GB Sports Photographer & The Panasonic LUMIX S1

Be careful about what you delete!

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Be careful about what you delete!

10 May 2015 3:42PM   Views : 767 Unique : 429

Normally any messages from unknown sources starting with 'You're a winner!' or similar titles get deleted by me. It's amazing how many lotteries I've won without ever entering, or how many competitions I've never competed in but won anyway. Ahem!

But I now know to be careful about what I throw away, because I came very close to deleting a message I definitely did want to read - which I basically did by accident, and I was glad I did!

By mid January I had, of course, totally forgotten about the ePhotozine Christmas Prize Draw - although I have actually won prizes in the prize draw before, in fact no fewer than three times already. But nothing terribly valuable or exciting.

The e-mail I almost deleted was from Photo Model Holidays in Bulgaria, run by British professional photographer Peter O'Neill. The first line read: 'Congratulations on winning our Photo Models Holiday in late April, we are all looking forward to seeing you out here with us.'
Well, that certainly got my attention, I can tell you! The finger came off the delete button, and stayed off. (Phew! Close call!)

At first I was a little bit confused about what I had won exactly, about what was included and what wasn't, but in the end it turned out that I had won five whole days (more about that later) exclusive shooting of different models - just me, and no one else - although I could take my wife, and if I wanted a friend. It included luxury self-catering accommodation in a bungalow with a pool (unheated, unfortunately, and I was there too early in the season to use it) :-(, one on one instructions and help from Peter, one on one shooting of different models throughout the week in different photogenic locations and/or Peter's studio, and free transport between the locations and the accommodation. So basically all I needed to do was provide my own transport to and from Bulgaria, and the rest would be taken care of.

That sounded very good already, but exclusive individual shooting of models was a very attractive proposition as well! I'd done a portraiture course once, but you were always awaiting your turn and didn't get a lot of time to try different things due to having to share the models with other photographers. No problem here, though - the whole week is all about the one person who's taking the course (although you can pay a little extra to take a second shooter, which I didnt, I took my lovely wife Jane for free, which was very nice - the bungalow has two bedrooms, a double, and a single, so in theory three people could come, but normally there's only one photographer who gets to do all of the shooting all week).

The designated week for me was the first week of the season, and unfortunately that had a few disadvantages. I suspected it, and Peter confirmed it when we arrived: the unheated swimming pool was only ten degrees, not a very attractive temperature. (It would still have worked for me if there had been a sauna next to the pool - I've swum in ten degrees before after having heated myself up in a 90 degrees sauna, but under normal circumstances that's just too cold.)

The other thing that was difficult, was that there are a lot more flights to Bulgarian airports, especially the ones that aren't Sofia, from May on, and end of May we just couldn't get the flights we wanted, to Burgas (the closest airport to Sedlarevo, the village where Photo Model Holidays is located). So we ended up dropping day 1 from the schedule so we could fly Ryanair to Plovdiv instead of flying to Burgas.

That sacrifice got a little greater when Ryanair decided to change its flying times, which it did no fewer than three times, and in the end we knew we'd be arriving too late to pick up our rental car, so we booked a hotel (which is dirt cheap in Bulgaria, fortunately) and notified Peter that we wouldn't be able to leave Plovdiv until some time in the morning on Tuesday.

We had a night in a very nice three star hotel (only sixteen quid per person for a junior suite with breakfast, you can't beat that), picked up the car, and phoned Peter. He suggested meeting in Sliven, the location of the first photo shoot, so that we could get into to the shooting before traveling on to the accommodation later that day.

Sliven is a nice old town in Eastern Bulgaria, at the foot of the hills there, and it has a nicely done up high street with a pedestrian area and some old buildings. We started shooting there, and as Peter explains in his own blog , Bulgarians like to say something about that, or like to join in. In this case a little old lady started a conversation with us, and of course that led to some unexpected street photography.

After that we picked up shooting the first model, Darina, again, and from that part of the shoot is the picture I'm uploading today: Facebook Fascination . I didn't know it then, but found over the next few days that this photo is actually typical for Marina, because she's glued to her phone. Smile

More in my next blog posts!

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Tags: Holidays Model Photo Phone Bulgaria Sliven

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