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29 Apr - Siren Sophie

Every once and a while an exquisite beauty comes along and new face Sophie Applegarth of Dallys Model Management is one such gem.
She seduces the camera and with simply one look can make your knees buckle and loose balance. She is a testament to the saying
"good things come in small packages" standing at just 5"4, her body is well proportioned making her photograph a lot taller than she actually is.

So earlier this year, one summery day on the Gold Coast, I got the opportunity to shoot this rising star together with makeup artist Erin Bigg.
We wanted to keep her beauty fairly natural looking, beachy hair and bronzed skin. Erin brushed bronzer onto Sophie from head to toe.
We laughed after that the makeup and bronzing application took longer than the actual shooting time. We had so much fun on this shoot. It was just easy breezy and idyllic,
in and out of the beach quick, wrapped up shooting 6 looks in an hour and half. I used this shoot as a bit of a personal challenge for me, photography wise.
It's always been preached to photographers that the best light is early morning or late afternoon, for this shoot I deliberately set out to shoot it at midday, using only natural light.
We arrived at the beach just after noon and wrapped up by 1.30pm. Was a super quick shoot but so much fun !

I had always wanted to take photos of a model eating a mango, peeling back the skin using only her teeth (the way I remembered eating mangoes in my neighbour's yard
growing up in the Caribbean island of Trinidad). Finally, it was mango season in Australia at the time of the shoot, so I picked up a juicy mango for the beach and explained to
Sophie how I wanted her to eat it and just snapped snapped snapped - it was hilarious. Sophie really got into it, she transformed into a jungle girl tearing into the mango
with her teeth and squeezing the juice out in her hands. We were all in giggles!

In ending this blog post, I might just add, Sophie is one to watch, she has quickly gained popularity with local brands, shooting up a storm for their campaigns and lookbooks.
But what I think makes Sophie's beauty and charm intoxicating is her nonchalance and naivety to really how drop dead gorgeous she is. She doesn't take herself or her beauty
seriously and seems grounded and for now focusing on completing her nursing studies. Her outer beauty is just a reflection of the depth of her inner beauty.
She's true raw beauty in the making.

I'm very excited to see what bright future lies await for this Brisbane beauty.

 

#dallys #sophieapplegarth #Brisbane #GoldCoast #naturalbeauty #rawbeauty #bronzebeauty #beachbeauty #erinbigg

 

 

 

 

18 Apr - Why I think Cultural Appropriation
actually festers inequality


Model - Alicia Davis @ Tamblyns

So I've come across another article about Cultural Appropriation (see the recent argument here http://www.oystermag.com/cultural-appropriation-isnt-cool)
which has prompted me to write this essay. Whilst I recognise everyone is entitled to an opinion, I feel there has never quite been a balanced discussion
on the concept of "Cultural Appropriation".

This concept - Cultural Appropriation bothers me a lot. It feels as though it is more like the voice of a "collective ego" saying this is mine and you are not worthy to share in it because
you are different and not a part of this culture/ race/ religion. I believe we are all one, all human beings, that when you strip away all the egotistical things we identify ourselves with
that we are one and the same, the body is just a host for our beings, an identiy we craft for ourselves, but it isn't our true self. Facts or adjectives we like to attach to ourselves like "I am
a photographer", "I am a woman", "I am Australian", "I am white", "I am heterosexual" - These things aren't me! they are not who I am. What I am is a "human being" - a being who is
experiencing a human existence, in this human body of mine.

Let's face it, it is a human weakness of ours that we like to compartamentalise, categorise and attach certain descriptions and labels to ourselves and others (we are quite judgemental especially on ourselves),
which to me only serve to divide, discriminate and magnify our physical differences, the differences on the surface that we hold so precious to us. This brings me back to the whole argument
of "cultural appropriation" where certain cultures feel dishonoured or disrespected by others who borrow certain aspects of their culture, whether it be their dialect, food, dance style, hairstyle,
fashion or dress style. It raises a whole debate which seems to magnify what is different about us, thereby creating this "exclusivity" or "separateness", "you can't sit with us" mentality.

