BMA: the organisation behind the International Shooting Days
Get in touch!

Shooting Days

Home » Shooting Days » List of events » Le Mans, 16-20 may 2012

This time, we organised a photoshoot event in Le Mans, home of one of the photographers who were working with us at that moment. Instead of inviting models and photographers to our place, we wanted to go out and look for other opportunities.

We arrived the 16th of May late in the afternoon. We tried to contact the local french models who registered with us via, the low grade french equivalent of Model Mayhem (french people don't understand a single word of english). Only one of the 15 models that we contacted (in french, of course) took the time to answer us. He was a professional model and was invited for a stay in Belgium for an shooting session for a belgian agency.

We work with both amateur and professional models, but we decided to postpone the shooting with him to a later date. The difference of style between the french models and him was too excessive and it would have been be an awfull experience, both for him and for us.

Le Mans, May 16-20

17 may
and Vivoin

Before we rented the house, i looked at Google Street View to see if it could be a nice region for the photoshoots. Vivoin, where the house was located was a really nice typical french place with it's local “bar tabac” (no equivalence in other countries). It's some sort of shop where you can buy tabacco products, drink and eat something. This bar tabac was also a small shop with diary products and a local post office.

Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, nice place, but we gouldn't get to the water.

The nearby village was Beaumont-sur-Sarthe. Looking at the Google Street View images, we tought we could make a photoshoot nearby the water of the river Sarthe, but practically it was impossible to go to nearby the water.

The only french models that were present were very low class. They behaved like children and didn't apprehend the teaching we gave them (how to pose, and so on). They were just a bunch of guys picked together at the local disco (indeed: they were disco-mates). They stayed without any contact with the belgian models (but did always empy the fridge whenever we did the shopping). They didn't speak a single wordt of english (i'm very fluent in french, it's my mother tongue, but those international shootings are english events). After 4 days of shooting, they didn't learn anything, they were still as uneducated as the day they arrived. Those are the people who voted for François Hollande hoping he would save the country, not realising that they are the problem (only one of them seemed to have a job). During chat sessions in french, they were not able to write a single word correctly. I'm still wondering what they have done for 12 years at school.

It's was very difficult to work with this closed group and asocial group, and i don't have any picture i'm proud of. When we pick up the models, we try to get people from different social classes, countries and cultures. This is what makes those Shooting Days so interesting. But somehow the local photographer was not able to find the right mix of models. I assumed he only looked at what was left in the gutter.

The language problem is not only a french problem: when we work with german models, they seem to assume that the international photographers will speak german (a disadvantage of simultanous translation on television: they all assume that the world is speaking their language). You are not an international model if you can't speak at least english.

For photographers interested to work with french models, be aware: they are the most unmotivated people in the world. They forget their appointment, not realising that they give a very bad impression (to say the least). When we do shootings in France, it's easier to get belgian, dutch or german models, that to get local people.

We walked to Vivoin in the evening. A nice and typical french place. We make a photoshoot by the street lighting. No need to use a powerfull flash if you have a ƒ/1.4 lens. The village is completely dead in the evening. Most young people are leaving the countryside, the houses are unkept, some are on sale. The countryside is dying and nobody is noticing.


18 may

Today, we go to Bretagne. Erik, one of the photographer makes a typical english breakfast with eggs and bacon. The french are not used to such a breakfast (they only drink a coffee), but it's the only real meal they'll get during the day. That's the only thing they seem to have learned in those days, and the next day they put their morning sandwiches in a plastic bag.

There is a new french model present and he doesn't belong to the disco-group. It's quite difficult to plan a good shooting with him when the children are still around. Being under age, he thinks that the other french models are the norm. NOT! Look at the belgian models!

We go to Saint Malo. It's a garrison town dating back from the wars with England. It's impossible to find a parking place in town, all the french seem to have planned an holiday at the beach.

The shootings are done at the Ile Grand-Bé, one of the islands that can be visited at low tide. In this region, the tide rises very quickly, the coast of Normandie and Bretagne acting as a geant funnel, amplifiyng the oceanic tidal wave. While the tide is 6 meter in Belgium and 8 meters in the Pas-de Calais region, here it's 15 meters. There is a tidal power plant on the river Rance nearby.

