Collaborations: Introduction

Collaborations

How, where and when to start in the creative industry

One of the best and most “affordable” ways to build a portfolio featuring amazing creative or fantasy designs (beside renting) was reaching out to others through the internet. In fact, it’s also what lay the entire foundation of what the studio is right now - it did take about almost ten years roughly from when I started serious until what it is now. It was definitely a road where I’ve learned a lot, by experiencing, making mistakes, listening and doing this. But it’s been one of the most wholesome experiences of my entire career and I would love to talk more about it!

Now before I continue there are two quick things I want to address:
1. While I did say it’s the cheapest way, things can run up quickly. And it takes a lot of work, time & communication to ensure all parties are happy: so I will be breaking it all down in a few articles to come for all for all of you! But it’s a hell lot of fun, it can be way more affordable than buying - though I also highly recommend doing this as well. More about that later as well :)

2. This article is entirely based on my own experiences & what I’ve heard from designers. While I try to write this as objectively as possible - the golden rule to always keep in mind is that people may have their own system and you’re working with another person. Stay polite, stay honest and stay true. That’s half of the work already no matter the case.

 A recent, very succesfull collaboration between myself & Eline Deblauwe (baldcap & make-up) with model Spooky. The dress is by Royal Black Couture (dress) with who I’ve collaborated many times before. This idea came to life when she visited me this summer and was . I reached out online to a designer who could provide gloves & through there I came in contact with Dark Virtue Designs (of which more collabs spawned …)

A recent, very succesfull collaboration between myself & Eline Deblauwe (baldcap & make-up) with model Spooky. The dress is by Royal Black Couture (dress) with who I’ve collaborated many times before. This idea came to life when she visited me this summer and was . I reached out online to a designer who could provide gloves & through there I came in contact with Dark Virtue Designs (of which more collabs spawned …)

So what ARE collaborations?

A collaboration is when two or more people decide to team up together for unpaid, on one or multiple projects to bring an idea to life, either national or international or a combination. In a case of international collaborations, usually item(s) are shipped to each other but I’ve had various cases when I teamed up with international models that brought pieces with them when they traveled to me too work on ideas.

Collaborations are an amazing opportunity to meet new people, create work of entire new levels and as a way to challenge yourself and each other to create epic new work for yours and theirs portfolio. For others it’s a way to break away from client assignments or to try & learn new techniques to showcase and attract new clients. And for others it’s a creative breath of fresh air.

The core is always the same: it’s to create new work on unpaid or tf base to add to one’s social media, website and ideally (online) portfolio.

When & how do you start with these?

Honestly and in theory: you could start at any time with this, even if you just picked up a camera. But in practice, there is a bit more too it: You’re working with other people so it’s not simply a matter of “ask & receive” - but a matter of “ask and work for the team greater good” and being aware you will most likely be reaching out to complete strangers to trust you and send you something to shoot that needs to be send back unharmed.

When reaching out a first time (I will designate an entire blog to this topic later & more), make sure you have at least some (recent) examples of your work. It could be your website or just your Instagram even or even just a collage showing some examples. Keep your message straight and short and explain you’re interested in collaborating - if you have a theme or concept, add it straight away as well in a line or two. And ask if they would be interested. Like I said: nobody needs an essay. Just make clear who you are, what you want and what you have to offer (both as person and with your work).

 Another collaboration (still one of my favs) was with Pioro Blue - who created this gorgeous silver crown she borrowed to me alongside a ton of other designs. Makeup is done by Jane Von Vintage on Nymphiah, the wig is bought from Websterwigs and the dress is a secondhand one of my clients got me!

Another collaboration (still one of my favs) was with Pioro Blue - who created this gorgeous silver crown she borrowed to me alongside a ton of other designs. Makeup is done by Jane Von Vintage on Nymphiah, the wig is bought from Websterwigs and the dress is a secondhand one of my clients got me!

I cannot stress enough that when reaching out, you’re probably working with strangers at first. Your interaction matters just as much as the results: be patient and understanding, even if you receive a “no” answer or in cases: not even a respond. Nobody owes you to send free items to shoot and you’re the asking party. While I get this is frustrating - you don’t know what’s happening behind the screens. Maybe they forgot, maybe they don’t do well with sending a negative respond, maybe they are tired of too many requests, maybe you didn’t read a FAQ or bio where they state they don’t do collabs or tf, maybe something came up, … There are plenty of reasons and in the best case - you simple leave it there as well. It’s definitely not ideal and I will be honest I don’t always respond either anymore in times when it’s just too much or many; but on the other hand I’m also a firm believer that we are allowed silence at times even if social media makes us believe we don’t.

If you do get a yes - always keep in mind it’s a team effort. Communicate about what’s happening or going to happen, ask what your time schedule is to borrow a piece, maybe check up if they like the choice of team, see who covers what in expenses … Especially in the beginning. Once you’re more established and/or you have a name - usually people will trust you faster but it still can never do any harm to check up when in doubt or when you do something entiterely else. People will say yes based on what you showed and what they see, so making a full change and experiment without warning might not be ideal.