I've noticed too in modern society where we feel guilty for something our ancestors have done in the past against another group of people, that we feel obliged to give special treatment
or privilege to this group as a form of retribution for our ancestors' past actions. Whilst this certain group of people wronged in the past continue to fight for equality in modern society, I've always
felt that these privileges or special treatment actually work against them in perpetuating that something is different about them, when in fact, nothing is different about us at all. We are the same!
People cling to the past, even though more than likely they weren't even born at the time when the atrocities took place. History isn't meant to be relived, it is only meant to serve to look back and learn
from the mistakes so that we do not repeat them again in the future. If we are constantly re-living the past emotionally and psychologically, then how can we heal, be progressive and live in the present moment.

The ego is a bastard of a thing. I've recently discovered that, in myself that is. I believe that we can truly unite as ONE consciousness, letting go of all stereotypes, perceptions, discrimination, racial tensions if
we learn to detach and no longer cling to the things that perpetuate our differences. Only then can we truly all see each other as equals, made from the same star dust and not the things we
cling on to for our identity.

I'm not trying to start a war, or diminish in any way the value of traditions and cultural beliefs, but I am only wanting to shed light on the greater picture, on how we
can all try to better understand each other and blend harmonously so we are united rather than stand divided, separate or exclusive.


Models: Annabelle H @ Chic (left) and Alicia D @ Tamblyns (right)

This is one of the reasons I believe art is so valuable to our human existence. I believe that we share one collective consciousness and in this consciousness thoughts and ideas are shared.
You can think of it as one big swimming pool full of ideas, thoughts and inspiration, that one only has to reach out and pluck an idea from it. Art brings a kind of evolution to our understanding of the human
condition and brings us closer to understanding our true being. Artists borrow, appropriate, steal - ideas, symbolism, culture, stylistic identity, thoughts, perceptions, beliefs from all around and amalagmate,
redefine and re-invent them - thereby disolving all bonds to their original form and uniting them to the whole.

The Fashion World, which unarguably has a lot of negative publicity around it for curating certain ideals of "beauty", is only the messenger in this game. If you look back on the past,
history has shown us the number of times the definition of beauty has been redefined, and it constantly is. But don't put blame on the fashion elite, we only have ourselves to blame.
We, as a communal consciousness, perpetuate and distil unconsciously the definitions of beauty. Fashion designers, like artists, draw inspiration from history, society, nature, culture, religion and so on.
Can you imagine counting the number of times Christianity's symbol of the cross/ crucifix has been re-created in fashion. It would be too many to list! Sometimes, designers draw upon these particular religious or
cultural references because they know of the power it has on our collective subconsciousness in conjuring up a feeling or a thought. Or simply they are playing up to our EGO.
Fashion is probably the most influential art form there is, as it has the ability to reach the masses. As fashion, being the art form of how we cloth ourselves, how we dress our egos
in one form of an identity or another, can help spread a collective consciousness, redefining perceptions of beauty and building bridges for our unity and fraternity.


More recently, I have seen positive changes in the Fashion industry, it is probably more open minded than most of us give it credit for.
Just think about models like Melanie Gaydos, Chantelle Brown-Young, Daphne Selfe, Alex Minsky, Winnie Harlow and Casey Legler; are just a few beings who opening our mindsets in
seeing the limitlessness of true beauty. But again I don't want to perpetuate a diversity that magnifies our differences but rather amalgmates us as one,
is more inclusive of all forms of beauty that is part of our human experience here on Earth.

So rather let's truly be a global community and educate, share and participate in each other's "stylistic identities". As they are just that, an identity, like a mask or costume we put on, but is NOT at
the core of who we really are. So let's tell our ego's to shut up and not take things so personally anymore, lets detach ourselves in order to attach ourselves as one collective consciousness made up
of human beings.

As Ellen DeGeneres preaches "BE KIND".

#culturalappropriation #unity #equality #collectiveconsciousness #beings #humanbeings #katrienaemmanuel #newage #consciousness #fashion

 

16 Apr - RETOUCHING WORKFLOW

I am a totally self-taught photographer who does all my own retouching to date. When I started teaching myself photography and Photoshopabout 6 years ago, there was
not as much great/reputable tutorials and videos online and so I learned through lots of trial and error and lots of tears and wanting to slam my head on the keyboard or
throw the computer on the ground. Probably in the last 3 years I've noticed such a widespread sharing of information, which when I started was all so secretive what
"frequency separation" or "dodge and burn" methods were; Now there are so many sites willing to share this information with you. So become best friends with my ole pal Google!

