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The base camp of the International Shooting days of May 2017 was in Thimister (near Liège), but we went to different places. The nearby railroad station to pick up models was Welkenraedt.
One of the best International Shooting days, with 17 models present for one or more days. In the four days, i had only time to work with 5 models, being occupied getting people from the railroad station, buying food and so on. You don't organise such an event for yourself, but for the models and the other photographers.
23 may: Vogelsang and WollfeisenThe first day is not for fotoshoots with models, but to visit Vogelsang and Wollfseifen. I went there already for three times, but i never had enough time to visit the whole camp.
Vogelsang was first a german military camp (Ordensburg Vogelsang) during the second world war, then it was used by the belgian army (Camp Vogelsang) and now it's a national park (Vogelsang IP). The camp has well preserved buildings from the nazi era (and some from the fifties build by the belgiam army). All the other nazi military camps were destroyed after the war and the places were used for other purposes. Nobody wanted to be remembered that once they cheered "Heil Hitler!"
There are so much locations available for fotoshoots at Vogelsang that the second International Shooting Days of 2017 will be held at the camp. One of the military building is transformed into an hotel (K13
24 may: first models arrivingTrump is in Brussels and the whole transportation system is a complete mess, trains arriving too late, roads blocked, and so on. Most of the models arrive two hours later than expected. The planning for the shuttle between the railroad station of Welkenraedt and the house must be modified and some models must wait nearly 30 minutes for the next shuttle to come.
A fotoshoot is organised in the swimming pool with the studio flashes. It's more an experiment and the pictures are not so good. I don't like working with flashes.
We also use a smoke machine (used in discos). It works very well inside but tend to fill the whole room and you need a fan to remove the smoke from the room. The smoke machine can also be used outside if there is no wind. The very slight wind is ideal to put the smoke over the water.
25 may: Liège: University and Ile MonsinWe left the house at 10.00h, but the railroad is blocked by a massive congestion at the Cheratte traffic intersection. It's the last highway intersection build with a roundabout and it's the most dangerous place on the belgian highways. The construction of the roundaboud itself is also weird (dictated by the rugged terrain of the region): leaving the roundabout to take the E25 highway is done by driving on the center lane, not on the outer lane. When people realise they are on the wrong lane, it's too late to change course safely.
Ed Alfa, one of the photographers is coming from Antwerp and is also blocked in the congestion, but in the other direction. He organises a fotoshoot on the lorries that are blocked on the highway. We arrive at the shooting location at around 13.00h. We'll do three locations: the beginning of the university grounds (allée des érables), the main buildings and the Ile Monsin (island on the Meuse).
The first place was not so interesting anymore because all the old building we used to visit were fenced. A fotoshoot in full sunlight is not ideal and i planned to leave this place early.
The second place is more interesting, with different sorts of buildings, gardens, courtyards and so on. Our aim was to go from one place to the other so the photographers could use the different settings, but the german photographers settled on the first place and didn't move to the next places. The group was split and it was not possible for a photographer to work with all the models. This day i worked with only one model.
We know for sure that the first place of the day is not worth the visit anymore. The third place is still good, but only on the other side of the island, where the Canal Albert to Antwerp begins. This canal was used to transport coal and ore from the seaport of Antwerp to the blast furnaces and coking plants in Liège, but now most heavy industry is located near the ocean to provide an easy arrival of raw materials. The only industry left over in Liège is the metal recovery.
A fotoshoot in the swimming pool and jacuzzi is planned in the late afternoon, like nearly each day.
26 may: VogelsangI pick to models at the railroad station, and then we drive to Vogelsang. The meeting place is the petrol station of the fifties in the middle of the camp. It's nearly impossible to visit the whole site while doing fotoshoots, so i go to two different places with two models.
The evening i bring two models back to the station. The shooting days are planned in such a way that belgian models can stay for one or two days and foreign models for two or three days, but some models don't want to leave and the french models who arrive friday night need to share a room because there is no place left.
27 may: Liège: Fort de la ChartreuseWe don't need to pick up models at the railroad station, but we still need to leave in time because models and photographers are waiting at the fort (some models and photographers only come for one day). One group of models don't know the way upstairs to the fort and i need to leave the shootings to pick them up at the main road.
Each photographer picks up a model and do his shooting in a different part of the castle, so it's quite difficult to organise shifts. During the whole time i was in Chartreuse, i could only work with three models.
We'll go back to the house in small groups: some want to eat something, others just want to go back to the house. Ed the photographer who comes only for the day drives back home in the evening.
In the evening there is a fotoshoot with light strips in the garden. It must be pitch black to get good images. The lights in the fitness room are led lights and it's nearly impossible to get the correct color. The resulting images in the fitness room must be processed in B&W.
28 may: Sprimont: stone quarryBad weather is expected and some people hesitate to go to Sprimont because there is no hiding if it rains. Two extra models arrive today.
I decide to split the group: one group will stay at the house while i drive to Sprimont with the french models and one of the belgian models. The german photographers stay at the house. Sprimont is located on the way to France and the french models will not go back to the house after the shooting.
It's quite warm in Sprimont and we'll stop the shooting after two hours. We don't have anymore water (i drank 4 liters in two hours). I go back to the house for a late shoot with the last model, and then it's time to clean the mess.
There are more than 900€ of costs: one wooden garden chair is damaged and four deckchairs have traces of cigarette burns. Our insurance doesn't cover those damages: only damages caused by accidents, not intentional damages.
Thimister, may 2017
What's wrong with the models lately? They always put "respect" on their facebook profile, but don't act that way when they interact with other people. It seems that "respect" has a very narrow neaning now, only involving their own little person. Other people's belongings are not included.
In four days, the models managed to destroy the furniture, causing more than 900€ of costs. One model takes the clothes that he was using for the shooting (the clothes belong to the photographer). When one pick up his clothes to leave the house, it should be no problem to distinguish between clothes. And strangely, it's always the more expensive brands that are stolen, Levi's, G Star, not the cheap ones.
During the night from thursday to friday i smell a burning odour. The models used the sauna to dry their clothes instead of using the dryer. But the dryer was located on the other side of the house, and that was a walk too long for a model. It's a chance that i made a trip in the house at night, otherwise the whole house would have burned.
Some people invites themselves to the house. I never knew who they were. They plunge in the jacuzzi but don't ask the permission to do so. They jump in the jacuzzi with their dirty and sweaty clothes on (i was so disgusted that i never used the jacuzzi). They drink beer and seem puzzled when i ask them to leave the house.
Our aim is that models come for one or two days, and that they leave, so other models can also work with the photographers, but a model failed to leave in time and the french models had to share one room for three people. First he would leave after two days, then he "missed" the latest train, then he would leave in the morning, then his parents would pick him up, and so on.
And finally we had a model who was planned for a single day. They are no extra rooms, it's that simple, but the model contacted other models to beg for a room. I had to prove (with a facebook conversation) that i wrote "one day only", and when i removed him from the event he called me a racist (always an handy insult when you lose your argument).
Some models are really assholes, but not all of them.
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