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(A Yemeni and then an American… with Joejoe F)

Cardiff shoot week didn’t get off to a great start. I arrived into the city on a late Tuesday afternoon and had one shoot already planned for that evening. I Übered it from the railway station to my hotel, the lovely Maison Galles, freshened up and then crossed the street for a coffee and a slice of wienerbrød at Brød Danish Bakery. There I’d relax a bit before starting the first shoot. But then I got a message from that first boy that he was cancelling due to red eyes from hayfever. Whatever!

I was worried that this was a sign of what was to come, that Cardiff would be a place full of flakey people and I’d have a lot of cancellations. So I felt no choice but to go and try to find a last minute replacement. Jamil was the first to come to my rescue. ​

Jamil was part of the large Yemeni community in Wales, or rather his father was from Yemen and his mum was from Scotland. He was up for a shoot but just a bit nervous, claiming that his legs might not look good on film… so I asked him to show me. He stripped off into his underwear and, well, he had fantastic legs – thick, strong and hairy… So I told him not to worry, that the camera would fix whatever he imagined was wrong with them and that I had no interest to make him look anything but beautiful.

Satisfied with that, we sat down to have him read and sign the model release form, and then he freaked out. There’s a line in it that says his pictures can be used for Elska Magazine “and marketing of Elska Magazine throughout the world”. That “throughout the world” part freaked him out. Suddenly he was terrified of his Arab family finding his pictures and not understanding, especially since Jamil wasn’t out to his family. While I highly doubt Elska’s gonna turn up in Yemen, I can’t promise it, so we called it off. Instead we hung out a bit while I looked for someone else. And then came Joejoe F.

Joejoe was originally from Los Angeles but came to Cardiff to attend university, and was in love with it. He said he felt much more at home there than in LA and already was thinking of ways to stay on after finishing his studies… perhaps by finding a British husband?! He was initially less sure about the shoot than Jamil was. But Joejoe did bring a bottle of wine, some very sweet rosé that eventually relaxed him enough to decide to shoot. And no, he wasn’t drunk, and I never got any “I didn’t know what I was doing, please don’t use the pics” message of remorse. The only problem was that I was a bit drunk, ‘cos I get drunk very easily, so a lot of the pics were rubbish. Oops – another lesson learned!  But there were some decent ones too.

So that’s how Joejoe F became the first Cardiff boy shot, a non-Welsh lad but local boy nonetheless, someone who wasn’t born in Wales but loved it just the same. And I’m glad I found him, though I wish I had Jamil too. 

See more of Joejoe and read his story in Elska Magazine Issue (07) Cardiff.

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