For years I didn't know what a workflow was. I had heard the term used all the time but had no clear idea if I had one or not. It wasn't until I attended my first
Retouching Workshop about 2 years ago with the amazingly talented Australian retoucher Mia Ostberg http://www.miaostberg.com that I realised that I did
in fact have a workflow. It probably wasn't the most efficient at the time, but that is basically what a workflow comes down to. It's an "order" or step by step
process of working on an image. Of course, every image is unique and requires different effects and techniques applied, but you should have a systematic
order on working on your files. Your "Go-To-Method" or a certain order of steps you take in the process of reaching your final outcome/ image. Having a workflow
does just that, helps your "work" "flow", it gradually becomes more transient from step to step, the more practiced you are, the more efficient your workflow is
and the faster you become. So having a great workflow helps promote efficiency in getting your work done on a timely basis, rather than this back and forth confusion
of which step should you do first and so on and not understanding the impact in the order of things.

You will notice from my workflow, I don't use presets or software plug-ins for editing. I rarely ever do, not that they aren't great, it's just that I learned everything
through trial and error and prefer to have that creative control in doing it manually rather than slapping on a generalised filter. I think you would learn more if you
basically play around with Photoshop and figure out what produces what effect than slap a ready-made effect or filter on the image. Photoshop is a pretty frigging
powerful tool! It is made up of so many tools and there really is no right or wrong way to do things. It gives you the option of approaching a problem with many different
solutions, that it just comes down to what is most comfortable to you. You just need to have a play, get familiar with what does what and eventually you will have your
"favourite tools" that you will tend to resort to until it is about a handful of tools that you need on a regular basis. And this also forms part of your workflow.

So I drew the pyramid diagram below to reflect my order of stacking on top of an image, the steps I take from steps 1 to 9.

1 - Original Image
I shoot only in RAW format. I select the images through Adobe Bridge and once opened in Photoshop, I begin stacking on top of the original photo,
non-destructive layers (i.e. whatever editing is done, can be undone and the original photo is unaffected).

2 - Frequency Separation

I use an action that I have made myself, to generate my Frequency Separation Layers. If you want a full explanation on the science and mathematics behind the formation
and use of these layers, then there is lots of information readily available online via sites like Fstoppers, Petapixel and so on.

For simplicity sake, if you can't be bothered on learning how to make it yourself manually, there are many retouchers and photographers who have uploaded and shared
their Action Files and here is one such generous artist http://fx-ray.com/tutorials/fs/ He offers a lot of free video tutorials and material and as you can see from his website,
he is damn good at what he does as a retoucher.

Frequency Separation is a powerful tool, which I personally use sparingly. I only ever really resort to it when I have trouble correcting colour casts. That said, I still generate the
action when I begin working on any new image, just to have it there, in the event that I do need to use it, but more than often I don't use it.

3 - Cleaning Up

This layer is for tidying up distracting objects in the background or on the subject like zits, stray hairs and so on.

This layer is stacked above my Frequency Separation layer. I stack a few new blank layers (blending model set to normal). I have one layer strictly used for cloning stuff and another
layer for only using the healing brush tools. The beauty about having these layers on blank new layers rather than cloning on top of a duplicate of the photo, is that I can easily see
what has been done, and so if I need to go back a step, I can either easily erase it or mask it out.

4 - Black and White

I then create a black and white adjustment layer above my "cleaning up layers". I turn on my black and white adjustment layer when I'm dodging and burning. Seeing things in
monochrome is a lot easier on the eye, especially when you can be sitting down and retouching one image over a 5 hour period. The contrast in monochrome is also a lot better than
editing it in colour, and you have better concentration than sometimes being distracted by colour variations like colour casts that may occur in your image.

5 - Dodge and Burn Baby!

