Whilst I’d been having a great time exploring Ayutthaya, as the day wore on my thoughts increasingly turned toward my evening plans.
Over the past 12 months I’d been exploring portrait photography more and more and the opportunity to shoot a model whilst I was in Thailand had worked its way into my head. ‘Nelly’ (modelling name, Tegoshimiwa) had sent me a Facebook request couple of years before and although we’d never actually communicated, she was the first my thoughts turned to when I had decided I wanted to try a shoot.
I’d arranged to meet her at about 6.30pm. My plan was to explore the city streets at night and see what we could create amongst all the neon. It nearly got off to the worst start! I’d anticipated getting back from Ayutthaya at around 3-4pm that day. However, I hadn’t known we were visiting Bang Pa-In Palace (my fault for not reading the tour itinerary!) and I also hadn’t counted on the Bangkok traffic. As the minutes ticked by I realised I was likely to be late and I had no easy way of contacting her! Somehow, we rolled up to my hotel with a couple of minutes to spare. I sprinted to my room, grabbed my things and headed back down to the lobby – Nelly was waiting for me with a big smile on her face. Phew!
I had no real plan for the shoot … literally to work our way down to Soi Cowboy (a notorious red light district with a huge amount of neon lighting) and stop wherever we saw shooting potential. It turned out to be a really tough shoot. Firstly, I was still very much in the infancy of working with people. Secondly, although I have good glass (a 50mm 1.4) my camera itself is entry level and really struggles with low light. I had to frequently push to ISO’s of 1600 and 3200 and really paid the price in noise.
We finally reached Soi Cowboy where we experienced yet another problem I hadn’t anticipated when booking the shoot several weeks earlier. King Bhumibol the Great had very sadly passed away a few weeks before and the Thai people were in mourning. As a mark of respect, the street (although open) had turned off its famous lighting. This meant my plans for the finale didn’t really work, though we did try to take a couple of shots using available light from the nearby bars and my Manfrotto Lumie Art.
I don’t have a lot of shots to share, but I’m pleased with what we got. I didn’t have anything like it in my portfolio at all at the time.
Nelly is a terrific model, who was friendly and extremely professional. She speaks perfect English and is highly intelligent and creative. I enjoyed shooting with her so much that we kept in touch and shot again on my 2017 trip. I’ll blog that shoot in due course!
If you’re ever in Bangkok and looking for a fashion model, then she comes highly recommended from me.