Photography and Text by Michael Heath, Copyright 2017
MAGAZINE EDITORIAL PROCESS
Selecting black garments was a very personal decision. There have been many periods in my life where I’ve worn nothing but black clothing. At first, it was out of necessity. I had worked as part of a theatre stage crew when I was young, an occupation where you need to disappear if you want to do your job right. In later years, I kept wearing black, sometimes because I wanted to disappear into a dark corner somewhere and be left alone, other times I wanted to stand out. Among people who wear colorful clothing, as if birds trying to attract mates, someone wearing clothes that features the near complete absence of color tends to stand out the most. It was spiteful, but it sent a message to my peers.
I don’t find myself often looking at magazine fashion editorials, but, when I do, I tend to look at the models more than the clothing. They always feel like they’re just living hangers for the clothes; they’re lifeless, fleshy, skeletal dummies some designer put wrapping on. For this assignment, I wanted to poke a finger in the eye of that notion. I wanted my subjects to be human, and their clothes to feel used, lived-in, un-staged, real.
There were a number of people in our Fashion Photography class I had observed over the last several weeks, keeping mental notes of their personalities and how they engaged others, how they channeled their disposition into their clothes. Over the course of two weeks, I coordinated with them to see what they had, and we chose certain unique garments to show off during the shoot. In some cases, I had envisioned an image of someone long before the photo was taken. Most of the time, however, I knew all I had to do was let the models be themselves, and that giving them directions would be counterproductive, making my photos look forced, which I was trying to avoid at all costs.
I wanted the images to be location-less, giving me the option to add background features later (which I chose not to do, as I felt adding to the frame became distracting). Lighting was straight-forward: A strobe head with an umbrella for key in front, pointing down at a 45° angle, and a 4’ x 6’ soft-box for rear, wrap around fill, and as a background. The idea was to create certain areas of contrast to bring out the features of the clothing and the models. All images were shot at ISO 100, 1/125th sec., f/4.
About The Author: Michael Heath is a Senior IT Support Specialist, ISC Classroom Technology Services, at the University of Pennsylvania. http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/michael-heath-skate-board-fashion/