Still life – capturing performance

We recently commissioned Still Life & Conceptual Photographer Susan Castillo to produce one high impact image that captured both the technical performance and the minimalist aesthetics of our brand (our seriously beautiful theme). We met Susan through another brand whose photos we had been coveting – we loved her concepts and beautiful eye catching results. We chatted to Susan about her work and how she put the stunning shoot together for us (and what the tricks of the trade are – who knew?!)

Tell us a bit about your background and what you specialise in.

I’m a Glasgow based photographer who specialises in Still life & Conceptual product photography.  I have a degree in design & craft of which I attribute my hands on approach to my work.  Being involved in every stage from the R&D to the designing and building of the sets to create an images is what I hope sets me apart. I’m a sucker for bold graphic, colourful imagery that embraces empty space.  I’m completely geeky about learning new photographic techniques but I’m not into gear and equipment, they are simply tools of my trade.  Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes – interiors, architecture and Dutch master painters are just a few sources I reference frequently.

Talk us through the shoot – how you set it up, what you were aiming for and the concept.

With any shoot I start by paying close attention to the information I’m being told by the client – all the details that are important to get into the image. When you have one shot to tell a bigger story it’s a big challenge.  With this shot it was important to get across the lightweight nature of the innovative material, it’s waterproof performance and the urban design – at the same time as creating an image that was clean and impactful.

Instantly I thought about a levitating aspect to the shot. Defying gravity is a powerful way to show a product in an interesting way, it was also a good way to translate the lightweight nature of the product.

It was important for me that there was shape to the Waterproof Parka as opposed to being flat.  I experimented with a couple options using  wire mesh and polystyrene. However, in the end, the most effective solution was to use ‘Rita’ a blow up doll!  She’s a bit of a contortionist, all folded up and taped together – quite gruesome actually.  But she created the perfect lightweight solution that allowed me to fill the jacket and prop on a frame. This is the magic right here – all hidden from view but doing all the work. The background had to conceptually give across the urban feel, without being bulky and overly masculine.  The blocks and panels represent a simple more refined urban environment, painted in cool blue/grey to compliment the new Nightsky navy parka.

How does the splash photography work? 

The all important water element.  This is the glue that brings the whole image together.  The water sits beautifully on the surface of the material as it should, but that doesn’t get across the performance quite as dramatically as we wanted.  The water had to be shown in motion, frozen at the right point when it connects to the fabric.  To do this is a bit more complicated than throwing buckets of water around and pressing the shutter.  To freeze the motion requires light and speed and lots of it – too technical to start explaining, I can only just understand it myself.

There are many other factors to consider after that, the shape of the liquid – flat splashes, droplets, gloopy splashes.  They’re all created using a variety of vessels and getting the right one is a case of trial and error.  You also need to be in sync with your assistant.  As you throw more water and miss, the more the set deteriorates in quality so we always have a plate shot. This is the first shot before everything gets messy, to work from in post production.  This shot is made up of a composite of multiple images so that the best splashes are the only ones visible.  An image like this requires days of planning and hours of work, hopefully to result in something very cool.

What did you want to get across to the audience?

Beauty in simplicity and function.

See Susan’s other work here[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”SHOP” main_heading_color=”#c6b9ac” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:20px;”][/ultimate_heading][basel_products items_per_page=”4″ product_hover=”alt” columns=”4″][/vc_column][/vc_row]