Sometimes the projects you do and the people you know just marry up seamlessly. This was the case when it came to using TankSpace in Nottinghamshire for a shoot, and my need for an appropriate model to really get the most out of the session. One of my most supportive friends over the years has been Walter Towart, and luckily I’d heard him talk proudly about his granddaughter and medal winning swimmer, Elannah Towart.
The tank itself was smaller than you might expect. It’s 3 metres wide which allowed Elannah to be able to stretch out, but only 2 metres deep. Once in the water we couldn’t communicate as I was in the dark on the other side of the main acrylic window, so I had to keep going up to the pool side to tell her what looked good from my perspective and give her direction. I was really fortunate that Elannah was able to comfortably endure being in the water so long, as well as accommodate my directions and requests to dive in the right place for how I was set up. I had certain poses I wanted to capture, but she also brought moves and poses of her own that she felt would work well.
In terms of lighting, I wanted to reflect the colours in the union jack of Elannah’s swimming cap, so we experimented with red, white and blue. It took a bit of trial and error… All white was too much, white and blue was better, but for the more athletic shots, a combination of all 3 colours seemed to really add a more dynamic edge.
Elannah has already had a lot of success in her swimming career winning medals for breastroke, backstroke and butterfly. She is part of the Kingston Upon Hull Swimming Club and trains to race at Racing Gala events in Hull as well as other UK cities.
However in order to pursue swimming to this level, when only eleven years old Elannah had to choose between her 2 loves; swimming and dancing. She told me that it was a really hard choice because she really enjoyed the style of street dance/ musical theatre that she did, and was getting good parts in productions with her sassy attitude and natural flair. But, dancing involved training 2-3 times a week, and swimming was 5-6 times a week so she simply couldn’t do both! She explained that there are similarities between the two, but ultimately she picked swimming as she told me that it gave her more of a buzz as she relishes the competitive side of it.
Elannah trains 6 days a week, sometimes up at 4am to be in the pool at 5am – despite not being a morning person! Then it’s off to school for a full day, or it’s a brief break after school before heading back out for more training. Luckily she has a supportive family, and even friends that aren’t part of her swimming group will come to cheer her on at Galas.
As for the future, Elannah isn’t sure yet if swimming will turn into a career. Like everyone else, she has spells where all the hard work can take the fun out of it a bit, but then when she finds herself winning a race her motivation comes back with a vengeance!
As for the shoot, she said she really enjoyed it and that it was fun to have such a different and new experience in the water. Which is her favourite picture? Well the one with all the medals of course! And with so much hard work having gone into getting them, I think that’s only right!