For my first photoshoot, I asked an extremely talented ballet girl, Lily. She is beautiful, glowing and very girly, but on her very own, special way. My first idea was to contrast her ballet dress with a rock-star leather jacket and boots:
but we didn’t really like the effect. I decided to stick with a classic, delicate ballet dancer’s image, but in a contrasting location. I created moodpboard to show my styling, make up and location inspiration.
First thing I thought was a racetrack, but we couldn’t rent one only for a photoshoot. Then, my other idea was a mural. I dedicated a whole day looking for a perfect locations, with more than one wall art. After a long research of Cardiff’s artsy places, I found Elm Street.
other locations I found:
We went to Elm Street and were absolutely shocked by the amount of incredibly fine street art. Also, when we were wandering around, we found an incredible street full of colourful flats. actual pictures of the location we chose:
Lily believes she belongs to BABES. She is a ballet dancer, an accounting student, an amazing girlfriend and a huge supporter of local girl gangs. She loves fashion, spending time with her girls squad, getting ready, listening to music, gossiping and watching Netflix.
Our photoshoot was a great experience, both for me and Lily. We had a great laugh, fun and Lily was very happy with the results. Unfortunately, one minus of our shooting was a lack of lighting, even though we shot between 12pm-2pm. Below raw pictures from our photoshoot.
I worked on Photoshop, to edit photos – change colours and character to suit my zine. Below my progression:
Then I played with changing colour of the wall, as I wanted my zine to be focused around yellow and red. Again, I wasn’t really happy with the effect.
Then, I decided to use grain, to make my photographs look like from the 90s. Then I thought about outline, as it was very popular in that decade. Other photos and their edited versions:
From this photoshoot, I’ve learnt how important being prepared is. And that weather can change plans any minute. Light can be great, and next second it can only waste your effort. What would I do different? I would ask Lily to meet me at least an hour before our photoshoot to make sure we will have enough time and be ready for weather changes. Also, I would think about a “plan B” spot, in case of rain and bad lighting.
I also interviewed Lily. We had a great lecture about having a face-to-face interviews, and I felt really confident during our conversation. I tried to make it as professional as possible, but also make Lily feel comfortable. My notes before my interview:
- record the interview
- comfortable and quiet-ish location
- different questions for different people (about the topic of photoshoot)
- open and neutrally phrased questions (not leading a person in a particular direction)
- “tell me more about..”, “you mentioned.. can you tell me more about that?”
Transcript of the interview below:
N: Today I have beautiful Lily with me. Lily, you are a student. Can you tell us what are you studying?
L: Yes, so I study at Cardiff University, and I’m studying Accounting and Finance.
N: Great! You don’t seem like stereotypical Accounting student. At the same time, you are very girly! Your way of dressing, make-up, basically – all of you. Tell me, do you believe girl can be both girly and a feminist? And what is feminism to you?
L: Yeah, totally agree, you can be a tomboy, you can be a girly girl, and still be a feminist. Cause for me, feminism is being equal. And I know there is a lot of stigma attached to this word. Like, some people are really against, forgetting the meaning of the word. It’s the equality of everyone, not just girls. So, yeah, I think you can be a punk (riot grrrl), you can be me, a girly girl, and be at the same level on as a feminist. Feminist doesn’t have a type, basically. You can be whoever you want. It’s about your beliefs, rather than your style.
N: So, do you consider yourself as a feminist?
L: Like I said, I think there is a lot of stigma attached to being a feminist. And I totally believe in equal level of sexes, when it comes to, for example, wages or how they’re treated, things like that. I totally agree. But, I wouldn’t actually pronounce myself as a FEMINIST. I don’t think you should have to say that you’re a feminist, your actions should speak louder, but also it should just be normal that we believe in equality of sexes. There is no need to state it everywhere.
N: So, you’re not a bra-burning type of feminist?
L: (laughs) No, definitely not! Just some people are straight to your face about it and sometimes it’s a bit too much. And I think it can puts a lot of people off, because they think “Oh, I don’t want to be a feminist if that’s what it means”. You can be a feminist without all of that, trust me.
N: (laughs) And I know that your huge passion is ballet dance. When did you start to dance and why?
L: I started when I was 4 years old. I just remember watching on a video tape “Barbie: Swan Lake”. I loved it, I still watch it sometimes (laughs). Yeah, I was trying to copy Barbie on the TV. And then my mom saw me and then she just took me to ballet class. And I remember my first ballet class – I hated it, I wanted to cry, leave and never come back. My mom was embarrassing me and I was like “Mom, stop it! No!”. But I think once you actually learn a lot of steps so you can form pretty dances – you get to enjoy it more.
N: That sounds amazing. Makes me want to go on a ballet class! Now, when you’re obviously older and more advanced, is it hard to be a ballet dancer?
L: Um, it takes a lot of dedication and practice. It’s not the type of thing that you’ve learnt once and you just know it, like for example, with knowing a word – you can say it once and you know it for the rest of your life. It’s not that simple when it comes to ballet. You have to keep going, because you can do the step, but if the technique’s not right then it’s not going to look good. And I feel ballet is the most competitive dance you can have.
N: Yeah. Now, when you’ve learnt that dedication is really important for your dance trainings, do you also think that it helped you in your life?
L: Yeah, totally. Because I’ve been doing it since the age of 4, two – three times a week, I had to balance my school work (because it was compulsory!) and ballet alongside all the time. It teaches you self-discipline, how to manage your time. It’s been a massive help, cause I think I am ready for whatever is there to come.
N: Do you think it connects: being a girl and a ballet dancer? Does it take dedication? Today there is a lot of sexism around us. Have you ever experienced it in your life?
L: I remember a slight remark, but in a jokey way. I used to work as a waitress, there was one more girl, surrounded by boys. They all used to say like “Oh, you woman’s place is at home” and so on, but in a jokey way. I haven’t experienced it in a serious manner. But it’s kind of different when it comes for example to going out and the way you dress. There is like a lot to say. Especially for a girl, when you’re in the club, having fun, and then alcohol makes people more confident, so the confidence pushes them more. Sometimes it’s really uncomfortable for girls, you don’t know how drunk they are, you don’t want them to turn aggressive. I think the way you dress doesn’t mean that you want to be approached. I feel like fashion is the way of expressing yourself, your personality. If you want to wear shorts and deep neckline – go for it. Just be you. It takes dedication.
N: Talking about fashion now, tell me about your inspirations when it comes to dressing.
L: When I was about 14, if you looked in my wardrobe – all you could see was white, pink, frills – everywhere. I was always a huge fan of fashion. I used to go shopping with my friends and I would buy this cute top and they would be like “Lil, you’ve got the exactly same one in your wardrobe”. But I knew it wasn’t true, it was a different type! I’ve always been a massive girly girl. But then I think as I got older, even though I’m still very girly when it comes to fashion, I’m ready to try different things. I feel like this now, I would have never worn these check trousers, I don’t know. I still love pink, white – it’s me in colours, basically. But now I’m a bit more confident to experiment, choosing different styles and combine them.
N: Do you think it can be related with the way you feel more confident about your dance technique and then you’re also more confident as a person?
L: Yeah, so I believe dance is the way of expressing yourself, like fashion is. It’s definitely related with the choices I make and the person I am today. When dance is more a way to express your feelings, fashion lets you express your personality. I do feel confident when I’m dancing. But I also always think that if you don’t look your best, you just don’t feel your best. The way I dress helps me with feeling good. Knowing that you look nice, makes you feel nice.
N: That’s great! Ok, Lil. Thank you for your time and story!
L: Thank you! I really enjoyed it! It was so much fun to take part in your project!
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