Q&A – Natural Beauty
Ana-Luiza is a final year art history student at the University of Essex. She interviewed me for her final project and of course I wanted to help her. I also have the permission to share the questions and answers on my blog, so here it is!
What inspired you to start a career in photography?
My fascination for fashion photography started at an early age. At the age of 13 I captured the adventures of our dog with a compact camera and I loved to take a lot of photos during each walk at the beach or woods. Soon I was looking at the lifestyle magazines of my mother and I wanted to create the fashion editorials myself, so I asked my younger sister to be my model. I noticed that I enjoyed to capture people instead of animals and nature. Finally I discovered something that really has my interest and since I started to buy fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle and Glamour. I knew I wanted to be a fashion photographer as well, no matter what. And I’m so happy did! I love to work with a creative team and to capture stories. Fashion and photography is a really fun combination and it feels great to share this passion with so many other people around the world.
What are your main themes of interest?
Fashion and beauty (within photography) are my my main themes of interest. But I always want to capture my models in a natural way. I don’t like to make dolls of my models, I want to see their personality as much as possible.
I have noticed that one of your themes is raw beauty, and you have a series called ‘Raw Beauty- Nicole‘. Tell me more about the series and what inspired you to create them? Why did you decide to root for ‘raw beauty’ in your work?
I remember during that time I worked for a brand that asked me to over edit the images, I had to remove all the arm hairs of the model and the skin had to be super soft (and fake), something that I don’t like. Of course, you don’t want to have disturbing blemishes on your models’ skin for an important campaign, but this was not okay in my opinion. After that shoot, I wanted to show how beautiful it is to capture models in a natural way. I decided to don’t use Photoshop at all, the only thing I did was converting the images to black and white. This was my response and it felt good to show the raw beauty of these girls. During my next fashion shoots I decided to reduce the editing to a minimum. I edit the skin, but as natural as possible.
Your interest in the imperfections and the perfections in the fashion photography genre is very fascinating. How do you achieve your goal? And what are the technicalities of your work?
I always want the model to feel as comfortable as possible on set. This makes it so much easier to create good and real images. I noticed that I really learned what kind of images, and even what kind of models make me happy as a photographer. It important to understand as a photographer how to achieve your goals. This will take some time of course, but after a shoot I always ask myself: Why am I happy / not happy with these images? What should I change the next time to make sure I can create work that I like. I never give up and I always feel when I just need to take a short break to take some time to check my style and vision as a photographer again. This might change, especially in the early years of my career.
What inspires you and how do the fashion stories come to your mind?
I get inspired by looking at books of photographers like Peter Lindbergh, fashion magazines and social media like Pinterest and Instagram. I can also get inspired by locations and light, when I see a photogenic spot I’m already shooting a fashion story in my mind. I also get inspired my models, when I see a model that suits my style as a photographer, I can’t stop shooting.
What is natural beauty to you?
I’m not sure if I can explain this, but this is when I have a model in front of my lens that is ‘beautiful’ in her own way. No matter what kind of clothes she is wearing or how much or how less makeup she is wearing. She has something special that I really want to capture. I prefer models that have a special expression in their face, or a gap between their teeth or a lot of freckles or special eyes or ears for example. There is just something about these models that makes me feel inspired.
What do you strive to show to your viewer through natural and raw beauty in your shots?
Personally, I love to dream away while looking at fashion or portrait images, it’s a world that doesn’t really exist because we created that world during our shoot. I hope my viewers can dream away in their own way and that they love to escape from the real world for a few minutes as well.
When you are required to do commercial or fashion photography, do you have any principles that you stick to? Is natural beauty something that you are looking for in your commercial and fashion work?
Luckily the clients who are hiring me at this time know my style and vision as a photographer, so they ask me to capture and edit the images in the same way they see at my portfolio. I learned to find out when the client is not the perfect match for me, so then I don’t have to create images that doesn’t suit my style. Before a shoot with a new client we have a meeting and I ask the right questions to know if we are the perfect match or not.
‘By the Living Stories‘ campaign seems to be one of your works that leans to the idea of naturalness. What kind of techniques and photographic aids did you use (or not) to achieve this ?
The idea was to capture this story in my studio with artificial light. I was building up my flashlights and in the meantime the sunlight came in. Then I asked the client if I could show them how beautiful the images would look like with natural light, and they were really happy with this natural vibe because it really suited their brand concept. I just captured everything with natural light and a silver reflector to bounce the sunlight to the model to avoid unwanted shadows. I also used a prime lens like the 100mm that is officially a macro lens, perfect for portraits and small jewelry!