Sunshine Coast photographer pairs blindfolded models for intimate Stranger Sessions shoot

Francesca Mazzara’s heart was beating fast with excitement as she stood blindfolded in a paddock in the Glass House Mountains, about to stare into a stranger’s eyes for an intimate photo shoot.

The single mother from Buderim on the Sunshine Coast had done a few professional photo shoots before, but nothing like this one.

“I just thought it was the most amazing idea,” Ms. Mazzara said.

Ms. Mazzara says neither model found the session awkward.(Provided: Nicola Brander)

A foreign session captured

Ms Mazzarra was set to lay eyes on single dad Dale Billsborough for the first time, a match-up created by Sunshine Coast photographer Nicola Brander who wanted to capture the moment for a creative concept she called the Stranger Session.

“I thought it was really interesting to see how two people kind of connected as strangers and to see if there was any chemistry there,” Ms Brander said, after previously kicking off a call for interested models.

“When I organized it, I got a bit of information about each of them and then passed it on to the other person.

A woman holding a camera
Photographer Nicola Brander wants to see if strangers can show instant chemistry.(Provided: Nicola Brander)

“So they knew a bit about their lifestyle, if they had kids, what they were interested in, that kind of stuff.

She said once the blindfolds were removed there were some nerves, but the couple quickly opened their eyes to a new adventure and embraced the concept.

“I think there was quite a bit of nerves, but honestly it went like a normal couples session,” Ms Brander said.

“You wouldn’t even know they were strangers.

“I thought having two strangers in a couple’s photoshoot would be a lot of awkwardness, but it was actually the opposite.”

A very “natural, organic” photo session

Ms Mazzara said the moment filming began the pair had an instant connection.

“We talked and we laughed so much and yeah, I think it was just very natural and organic,” she said.

A woman in a red coat smiling for the camera with a man nudging her on the forehead
Ms. Mazzara prefers to connect with someone in person rather than on a dating app.(Provided: Nicola Brander)

“He [Dale] was really nice, genuine, the conversation was in full swing, he was really funny.

“And obviously Nicola, she made it so funny.”

Ms Mazzara said it was great to connect with someone in person, rather than on a dating app.

“The dating world these days is more like everything is online, so an idea like that sounds absolutely fantastic to me.

“Meeting Dale, getting to know him, even if it turns into a friendship, was an amazing experience.”

A couple piggy backing and laughing
Ms Brander said the next shoot in July will involve a stunt location.(Provided: Nicola Brander)

Ms Brander said the shoot was purely about creativity, but if a match was made of it, she wouldn’t be disappointed.

“But I mean, if I ended up doing matchmaking, that’s pretty cool.”

Is there love beyond the lens?

Ms. Brander received so much positive feedback when she shared the photos online that she decided to do another Stranger session.

“I’ve actually had loads of guys interested in the next one and I’ve probably got about 30 women interested in doing another one.”

She said the next shoot will involve a waterfall location in July.

“So something a little sexier, so that will be interesting,” Ms. Brander said.

A man kissing a woman on the cheek
Ms Mazzara and Mr Billsborough share a kiss during the photoshoot.(Provided: Nicola Brander)

She said her followers still had one question they wanted answered: Was there love beyond the lens with Ms Mazzara and Mr Billsborough?

“The audience is like, ‘Please let us know when they’re dating next, or if they end up getting married,'” Ms Brander said.

“I think if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

“I think people appreciate it because it takes them out of their comfort zone, into doing something different.”

About Victoria Rothstein

Check Also

Author Emily Henry discusses ‘book lovers’ and pandemic writing

If Hallmark ever wanted to make a modern, romantic tale of The devil wears Prada, …