A few years ago I started a series of work called 'True Colours'. It's portraiture, as real and true as I can do it. It's an exploration on my behalf - a view of beauty which is deeper than surface physicality, a view of beauty which exists behind the veil we all erect in front of ourselves - largely for protective purposes.
I see my job as a portrait photographer to see through this veil. This is confronting for many of the people I photograph, and I get that. My explorations over the last few years have demanded more and more of the people I photograph, and they have given me so much. They've given me themselves. This in itself is really so beautiful, and a complete gift in my life. It's one thing for a subject or model to remove their clothing and stand naked before my camera but it's another ballgame for them to drop their veil. That's true nudity, true nakedness. Often I witness both at the same time, physical and emotional nudity.
It involves huge amounts of trust and connection between myself and the model. This is another immensely rewarding but also challenging dimension to this work. Essentially I'm asking people to be themselves for me. My usual subjects are models and this is understandably hard for a model, usually. Models have a model identity, they have a brand and their model persona is intrinsically linked to that brand, It's how a model makes ends meet out of their passion and profession. So when confronted with a photographer who doesn't so much want the model persona, the model pose, the model expression, then I often get asked, "well what do you want me to do?" It always works out OK. We always end up getting great pictures. So something's working. But don't ask me what it is.
There's actually a number of ways this type of work can be done. There's the completely raw approach but there's also a way that utilises a model's talent at expressing emotion. For me, to be able to photograph authentic emotion, if the model can act it convincingly, then the job is done. What sort of emotion? Anything human, anything that makes us human - it's all that stuff that for me makes great pictures. It could be sensuality or sexual provocation - fantastically human traits and stories there. It could be happiness. It could be melancholy, reflection, or even intense sadness.
So two more things:
- I really want to thank the women who bother to collaborate with me. The women who drop everything on the ground before me, for the sake of art, for the sake of capturing a beautiful moment on film. A simple thing, but not one that I take lightly or underestimate. Thank you.
- I got to this level of thinking after finishing the edit on this video which was shot in April this year. The model is Laneikka Denne. What she did for this video cannot be underestimated, and for me, it's not just another shoot. She took herself into a dark and sad place so that I could film it. Laneikka has quie extensive acting experience, so she drew on that in order to do this.
The video was shot at the end of our first shoot - and believe it or not this was Laneikka's first photoshoot. And guess what? We ended up getting a beautiful fashion set published to Elegant magazine during that shoot. See it here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1310120
Related blog post: http://www.mikestacey.com/blog/2017/5/22/laneikka
This video, for me is an extension of my exploration into portraiture. An extension of the True Colours works. The video also marks an important intermission in my work.
Featuring LANEIKKA (https://www.instagram.com/grunge_chil...)
Video and Edit: Mike Stacey
Music: "Everyone Wants to be Found" - by Fabrizio Paterlini
Filmed in Sydney, April 2017
Part of an ongoing exploration...