Collaborations can be absolutely amazing and while I do touch a lot on the "lesser fun” parts - I think they’re equally as important or even more as it’s easy to just ask around and expect things to just happen because of that. For me, they have made me some of the best friendships so far, the best pieces in my portfolio and some of my fondest memories of creating. Getting to know and work with others who have the same vision as you, being able to make something to life we can all enjoy and share is one of the best aspects of my job and I hope this series of blogs will kindle that inspiration for you as well!


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—- PATREON —-

How it was lit: Fervor - Artifical & Natural Light

How it was lit: Fervor

My first time using artificial light on location

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done this shoot, but I’m so happy I can finally talk about it: my very first time using artificial light outside. When I became a broncolor GenNEXT ambassador, I quickly knew I wanted to have the possibility to work outside as well – as I felt that was something I rarely did anymore. Mostly because I felt uninspired and I love how I’m able to use artificial light to create certain moods and feelings – but it was something out of my reach. This entire set was shot with a Siros 800 with just one modifier (a Softlight Reflector with diffuser) and being able to just pack it up and go is pretty mindblowing. Everything is battery charged and I made it through the entire session with just two, with the second still going strong and steady.

For this specific shoot I had some of my favorite people on set: Eline Deblauwe who was taking care of hair and make-up, my gorgeous muses Luce Del Sole & Van Spooky Pants, with dresses by Church Of Sanctus – a London base independent vegan brand – and amazing jewelry by Finnish designer Eero Hintsanen.

For this one I only took one modifier with me – as I had this idea to create very deep and contrast like images with the urban location we had in Antwerp: which was the Siros 800 and the Softlight Reflector with a diffuser. I did my first try with Spooky and it took me a bunch of attempts to figure out the “how” as the first images looked like the (what I don’t like) typical look I see very often with artificial light outside.

Try-Outs.jpg

It all came together the moment I positioned my model against the beautiful, strong evening light we had on that fall day and I used the light to fill in my model rather than to use it as a main light. And that was basically the magic I was looking for. The first try (with Spooky) resulted in some heavy chromatic aberration (which I’ve been able to work away), for the second shoot I positioned my model in a more overcast setting and used the shadowplay of the building we where shooting under for a different kind of look.

I positioned my light mostly on the left, angled up at a 45 degrees downwards while the rest of the image was mostly lit by the evening light. It resulted in a deep, contrast like set of images without losing any details and an absolute minimum for editing. Most I had to do was color conversion and adjustments to contrast and light – with just a few minor distraction removals.

And on that note: The Siros 800 is an absolute beast - the HS (High-Speed) was able to balance out the beautiful evening light and merge both light sources together. It is definitely visible it’s not only using natural light, but it doesn’t has this overpowering feel to it like in my first tests and that was the look I was going for.

Lane1.jpg

I shot a second set near the water, which was a bit more tricky as I had more natural light and the sun was setting, but again I was able with some minor adjustments to get it all done and ready to shoot with a similar set-up as before. As before, in post-processing I barely had to do any editing as everything just flawlessy came together on set.

I will be going outside again shortly to try more of this, this time with colored gels and/or more modifiers but that will be for another blog. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

***
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RENTAL LIST: Costumes & Styling

Finding costumes and styling is often something where a lot of young and beginning people struggle with. Or sometimes it’s hard to start out if you want to branch out in a new direction when you’re already more established and need a new fresh wind … without breaking that bank account for either way by purchasing these costumes.

That’s why I decided to start this list: I’ve worked with many of these people myself and I want to bring more people together to create something beautiful with as art is life & life should be lived to it’s fullest! I hope you feel inspired by finding these amazing designers and I hope you find that next epic concept idea to shoot!

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So I (re)discovered Alienskin (Exposure 4) - I used it véry briefly back in 2014 but didn’t get the hang of it so I completely forgot about it until a while back. I decided to try it again, as they have a full 30 days trial with no strings or sneaky hidden costs attached (no joke - it’s awesome!) where you get full playroom of basically anything you want to try out they have to offer.

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How It Was Lit: "Li-Pei"

This summer was a whirlwind of creative chaos and beauty, seeing old friends back and meeting people in real life after collaborating many times and staying in touch on the internet. One of these people is the insanely talented Lillian Liu - who is a fellow photographer and creative mastermind based in Canada - who has been traveling almost yearly to Europe for a massive roadtrip. With one stop being my place here in Antwerp - our little tradition since the summer of 2015 when we got to meet for the first time.

The idea of this shoot was one of these impromptu, lightbulb moments of inspiration, which was after we went for breakfast on a lovely morning walk discussing our ideas. Lillian mentioned she needed to wash her hair before our sessions in the studio … and it took a second or so where I realised how gorgeous that concept could be with her ethnicity and her lush, dark hair. While I did know it could quickly become that-kinda-kitsch-shoot if I wasn’t careful, I knew that my new and current favorite light modifier from broncolor it would totally be possible and make it a piece of portraiture art.

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