I like couple shoots
Sorry… ‘we’ like couple shoots but I have come to realise that the success of a day, or not for that matter, is dependent on 2 factors. The Scottish weather will always provide an unpredictable level of excitement that is directly proportionate to Koalas use of ‘colonial’ language on the lead up to a shoot! Secondly… and the often overlooked, is the relative enthusiasm of the male in a couple. Invariably, our enquiries are made by women, perhaps looking for a romantic image, that captures the love, or drama, of a relationship. Certainly in my experience, the guy hasn’t been the one driven to contact us after watching the second series of Outlander or harbouring a secret collection of romantic images from Scottish shortbread tins! No, it is generally the lady who makes the approach and ‘suggests’ that the idea to spend the day with an excited Koala and a cynical Yorkshireman.. is actually his favoured choice of Highland pastime.
This is not an exact science by any means and yes Koala will always produce stunning images, but these two variables will ultimately decide the outcome and final placing on my successful day-out chart… and the relative animation of Koala. Tonight there was more of a furrow of her furry brow.
Factor number 1
The weather had turned and become more…well.. Scottish! The tropical summer that we had enjoyed over the previous weeks had disappeared. Ironically, Koala hadn’t been quite as happy with the comparable meteorology to her Eucalyptus growing homeland and had often vented her frustration over the ‘blue sky days’ with a rain dance. It had duly delivered and wet weather was inbound for Glencoe. I blamed her and wondered if she had picked up some Outback weather sorcery, that one time she was exploring in the bush…?
Eirinn and Joe were also inbound, from New York State on a honeymoon visit to Eirinn’s family a week after their wedding. We were taking them to the Highlands tomorrow for their wedding portrait. It could rain…
Success factor number 2
Joe is a construction worker….. from New York… being made to wear a kilt… probably in the rain!? I internally questioned his ‘enthusiasm variable’. Just married… perhaps eager to please his new bride? Maybe a little cajoled into getting post wedding photographs in romantic Scotland, when all he really wanted to do was sit round a pool in Mexico? With a beer.. in the sun.. Was this a perfect storm..? Bad weather and a reluctant male?? Should we cancel now? Was I overthinking this?
Koala checked her Met Office App while I packed a yellow hard hat and the bottle of Jura Malt Whisky. Joe is sure to like his liquor.. and appropriate safety equipment!? Was I being presumptuous…making a stereotype judgement? I had already assumed that the male of the couple was a success factor?! The male? Or is it the man of the couple… was that ok to say? …what about same sex couples? Oh I don’t know.. Maybe it was the man that wanted a non tradition wedding photo? Maybe Joe wanted to wear a kilt? Was I being discriminatory? I didn’t think I discriminated… My balder brow furrowed now and I questioned my correctness.
I did once assume that Koala was sent to the colonies for stealing chickens..but that was put down to my ignorance and the error of judgement was duly corrected!! Who knew that some Victorians actually chose to emigrate??! I was consumed with self doubt while Koala swiped between her comparable weather apps. We looked to each other for reassurance, both unaware of our individual internal struggles.
It was 8pm and we… well she, needs to make a decision. To cancel or not to cancel
We drew straws and the Mountain Weather UK app won. It agreed with the Met Office, was vaguely similar to Yahoo Weather and completely contradicted my Accuweather. Koala smiled …annoyingly. There was a natty radar video on the MWUK app showing the movement north of the low front.. it should miss the western Highlands in the morning. Decision made. I like this app. We would pick them up at 5.30 to get to Glencoe for the short period of ‘less rain’ before a longer period of ‘more rain’ that it had forecast for later in the morning. Hang on… 5.30…in the am..! Perhaps we could check that forecast again?
4.30am came.. and Koala brought me my mug of tea. It was her usual routine that attempted to pacify my early morning reluctance to participate in any form of activity. I had seen through her but secretly enjoyed the tradition.. as I prised my eyes open. It was dry and the sun rose over Dundee. The Met Office was right so far… and so was Koala… again. The success factor gauge moved encouragingly as we arrived to pick up Eirinn and Joe.
They were ready and waiting… stood excitedly waving, wedding dress and kilt clutched like packed lunches on a school trip. It was still only 6.00am! I hadn’t really woke yet… or had a coffee. They obviously had..or maybe this was jet lag hysteria?? Or perhaps it was just being…. ‘just married’ and they were actually… excited! They were just married and up for a day of adventure with us.. regardless of the weather! Eirinn was keen to show off her native Scotland and her enthusiasm was infectious. I smiled as we drove and she excited relived her trips to the countryside to her husband. No need to worry. I love couple shoots.
We headed westward on our mini road trip
Joe actually was excited… maybe he did have a shortbread tin collection after all!? He loved the stonework of the rural villages; the walls and buildings of the countryside. Aspects of the landscape that we perhaps take for granted as we regularly drive the familiar A85. I notice them again and hear myself become some kind of construction tour guide, extolling the virtues of the red sandstone and the beauty of grey granite! I wouldn’t be caught out today with questions about puffins.. oh no.. Joe and I were on the same geek page… we both appreciated the construction of bridges. There was a book to write and ‘Bridge Porn’ was born! Watch this space.. once we iron out the misinterpretation of the title and maybe not use ‘naked ladies playing cards’ as the sleeve cover!
Back to factor 2
Joe’s enthusiasm was never in doubt. He strode proudly out of the toilet towards us in the car park at the Glen Coe ski centre now dressed in his kilted finery. The heads of the assembled climbers and mountain bikers collectively turned and nodded in appreciative approval. Eirinn looked on with a proud celtic heart, herself dressed elegantly in her wedding dress, but perhaps a little surreally placed among the hobbit houses. Eirinn and Joe were an absolute pleasure to spend the day with and it was a privilege to share their honeymoon adventure with them. This was a couple shoot for us, but it was more than that… these were their wedding photographs and we were part of creating that memory for them. I was feeling sentimental and considered a fluffy rewrite of my website blurb for the couple shoots.
The weather as predicted by the Met Office wasn’t entirely correct… but the man of the couple was indeed enthusiastic! Does this mean we only have a 50% success rating? I pondered the validity of my success factors.
How do we really gauge the success of a shoot?
Well.. we had got wet. We hadn’t managed to climb to the top of the mountain. The dress had survived and we had laughed all day. I had mastered drapery arrangement and discovered that blackcurrants are indeed banned in the US and Eirinn could really have been a model but I also realised that I wasn’t prejudiced… to construction workers.. even if they drank undiluted Ribena and like Spanish pop music? I reflected on the day with a suitable Trappist Beer and came to realise that there are more variables to a successful photo shoot than I had first thought. It is not just about the weather or the man, there will always be some rainy days and yes the man may sometimes rather be watching the footie, but that’s just life. Success relies on enthusiasm, flexibility, the fun and passion of the couple as a whole, even on the dullest days. These are the success factors that will not only translate to the final image but also, and more importantly, to the success of the relationship of the couple involved. I took another sip of my Duvel Triple Hop… good stuff this!
So…. all things considered and pending our Google review, our day of adventure in the Highlands was indeed a great success. I smiled at Koala and appreciated our success factors. Not only had we had made new friends, we may even have managed to get a few snaps along the way too!?