to join if you want to know more about cameras and photography whatever your level of experience,