It’s a hot summer morning in Bochum. And when I say hot, I mean HOT. Jessica and I had set up a skating shoot for 9.30 in the morning to escape the 35 degree heat that was forecast – let’s just say we didn’t quite make it.
We started the session nice and easy – and in the shade. What I find most important during a session is to build a connect with the person in front of my lens. We may only just spend an hour together, but the images created can stay with you forever. Jessica is a musical theatre performer and was in rehearsals for the German production of Starlight Express – until lockdown happened. She misses the skating, she tells me. The group of New Kids, as the new performers are called, still meet up and skate together to improve their skills and help each other out.
As an actor, your headshot is one of the most important things you can have. It is the first thing a casting director sees before you even get into the audition room. Jessica had recently cut her hair, so an update to show the new look was on the agenda. I love her shorter hair, and I wanna say it definitely suits her upbeat and sunny personality.
It’s nice to sort of hide in the shade, even this early morning. The shooting location is just right next to her new “performer home”, the theatre. I personally love the depth and cinematic look we can achieve for Jessica’s headshots in the location. There is enough light to evenly light her face and make her eyes pop, but not too much to allow for depth in the background while making her the center of the images.
The headshot are wrapped up, let’s get to why we’re really here this early. It’s time to put on the skates. Well, for her, not for me. The safety of me, my camera and basically everyone else would clearly be in jeopardy. Jessica however, loves them. I snap away while she puts on her brown Starlight skates. ‘It’s great to have them back’, she says. When everything went into lockdown, she left Bochum for a while, but her skates were left in the theatre. Obviously, you can still skate with any other pair of roller skates, but the Starlight ones are special. They are fitted for each performer, they have special wheels. You wouldn’t initially think so, but there is almost a special science going into rehearsing for this show.
Starlight Express in Bochum is sort of a must-see, at least when you grow up in the area. It was the first musical Jessica saw as well, when she was 11 years old. The German production of the show is the only one currently running – a stunning 32 years. The skating element is quite unique to the show. Skate trainer Michal Fraley has trained each and every cast member since the late 1980s.
As I snap away at Jessica while she’s skating in the early morning heat, we laugh a lot. If this pandemic has shown one thing, then it helped a lot of people realise what really made them happy. Either because they suddenly had the time to focus on it, or because they couldn’t do it. For Jessica, both applied. Being a professional musical theatre performer, can be tough. The industry is competitive and hard. But she loves it. And she misses it. But lockdown also gave her time with her loved ones, which can be tricky when you’re away from home on a job, or performing 5 shows a weekend or on holiday dates like Christmas.
I almost admire her positivity. But I agree with her. Having had the past few months to spend with my parents with no pressure of massive amounts of appointments or things to do, was just what I needed. Having had time to focus on me, my future and my circle has given me a new sense for where I want to go that I might not have had a chance to get to if it wasn’t for a global pandemic.
Times may not be easy right now when you look at it simply from a monetary point of view. But we only live once. And what you want to remember about 2020 is the good that came out of it. Something that came out of it for Jessica, was getting married to her love. Oh and their love! I was lucky to do a couple shoot with her and her now husband Robin just shortly after our skating shoot. These two are adorable and I can’t wait to show you their pictures.
Lots of love my friends!