Digital spring cleaning

Some good old spring cleaning never hurt anyone. I already did mine at home, surprisingly, so I thought I’d have a digital one at work.
I found some interesting footage I completely forgot about and it actually was really fun to come across some old images.

Luc and Marcin left for the Maldives to go do a photoshoot. So for the next couple of days I’m on my own, guarding the fort. And although some pity might be place, it’s giving me the opportunity to get some neglected jobs done. Like reorganising my computer, discovering some lost pictures in the process…

Our week has been packed with interesting bookings. Unfortunately I can only release the images once the shoots go public. We had some bookings for Nina magazine with some well known Belgian women, a workshop with Mike Van Cleven, A video commercial for PUMA and the campaign for women by CKS fashion.

The last few days we had our studio filled with “babes” for a huge production. Considering the paper I just signed it would be a very bad idea to start talking about what’s happening here. You’ll find out by the time the European Championship football starts…

So, the lost footage. Here it is.

We were proud to host Nike last summer for the presentation of the new Nike AIR royalty high. Here’s a clip of the event by the press and some pictures.

Admit it, isn’t this the most original catering you’ve ever seen? Macarons, cotton candy and baby blue cupcakes.

Spokesperson for Nike Élodie Ouédraogo.

Last summer I felt like making a stop-motion video of a shoot. When we received the offer to photograph a Porsche, I took the opportunity to make it. I sadly neglected it a bit after that and the pictures just sat there, lonely in a map on my computer. I dusted them of and poured them into a small video.
Take a look.

And to end this post, here’s the proof of how sneaky my colleague gets when holding a camera, I had no clue whatsoever when this picture was taken (compliments to him, I think that’s a very good quality to be able to photograph people unnoticed) . I had to find the picture in some long lost folder.


So to top everything off I wish all of you a blissful time in the sun and a happy spring everybody!

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Batman found Robin

Whoever thought we were hibernating was seriously mistaken. Although we sought refuge indoors, we were quite the busy beavers these past few weeks. It’s been a while since the last post but I’ll make up for it with a richly filled one.
Not all of us had to conquer the cold, some got more lucky then others. Luc by example, travelled all the way to the Atacama desert in San Pedro, Chile to shoot new pictures for Dirk Bikkembergs’ new book.

Image

A breathtaking sight and although the clouds appear somewhat menacing, it didn’t rain one drop during their stay. They had to work very quickly since the weather at times went from apocalyptically dark to jolly bright in a matter of seconds. They did make some local fans, gazing at the screen whenever they could.


Assistant Rodrigo Daza and Mr Llama

I’ve seen the results and it’s stunning. For now I can only soothe your curiosity with a small preview:

In the meantime I guarded the fort in Antwerp. But I didn’t do it alone. I got help from my dear intern Robin. Since I’m most of the time surrounded by male coworkers, having Robin around was a nice change of scenery. To make sure she experienced all the aspects of making a picture, I asked her to organise a photoshoot from moodboard to retouch in order to gain some experience. I called in my jaw-dropping sister and helped out with some pretty making.

We’re all quite happy with the result, despite of Marcin’s efforts of sabbotage…

Peekaboo!

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and I had to say farewell to Robin. But not before I gave her the box of strawberries she was craving the entire time she worked here. It was also her last day as a seventeen year old, so again, happy birthday Robin! I’m sure we’ll see you again.

&

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Ice Ice Baby

How about some fun, not work related, blogging today?
Because fun we had this weekend! Luc decided to take us all for dinner to celebrate the new year: teambuilding – style. (Okay so I guess it is kind of work related…)
We went to “Brasserie Van Loock” in my favourite neighbourhood in Antwerp: Zurenborg. I grew up there and it never ceased to amaze me. If you ever visit Antwerp, don’t skip this area, just don’t, you won’t regret it! I could devote an entire blog to it’s delights and joys. And I probably will once the summer sets in and the area starts to blossom again, leaving me no choice to set camp there almost every day after work.

So the four of us had dinner, enjoyed the food and giggled. The fourth being Erik, Luc’s husband. He’s quite the funny pants and in combination with jolly Marcin you’re bound to get tummy aches laughing at their silly (and at times dirty) remarks. But little did they know we had a surprise in store for them. That day at work I started talking about the lightfestival in Ghent. Luc thought it would be a good idea to go there after dinner and extend our colleague evening (I know, my boss is awesome). So without a clue they got into the car.

They didn’t mind though, they were having fun.

