For the September ’12 issue of BA’s Inflight Magazine
Acting Art Director: Sarah Browne
Hair & Makeup Linda Andersson
London-Based Fashion, Beauty and Advertising Photographer Hugh O'Malley
For the September ’12 issue of BA’s Inflight Magazine
Acting Art Director: Sarah Browne
I was commissioned to shoot this editorial for Labb Magazine but then they went and folded didn’t they? What can you do? Enjoy!leave a comment
Fashion Photography is dead, long live Fashion Photography.
[This article appeared in Labb Magazine volume II, August '10]
I got a call from a production team recently asking me if I wanted to go on TV to discuss retouching. It was when that Twiggy campaign came out and everyone was banging on about how ‘ohmigod, she doesn’t look like that in real life’. I knew the topic was a real hot potato and being the evil photographer I am that fritters away my days with nubile young lovelies, eating the drugs and generally having a rather swish lifestyle living in the glamorous fashion world, (daaahlinks!!!) I knew that I was the designated whipping boy du jour and politely declined this golden opportunity to get my fingers well and truly burned and make a fool of myself on national television (again). If they’d seen me in the frozen foods aisle in Iceland (perhaps it’s all one big frozen food aisle in Iceland) trying to figure out which fish pie is cheaper per 100gm yet simultaneously least likely to give me cancer, they might not have been so quick to put yours truly on ye olde speed dial. It’s not all glamour chez moi a Hackney, innit?
Later, in a bout of Esprit d’escalier I wished I’d gone on and ranted about ‘you can’t handle the truth’ or about how tv presenters lie when they wear make up and what the hell is reality anyway since cubism and post-modernism and Lacanian fragmented mirroring and … Anyway, I digress, my point is that I saw the big gaping hole they were digging for me.
Earlier this year I met twiggy at the Burberry show and she seems like a perfectly lovely woman but young is not a word you might casually use to describe her so if someone lightened a few ‘laughter lines’ would you blame them? Hey, I didn’t hear any complaints from the ol’ Twigster. Did you?
Have these people just discovered retouching? Are these the people who still haven’t gotten over the myriad betrayals of Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter bunny, weapons of mass destruction and ‘I won’t come in your mouth, I promise’ and want revenge? The Pixies have a line in (song?) ‘La vida total es una porceria, porceria’ which roughly translates as ‘all life is a shitty con job’. Now I find that sentiment a little pessimistic but nonetheless I can empathise. The media in genera can play hard and fast with the truth when it suits their ends but then again, let’s face it, fashion photography was never about reality and we know we’re not in Kansas any more, thanks very much, you bolshie French complainers who want a Parental Advice: Explicit Retouching label on every advertisement. Let them eat cake.
Ok some careless dickhead made that Ralph Lauren model’s hips narrower than her head. Go crucify Tony Blair, instead please. He still hasn’t got his comeuppance for having that sexed up dossier guy assassinated. Go get him and leave Karl Lagerfeld alone! The man has enough pain in his life already!
Nevertheless, I appreciate how some of that stuff could understandably mess with a teen girl’s dietary habits but I blame the parents for not educating their runts about. Me, I get enough reality on my doorstep. perhaps when I am wealthy enough to knock together two town houses in chelsea and call it my studio like that famous singer from the 80′s who shall remain nameless. Ok you twisted my arm, it’s Bryan Adams.
Digital technology has moved fashion photography back solidly into the realm where it belongs, into the world of fantasy, the world of illusion, the world of, dare I say it: the world of Art, and simultaneously unchained us from the ties of long delays between capture and realisation and allowed us the instant gratification that we all want and need.
Take an image by Javier Vallhonrat and I think you are as rewarded by the lushness of the vision, as impressed by the perfection of the execution, and seduced by the rhetoric of the psychological dramas unfolding in a painting as you would be by the pre-Raphaelite’s work. Go spend an afternoon in the Tate and track down their work and you won’t think that our ancestors were all square dullards tightly bound and primly tucked. The rich sensuality and lucid yet dream – like quality of the work was a revelation to me.
Fashion photography too can be a vision of perfection, an ideal world we know we will never live in. Ok I may never have a whole suite of Louis Vuitton luggage, or loll about with writhing hot models in some curiously run down yet simultaneously chic location, or spend a boozy weekend with Abramovich and Dasha on a Yohji Yamamoto themed yacht replete with anti paparazzi death rays and multiple helipads (just in case, ok?). I accept your unattainability and raise you some. The genre has been variously proclaimed as dead, dying or on its knees for years now with many proclaiming that they had exhausted the limitations of the genre and moved on to moving image or to other artistic pastures.
The massive growth of the internets and all those lolcats saw quite a number of publications taking early retirement as advertising budgets plummeted and not only that, those tiny fiddly lil’ banner ads don’t need much in the way of photography. For a while, work became thinner on the ground for photographers but as Warren Buffet said: ‘it’s only when the tide goes out, that you find out who’s swimming naked.’
A long time ago Mr Magritte told us: ‘Ceci n’est pas un pipe.’ More recently, David Lynch had his protagonists warn us in Mulholland Drive – ‘No ay Banda’ and De La Soul told us that ‘this is a recording.’ I think the point is that it’s not reality, it’s an ideal vision, Not a philosophy, more a divertissement. not the road but an often beautifully illustrated map.
Copyright Hugh O’Malley 2010leave a comment
This story was published in the Phoenix Magazine which was distributed during fashion week.
Editor: Hannah Kane
‘A’ Dress by Anna Piercyleave a comment
I was very excited to receive a visit from George Eko, the editor of Labb Magazine. George was in town to help out with distribution of the latest edition of Labb which is available in magazine stores throughout London. The magazine looks gorgeous, is printed immaculately, colour rendition is perfect and the content is lush. I also wrote an article: ‘Fashion Photography is dead, long live Fashion Photography, Viva la Revolucion’ which was published in the magazine. George is a pleasure to work with and is keen to support emerging talent in the industry. I hope to work more with him on upcoming issues!
