Look Book Shoot Process

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I sometimes have no idea what I’m doing. In fact, almost always I have no idea. Sometimes I think of myself as a person with no ‘ideas’.

I met up with someone yesterday, who is totally different from me, as part of my ‘reaching out’ exercise (more on this later). She is an idea person. She said so herself and while I was talking to her over my coffee and her Turmeric Latte, I could sense that she could be perfect to complete my puzzle. She has my missing piece! She comes up with ideas and I then make things happen. Do you get the picture? It would be perfect.

Danielle Marklew’s Visual Diary

That is not to say that I’ve given up coming up with ideas. I’m steadily building my idea muscles. This is how I tackled my lack of idea situation.

When I decided to give my time for lookbook shoots for Rena and Danielle I was in the same quagmire. I didn’t know what I would do with their garments. A part of me was thinking I should be doing something amazing but I had no idea of how to create something amazing. The fear set in and the frustration of not being creative enough to come up with brilliant shooting ideas was consuming me.

After a few hours of emotional struggle, my logical (troubleshooting) brain kicked in. This was my logical self at work:

  • It’s not about me.
  • It’s about their work.
  • Ask them what they would like to see / do with their shoot.
  • Work things out / analyse from there what is needed.

This is the beauty of allowing others to feed my creative channel. Understanding that I wasn’t alone in creating the shoot, I made myself available to receive, synthesise and produce photographs that are richer in context and feel because it wasn’t just about me (coming up with the idea).

Photographs resulting from collaborating with Danielle

The shoot was successful by any measure (although measuring such work is futile if not impossible). I could say that without any shame because Danielle made a comment that if it wasn’t for the photos we created together she would not have been in this (fantastic) situation (I cannot say what this is… You’ll find out soon).

Opening up for possibilities and enable others to feed my creative energy worked for me. If you feel stuck why not try what I’ve done. It might not work but it might be just what you need.

Visual diary to a Lookbook shoot – Rena Hermone

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Rena’s fashion & textile graduate collection ‘spoke’ to my former depressed self in a very intimate way when she started her presentation during the first assessment class, and all the way up to completing her collection garments for the graduate fashion show in 2015.

Looking at the images from her visual diary I learned that:

  1. Strong collections (high impact) of garments are created from strong concepts
  2. Creating and developing concepts cannot be outsourced or bought
  3. Fashion can be / is a form of Art.

These pointers are quite important in my own learning/practice as a creative. So if I were to translate these into my own practice as a photographer:

  1. Consider concept and intent before pressing the shutter
  2. Concept generation and development is part of what I see through my camera (rather than spending hours in front of computer processing images which could be ‘outsourced’).
  3. I get inspired by all manner of Art (e.g. Fashion) as a photographer not just by ‘photography’.

It’s fascinating looking at a visual diary getting translated into a collection of garments. The process could take 12 months or more. Then we had another process of translating the collection to a lookbook shoot. I’d like to talk about that in my next post to show Danielle’s visual diary as a similar process to what I went through.

There’s always learning to be had in all aspect of life it seems. I just have to open my eyes and look (properly).

Taking it slow

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Everything seems to be moving at lightening speed. Messages arrive instantaneously. Things I order from a far away land get here within a few days. Often, I find myself getting agitated because things don’t happen fast enough.

Lately, however, I came to realise and accept the simple fact that some things just take time. It applies to many things, especially when one creates and puts work down as part of creative processes which could take weeks, months or years.

Since 2015, I’ve been privileged enough to attend and observe assessment classes of students who were preparing for their graduate fashion shows. Watching undergraduate students from ECU’s Fashion & Textile program create their collections of garments really let me see how creative processes work and just how long it takes to produce a robust collection that is worthy of a fashion show. Discussions of concepts and ideas of students work make fertile ground for my own inspirations.

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A leaf out of Rena Hermone’s visual diary

 

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A spread out of Danielle Marklew’s visual diary

 

The two students – Rena and Danielle – I picked out from last year’s class, with whom I collaborated in photo shoots, are those who challenged and inspired me a great deal.

As much as I would like to do everything fast and get things over and done with within seconds… truly good things just take time.

I’ll do another couple of blog posts on ideas/concepts getting across to look-book shoots and the result although some of you might have already seen it.

 

Why big retail stores are bad

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Big retail stores are bad. Alright. Let me qualify that… The people and the machinery that run big retail stores are only interested in $ – the bottom line. And these stores sell cheap cheap cheap stuff! Oh boy was I surprised to find brand new tee shirts selling for a mere $5 (a little more than the price of a coffee!) at Kmart. Add an extra $5 to that and you get what they call a ‘premium’ tee. And do these cheapo tees last? I hate throwing away stuff after a year or, worse still, after only a season because it is simply just cheaply made. Alright, I don’t go to big malls these days so you may say that I’m out of touch. Perhaps that’s the price of normal things? Seriously though? I can’t even buy a metre of fabric for $5!?

