When We Were Models in The Pyrenees

“Never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.” – The Beach

Sometimes the ‘unfamiliar’ can be a momentous experience such as stepping out of a plane. Other times it might be something else, something with less of a ‘wow’ factor, yet something that you feel totally unprepared for… such as being models.

Bob, Karen, Alison and Andy, Beget, Pyrenees, Spain

Most advertorial images of so called ‘walkers’ enjoying the great outdoors involve beautiful and very clean people wearing pristine outfits. They look as though the most walking they’ve done is from the clothes rack to the changing room. Our friends at Inntravel wanted to inject more reality into the images in their brochures and our 9 days walking in The Pyrenees just happened to coincide with a photo shoot in the area.

Andy and I aren’t model material. Whilst we are happy clicking away behind the camera, put us in front of it and we act as though we’ve had a double lobotomy. But the rationale behind using us ‘civvies’ was sound. When it comes to looking sweaty and dirty after hoofing it about the countryside, we’re the real McCoy. So we were up for the gig.

Bob and Karen show how it's done, Ulldeter, Pyrenees, Spain

The Prep
The creative duo directing us were Bob and Karen from Orchestra, an immensely talented company who come up with some sensational campaigns. Along with Alison from Inntravel, they’d been in The Pyrenees for a couple of days scouting out potential locations. At dinner at the Restaurant Cal Sastre in Santa Pau, they laid out the agenda. Basically it involved cycling and walking around some local beauty spots as they photographed and filmed us from various angles. Easy peasy.

Day 1: How to be Bad Models

  • Eat everything in sight at a huge, belly-swelling dinner at Cal Sastre.
  • Don’t put on mossie repellent, resulting in two enormous tiger mossie bites on the left cheek and neck, both of which had swollen to grotesque proportions. Thankfully Bob and Karen were philosophical – “Don’t worry, we can Photoshop that out…”
  • When cycling down idyllic country lanes don’t look happy and carefree whilst free-wheeling in the sunshine past swaying grasses. Instead, grimace and wobble precariously as you try to manouvre to within almost touching distance of each other’s wheels in order to achieve the ‘shot’.
  • Don’t make sure the GoPro is securely fastened. Arriving on two wheels at the pretty village of Vall d’en Bas, the GoPro on the back of Andy’s bike was doing a great job of capturing me cycling through atmospheric, cobbled streets… until the cobbles caused it to bounce free.

Cycling to a Country Bar in Pyrenees, Spain

Add to that, seriously bad stone skimming and some excruciating acting on a wobbly bridge, inspired by the best (worst) South America soap operas, and it’s no wonder that Bob’s considered and diplomatic answer later at dinner in response to the question ‘how do the photos and footage look?’ began with a long, slow  ‘Well…”

Day 2: How to be Better Models

The trouble with day 1 was that we were almost trying too hard. Striding through the wilds is one of the things we do quite well but you wouldn’t have known that from the results. We were bland shop dummies in a beautiful setting. Taking Bob and Karen’s advice we decided simply treat our jaunt around the pick of The Pyrenees as if we were on our own, doing what we enjoy doing whilst walking the trails.

A GoPro Moment with Bob, Karen and Kino, Pyrenees, Spain

We spoke to trail runners and shop owners selling wild mushrooms; stopped to check out eye-catching flowers; took photographs, jumped streams; moaned about the price of coffee in a refuge; skittered down slippery tracks; filled our water bottles from springs and struck 70s album style poses in crumbling doorways in quaint villages. We also walked hand in hand through a field of waist-high wild grasses and flowers… although that one isn’t the norm. And we did them again and again and again.

The life of a model is not without repetition.

70s Album Cover Moment with Andy, Bob, Karen, Kino in The Pyrenees, Spain

Whether Orchestra have ended up with anything usable, we won’t know till we see the results but it certainly felt a lot more natural to us.

On day 3 Bob and Karen headed back to Blighty and we prepared for the walking part of our trip to The Pyrenees. The couple of days modelling were an experience and a lot of fun – Bob and Karen had the patience of saints – and was much more tiring than we’d expected. I’ve got to say that although we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, setting out on a 16km walk through a mountain gorge seemed far less daunting.

I don’t think Kate Moss needs to lose any sleep over her latest rivals.

Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+

About Jack 797 Articles
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a Slow Travel consultant and a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Facebook for more travel photos and snippets.


  1. There’s a very good reason why some of us should remain behind the camera and not in front of it (unless you need something to keep the kids away from the fireplace!) – Thankfully you guys were at least (a) Photogenic and (b) up for doing it. Now – back to enticing the OH to model for a ‘wearing socks with sandals’ shoot (Don’t ask!):-)

    • ‘wearing socks with sandals’ shoot – That sounds as though you’re just being cruel 🙂

      P.S. Bless you for saying we were photogenic. I’m not sure Bob and Karen would agree with that one 🙂

  2. Brilliant read and I think you did a great job. Your pics certainly tell a story and……if you would like to share them with me I’d love to use some. You know me when producing Inntravel literature anything just a little bit different to illustrate our products!

  3. Thanks for that Caroline. Andy took to the modelling much better than I did and thankfully I was the one with the camera 🙂

    I’ll send you an email about the pics.

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