Sunday's Shoot - Aspen

Days like today are why the saying, "You win some, you lose some," is muttered. On what looked like such a promising day at an awesome location with one of the site's most popular models, things just never seemed to go right. It wasn't a total waste, by any means, but in my mind I just saw things going differently.

I met Aspen at 1:00 p.m. and we made our way to Harpers Ferrry - a historic town in West Virginia. I picked this location the night before after browsing some photos online and seeing an abundance of unique locations. What I failed to do, however, was research exactly where you have to go once you get there. Parking in the town area was all permit based and we ended up driving back to a visitors center/park about a mile and half away. I say back because we originally drove into this area to start, but I didn't realize the town is part of the park itself. Once Aspen and I figured out the situation, we paid to park and rode the shuttle bus into the town.

Now that we were situated, we walked around for a few minutes eyeing up potential shoot locations. We saw a few spots the night before online as well as some on our search, no, quest for parking earlier that we had liked. I, however, wanted to try one called Jefferson Rock. From Jefferson Rock you can look out over sections of the town and the Shenandoah River, but what I didn't realize was that in order to get there you need to walk up countless steps on the side of a hill. Of course I'd pick the hardest spot to get to.

Once we finally got to the top we took a small breather and looked around. We honestly saw maybe two other people on the long journey to the top, so we assumed we might not have too many tourists around. Well, that was surely not the case at all.

Aspen posing by Jefferson Rock.

A few people were already at Jefferson Rock when we arrived, but they quickly left. We started shooting and after only 10 photos, a few older couples came up. They spread out over the entire area taking photos. With the sunlight strong to the one side of the mountain, we only had one direction we could shoot. Of course, these couples were all over the background. I know I've said many times that I don't mind doing shoots in public, but when people are lingering less than 10 feet away, I generally pause. So we did.

Our pause ended up turning into a long wait. More and more people kept coming up and no one was leaving. It was getting quite crowded. We couldn't even really try to shoot if we had wanted to because the few key spots were all full of people. 

After about 15-20 minutes, most of the people began to finally leave. I told Aspen to sit up on the closest rock grouping and begin kicking her sandals off. I shot quickly and actually kept shooting with others coming up. But before long, there was dozens of people crawling all over the spot once more. We sat back down and waited to see if we'd catch another break in tourists.

We only had to wait about 10 minutes this time as the last group in our way left. I told Aspen to lay on her stomach this time for some pose shots. I began snapping away again and sure enough, more people came.

Aspen and I stayed on the rock this time. I was trying to see if people would not linger if we were taking up one of the interesting locations. It seemed to work for a few minutes. We shot several more, but when people began climbing right on the same rocks we were on, I put the camera down. 

We tried to wait, but I decided to just call the shoot off at this point. We had burned too much time as it was and only had about 35-40 pictures to show for it. I told Aspen this set will probably be posted as a bonus set one week as I like my sets to be around 50 photos.

We made our way down the stairs and Aspen made a quick stop to change - doing so in a public place too. That should have been the second shoot, but I left her to her privacy behind a stone wall.

Once we were off the mountain we made our way over to the train trestle. I had been wanting to use this area since the night before. There were numerous benches and rocks we could use to shoot and much more space to spread out - should we run into the same issue as we did on Jefferson Rock. But low and behold, this is where we ran into yet another issue.

Since we wasted so much time up on Jefferson Rock the sun had moved, leaving the places where Aspen could sit pose in a splotchy mess of bright spots and shadows. With so many trees, the sun just didn't have a ton of space to come through. Of course, it was lit much better earlier on when we were walking around for shoot locations.

With this dilemma now before me I decided to try a few shots in the shady area. I find shooting where there is bright light and dark shadows to be almost impossible. Liking the background better from the shade, we gave it a try and it didn't look bad. After about half a dozen photos, however, the sun began poking more and more through the area we were using creating that splotchy mess of shadows and light I explained above. Even though we were a few photos in, I decided to move over to some rocks just under the trestle.

Aspen in front of the train trestle.

These rocks really limited Aspen's ability to pose. I never like sitting my models right in grass or on the ground. I like for them to be able to interact with things like benches, rocks, walls, etc. Furthermore, the trestle really wasn't shown as well from these rocks as the previous shady spot. At this point, however, I didn't care. I needed to do some photos and we pushed forward.

We didn't have a ton of time with only a few shuttle bus departures left in the evening, so I shot quickly. I had Aspen pull her off her sandals in the first few and then show off those adorable soles. I made sure to get in some shots of those metallic toes too, so you toe fans, don't worry. I really liked the polish she was wearing and thought it worked well with the kind of backgrounds we were using.

After shooting a full set at this location we made our way to the nearby bus stop. Aspen told me she wanted me to give her a foot rub while we waited for the bus. All the benches were full, so we found a spot to sit on the other side of the bus loop. The moment Aspen had her sandals off, however, the bus was pulling in and I didn't even get to spend time rubbing her feet. With all the other struggles today, it only made sense to strike out there too.

Even though this day didn't go as planned (sorry @FootToons), Aspen and I will be planning some more shoots before she goes back to school in September. There are still a number of older sets of Aspen I haven't posted as well as the ones previewed here. Just the thought of that makes me feel better!