Running Bare - part 3 of 1 2 3

Published 01/09/2006


Customers at Burned House Lane, Preesall pay a booking fee, which is refunded in full when they turn up. And there is no pressure to buy anything.

"The work sells itself," says Aggie, "We don't hard-sell. We never have to."

The 'cowshed' experimented with digital in 2001and the business was fully converted two years later.

"The tipping point for us was when we realised the quality we were getting back from the labs from the medium-format Hasselblad was no better than that from the new digital SLRs."

Aggie is a believer in 'honest' photography - not too much Photoshop manipulation.

"I don't mind deleting a few crow's feet here and there," she admits, "but I believe it's important to stay real. If you don't then what you are producing isn't photography, it's graphic art."

Earlier this year Aggie was approached by the Blackpool branch of the Women's Running Network to shoot (for no fee) a 2007 calendar - 'Women Running Bare.'

She explains: "It's a similar idea to the now famous 'Calendar Girls' story...but this time it's about women who are literally running out of clothes!" The ladies want to raise money for a cancer charity and aim to sell 10,000 calendars at £8.50 a time.

Says Aggie: "I thought we might have trouble with egos but I was wrong. None of the girls had any modelling experience - and let's face it, it's a very big thing to start taking your clothes off in public. But they did it. Time was critical. Many were very shy and wanted it done as fast as one of the biggest challenges was getting them to relax. It was really as much to do with people skills as it was photography."

The brief required Aggie to illustrate the multifarious aspects of the running discipline, so she worked with the running group's Blackpool branch organiser, Tricia Ellis, to source appropriate locations; a running track, a wooded glade, a beach, even a swimming pool (swimming helps build stomach muscles, which help develop running skills).

She says, "The women came from all walks of life; one was a civil servant, one a medical secretary, one worked at Sainsbury's, another was a bank clerk, another, a cook."


Aggie knew she had to make the shots work first time so she summoned all the runners to her studio for a special 'calming session' before the shoots started.

"I'd say this was one of the most difficult shoots I've ever attempted," she confesses. "Some of the runners were literally shaking with fear and trepidation. We spent a long time talking through their angst. And it wasn't just the challenge of calming the women down. On each of the location portraits I had to get the timing right to take advantage of available natural light. But the women did everything I asked of them. They were brilliant".

She recalls, "The only question mark in the whole shoot was on Blackpool beach at 4 am one morning. I thought we'd have the beach to ourselves but we were 'stalked' by some guy in an anorak who seemed to have a very unhealthy interest in the shoot."

Aggie's 'Miss October' won a merit award in the SWPP June 2006 judging.

She says: "I was delighted to win an award for one of the calendar images. The sad fact is that so many competitions judged by men would have marginalised these women for failing to have the stereotypical bodies that male society has been conditioned to see in 'beauty contests' and on the pages of Vogue magazine. For me the aim of photographing these women was to show them at their best, displaying fitness, beauty and strength of character."

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1st Published 01/09/2006
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