I’ve had a whirlwind 18 months of makeovers, wardrobe changes and photo shoots as a Yorkshire mature model! Here’s some of my favourite modelling memories so far – and a glimpse behind the scenes of a photoshoot…
We all need a break in life. Someone who has your back, someone who wants to support you, someone who sees a spark of something. My stroke of luck came when I met Andrea Denniss of Pink Lily Photography. And it led to my career change as a mature model.
Andrea introduced me to Yorkshire fashion label Copper & White, owned by Claire Morris. Claire was looking for another model for her online autumn collection, and she took a chance on me as a new model. I will always be hugely grateful for this.
The location for my first-ever modelling shoot was Claire’s house. It was a beautiful setting, with spacious contemporary rooms that were a perfect backdrop for the Spanish inspired collection.
But even after 15 years in front of the camera as a TV chef, food stylist and presenter, I found it a little bit unnerving. Here I was trying to be a Yorkshire mature model. Hello imposter syndrome!
Lights, camera, action
Having your hair and make-up done for a shoot is such a pampering session – but there’s also lots of preparation. All the clothes have to be sorted, steamed and allocated to the models depending on individual colouring, shape and size. It’s been a revelation getting to try on so many different styles, instead of always homing-in on what I think suits me.
When Andrea arrived on this first shoot, she was full of her usual infectious energy. She began by checking out what she needed as backdrop. Like most photographers, she loves natural light. So, I often find myself outside trying not to let my teeth chatter whilst trying to smile and pose!
Once the camera is clicking, it’s a pretty slick operation as we Yorkshire models ‘strut our stuff’. At the Copper & White shoots, Andrea takes several shots for each outfit, requiring you to adopt different twists and turns, smiles and sometimes pouts!
It’s not easy finding your way into the modelling world and as a late starter – or as a mature model. But it’s a question of keeping your ear to the ground and grabbing opportunities.
One such occasion arose when my son Ed and daughter Sarah brought me a photo shoot at Brussels Street Studio in Leeds for my 70th birthday. By happy coincidence, the photographer Stevie Cockram was also working on The Meatless Farm advertising campaign. And after my shoot, he asked me if I’d like to audition as the Meatless team were looking for a mature model with silver hair. A few weeks later, I found myself back in the studio with the creative team – having my hair and make-up done!
My hair was given a few tweaks with some tongs to give it a bit of a “senior lady” curl effect. Then it was over to Trudy Fielding, the fantastic stylist, to create the desired look. Trudy specialises in vintage and I loved the look she created.
Putting on a performance
The Meatless Farm shoot was all very buzzy and friendly, and it felt good to be back in a studio setting with everyone ready for action. I’ve always loved a good bit of teamwork.
The creative team had obviously come up with a cheeky campaign, so the pressure was on for me to perform. After a few test shots the food arrived. First up were the Meatless Farm sausages, then a burger. It was all about facial expression to communicate what the team were after – and once I saw the finished result, I understood their directions completely.
As I left the studio, one of the creative team said: “see you on the billboard”. I replied: ‘yeah, right!” But it was true. I couldn’t believe it when I saw myself as my alter ego Granny Annie on billboards in Leeds, Birmingham, Hammersmith and Cardiff!
I am really loving working as a mature Yorkshire model in my 70s. I’ve met so many new people, who have become friends, and it’s opened up a whole new creative world. My shoots have just been in Yorkshire so far, but my bag and bikini are packed ready to jet off anywhere an opportunity might pop up!
Check out my latest shoots via my Gallery page.