Tennessee

I wrote the following several days ago, but elected to wait a few days before posting.  Enjoy.

Today is Sunday, the last day of a four day trip. I’m sitting in a restaurant called Charley’s in the Nashville airport having a cold one after a long trip! My flight is in a few hours, so I’m having a proper meal – a welcome respite from the Taco Bell, Burger King, Krystal, McDonalds, and Arby’s that sustained me for most of this trip! I took myself to a Cracker Barrel next to my hotel on Thursday night, but otherwise I’ve been eating on the go.

I decided to take traveling modeling to Tennessee because my friend Serge invited me to come see the studio he opened several months ago near Chattanooga.  Photonooga – catchy I think! If you need a studio in the Chattanooga area, I recommend Serge and his studio highly.

Without many offers for work in TN, I was a little hesitant to book a trip. Serge agreed to put me up and do a little marketing for me, so it all worked out, but I only had two confirmed bookings within five days of my trip. Yikes! I ended up with a last minute booking in Nashville on Thursday afternoon with JT. We had a great time shooting at a local residence. Friday I was scheduled with Mike (who is actually from Houston) at Tracy’s studio on Cannery Row.

WHAT A STUDIO!!!

I’ve been to studios all over the US.  This is what a studio should be. Its on the top floor of an old warehouse (Cannery?) building. Some of the original walls and floors have been preserved and natural light floods through large windows and several skylights. There is a large open space, and the rest has been carved into interesting nooks and crannies featuring a variety of colors and design styles that are a delight to the inner visual artist. With interesting furniture of a distinctly NON Ikea style and wall textures that could be found in any custom home, its almost impossible to make your sets look staged or ‘created’. Even the functional areas of this studio are completely shootable. For those of you hooked on your seamless, there is a cyc wall and plenty of room to set up paper. This is a must do for any photographer within 200 miles of Nashville.

After my shoot with Mike, I drove one of the most beautiful drives of my life from Nashville to Chattanooga and hung out with Serge at his place for a bit. Then we went to his studio and did some shooting.

Saturday I worked with Ben, who drove 6 hrs from Virginia to work with me at Serge’s studio. He booked me for an early morning session on location, and then again in the evening. I met him at 7:30, and followed him to the location which was a park on the banks of the Tennessee River. Unfortunately, by the time we were ready it was still only 40 degrees outside, and we were attempting to shoot swim wear. After 20 minutes or so I couldn’t take it. Beyond goosebumps, my muscles were spasming. I explained that I didn’t feel right asking for payment since I couldn’t produce a result that met my quality standards. I asked him to wrap up, get what he wanted, since shooting for any duration of time was not possible.

This is a sticky situation for me. He used about 2 hours of my time, getting to and from the location, shooting a bit, finding the right spot etc. The circumstances were not his fault, however, better planning would have produced a large coat with a heated car nearby or a fallback indoor location. Otherwise, I feel the shoot should have been cancelled before that much time was invested. I felt liable because he came so far and I was more motivated to dismiss my fee in consideration of his efforts. I didn’t want to jeopardize the evening shoot or leave him unhappy. But I don’t think I was completely fair to myself, because I got up at the crack of dawn and froze my ass off for an hour or so in sheer swim wear. It’s a delima, but I hate nothing more than a dissatisfied client.

Considering all this, the photographer in question was still ribbing me about ‘giving up’ on the shoot. Which makes me mad, I should have just charged him since he obviously didn’t care. I go above and beyond for all of my shoots, and he’s giving me lines about former models posing in the water for him in November etc. Above and beyond in this case was dropping my fee despite my time and effort. Am I nuts or seeing this right? For me ideal temperature is between 70 and 90. Anything less than 60 degrees is uncomfortable for exposed skin. 50-30 degrees I can do to get ‘the shot’ but simply shooting on the clock seems like pointless discomfort to me. Add any wind and my tolerance decreases. Below 30 qualifies only for the ‘flash and dash’ – I drop my coat, we shoot for 15-20 frames and then I put my coat back on. This can go on for as much as an hour. I admit I’m cold sensitive, but I don’t think I’m so far off the mark. If this makes me a disappointing model then I don’t want to be a good model. As it was it took a hot shower and two hours covered in blankets to warm up. I don’t have anything to prove. Models: say ‘no’ to hypothermia!

Between shoots with Ben I worked with Mickey in his home studio. He had some really great ideas planned for us, and got very nice results! Sunday morning I returned to Nashville in heavy rain and shot with Paul, also in his home studio, which was also wonderful!

On the whole TN surprised me and was a great destination for me as a traveling model. I wouldn’t recommend doing it without a car or rental unless you plan carefully beforehand.

Some notes:

-Upon arrival at the airport, I passed two live bands in the terminal and a vending machine of roses.

-Nashville is a great medium sized city, its more than country music and hillbillies. =) A beautiful downtown and gorgeous southern style residential areas.

-I encountered 4 singer/songwriters in less than 24 hours, accounting for more than half the people I met during that time.

-The country between Nashville and Chattanooga is all rolling hills, mountains, lakes, and rivers. This time of year everything is bright green and the dogwoods are in full flower.

-Security sucks at the Nashville airport, so allow a little extra time on your return.

-TN is generally conservative. (I feel this, even coming from Texas.) People were concerned about me posing in lingerie near windows on acres of unoccupied land. Feel your company out before you depart from ‘religious right’ behavior and ideology. The upside to this for me was a limited approach to shooting nudity. The photos taken were generally less naked than usual.

-Nashville is 2-2.5 hours from Chattanooga, Birmingham, and Atlanta – do your research and plan a tour!

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