Anne and I have worked together many times before and great images have always come out of it. I always have a pretty clear, and special, concept in mind beforehand - something that will challenge both of us. Having said that I nearly always know the types of concepts she will absolutely kill. And this was one of them. I guess I see her, photographically, in a certain way; and am confident stuff will work.
Short but related tangent: A few years ago I had a concept based around some images I had seen in the now discontinued Bambi magazine - what an awesome mag that was. Anyway, it was black sheer fabric, in a studio, nude - the particular poses I'd seen were inspiring and different and all about angles. When I hear fabric and studio in the same sentence now, I cringe; it's been done to death. But I reckon this worked a treat. So the night before the shoot, Gina and I were playing around with the fabric and creating the poses I'd seen and trying to work out how this could be done. Can't remember exactly what the issues were, but I was kind of stressed about it before the shoot.
So we met my collaborating photographer friend Abe at Sydney Photographic Studios - he set up some amazing lighting for the shoot and Anne arrived. Set the lights, Anne's ready to go, give her the fabric, aim and focus camera, and off she goes. All my hesitations went out the window when I looked through the lens at Anne just practising with the fabric. From that point on, that shoot was a success. So what I'm saying is, Anne can tend to diffuse a lot of stress around whether the images will work or not - because they will work - with her.
Sorry for the tangent.
Back to the Story
This shoot was inspired by my love of the trad. Vogue Italia look - the black and white timeless fashion shots and portraits that are typical of Peter Lindbergh's work. Credit has to go to Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia who recently passed away at age 66. She provided Lindbergh with a solid platform for his natural way of shooting - which wasn't exactly aligned with mainstream commercial fashion style. She provided an unprecedented editorial freedom to numerous up and coming photographers ages ago such as Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Paolo Roversi and Steven Meisel - these guys were doing arts-based work which she allowed and pushed into the eyes of the fashion mainstream. This kind of aesthetic by the way, is essentially lost on the Australian viewer - we just don't get it.
God another tangent. But not really.
So, the concept - in words: "Wild, natural, vast windy open space, wild hair, dark haunting raw beauty, black wardrobe, sheer items if possible - also tailored and fitted if possible, sharp, cool, black and white." Typically these editorial shoots were done on dark, gloomy and windswept beaches in Holland (my other homeland), so doing this in the middle of summer on a sunny beach and a hot afternoon in Sydney might be a bit challenging.
I was going to try and do it at South Maroubra, but after seeing how many thousands of people were there on this Saturday afternoon, we headed off to Cape Banks and a small beach near there that my old mate Eric had told me about - Anne was aware of it too but hadn't been there.
Such a beautiful part of Sydney that, you could be anywhere but in Sydney. We walked around past Cape Banks and then via the golf course to this little shell-ridden beach. I was a bit concerned as it didn't have that big space vibe you get on a large sandy surf beach, more of a little cove feel.
Anne had brought a bunch of great wardrobe for this - all black of course. We chose a pair of shiny black jeans and a sharp jacket with great lines to start with. Anne had her hair tied up as apparently when it's unleashed it looks wilder than usual - perfect. And indeed when it came out of the tie up, it looked amazing - exactly what I was thinking.
The Business End
The first set we shot dynamically, walking down the beach. This is where things were a bit limited as this kind of thing works better with big amounts of space to just stroll along and gather some kind of momentum and flow in the vibe and feel. We only had about 8 metres before running out of sand and onto some rocks, and me walking backwards and looking through a camera can result in embarrassing moments. Anyway, there are some great shots from this dynamic style - on film and digital.
We also shot a lot of portraits, lying on the sand, and a couple of these are outstanding - they can be seen elsewhere on social media - many I haven't finished editing yet.
The last set I decided to shoot on the large exposed platform further South. There was a great dark sort of cliff in the background and many pools of water catching the late sun. The light was spectacular - and Anne in her black dress against that background - with a heavy veil of salt mist carried by a stiff onshore breeze, awesome. This is where we made the most atmospheric images - the ones that are closest to the original concept.
Really, there are so many worthy images but I can't post them all here.
The video, for me, is the ultimate representation of the concept that I had in mind and how I feel it at a deeper level. Choice of music was critical and I actually didn't start editing the images until I'd found this piece - and then all the editing happened with it playing, loud.