The sea level is rising quite rapidly, one says that the speed of the tide is comparable of that of an galopping horse. We have to quit the island, and the water level is rinsing while we run back to the beach. Less than one hour later, the island is completely isolated.

The weather is not fine, but cold and windy. The french photographer who joined us is some sort of nightclub photographer (that's where he got his models). He's not able to make the models pose correctly. That's not what the models are looking for, when they drive 600 km from Belgium. Some people like the disco-pictures, but those pictures have no artistic value whatsoever.

The french photographer stays nearby one of the belgiam photographers and use his models and poses. He's able to post the pictures directly on facebook, so when our belgian photographers have the time to publish their photos, you'd think they imitated the french photographer, but it's quite the opposite.

The resident photographers of BMA (Belgium Model Academy) are used to work together. One would expect that they would produce the same sort of pictures, but that's not true. Each photographer uses other settings, other accessoiries, other lightning equipment. Afterwards, the pictures are post-processed differently, so the models get completely different pictures from one single shoot. And of course we don't publish pictures where we used the settings of another photographer. We use those pictures for our learning (one is never too old to learn new tricks).

The next place is the Mont Saint-Michel. It's one of the places that one must have seen, like the Tour Eiffel in Paris or the Mannenken-pis in Brussels. The Mont Saint-Michel was a monastery build on a rock in the sea. Access to the Mont was only possible by boat. But as times flies by, the sand level is slowly rising and the Mont is never quite isolated from the country anymore. The rising of the sand level is a phenomenom that also affects the tidal power plant, with a production drop of 1% each year.

The place is fine from the shore, but inside it's just an bunch of small constructions build without any plan. It's just a place full of tourists asking themselves what the fuck they are doing at this godforsaken place.


19 may

The belgian models do their daily fitness routine in the attic using their iPod. The french models do nothing. I take pictures.

At that time, all the models had to pay a small fee in advance, to be sure they wouldn't forget the appointment. It was a very small fee (10€/day) and it didn't cover the expenses. Whiel the belgian models had no trouble paying the fee, the situation was completely different with the french models. They didn't have any money with them and the french photographer didn't have informed them of the contribution they had to pay. To be precise: nobody had enough money to pay for the stay (only 30€), and the french photographer was not willing to make an advance payment. And afterwards (more than 6 months later), the models paid the french photographer, but he didn't transfer the money to our account.

But they eat all day long and didn't leave anything for the belgiam models (even specially-bought yogurt for one of the belgian models who needed a special sort of diet) But paying their due? No way!

The belgian photographers of BMA decide not to process the pictures untill the money is present on the account. There is areally strange atmosphere full of distrust and i don't like it. The french people sit at the table, not deciding anything. The belgiam models and photographers do a shooting in the attic, and three hours later, the french are still sitting at the table, having decided nothing.

One of the last shootings was in Saint-Léonard-des-Bois. It begins to rain and we go back. Again, the french go sitting at the table, not deciding anything (they have to leave this evening). The meal purchases are still in the trunk of the car, i'm waiting for the french to leave.

One of the key ingredients of the Shooting Days is the going out on the last day of the shootings. It's great to make fun the last day and the models can sleep in the car while we are driving back to Belgium. But none of us has any motivation to bring the models to a nearby disco. The belgians (models and photographers) were really pissed of by the french.

20 may

The french leaved the house late in the evening. They had hoped for a last meal. Close, but no cigar (and no meal of course). Nice house without the french, i didn't realise that until the louzy french were away.

We do a last fotoshoot in the house and wait for the owner to pick up the keys. The models and photographers are discussing: this was the last time we worked with this french photographer. He was not able to find decent models. He was not able to organise his fare of the shootings, relying on the settings of other photographers. He was not able to mend his models. He was not able to collect the dues of the french models (and didn't pay his due). And at last, he was not able to decide when to leave.

On the way back we made a stop at the Baie de la Somme (Le Crotoy) to look for shooting locations. It's a nice place, but the location is some 200km of our normal locations in the Pas-de-Calais.

Google pages selection that could be of some interest to you