I’m really not sure where to start with this one but Lizzie has undoubtebly rocketed into my list of favourite encounters. First of all she has a beer named after her and secondly, um … she has a beer named after her!
So … I was on a works trip visiting a brewery (High House Farm Brewery, Matfen). The format of these trips is basically to learn about the process, sample the product then socialise with your mates over a buffet. So I happily followed the tour hearing about beers such as Auld Hemp, Lizzies Dimples, Red Shap & Matfen Magic. Skipping on a bit the sampling came next and at this point I asked who "Lizzie" was (as in "Lizzies Dimples") and I was delighted to hear that it was in fact the barmaid that had served us before the tour started – she sort of acknowledged the attention but didn’t make a big deal of it. I don’t need to tell anyone that knows me that the cogs in my head were already turning at this point.
As the tour and sampling closed and my work mates started to move through to the buffet room I asked Lizzie if I could take her photo but didn’t explain why (this is my preferred approach when I think someone is going to say yes) – she smiled coyly and asked why and as with several other encounters I knew with certainty at this point that she was going to say yes and after I explained about the project she did indeed agree.
Taking a photo of Lizzie was fun in itself – I took one shot without flash on aperture priority mode and without even looking I knew it was duff (shutter speed audibly slow) so I told her that I was going to have to blind her and attached my flash on to the camera – I then took a few shots with the flash bounced off the ceiling until I got one I was happy with and showed it to Lizzie but she immediately said it looked like she had "sleep eye" in one eye and when I looked she was right and moreover all the other shots were like that too – so I tried again … and again ;). Each one the same … her eyes were partially closed every time so we reached the point that I actually told her to blink then shot immediately afterwards – I did this once and the result is the photo you see. I have never "instructed" at this level before and if Lizzie hadn’t been so comfortable and fun I doubt I would have had the confidence to do so today either but the whole encounter was just so relaxed it came easily. Writing this now I realise that I was probably experiencing the problem that I have photographing my cats in that their eyes can react quicker than my camera can cope with and the answer is to pre-fire the flash (or use manual) but that didn’t sink in at the time and it’s quite possibly a good thing because the whole eyes closed thing proved to be a fun "issue" that kept the shoot light hearted as the number of near misses racked up. Had I tried to get too technical at this point I’d probably have cocked it up and also possibly changed the rapport that I think we had.
Forsaking my buffet and favouring my project I stopped to talk to Lizzie for quite a long time …
Lizzie is the daughter of the couple that now run the brewery side of High House Farm and has been working in the bar for a week or so having previously been a receptionist. She hopes to train as a nurse but has much more important plans afoot at the moment and come the end of next year she is going to travel to New Zealand and Australia for a couple of years, part holiday and part working. She is going with her friend Louise and leaves behind a boyfriend Jordan but he is welcome to join them if he can and may well do so for the latter half of their trip. Lizzie was incredibly enthusiastic throughout – she is obviously beside herself with excitement in terms of what life holds for her over the next few years but at the same time she seems to have her head screwed on right and misunderstanding my meaning with one comment she acknowledges that not everyone is nice and also they intend to always have sufficient funds available to pay for immediate flights home if things go pear shaped.
And so to "Lizzies Dimples" … this was part of Lizzie’s 21st birthday present last September – having a beer named after her! And she is getting to be quite famous featuring in the High House Farm Brewery pamphlet, Cheers magazine, and also a wedding photographer’s website (who used her photo without asking her – Tut, Tut!!!).
Lizzie, thank you very much for taking part in my project – I really enjoyed talking to you and your lust for life shone throughout. I hope that New Zealand and Australia is everything that you hope it will be and a bit more besides – life’s dull without a few surprises thrown in! Make sure you do that sky dive 😉
This picture is #54 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page