I love dodging and burning! I might generate a few layers for dodging and burning. There are many methods or techniques in dodging and burning but perhaps the two most popular
and non-destructive ways are:
(1) using Adjustment Layers like Curves and/or Levels. Basically, you have one layer for highlights and another layer for your shadows/ darks and with
the use of masks, you are painting in areas you want brighter or darker on the image.
(2) using a Soft Light Layer (create new layer set to (grey) Soft Light at 100% opacity) and then using the dodge and burn tools to brighten and darken as you go (my brush is usually set
to 1% exposure when using either of the dodge or burn tools).

6 - Colour Correction / Colour Work

Here is when the fun part begins. Once I've finished clean up the image, dodge and burn it to give it more refinement and contrast, I can then do all the colour work stacked on top,
at the final stages. The advantage of doing your colour work close to last, is that it will bring that coherence to your image. If you go back and forth changing your colours at the start and
then had to clean up or remove or add something using cloning or some such method, you would then have to go and do the colour effect over that change all over again. So best to do
any colour effects at the very end, once the image is cleaned up best to your liking.

Colour work is basically colour correcting for any colour casts you might find in an image, especially outdoor shots where light is reflecting and bouncing off so many different coloured
surfaces like grass, trees, sand and pollutes your subject. Colour work can also be your signature style. This is often the point where different artists differ, for instance, for some artists it will
be notable that their images are generally warm or some like theirs darker or cooler tones. It all comes down to your aesthetic taste, the purpose of the image, the story you are trying
to communicate. And colour helps set the mood and brings coherence to an image when a viewer is looking at in on a whole.

There are lots of tools for adding or subtracting or changing colours just using your Adjustment Layers like Curves, Levels, Hue/ Saturation, Colour Balance, Selective Colour, Gradient Maps,
Photo Filter and the fairly new Colour Look Up Adjustment Layer (Which is sort of like preset colour filters). Remember when using any of these Adjustment Layers, don't forget how
powerful your Blending Modes are for layers, as well as using Opacity and Fill sliders to also effect the blending of the layers and the effect it has on the overall image.

7 - Adding Noise

This is totally personal and optional step. But most times, I create a new Soft Light Layer and then I go FILTER - NOISE - ADD NOISE (about 1.8% set to Uniform Distribution) and viola! It's done!

8 - Sharpening

Then finally I create a new layer merging all the layers from below and go FILTER - OTHER - HIGH PASS then set the blending model to either Soft Light or Overlay and add a Layer Mask set to black
and then mask in (brush set to white) to brush back in the areas you want sharpened like the eyes and so on.

9 - Saving the File

Then the final stage is saving the image according to the file format and colour format you require. So JPEGs, TIFFS etc are your FILE FORMAT and the more commonly used colour formats are RGB,
CMYK and sRGB.

CMYK is generally used for print, as most publishers still use CMYK for their printer's profile. sRGB is used for anything that will be displayed on a screen, so all content for your website, social media sites
and emailing for someone to view on their screen, is best displayed in sRGB mode.

RESOURCE LINKS:-

Another great site that explains Workflow with visual examples are:

http://digitalphotoshopretouching.com/blog/my-beauty-retouching-workflow

http://phlearn.com/

https://www.creativelive.com

http://petapixel.com

http://solsticeretouch.com/

http://fx-ray.com/

Hope this gave you some insight into how my retouching workflow looks. I will try (when I figure out how to) make a video of me one day working on a file (might have to definitely speed that up)
considering I still think I'm a pretty slow retoucher, averaging at least 4 hours on a beauty image depending of course.

 

#photoshop #retouching #retoucher #workflow #editing #photographer #editing #katrienaemmanuel

 

9 Apr - The Angel in the Stone

Ever since I read the quote from Michelangelo "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free",
I've been slightly obsessed to represent it somehow photographically. In 2012, I produced an editorial entitled "Halo"
which was also inspired by this quote, but I felt I hadn't done justice to it and it remained in me like an unrequitted love.

So last year, my family was faced with the real possibility of losing my mother-in-law to her battle with cancer for a third time,
this occurance more aggressive than the previous two. Whenever I would Skype with my mother-in-law she would confess
how hard sometimes it was for her to stay positive, this coming from one of the most fun-loving and optimistic people I've known.
So I knew this time she was really scared and her faith was waning. So for months, I pondered what I could do to inspire her somehow.
I wanted to create a tribute to her somehow through my photographic abilities to convey a message of hope to her.


