Kama Woynarska

Kama Woynarska

Fashion photography

by Kama Woynarska (Poland)

Apart from the fact that I only work on film cameras (I love the colours, the intensity, the atmoshpere and magic of analogues), I am also a huge instant photography addict. I have recently come back from a year long travels around Asia, where I have also discovered my passion for fashion photography.

Portfolio from the Fashion Photography workshop with Sacha, May 2013.

Written review by ERIK VROONS,
Editor-at-large for GUP Magazine

Dear Kama,
The first thing I always pay attention to, or the first element that strikes me when I get to see new work is, whether or not the photographer in question has a recognizable AND idiosyncratic style. Particularly in the genre of fashion this is essential, as you are working with a limited set of parameters (i.e. a model, a ‘branding’). That is to say, you are working with the communication of a ‘mood’ through the medium of the model. The limitation in that sense is in the range of human expressions: even when professionals, models are limited by their human features and this means that most of the work still has to come from the aesthetic interference of the photographer (and stylist).

I just returned from Krakow Photofestiwal, where the theme this year was ‘ fashion’. What struck me was the wide variety of approaches that people (photographers) can have, even when working in the limitations set by the medium. This is all the more so when you have an outdoor shoot (was this the assignment?) when you are more depending on natural light – in comparison to studio light.

But you seem to have overcome this by using the settings of your camera (equipment, filters, etc) in a certain way, so that all pictures get a similar mood/atmosphere. Also, I like that you brought the models in different settings so that the environment/surroundings can give context to the model. To be honest, fashion is not my specialty and I do not know too many fashion photographers by name but Guy Bourdin for me is a very good example of someone that always, regardless of assignment or project, could put his stamp on it; he was able to always make recognizable images that referred to the larger oeuvre that he was working on. Same for more contemporary photographers such as Ryan McGinley.

Fashion is always about creating a neither-world, a fairy tale reality that does not exist but that we all dream of; it often touches our unconscious desires. This is what photographers can trigger. In contrast to, let’s say press photography, it needs to be clear that there has been a creative interference and that this leads away from the mundane reality.

Picture #1 has been well executed in that sense. It is a clean image, with a good balance between the model and her surroundings. To drop another name: Helmut Newton was one of the best when it came to put models in a deviating setting, in a place where you would not immediately expect them according to their dressing. This contrast has always proven to be a helpful tool to initiate surrealism – a core ingredient in fashion (see: neither-world comment above). In pic #2 you very well succeeded in this by the use of double exposure. I would like to see you doing more of this, it can become a recognizable technique for you. Pic #3, on the other hand, is too ‘normal’ : this could also be just another picture of a pretty brunette in a colorful summer dress on her holidays (the prop of the sunglasses further stimulates this assumption). The way she is positioned in #5 and #6 in that sense is far better.

More in general, I really like the theme of the flowers in all the pics. In that way, the motive in the pink/purple/black dress nicely continues in the images of the male model. In that way, the pictures start to relate to each other. Please note that every element within the frame in fashion photography, which we assume is completely staged and directed, gives the assumption that it is there on purpose. So you, as a fashion photographer, have to control everything to the smallest detail. Also, these details need to be communicated as deliberate, something you can do by repeating them in other images (see my comment on double exposure, but also the weird composition due to the black pole? In pic #4)

Pic #5, 6 and 7 are of weaker quality, in which the interferences are blurry. You can of course decide for a snapshot aesthetic with ‘amateur’ take or mistakes (Pic #8) but again, only when consistent throughout. By contrast pic #9 is a really strong portrait in which you use the expression of the model well in relation to the environment he is situated in.

To conclude, you have to be clear about the ‘mood’ you wish to express. Some of your pics lean too much to ‘casual’ but not always in a consistent style (pic #15 t/m 18 are ‘casual’ but better than the previously mentioned snapshots). Also, be clear in your style and concept. Overall, I think you have the talent to make these improvements within a couple of more shoots.

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