European Aesthetics / by Mike Stacey

The mood board for this shoot contained portraits with a certain stark aesthetic, distinctly European. Most Australians don't get this style of image, I guess because we live in a bright sunny world of loud primary colours which is rather different from where this style emerged from. The vast windswept beaches of Noordwijk in Holland, which butt onto the North Sea, are another world.

My Mum was Dutch - she came from The Hague which is just a few kilometres away. Maybe there's some European blood stirring the creative juices inside me these days but I can connect immediately with this style of 'anti-glam' work - which depicts the subject as they are, hair ruffled by the wind, sometimes squinting into the harsh low-angled sun... there is something very, very beautiful about this.

I can't go any further without mentioning my main inspiration here. For those of you who follow my work, you'll already know Peter Lindbergh features heavily in my own translation of reality through the lens. Peter used to shoot regularly at Noordwijk in his younger years and still to this day, returns to the windy bleak European beaches to churn out atmospheric editorials for the world's largest fashion mags.

I posted a casting call on Model Mayhem asking for a model for this shoot and got one hit (thank you Ama!). I think that says it all - (mind you I did ask for TFP). But the deal was 20 high-end retouched images, that's a good deal considering the $ value there so it's got to be that the aesthetic value isn't there in Australia for images like this. I regularly post to a European art forum - and the response to shots like these is always overwhelmingly good and positive. Europeans get it.

Ama, Gina and I spent around 3 - 4 hours at North Narrabeen beach last Monday afternoon and I have to say we nailed it. Gina's aesthetic is European to the core, and her sense of class, style and wardrobe reflects this. Ama is young and I had reservations as to whether she'd be able to pull this off. The look and the expression is mature, emotional, deep and somewhat melancholic, with subtle variations from all of that. Maybe it's Ama's European background and heritage, but she got this brief and then just did it flawlessly, with a smile - between shots :)

Ama at sunny Narrabeen. Pentax 67 on Tri-X.

There are many great shots from this shoot which will follow in the next post. I might also talk some technical jibberish about film and camera stuff.