Sadly, she never saw my tribute, as by the time I managed to assemble the creative team suited to the project, her mind had begun rapidly
to slip away from this world into the next and the month that she died was the month the story was published.

So I thought I will share below here an extraction from my brief that I had in my Mood Board for my creative team as I always like to explain to them
the story behind what we are about to create.

"This story is a beauty series that tells of transformation of the spirit, as the angel, set in the stone; rigid, cold, frozen in time, lifeless - through
the power of love finds freedom. As she transforms through six stages to reveal her true self. It is an artistic interpretation in tribute to those
who feel they are stuck in life, set in stone, cold and lonely to the rest of the world - offering them hope with the real message being that
WE ARE ALL ANGELS OF LIGHT IN THIS WORLD.
That within us all, we have the power to believe and change our circumstances through our faith in self and above all through love.
Angels have historically been associated as God's warriors and so I call upon the spirit of the angel within us all to awaken from
it's stone cold existence and be set free to be a light in this world"

More than ever I truly believe in those words I wrote above all those months ago.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story. It was gratefully published and shared in the Brisk issue of Atlas Magazine (Dec 2014)

Most of all, thank you to my incredibly dedicated and talented team who undertook what always seems to me
"another one of my crazy ideas", which only means they are crazier than me to do it. So thank you to:-

Katrina McAndrew (Makeup Artist and Body Paint Artist)
Model Muse: Lauren Moody of Busy Models, who bravely got covered in body paint and clay

It's all good, I know my mother-in-law still saw our tribute and I am grateful to share it, to hopefully inspire others.

 

#angel #ethereal #statue #michelangelo #inspiration #beauty #hope #faith #Atlasmagazine #editorial #supernatural #love

 

1 Apr - BEAUTY & THE REEF


This is a really long story, to be exact almost 2 years long. Back in 2013, Melitha Champion, my old high school class mate from Trinidad (where I grew up) and I re-connected. Melitha had moved away from Trinidad, studying fashion design particularly millinery and accessories in London and then set up her studio in Berlin, Germany. While I reside in Australia, Melitha and I through many Skype conversations, emailing etc began dreaming up ideas and concepts for shoots where we could merge our two worlds of fashion design, art and photography. And so it is that "Beauty and The Reef" evolved from these many Skype calls.

Nature is the most prolific source of inspiration.
It is my greatest muse, personally.

Melitha had originally created many reef inspired pieces but we failed to take into account the harsh restrictions Australia's quarantine have on posting items made of feathers
leather, shells etc and so in the end the only pieces she could safely send to me from Germany were those she made from lace. In the end, I scratched together some
recyclable materials and created two headpieces myself that would tie in the brief of "reef inspired" couture.

Above some mobile phone pics of me constructing my above two headpieces.

Above Melitha's sketches and wiring of the lace

The next element we wanted to add to this series, was the art of illustration. Now you may think Melitha digitally illustrated over the images, but that would be too easy for Melitha haha.
Instead, Melitha would print out my images on photo paper then lay over it a translucent plastic based paper which she would then illustrate by hand in ink. She quickly discovered how
time consuming a process it can be, having to wait for the ink to dry (to avoid smudging) before illustrating over another area of the image. Gotta love her patience and dedication.
Laying the illustrated sheet over the printed image in reality gave it a very 3-D quality which once scanned is sadly lost. To see it in person is more impressionable than digitally.

Above a mobile phone shot of Melitha's working table showing her illustration process

So here are some of the before images (without the illustration) so you have an idea of the effect in how illustration changes the way you look at the colours and contrast of the original
(non-illustrated) image.

Huge thanks to my most patient creative team and to New York based magazine, Ellements for publishing our story and sharing it with their readership.

Makeup and hair by Vivianne Tran
Model: Maddison Payne of Division Models
Illustrator: Melitha Champion
Designer for lace coral headpieces (x2): Melitha Champion
Designer for red coral & sea urchin inspired headpieces: Katriena Emmanuel
Photographer & retoucher: Katriena Emmanuel

 

#illustration #fashionillustration #beautyphotography #coralreef #reef #australia #beautyphotography #beauty #cosmetics #bleachedbrows


(c) copyright Katriena Emmanuel Photography Pty Ltd all rights reserved