So I looked at where that $5 tee shirt was made. Not surprisingly, the big retailers had tapped into ‘cheap labour’ in Bangladesh. China is no longer the land of ‘cheap’ but Bangladesh is when it comes to mass production as, apparently, it is now the second biggest exporter of garments in the world. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/bangladesh-garment-industry-rana-plaza-wage-hike-524125)

Hopefully, buying these cheap tees may increase the quality of lives in the country? Will it? Their average monthly wage is less than USD$40. It is the same old story though. Big corporations go into these poor countries then indirectly screw the workers over to make bigger profit margins. The worker might not have any proper safety standards or employee welfare, which all costs $ to implement and maintain. When you and I pick up a bargain tee-shirt of $5, it should make us wonder what extra should we (or more accurately Kmart/Target/BigW or name any other big corporation) pay so that workers get their due and we don’t suffer from a moral dilemma over buying a mere tee.

The reason why I don’t go into malls a lot – believe me I love shopping and I used to frequent these stores heaps back in the day – is because not only I decided to buy ‘less’ but also I now work with local fashion designers. Knowing how things are designed and handmade in a smaller scale, I can no longer casually pick up cheap crap. Besides, when I know that I’m supporting local businesses (remember I am one of them as well!), why would I buy from stores run by big corporations? There are plenty of people who would willingly help out the big bad boys. For me, I opt out.

If you feel the same way about all of this, I can tell you a bit about my clients. Currently, I work with two local labels – FuMoso and Megan Salmon. Both have been around for more than a decade. People may moan how bad retail businesses are, but if we shop more responsibly, there is no reason why local labels like these should not thrive.

FuMoso has a huge range of what the designer/owner, Gail Thompson, calls Basics. They are simple-(ish) garments you can layer under and over. There’s singlets, tees, and slip dresses in different colours. The finishing and the quality of the clothes are second to none. I know this because I unpicked the stitches of a few pairs of pants from FuMoso due to my recent weight loss! I hear ladies saying how long Gail’s garments last – literally years. Gail designs and produces her samples herself in her studio in Byford. An added benefit of buying FuMoso is that it’s made right here in Western Australia.

Megan Salmon, the label, is a well known establishment within the Fremantle Fashion Collective. Megan, the designer, not only designs fashion but she is also a prolific artist who paints and draws. At the back of her Fremantle store, you’ll find her continuously working on her next fashion collection with her production team. Or experimenting with new ‘dye’ in her dye studio. Or working on her original digital prints which are present in her past and current collections.

Where do you buy their stuff? You don’t have time to travel to Byford or Fremantle? Well, you buy online, of course! That’s because I built their online stores. Now you know where to get quality clothes without having an ethical / moral dilemma and you’ll also be supporting local businesses and creatives who hire local people.

Sadly, I don’t know any local menswear designers who sell everyday garments online. If you do, would you like to hook me up?

This is why and how I lost 5kg in 4 weeks

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I lost 5kg in 4 weeks. I say that to people and then their reaction is always one of admonishment. Typically because they think I was thin enough before I lost all that weight. I have never really been overweight at any stage in life for the past forty or so years.

So why then I get asked. It’s entirely because I want to wear things that demand a particular figure tailored, fitted, angular. Very vain? Yes.

Before I embarked on the journey of losing weight and changing the way I eat, I had to make a fundamental decision of giving myself permission to be vain and frivolous. No matter what others say or think, the important thing is to be happy with myself. I told myself to hell with whatever else is stopping me from doing the things that needed to be done to lose that extra 5-7kgs I had gained in the past decade.

Rather than just dreaming, I decided to take action. That meant several things. In fact, several ‘doings’ instead of just :

  • thinking I should exercise
  • giving up on those trousers I bought in Paris in 2004
  • procrastinating on clearing out baggy garments that are uber comfortable
  • eating copious amounts of fluffy white rice and noodles
  • fearing I wouldn’t get there.

We often talk about not having willpower. I found that willpower alone would not have helped me to get to where I am now. I took advice from various sources.

  • Dr. Michael Mosley on his calorie restricted eating
  • Dr. Chris Van Tulleken’s report on veganism
  • Cowspiracy – Finding out the truth about animal farming and its effects on our environment
  • Remit Sethi on human psychology

All the information I consumed while watching several documentaries/reports on the health and wellbeing of our planet was enough to get me out of the rut that I had been in for a long time. This doesn’t mean I suddenly became a vegan or an anti-animal farming activist. It simply means that I’m consciously opting for more plant based food and I weigh my food to ensure that I know how many calories I consume each day. I also walk every day with my dog.

Photo I took using my Nexus 5 while I was out walking the dog

Photo I took using my Nexus 5 while I was out walking the dog

 

This is what my lunch looks like. A pile of vegetables topped with NO TOAST.

This is what my lunch looks like. A pile of vegetables topped with NO TOAST.

 

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This is what I have for dinner most nights – vegetable stew with some beans and peas.

 

From there, losing 5kgs was simple. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t believe my scale when I weighed myself. The biggest thing was being able to wear the trousers that were destined to be thrown away/donated to charity shops. It doesn’t stop at trousers though. There are boots, rings, jackets that were ever so tight before. Now they fit nicely with a bit of room. Oh joy.

Am I worried that I would gain all that weight back at some stage? Obviously, I thought about it. The conventional wisdom is that the faster you lose the quicker you gain when it comes to weight loss. According to Michael Mosley, it’s not so especially if the healthy eating habit sticks and it becomes your lifestyle. I’m not in any hurry (if ever) to venture back into the meat aisles when shopping. And my dog won’t be happy to be sitting around all day.