Capturing the essence of HEW Clothing’s delicate fabrics and vibrant prints is no small feat, but with Brisbane-based photographers Beau and Chloe, it can be done, with much beauty and grace. A freelance photographer, Beau began shooting and developing film while studying Architecture at the Queensland University of Technology, followed by a Masters at RMIT University in Melbourne. He is experienced with portraiture, fashion and documentary-style photography, shooting with medium format film.
This type of photography records images on media larger than 24mm x 36mm but smaller than 100mm x 130mm. Once the most widely used film size, it has now become a niche used by professionals and amateur photography enthusiasts. This format usually produces higher quality images, a shallower depth of field (allowing for the blurring of background and plenty of bokeh) and sharp subjects, making it the perfect fit for our shoot.
HEW Clothing’s Autumn/Winter collection was photographed by Beau and Chloe on 35mm film and features the gorgeous late afternoon sun bathing models in a halo of light. The tranquility imbued within the images is reflective of the collection’s call for a more conscious way of living and consuming, and a renewed appreciation for the raw beauty of our natural environment.
We sat down with Beau and Chloe to ask them a bit about photography and their approach to their art.
What was the first camera you ever owned and what would you recommend for someone considering investing in their first “proper” camera?
B. The first camera I bought myself was a little Nikon EM aperture priority film SLR for about $20. With Film or Digital it’s handy to remember that a good lens makes a big difference. There’s a lot to take into consideration to make a recommendation here!
C. My dad gave me a few of my grandfathers things since he passed away well before I was born and in the box was a little Agfa Silette in a leather case. I was a teenager at the time and I thought it was just the best thing. For someone buying their first film camera I would recommend a completely manual SLR like a Pentax k1000 or Canon ae-1 since they are both super easy to find. I currently shoot a Nikon f2 which is my baby I’ll keep forever.
With today’s technology, is it not possible to get the same effects using a digital camera instead of film?
B. For sure! To a degree… this is something I contend with more and more - especially now that I have a very capable digital camera. For me, I’m more comfortable shooting film as it’s been my go to for so long now. This is mainly in the process I take, shooting medium format film forces you to slow down. Be more methodical and considerate of everything. My Mamiya RB67 gets 10 photos per roll of film, then you have to load another roll. Each roll of film costs between $15-20 plus another $40 for professional processing - in Melbourne. You don’t want to waste frames here.
The other key difference is quality. You can get similar quality in each frame of a $1,000 medium format film camera with that of a $10,000 medium format digital camera. That’s a huge financial hurdle to overcome.
There’s plenty more you can take into consideration too ranging from film stock choices to vintage lenses and the way different film Camera systems capture light. At the moment I’m really enjoying shooting both mediums and finding their strengths over one another.
C. Digital cameras are better than ever and I actually just bought one for my kit but film has something else like an ethereal quality that is comforting in such a digitised world. I struggle a lot with a digi cam and post production since when I shoot film you are choosing the specific look before you even take the photo whereas digital is mostly done afterwards. I think as a photographer is import to have a hybrid workflow and film and digital can support each other but I like shooting manually and I hate editing photos so film will always be my first choice.
What particular qualities does film have that make it your preferred format?
B. If I’m shooting film there’s opportunity for making creative decisions and aesthetic choices during the planning stages that you don’t generally make with digital. You decide on a film stock for the way it renders colours and reacts to light, and you choose a camera for its format and the way that system and it’s lenses filter and shape that light. It can be subtle, and it can be emulated with digital, however, taking a raw digital image and taking it through all those extra hoops to make the final image can be challenging. I’ve recently started to embrace digital photography though! It’s a different pace and a different head space. I’m learning a lot - especially in post production.
If one was an aspiring photographer, how would you suggest building a good kit of equipment (camera, lenses, tripods etc.) without breaking the bank?
B. I started out with my dads old nikon f50 and tamron lens. I would say, borrow family cameras if possible. There’s also plenty of super cheap film cameras out there if that’s where you want to start. Definitely focus your money on lenses - they will make the biggest difference in image quality. Prime lenses generally can be found fairly cheaply and are a good starting point for learning composition and focal distance. For digital, there’s some incredible consumer level cameras out there. Sensor quality is at the level where crop sensors (not full frame) are very capable. The best advice I could give in buying digital would be to go and test them out. There’s a lot more variance and functional differences in the digital camera market, you need to test out what works for you.
C. Second hand always! Film cameras aren’t in production anymore so you will always be shopping second hand for a film body. Second hand goods are more accessible now since everything is online so it’s pretty easy to come across great equipment for your kit as long as you do your research! You really only need a camera body and one good lens and you’re set. It’s a very addictive hobby/career so your kit will easily build up over time.
What are the differences in your approach when shooting for fashion, portraiture, or any other different style of photography?
B. There’s a balance you need to find when shooting portraits. You want to form a connection with the subject, and to do this you need to establish a level of intimacy which is inherently based on comfort and mutual respect. However, you’re making photos of them. So there’s an imbalance of power there. You’re directing and choosing the moments. And this is good to a degree - it brings an energy and emotion to the photos. It’s all about channelling this in the right direction through the conversation and the patient pursuit of timing. Fashion can be similar, or very different depending on the styling. Both of these areas are very new to me. In the past, I generally photographed to document my life, or to attempt to capture beauty around me. It was very much a different pace, though I would say in all regards you’re looking for the same thing. What that is, is up to the photographer. For me, it’s change and movement.
C. The only difference for me would be my film stock choices and an occasional lens change. I love shooting people whether it’s fashion or portraiture so keeping positive and sending that energy to your model definitely helps. I guess if you’re shooting landscape or still life you could still send positive vibes!
Who or what has been your favourite subject in your career thus far?
B. My favourite subject would have to be Nepal. The Himalayas, the people, it’s unlike anywhere else on the planet. I don’t know if anything or anyone will ever top Nepal.
C. My favourite subject has been every person I have ever shot. I really love shooting my friends especially when in need of a ‘model’, I just think everyone is beautiful.
For anyone looking to go into freelance photography, what do you wish you had known when you started out?
B. How important it is to immerse yourself within the creative industry around you. Work with other people and most importantly, support them! The more you lend words of encouragement and find a way to enhance their voice, the more you can rely on their feedback and their support. Brisbane has an insanely talented bunch of creatives. Eat your heart out Melbourne ;)
C. I still consider myself starting out and it’s all about networking and not being afraid of just going for it. Beau is amazing at that so I’m always inspired by him. I think finding a mentor helps and I’m lucky I live with mine.
Favourite photo you have taken? And why?
B. Hands down, possibly forever, a photo I made of a Tibetan Monk at the Boudhanath Temple in Nepal.
C. My favourite photo I’ve taken is of my niece. It was the first roll I had shot on medium format film in Beau’s Mamiya c330. Since it’s a waist level finder (you look down into it) sometimes it doesn’t look like you’re taking a photo and she was just resting her head on her hands and staring down the lens. It was just such a natural and raw moment and I’m glad I captured it.