A couple of months ago I was accepted and given a place on the Nick Knight Mastered course. For any of you who don't know what that is; It's an online course with Nick as the main tutor. You learn through a mixture of written work and video lectures. Every month there is a large brief that we are set and at the end we are given expert feedback by either Nick or other industry leaders. With the briefs we are asked to show our complete creative process on a page, much like a blog. So I figured I would put all of that process into here so people can see how I work and how I think.
Today I'm going to be showing you my work for the first brief. The first brief was to look at all the SS/16 Collections, find a recurring theme within one collection, build a shoot create 10 images on the theme. The theme could be anything from colour, an emotion, a mood, the cut of the fabric, the garments themselves or the patterns used. We were told to stay away from Catwalk reports and Journalists interpretations of the collection, which was great as it meant our views weren't tainted by others thoughts of the collection. It's important to note that we did not require the clothes from the collection or a professional model as this was an exercise about examining how we interpret imagery and a way to examine our creative process from start to finish.
Some notes: 99% off this material is taken directly from my research with little no updating. The only thing that has been added post shoot is the lighting diagram. So if there are any spelling mistakes or something doesn't make sense please ignore it and keep going as I was working very instinctively with this and letting my thoughts carry me where ever they wanted to.
SS/16 COLLECTION RESEARCH
I'm choosing the modern warrior theme that I feel the Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière, collection showcases through his work. I waited until I had examined the collection closely to then read about Nicolas, as I didn't want my interpretation to be tainted by any information I had learned about him. Reading about Ghesquière, I know that he had a keen love sports growing up, especially horse riding and fencing. This now is very apparent in this collection. With his use of fishnet, panelled pieces he brings the spirit of fencing into his work. Images below. The biker jackets used in his collection also to act as a nod to his sporting background, as what is a motorbike other than a mechanical horse. Where once we had bandits of thieves and nomads roaming the country on their steeds these have now been replaced by bikers, gangs of people shirking of the shackles of society to live independently, not governed by social conventions, societal rules or laws. These are independent people, often living in their own communities, with their own set of principles, ideals and way of life. This is also reflected in their dress sense, or uniforms, often setting them apart from society with emblems acting almost as sigils of their beliefs and life choices. There style comes with a hugely influential implied sense of power. This is reflected and mirrored back to them by the fear that their presence invokes in the members of society that they have turned their back against.
HAIR AND JEWELLERY REFRENCES
Colour palette references.
The colours in the collection are mainly blacks, whites and greys with some blocked out blues and accents of colours. The most colourful piece in the entire collection is the multicoloured spray painted leather jacket. This colour palette reminds me of characters who would live in a dystopian future in films like Mad Max, the Matrix, Equilibrium, Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange and Demolition Man.
A small examination of Ghesquière's athletic influence.
To summarise. The theme that I pulled from Ghesquière's latest collection is that of a strong modern warrior on the fringes of society, living by their own rules, there will be nods to traditional Norse and Afar warriors whilst maintaining a modern edge, combining sportswear and fishnet.
As I look more and more at the collection, I see more of an outsider to culture. Someone on the fringes of society. I have looked into counter culture icons, such as 80's bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat as I believe they embody the reactive nature of these clothes. The war these warriors fight is not a physical war, but an emotional and spiritual war.
FINAL MOODBOARD FOR THE SHOOT
MORE THOUGHTS ON THE THEME
The more I look at and think about the modern warrior, I think about technology. Warriors, typically operate in a group because of a shared ideology or belief. They have deep rooted friendships and comradeship that are typically formed out of shared hardships and events which bring them closer together, hardships that they have only endured because of their beliefs, their beliefs which bring them closer together. Technology has sprung to mind, because that's the age we are living in, the technological age. We are more connected than ever before. We can have a shared conversation which spans the entire globe, the internet and technology allows us to have a conversation where usually cultural and language barriers may have been a hinderance. Once where we would have met in a physical space to discuss such shared beliefs we are now meeting in a digital space. The actual physical act of going out and meeting people to discuss a shared idea or belief is fast becoming a thing of the past, the comradeship which would have often forged in these places is now being forged online . In this respect we are more alone. Before these congregations and social gatherings wouldoften be part of the armour that protected warriors. Although there is a shared style in how people of subcultures dress, this is now expanding. Strength in numbers is fast disappearing, it is often down to the strength of the individual, which is reflected in their style.
PASSION AND VIOLENCE
I decided to build a large foil cube in my studio for the shoot to take place in. It acted as a representation between the physical and digital world that we inhabit and the displacement that it can cause. Because the set was so large I had to order 225 meters of tin foil just to cover the walls.
For the shoot I asked Ewan Smart to style as I knew he would understand the look I was going for. Below are some of the moodboards for styling he sent me.
Some notes on the shoot.
The lighting took around an hour to get exactly where I wanted it to be. Initially the key light was too red so we opted to cut a small circle in the centre of the gel to allow a natural colour of light through. The images required little to no retouching as I wanted to get it right in camera on the day. All of the blurred images were shot with around a 1/30th of a second.
Model - Fletch.
Stylist - Ewan Smart.
Hari + MUA - Donna Gunn.
Studio - Broadscope Studios
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS PROCESS.
Working in a really in depth process like this was beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly it helped me to identify with designers who I really liked. This is important as the fashion world is so nebulous and at times abstract that it can be hard to choose just one thing to focus on. Shooting fashion is like giving a child the keys to a sweetshop and telling them they can have anything...you don't know where to start. This exercise gave me a point of focus and a starting block to create something that only I could have created.
The exercise also allowed me time; as a working photographer I am often given a short period of time to explore an idea and create a concept for a client, this is just the nature of the business. However working solely on this one personal project allowed me to slow down my process and examine all avenues in regards to one theme, the modern warrior. What this enabled me to do was to go into completely different directions and explore things that I would not of usually had the time or inclination to do. For instance would you look at Louis Vuitton SS16 collection and put my images beside them? Probably not, but they are linked.
I would urge anyone who makes pictures to try this approach, it will take you in some crazy directions and you'll be surprised at what you can create.
Any questions, or enquiries leave them in the comments and i'll get back to you ASAP.
Thanks for reading.