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24-hour charity shootafon at Festival Studio

22 Aug 2015

A ride on the number 22 bus took me to Leigh Beck at the far western end of Canvey Island. With ten minutes to kill, I had a look around. Some people were taking to the water at Island Yacht Club; anglers idly attended their lines at the seawall; a placard remembered an aircraft collision from 1944. Yet none of this had drawn me here. I’d come for the 24-hour charity marathon photo shoot at nearby Festival Studio.

Starting at 2pm on Saturday 15 August, the event was a fund-raiser for Alzheimer’s Society. It would be the first of its kind organised by the studio. Photographers paid a flat fee of £50 and could shoot for as long as they wanted during the 24-hours, having access to all manner of technical accessories and props throughout. All the models would be volunteers. Hot food was available at a small cost. All in all, a great idea.


I’d been invited by Amanda of Feel Good Painted, along with fellow models Mimi-Jo and Emma, to be body painted as superheroes and villains. Mimi-Jo would be Poison Ivy, Emma would be Wonder Woman, and I would be Venom. We met at 2:30pm to unpack everything we needed in the make-shift dressing room that had been assigned to us… the studio’s ladies toilet.

Happily the room was spotless and odourless. Little did we know, from that moment we would be working there for around seven hours. This may sound a long while but body painting is always a time consuming business, and Amanda would be working solo on three of us. She began with just face make-up for Mimi-Jo, enabling Mimi-Jo to get some early photos taken before more extensive decoration was applied.

© Stephen Roissy Photographer – model: Mimi-Jo

Next came my turn. I was to be painted on face, neck, torso – front and back – arms and hands. Use of black leggings meant the paintwork could stop at my waist. Even so, it took us fully four hours to complete just my upper-half, topped off with a black-painted swimming hat. We started by airbrushing around a spider template on my chest, then painting Venom’s gaping jaw on my face and neck.

Feel Good Painted

© Feel Good Painted

© Feel Good Painted

More black paint was sponged upon my back and arms, and brushed round the giant white eyes on my face. The spider on my chest was painted white and then given an extra layer of ultraviolet paint. More UV white and colour was added to Venom’s eyes, teeth and lolling crimson tongue. My arms were given a scaly effect and, finally, long claw-like nails were glued to my finger tips. Time for a cup of a tea.

© Feel Good Painted

© Feel Good Painted

© Feel Good Painted

After a long patient wait, it was then Emma’s turn. She put on her Wonder Woman briefs and socks, her long curled hair and tiara, and – perhaps not part of the original costume – nipple covers. Amanda painted a red and gold corset with matching gold cuffs. When Mimi-Jo returned she put on green leafy nipple covers and briefs, bright red hair and boots, and was painted with ivy leaves to compliment her leaf tattoos.

© Feel Good Painted – model: Emma

We were ready. At last we could join in the shoots that had been going on all around us. It was now close to 10pm and getting chillier outside; we’d been semi-naked and on our feet for most of the day. My main discomfort, however, was the swimming hat that crushed my ears and head. After a 10-minute pause while a black backdrop was manoeuvred into place, our shoot began in earnest.

© Feel Good Painted – model: Emma

© Feel Good Painted – model: Mimi-Jo

We posed for at least a dozen photographers. Each took a turn to enter the shooting space and photograph us individually, in pairs and all three together. Wisely Amanda had deliberately not painted my torso solid black, which meant my body was more visible than it might otherwise have been against a solid black backdrop. I’d become quite fond of my claws and tried to make the most of them when posing.

© Jan Marshall Photography

© Jan Marshall Photography

© Jan Marshall Photography

© Jan Marshall Photography – model: Mimi-Jo

© Jan Marshall Photography – model: Emma

© Kevin Clow Photography

© Kevin Clow Photography

© Kevin Clow Photography

The set-up was changed and the photographers filed back one at a time to capture me under ultraviolet light. This presented them with a far greater challenge as the camera settings were unfamiliar and exposure times considerably longer, which in turn meant I had to remain perfectly still. Nonetheless some effective images were captured. This sequence of photos rounded off my evening.

© Charles Merry Photography

© Jan Marshall Photography

Two solar-powered shower bags had been provided for us by the studio, but with so much paint applied and with sun having long since set, it was sadly not practical to use them before going home. Instead we packed away and, whilst Mimi-Jo went the distance, Amanda, Emma and I decided to call it a night. I got a lift as far as the end of my street then walked the rest of the way home… still wearing my Venom face.

© Feel Good Painted

It wasn’t long after the event came to an end – at 2pm on the Sunday – that the first images were shared of other models who we had not been able to see working at the time. Some fine photography and make-up, styling and posing has already emerged. I’m sure many more strong works will be posted over the coming days. I apologise to models and photographers omitted from the tiny selection I’ve reproduced below.

© Jan Marshall Photography – model: Tina Massacre

© Jan Marshall Photography – model: Lou Heart

© Stephen Birch Photography – model: Mimi-Jo

© Stephen Birch Photography – model: David

© Charles Merry Photography – model: Layla Smith

The consensus is that a good time was had by all. Most importantly, however, more than a thousand pounds was raised for Alzheimer’s Society. If so much money can be raised for such a worthy cause, with so much fun and useful creativity enjoyed in the process, then long may this kind of event continue. Congratulations to everyone who made it a success.

From → Art, Causes

One Comment
  1. I enjoyed this shoot so much, friendly people and a jolly good laugh! Thanks for capturing the moments perfectly. Can’t wait till the next one.

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