Towel Series : Updates
The last few weeks have been super busy with client shoots & portrait shoots so it was super nice to break out and shoot some more images for my personal project.
Mario Testino has always been a massive inspiration to me and my work, this project is was born out of following his own project of the same nature. Testino has had a number of A-listers pose for him in their white towels, including Cindy Crawford, Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Kristen Stewart, and even Anna Wintour.
Mario on his Towel Project: When I started out on social media—on Instagram first—I was torn by what I should use it for and what was right for me. I am not a 20-year-old going out to parties every night, photographing what I’m eating or wearing, and sharing it with friends. I had a few different options. I could look through my archive and post work I had done in the past—things people may have forgotten about or work that had become iconic. I could post what I’m doing and working on right now. Or I could use it to show what I appreciate aesthetically. – read more here.
During the last 10 years, I have never shot a long-term photographic project, not really any personal projects. My towel series was a way to change this & the results have been pretty interesting, not just the images but the way I have been shooting and the limiting aspects of the project.
Photographing the same concept/ idea for an extended length of time has highlighted a range of interesting things. Firstly the way I approach the shoots now is much more chilled and much more relaxed. I used to be a heavy planner and used to only shoot if I knew exactly what I was going from these shoots have let me relax and enjoy the process much more. The other aspect that has helped reduce the pressure of shooting was coming up with something I can shoot at home with a very small set up. Some of these images have been shot in my small apartment with speed-lights, some in the studio with the Broncolour set up, reinforcing the idea that photography is content centric and not a technical exercise.
The above image was taken on one of the first shoots that kick-started the project, below is an image from my most recent at the time of writing. The images themselves might not give much away as to the different photographer that took them, but as that photographer, I think I have changed. In lots of subtle ways, I have evolved and have enjoyed the trip. I am certainly more confident in my work and who I am & much more relaxed when shooting. More happy to say if something is working and more happy to say when it’s not. More happy to just pick up the camera and shoot & happier to experiment. One of the biggest changes, as I look through the raw files, is the time it takes me to shoot and how many images we shoot. The more relaxed I am the less I shoot and usually faster with more of a flow too, these two things have been a big positive step in the quality of the shot in terms of final result and during the shoot too.
Another aspect of photography that has been highlighted to me by the limitations of the styling is being more aware of who I am photographing. I know how mad that must sound, but this project has been more about the uniqueness of each model and almost nothing about me. Yes, I have an input to the lighting but the camera aspect is very simple & as long as the images are in focus, not a cast amount of technical work goes into the camera side – this is one aspect I have really enjoyed. Freeing up the technical has let me worry more about other things, like what type of coffee to drink or what to put on spotify, all jokes aside, it has let me spend more time with my subject / model and less time clicking buttons in menus.
Each model, I have tried to give as little guidance – I have used the same reference images for every single shoot then I have tried my best to let them do their thing. This is something I also used to be bad at doing. I was that photographer that micro-managed the pose. Chilling out, relaxing and letting the model do their thing is something that has totally changed how I work now & for the better. Each shoot is unique and each shoot should celebrate the unique beauty and differences. Finding that balance of photographer input and model input is key.
Just like with Mario’s images, some models have full hair and makeup and some more natural. The mix works well for the set and I am loving seeing grow. In the future there will be shoots with men too, maybe in chapter two or something, at the moment I am having great fun shooting something that has a very low technical aspect & is all about character and individuality.
Below are images from recent shoots.