I’ve been slack on my blog posts as of late, but having recently come upon a lot of down time (thank you distal radius fracture…) I thought I should get a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ documentary done. In the last two weeks, I’ve been to and come back from Japan (where said fracture occurred), but prior to that I was shooting like a mad thing. I was working every day of the week, and loving it. Because I had planned to be overseas for over two months, I had a lot of work to squeeze in. I can’t say no to people, and I love working with all of my clients, so instead I said ‘challenge accepted.’
One such job was a shoot for the incredibly talented Amber Reese. Amber is studying fashion at RMIT, and I shot her final pieces last year as part of her assessment. But she had some older garments she wanted re-shot. I am in awe of her talent, so of course I wanted to be a part of it.
The collection is called ‘Purl,’ and features very high-key, almost futuristic pieces. The garments are constructed from a white material, with clear plastic overlays in some areas. How you make clear plastic curl and ruffle and sit exactly how you want it to- that is beyond me! The garments also have small pockets of intricate bead work, and pieces of fabric or clusters of delicate beads dangling off in different areas.
I’d seen these pieces online before, but seeing them in the flesh was amazing. I have such respect for designer’s pieces, and I could clearly see how much time and effort had gone into their construction and conceptualisation.
But of course we could not shoot these garments without the help of two more very talented ladies. Shati was our gorgeous model, and the lovely Rovielyn provided us hair and makeup (and she was incredibly fast!) At one point I came to check on the progress of the makeup, thinking perhaps just the base layer would be done, but Roveilyn declared she had already finished! And what an amazing job she had done. Clean, dewy skin with white highlights, and a gentle braid, dusted silver and pinned with tiny semi-transparent beads.
Garments on, and we were ready to go!
The shoot was over in about an hour. For a few reasons. Firstly, we only had three looks to capture. Secondly, the setup was very simple, as a lot of the aesthetics were to be added in post. And thirdly, Shanti was a brilliant model. She could really move! No hesitation, just straight into the poses. Every frame was a winner, so I was glad I didn’t have to make the selections. I loved shooting Shanti, her eyes are so big and beautiful, and she has a very captivating look.
So, shoot over, it was time to express-retouch these babies. Amber had sent me some reference images of the feel she liked, and she let me go with whatever direction I thought would work. I wanted to blend the photographic with the graphic, and construct a kind of ‘scene’ out of flat tonal panels and textures. I had no clear result in mind, so there was a lot of experimentation. Firstly, I tried something like this (below), working with angles, texture, and tone.
Then I kept playing, and came up with a few other options to show Amber. She liked on with smooth marble lines, as the flow and softness enhanced the mood of the garments. So I applied this to some of the other chosen shots. However, I wasn’t happy with them, as the resolution of my texture wasn’t great, and the colours started to band and look weird.
Next, I tried different backgrounds, which I painted myself using brushes in photoshop. This way, I could retain the resolution. I played with bold graphics, soft curves, and other more subtle patterns.
But finally I found the right texture! A watercolour sample, which I could orient in different ways to give different shapes. It was perfect, and it worked with each of the chosen poses. Amber loved it too, so we went with it, and I finished off all the shots within the hour.
I’m really pleased with how the images turned out, they have a beautiful sense of quiet to them, and
I love the neutral colour palette. I really enjoy work that blends the photographic and the graphic. I also made an interesting discovery when accidentally turning off a layer, resulting in the following image. I think a new experimental series may be on the way…
Check out my website to see the final images from this shoot!
Thank you amazing team!
DESIGNER || Amber Reese
MODEL || Aliyah-Shanti Kenny
HMUA || Rovielyn Mabilangan