I have 2x editorials in this issue.
This menswear editorial was styled by London Stylist Samuel Joseph Smith: pieces by soon to be graduates of the RCA, including RCA graduate and international menswear designer Courtney McWilliams who has since gone on to design for Givenchy and also some items by Rick Owens.
Makeup by Lauren Baker
I had an article about my work appear in Photography Monthly this month (June issue). This is the article pretty much as it appeared in the magazine:
LOCATION: The model shots were shot in my studio in Hackney in London and the background components were shot in a car wrecking yard in North London
CAMERA AND LENS: The car parts were shot on film. The settings for an iso 200 speed film were 1/60 at F5.6. The best images were then scanned to high res digital. The studio shots were taken on my Nikon D3x with a 105mm lens and a 50mm lens at a speed of 1/125 and F8.0 at iso 100. The tighter head shots with the 105mm and the wider body shot with the 50mm
LIGHTING: The car parts were shot using natural light and on film. The studio shots were shot with a beauty dish on a 500w head almost directly above the model looking down and another couple of lights (500w flash heads with barn doors) used as rim lights to pull her out of the dark background. With her head tilted back she got a good amount of light on her eyes but with her head in a normal position you can see we got these very deliberate dark shadows under the eyes which add to the air of mystique.
CREATIVE PROCESS: This project was very much collaboration between me and the hair stylist – Andrew Thomas-Corbett. We met a couple of times before the shoot to discuss the concept and inspiration. He was very much inspired by Aleister Crowley’s Thoth book of the Tarot and I have always had a fascination with the Occult so I was very familiar with them. The drawings on them are very beautiful. We also liked HR Geiger’s artwork (the artist who did most of the art direction for the Alien movies). We also looked at Tibetan Mandalas and a few other sources. We wanted to have an industrial feel, a sort of robotic feel but still maintain something of the organic and we wanted them to be sensual and seductive. We explained the concept clearly to the Model so she would be able to interpret our brief with as much information as possible. Our makeup was done by Angela Deviatova.
POST PRODUCTION: For the background I took parts of one of the crashed car images and mirrored it 4 ways. Thus creating a symmetrical mandala effect. The model and the hair required some basic skin cleaning and cleaning up of frizzy bits but Magda (a lovely Polish girl from Leni’s Model Management) had great skin to start with so this didn’t require much work except that it had to be done in triplicate. I normally do final skin work with a dodge and burn on a 50% gray fill layer with blend mode set to ‘Soft Light’. Then I brush with a white or black brush on a low opacity.
The next part is where it got a bit creative and required lots of masks to reveal and hide certain parts of each figure. The patterns on the skin were done with a combination of layers with a multiply blend mode and masks revealing the underlying patterns. To burn in the edges and other areas I didn’t want the viewer to be distracted by, I used a channel mixer layer set to ‘Black and White with Red Filter’, set the blending mode to ‘Multiply’, invert the mask and brush back in the areas you want with a white brush on the opacity you require. A bit complex but it gives you a great degree of control.
Finally when I’m happy, I’ll output the .jpeg and run a sharpen filter on it. I don’t like to have merged layers in my .psd file while I’m working. Non-destructive editing is the order of the day. The final series of images were exhibited in a Gallery in Bethnal Green just before Christmas 2009.
Much thanks due to Crash Taylor for the initial coverage on his site and for arranging the publication with Photography Monthly.
You can see a few more of the images from the series on this post and some more information about them too.leave a comment
Erin O’Connor, Hilary Alexander and a few others at Maria Grachvogel’s Show.leave a comment
I was at the Twin Magazine launch party in shoreditch last thursday. Well it was in the biscuit building close to brick lane. The biscuit building is home to Relative PR who I think are running the Magazine.
I briefly met Celestine Cooney who is the Fashion editor (and I discovered we have mutual friends) and also Francesca Gavin who is the Art/Features editor. It was a pretty cool party, free booze till late and a couple of funky dj’s. They weren’t exactly handing out copies of the magazine though- Francesca was buying a couple of copies herself when i met her. It comes bound in a hardbook and I have to say i was impressed. Also bumped into the stylist who worked on the Freja Beha shoot, something Irwin, I think, Australian girl. She said that Freja was uber cool to work with. I love the editorial, shot by a fellow Irish man (Boo George), but the shot with her boobs out could have been left out in my opinion. I told the stylist this in person but she said she loved the shot.
If you go to the website, you can buy it online or there’s a few shops where it’s available.leave a comment
You’ll have to check it out for yourself!!!leave a comment
Nathan is a designer who was introduced to me via a friend. He had some rather conventional shots of his outfits and wanted something a little more funked up…
Models Louis, Adrienne, Hannah from D1leave a comment
Deborah from Vinjean kindly requested a few of my images to showcase on their site…
Things that have made me go wow! recently.
1. Katie Grand is leaving POP to work on a new magazine for Condé Nast – ‘Love‘. I loved POP, and always found it very inspirational. Seems it will be continuing on with a new editor, but will it be the same without Katie?
2. The video collaboration between Nick Knight and Gareth Pugh
More hereleave a comment
a few images from a recent shoot published in Cache…
check them out…leave a comment
Was shooting for Irish Tatler Magazine for their designer show case at the Irish embassy. Designers included Paul Costelloe, Ciaran Sweeney, Helen Cody, and a few others. Covered the event with my ex business partner Jan Masny. Fun evening, good models, champagne on tap and I think we covered the event well. They’ve since published 8 pages of my shots in the magazine.leave a comment
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