by Stuart Wood Published 01/08/2015
It's not everyday that you get an offer of spending a week in a mysterious location with a beautiful and glamorous lady, but just before last Christmas I was given the opportunity to do just that when I was commissioned to travel to Moscow to shoot the fabulous Joanna Lumley for the ITV travel documentary Trans Siberian Railway.
As the famous train finishes it's journey in the Russian capital, I was to work with Joanna and the film crew over the course of a some days from their arrival at some unpronounceable snowy Moscow railway station and then follow her adventures as she discovered this beguiling city.
My thoughts that this was not a bad way to finish off a pretty good year, were temporarily suspended when upon landing in Russia at 4am, I was completely ripped off by a taxi driver while attempting to get to my hotel as quickly as possible, in order to be ready to meet the train and begin shooting at 10.30am!
Still, my Russian education proved much more pleasant for the rest of my stay due to the wonderful and fascinating city that I found myself in and being expertly escorted through it by my guide/interpreter/assistant and now good friend, Georgiy, whom I had sourced through my lovely Russian friend, Anna, back in London.
Through my good friends at The Flash Centre, I had arranged to hire an Elinchrom Ranger location flash and a soft-box from their Moscow agents, Marco Pro, but as the agent did not open until 10am and I needed to meet the swiftly arriving train somewhere else at 10.30am, I decided to shoot Joanna's arrival with reflector and daylight only, packing a speedlight 'just in case'. As the snow started to fall and provided a beautiful and natural reflector anyway, I actually did not need much help to balance the light, as we shot Joanna arriving against a train that stretched into the distance, seemingly forever.
Georgiy and I then arranged to leave Joanna and the film crew while they checked into the hotel and arranged to meet them later in Red Square.
It was then that a new and dangerous adversary entered the arena. The Moscow traffic !
We spent SO long travelling out to Marco Pro to get our Elinchrom location flash and then back again to Red Square, that we got to know our Armenian taxi driver so well (due in no small part to Georgiy's expert interpreting skills) and he liked me so much, that he gave me his lunch consisting of beautiful home made bread baked by his wife and complete with beef cooked in butter, all of which was thankfully and utterly delicious considering I was quietly informed by Georgiy that our large Armenian friend would be highly insulted if I did not eat it!
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