Thursday, 29 March 2018

Photography - Fashion Campaigns and Look Books are Not the Same

I get the feeling that in 2018 a lot of fashion (& photography) is still getting short shrift as energies continue to be channelled into look books and IG-anything-goes pictures at the expense of strong and distinctive branding for fashion labels. When I was growing up, looking through the front section of a European or American edition of super fat copies of the VOGUEs of the world was where it was all at. The first chunk of the big magazines were packed solid with expensive and totally fabulous fashion campaigns. Then as now, fashion was an extremely competitive market and if you didn't have pictures to make your target audience - the people you wanted to be your customers swoon with desire - well the advertiser on the next page certainly would. These amazing campaigns (and they actually were amazing back when the word really meant... Amazing!) were not always so much centred on the fashion; as on the life and aspirations of that person the label was trying to seduce. And it was a seduction, no mistake about it. Astounding locations, impossibly beautiful models; clever studio sets and photography. Whatever it took to grab and HOLD your attention. That's what it was all about. And nothing about the art of seduction has changed!
Hero B&W Headshot of Victoria in top hat with black lace veil for a fashion campaign - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.

This series of pictures were made for a client who was doing small ranges with small runs, and all made here in Australia. Which was very bold, expensive; and gave them a lot of control over the designs and manufacturing, and they were winning awards right from the start. Shardi the designer was also quite particular with her photography without having a large budget. So when we did finally shoot together it was exciting but also a little frustrating too. I have to say, that without a doubt; not only where her designs unique, her sense of styling and feel for the woman of her label were quite exceptional! As for myself; I can't help imagining just what we could have done with these images if the budget had been there. We had a united vision and I believe we really did have the shots. These pictures are all completely fresh edits, most of them never published before.

Fashion isn't selling clothes, it's selling a fantasy to sell the clothes, the make-up, the perfume. Maybe you can't have that million dollar life, but when you buy that dress, that outfit; you are transformed and you really do feel like a million dollars. I know I do! I think this is the true story of fashion. Not what the dress looks like in a scientific, perfect look book way. But the way the fashion makes you feel; which can't be told in a look book picture. Same with runway pictures from the fashion circus - these are still trade show events, the inspired idea yes - but not the wearing of the clothes, the real-unreal world of buying and wearing fashion. So my heart aches when I look online and don't see a life I want to live, nothing of a life I desire and aspire to. I just see clothes, not fashion. One rack one page, looking more or less - well almost exactly the same as the rest.. I no longer see any difference, or the glamour of fashion; but I haven't forgotten it and I certainly haven't forgotten how to photograph it. You don't necessarily need a huge budget.. the dream, my fashion dream is still alive.
Fashion campaign photography - A classic warm toned black and white fashion photograph of a model in a striped dress holding a rose - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.

Fashion campaign photography - Victoria in top hat, tulle ankle 'socks' skirt and bustier; classic warm toned black and white fashion photograph - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Taking our time to create the mood.

Looking like and angel in a red dress with stiff ruffle butterfly sleeve, black leatherette leg gators - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.A folded blue ballon skirt dress with side points, front epaulettes with four brass buttons on the bodice - photographed in black and white on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Shardi styling Victoria, fashion catalogue photoshoot on location, Sydney, Australia - photographed on location by Kent Johnson.
Shardi styling Victoria - on location, Sydney, Australia.
Mid shot B&W fashion photograph, leatherette and lace layered dress with short mutton sleeves and top hat - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Fashion photography of a Bias detailed bodice with ruffled skirt dress, pull over leatherette sleeves, model reading a book while walking - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Mid shot B&W photograph of Victoria wearing a leatherette bodice dress with layered two tone lace skirt and top hat - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.A fashion camapign headshot of Victoria looking back like and angel in a red dress with stiff ruffle butterfly sleeve - fashion photograph on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Like what you see? Drop me a line to talk about your next fashion photography project - Call Kent on 0433 796 863 or Email kent@artcommunication.com.au
Fashion Campaigns and Look Books are not the same. "When I was growing up, looking through the front section of a European or American edition of super fat copies of the VOGUEs of the world was where it was all at. The first chunk of the big magazines were packed solid with expensive and totally fabulous fashion campaigns. Then as now, fashion was an extremely competitive.."
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Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Let's Make Photography Great Again!

One of the key things that has changed with photographing since the introduction of digital-photography that has taken hold - is the ease of getting an image out-of the camera. People with an 'eye' can look at their on-trend mood-board and copy a shot. Or at least try to copy a shot and still get some kind of facsimile. This ease of "you press the button the camera does the rest" you just didn't see how far did you KODAK; has lead to a lot more people making pictures. Or perhaps to split hairs - taking pictures - as the end product, the picture is immediately visible.

But this mood-board - copyist approach to photography has left out a very important part of what makes a picture work in the first place.

The IDEA!

The idea that becomes the concept that needs thinking about. Then the right collection of people and fashion brought together to pull it off. And mostly that idea can ONLY be fully realised because you have brought the right team together - it, the picture becomes a gestalt - where the image itself becomes greater than the sum of all the skills of all the individuals who have put it together. Think of those ICONIC images! Yes we mostly think of the photographers eye and timing - but.. and especially with fashion. What if the stylists choice of outfit was changed, the model, the make-up artist, the hair? Even the assistants are part of a well orchestrated machine of thought and ideas and actions. Swap out this or that and you will not have that same picture.

ICONIC images! The likes of which have never been seen before. Pictures a generation remembers and keeps remembering!!!

This is something that is I think essentially impossible to achieve with the 'new regime' of mood-board as starting point - facsimile the final position. These pictures will have no soul. And there are luscious, strange ironies when it comes to fashion photography done in a way that begins with an idea that becomes a concept brought to life. Even though a fashion picture is a real-photo, fashion should always be a fantasy which is something that is not quite real at all. When that fashion picture is based on an original idea and well made with a great team. That fashion picture, that fantasy holds something unique inside that is real: and that's something that a copy of a fantasy can never have.

And you know what. I think most people just don't care, have forgotten that great pictures can still be made. Have become so; so used to the quick flick of instagram and copy-copy-copy - as an original idea - they have forgotten that great images can be made and they go beyond, far beyond their initial purpose of creation - and go on being remembered. For a very long time. Come on, I haven't given up; let's kick some goals, let's take our time back; our ideas back; let's get it together and let's make photography great again!

More of my thoughts on photography here -

Mood Boards; that White-Gold Blue-Black Dress Mood boards, you are probably doing it wrong.

The Stove might be Terrific but it won't deliver Fantastic Pictures. Why it's the photographer not the camera.

Why this Photographer Closed his Instagram Accounts All still valid though I do have one again..

Want to see some ICONIC Fashion Photos? Here's Goggles take - Iconic Fashion Photographs

Illustration for the article Lets make Fashion Photography Great Again by Photographer and Writer Kent Johnson


Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863