Long live film.. a remote and in person project with a difference!
This year has been challenging and had more than it's fair share of ups and downs. March came and I had to make the change from working in amazing buildings in the sunshine, to using my kit to work remotely from my home almost overnight! It's been a huge creative challenge, but the results have been amazing, and I've got to work creatively with incredible people hundreds and even thousands of miles away around the world that could never normally happen otherwise.
I'm blown away with the work so far, but always had a niggling doubt in the back of my mind what I was doing lacked the focus my urbex work has. I'm 43 now and nearing the end of my model career so when you feel lost every day feels like a wasted day. I thought about studio days but people are reluctant sometimes to commit to a set day. and it's hard to vary the work or combine in person and remote shooting into one day or weekend. And I wanted to do something that made use of all the incredible photography and editing knowledge I've picked up over the years from some incredible photographers!
Much of my work is inspired by three of my favourite photographers day to day..Marc Langrange, Helmut Newton, and Igor Amelkovitch and their influence can be seen in every shoot from urbex to home and studio shoots, from concepts and poses to props and even my choice of home and vintage decor, and vintage clothing and lingerie. Much of my favourite night work is inspired by Helmut Newton's night work and backgrounds. I know their work and collections pretty much like the back of my hand, and Helmut Newton's Work sits heavily bookmarked on my table day to day.
Over the years I've had the pleasure of working with the incredible Cameranova more times than I can remember and in all sorts of crazy locations and weather. Very early on every shoot generally resulted in editing as soon as we got home, and I was introduced to Alien Skin's Exposure software and it's incredible range of film presets and creative features while being simple to create dramatic effects with very little technical editing knowledge quickly. I had an amazing editing tutor with each shoot from a brilliant story teller, and learned that it's as much about the mood of the edit as the shot! I'm lucky enough to be able to co edit on a lot of my shoots now and be hugely involved in the process largely thanks to this, and so many people have discovered this wonderful software and the doors it opens even with no real knowledge.
I started dropping shots into Exposure on remote shoots as the preview is rubbish with the Canon software and it was easier to go back and check the shots. Then one day we started to drop the odd shot black and white to see what it looked like. Then we played a bit more and people were curious with the software and what it could look like. Now playing around in it has just become part of the process much of the time in remote shoots, especially as both can control the editing screen too! So I wanted to do something that utilises this..
I also had the pleasure of working with Silverlight on two occasions. Completely out of my comfort zone I learned a whole new way of working for quality not quantity, simplicity, attention to detail and the benefits of checking and perfecting each shot. The shot below took over three hours to shoot, complete with a very real angry queen wasp who didn't like her house move or being woken up, and had to be put out on the doorstep each time we checked shots to cool off and go back to sleep! We moved fingers millimetres and tweaked leaves but the result was a beautiful piece of wall art!
The first time we shot we shot only nine images in a whole day..But when they're of this quality and achieved without stress, and in a relaxed, enjoyable way with plenty of good conversation and coffee who wouldn't be happy?
Most of all I learnt focus, the main reason for this project. Urbex work is often the complete opposite rightly, as it's about catching light and moments, so the more shots you take, the more you have to find that perfect shot. But there's also this way of working and perfecting a strong concept for the shot that is just as valuable, and I adopt as a working photographer but not often as a model.
My home is a lovely backdrop for this era of photography with a lovely south facing Georgian sash window and high ceilings, huge mirror and mirrored wall in the bedroom, with wonderful shoot throughs on the doors etc and grand stairs. I'm also based a stones throw from Chertsey Bridge with it's lanterns and the River Thames, providing an amazing backdrop day and night along with Chertsey's ruins, gates, walls and doorways, and not far from Guildford with it's cobbles, lanterns and alleys identical to many of Helmut Newton's streets. I also have two 500w Interfit continuous lamps with dishes on to make lighting easy and all the ceiling spots are now white led light in the hallway. I'm happy to move furniture around completely and may make some days available where I place the bed in the living room window if there's enough demand. I also have a large collection of vintage lingerie, clothes and props to re create images from nude and erotica to fashion and portrait levels, and of course killer heels! My favourite lens for remote work is a 35mm 1.4 art lens perfect for creating this sort of work alongside a 85mm 1.4 perfect for portrait work.
SO HOW DOES THIS ALL COME TOGETHER?
The idea is to create 2 hour sessions remotely or 2-4 hour sessions in person made up of the first half shooting the base images chosen followed by stopping the clock for a cuppa and biscuits and a time out chat, and then the second half editing either remote or in person using the software to create the look. I've capped the sessions at 2 and 4 hours as I believe it's the max both model and photographer can concentrate on something like this and be productive. Multiple short sessions are always more productive. I can combine it with other work though if people are travelling, or split the shooting and editing to different days if more convenient or people prefer that break from their images.
The idea isn't to copy the image although sometimes this creates a fantastic tribute with a different model. But looks such as Marc Lagranges "Chocolate" can be easily created using this software in a few simple clicks. I'm actually not on commission from these guys, but the software can be trialled free for thirty days, and then is an inexpensive one off purchase many have made, so if it's not for you at the end of the trial you've lost nothing!
I also understand that there are many people out there who can edit in this style or prefer to edit their own work in other software so I'm happy if anyone wants to shoot images only. And also if anyone would like to work on a set of their own images editing in this style we can do that. I can even work the other way round in Lightroom with your presets if they're applicable to this type of work but it will take me a while to find my way around them
I'm happy to work with people of all levels of experience on this.I'm also a photographer myself, so I can understand the light, angles, composition and effects used to create these images, and settings required.Especially as some are not the "technical norm" now due to their vintage nature.
Also while this project is mainly about these photographers if you have a favourite with a distinct and creatable style you can always challenge me!!!
Whilst not practical to spend hours on one image I think aiming for six images an hour perfected to work on straight away on a storyboard, but obviously if we're flying through and they're right we can create as much as possible to work on afterwards. The emphasis is on focus and quality! But you won't be contributing to your growing editing pile..
I am aware a small amount of Amelkovich's work is of an adult nature and above the levels I shoot now. I'm happy to discuss borderline work.
Whilst I have many props, please be realistic...Elephants and Alligators I can't do...
HOW LONG WILL THIS PROJECT LAST?
In order to keep each shot unique, ONCE A SHOT IS USED ON A PHOTOGRAPHERS BOARD IT GOES OUT OF PLAY and cannot be repeated with me! So it's first come first serve for those iconic shots.. So the project I guess will last until we run out of shots or inspirational photographers. However once a shoot is booked and paid and the shots set I can be extremely flexible on shooting as with any other shoot, especially at the moment and you know you're concept board is safe until you can shoot.
I'll create a dedicated "tribute project page here and my weekly blog. There's actually people reading it again! And publish any links to websites etc that will help people find other like minded people whatever site they're on.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
At £40 an hour I want to keep this project affordable to as many people as possible but take into account the extra time involved setting just the right background, researching or moving furniture and testing lighting etc before the shoot this will take to get each shot just right.
So if you think this might be an interesting creative challenge for you please drop me a line via my message form here or messenger on Facebook here for a chat! https://www.facebook.com/helen.wykes.716/