Sunday, 25 March 2012

AD206 Negotiated Project Little Black Dress Photo Shoot

For this Module I was required to organize the photo shoot of my Little Black Dress. I must say I found it particularly interesting. The reason is that I had to be involved in the entire process from the beginning till end.

The preparation for this module started from organizing research to order to prepare myself and gain proper knowledge on how I wanted my photo shoot to look. Having conducted this research I expanded my knowledge about fashion photography and well known photographers in general. I found multiple of work inspiring. Inspiring not only for the purpose of preparing for my photo shoot but also what type of photography appeals to me in general.

As my Little Black Dress was inspired by 1920's Art Deco style, I therefore wanted initially to keep the entire ambience of the photo shoot and the photographs, in an old style, therefore during my research I found a plenitude of photographs with the models and the surrounding backgrounds styled to look very vintage. On the other hand, I was also considering the use of a completely different technique for the photo shoot of my dress. Considering the fact that the period of 20's was so colorful and rich in terms of inspirations that the artists, fashion designers used for producing their art- I thought that it would make my photo shoot to look more striking and  "out there"  if I used very contradictory style for the pictures, by using for example type of a fetish stylization or by replacing a female with a male model or  even a transvestite. The latest option in my opinion would work well considering the big impact of androdgy and masculinity that became so in fashion during the 1920's.

Initially as per college guidelines we were supposed to collaborate with the photographers assigned to us. As I wanted my photo shoot to be done in Ireland this led to the first obstacle in the whole photo shoot process, for the simple reason that the photographer could not make it and her visit to Ireland was not possible, I decided to leave finding the photographer and model to my own initiative.
This was a great opportunity for me to learn how to overcome the arising obstacles. I managed to find a photographer in Ireland - a friend of mine who is of an Italian origin and whose type of photography would appeal to my type of taste. I would know her life background and the type of photography she would be involved in. Most of her work would be very naturalistic and fetish based, using a broken family theme as a base for her inspiration, therefore the photographs would strongly focus on the person being photographed especially their faces and capturing their moods, concerns, etc. This is exactly what I wanted my photo shoot to look like. Considering that My Little Black Dress was very masculine sillquettewise but also colourful in keeping with the Art Deco theme, I wanted to use a model who would be very masculine, yet unique and striking looking but in the same time whose persona and appearance will not take over from the entire dress look.
I must say that one of the most positive outcomes of my cooperation with the photographer was the fact that I knew her for quite a long wile and our understanding of each other life's backgrounds, characters, type of person we are and tastes and what we would be looking for and expecting from the model and photo shoot were quite similar. Therefore the entire cooperation was a very pleasurable and fulfilling process.

Thanks to the photographer's help I managed to get in contact with the model who would be a close friend of hers and who would have been initially collaborating with her before, which means that the understanding of model - photographers relationship was already there and again would make the process much easier.
I must say that the way the model looked was exactly what I was looking for during my research process, androgynous, masculine and very striking and unusual looking.
This automatically helped my with my decision process what sort of makeup I was going to use.
Due to her face being so significant I decided on bare make up with vey pale ivory/ porcelain complexion type of make up and tried to highlight the best features of the model’s face- cheekbones by drawing a David Bowie style "thunder eye" on model's face in black colour which would match with the colour of the Little Black Dress.

The entire meeting process with the model and photographer went according to the schedule in terms of time and place. I wanted to match the model's look with the location which would best express the entire theme of model- dress- ambience. We decided to shoot it in an ancient Celtic graveyard in an old church ruin in one of the hills on the South- Irish coast. I wanted the model to look like she either came out from the world of the dead of 1920's and she found herself in that graveyard with all the people of her times, that she could associate herself with already dead, walking along and looking at the grave stones she could see the names of her old time friends and relatives. By doing this I wanted to draw the attention on how big the influence of the Art Deco 1920's style was, even though it lasted only 20 years, it led to such a change in culture, fashion and it is still somehow alive and serves as an inspiration to artists nowadays. Therefore my Lady is able to come out from the Dead once again and face the changes. By looking at the graves of people buried in there she is facing the passing of time, the only ones that are still there and remain unchanged by the passing of time are Herself and the never changing nature, the sound of the wind that she can hear blowing in between the gravestones and the growing ivy bushes that will always be there.  In order to give more of an edge to the style of the photos and to keep it more "on an arty side", I decided to include a child model and the dog. Having an angelic child and dog with blond hair and a black coat was a symbol of rebirth amongst  all the death, like the way my dress is a rebirth of the 1920's artists that inspired and continue to inspire others. 

  As per photographers suggestions in order to capture the best day light we arranged for the photo shoot to de done during the sunset. We were lucky with the sunny weather, which definitely helped for the quality and allowed to capture the colours of the dress and background in the best possible way.
I am particularly happy with the quality of the photographs, as we decided not to use a digital camera and work only with the old 8mm camera, which means that the photographer had to put more effort but at the same time the type of the equipment used and the type of photographs taken would represent much better the entire theme of the dress itself.
As both of us, myself and the photographer, knew exactly how we wanted the photographs to look and the fact that the model and photographers experience of working together previously was already there, I knew I could entirely rely on both of them. 
I could see how much easier it was to pass my suggestions to the photographer on how I wanted the photos to look like in terms of poses and ambience and watching how the photographer using her knowledge and experience- was able to translate it into model- photographer language.

I must say that I was quite happy with the outcome. I wanted the photographs to remain very natural and therefore in the final stage of my photo modification and experimental process - I did not have to change much while editing the photographs for my final presentation.

After playing around with different techniques of blurring, saturation, use of filters and different colours, I decided to keep the photographs more or less unchanged apart from using the airbrushing technique to hide the mankaments of the skin complexion on the model's face.

What did I learn during the process?

The first and the most important fact is that, unlike during other projects I had to learn how to deal with obstacles, which during this project started from the very beginning when the photographer could not make it for the photo shoot to Ireland.
I learned how to deal and overcome the stress of not having the two key aspects essential for a successful photo shoot: model and photographer.

It also thought me how to be quick and how to deal in an efficient way to find a replacement for them and also how to communicate with other people in order to reach common objectives.
I also had the opportunity to observe how people from different art disciplines work and communicate with each other.
I learned that your ideas are not always the best and that some people with better experience than your own can help to teach you how to became more proficient in your art discipline and to learn from other peoples knowledge.
I definitely improved my communication skills but also learned how to meet the deadlines despite the arising issues during the process itself.
The later stage of working with the editing program helped my to learn more about different photo editing techniques, which I was not really familiar with before.

But what I am the most content with is the fact that for the first time during this college course, I not only was able to create the garment but also have an impact on how the garment is going to be shown to the public.

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