We arrived in Ghent and the festival was even prettier then I thought. Looking at the illuminated buildings and installations threw me back to being ten years old again. Jaw dropping at all the shiny bright colourful lights. One of the first things we saw was this tunnel of light, carefully constructed out of what seemed like a billion christmas lights.

Stunning…

After a few hours of walking, misreading the map and gazing at the beauty, our brains started freezing along with our toes and fingers. So we started acting a bit weird for the sake of heating up our bodies (okay, honestly it could’ve just been me pretending to be part of the ministry of funny walks in an attempt to feel my toes again). That’s when Erik was so kind to elevate my blood pressure scaring the heebie jeebies out of me. Standing at a light on the floor, instantly transforming into one of my all time favourite scary guys: Gary Oldman in Bram Stokers’ Dracula.

Booh!

Well it wasn’t that cold, come to think about it. A few days later it started snowing. That’s right. Snowing. I’m sure it’s happened before but I do not recall to ever have seen snow in (almost) February in my conscious life. So I guess we’ll just have to accept the fact that we’re up for a winter sequel. Wiping the snow of your bike in the morning isn’t the most pleasant prospect to start your day. But some things do make up for it. Like this cosy view I had when I enjoyed my morning coffee at work.

Oh and in case it didn’t get stuck in your head the first time: click here.

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Starbucks, where they know my name.

Taking a deep breath, I reflect on the last few days wrapping up the shoot. We’re all very happy with the results and are ready for the next project.

Our team consisted of ‘the usual’ and two models that Gareth from the W athletic agency in London arranged for us (an absolute joy to work with I must add).
In the green sweater we have Marcin, behind the iWork case is Luc and next to him Mr Bikkembergs.
Joining our crew, grooming the men, is Alex Valverde on the right. A fine addition to our team, and a splendid make up artist.

The model in the picture above is Daniel. Whoever thought modeling was a walk in the park, try standing in fake rain for an entire day wearing heavy coats and boots. Our bathroom was filled with dripping garments, we went through almost all of our towels and poor Daniel spent the day completely soaked. But naturally he handled it like a man and the result was stunning.
We don’t have a rain-installation in the studio but as mentioned in a previous post, Marcin simply built us one using an ordinary garden hose, bent in a way so it won’t spray our seiling and an industrial vacuum cleaner to get rid of excess water :

The second model was James. James is quite new to the modeling world, in a ‘previous life’ he joined the military and devoted himself to fighting pirates on sea. A very nobel thing to do but also a plus in providing us with tremendously interesting stories during lunch. We were all ears. Say Hi James:


Hi

Last but not least: the pearl of this photo session: The gorgeous cineli bicycle, custom-made for us by the fixerati guys. They’re awesome. I’ve never seen so much bike-passion before. They worked incredibly fast and even delivered this beauty personally at our doorstep. Completely in white (even the chain), we chose to remove the back break for a sleeker look. A sneek peek:

And to finnish what I started:
I don’t think Starbucks has the best coffee in the world (and anyone who ever tasted a fresh espresso under the Italian sun will agree with me), but I still discovered a small craving when I went to pick up a model from Germany for at the Central station of Antwerp and had some time to spare. Chances are I’ve been polluted by subliminal marketing and watched one too many tv shows where it seems as if it’s impossible to walk through Manhattan without a starbucks glued to your hand, however the craving existed so I obeyed. I ordered my coffee when the guy behind the counter asked my name. I thought it was a joke, answered anyway and payed for my Caramel Macchiato. While waiting for the coffee to be ready I realized that I had seen pictures of the model but he had no clue what I looked like, he only knew my name. I imagined awkward moments where I’d address the wrong guy. Then Starbucks solved my problem by interrupting my daydreaming and yelling “CARAMEL MACCHIATO FOR HANNAH” throughout the entire bar. That’s when the model tapped me on the shoulder and shook my hand.
I don’t really know what to think about the new personal approach starbucks is trying, probably designed to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but hey, they spelled my name correctly, that’s something that hardly ever happens.

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I touched Bono

Though we’re all still very busy with the Bikkembergs shoot and days tend to get a bit longer then usual, I still found some time yesterday to visit ASAP‘s newyears reception at the Antwerp fashion museum.
ASAP is one of the best printing companies in the country. Luc has been working with them for a decade or two so when I got the invitation I saved the date right away.
Obviously when working in a photo studio, I have the pleasure of meeting all kinds of people in the fashion industry, so getting the fashion virus is inevitable. I really enjoyed Walter Van Beirendonck’s exposition and if you live near Antwerp, it’s definitely worth a visit!

It was such a nice opportunity to take a closer look at his work going 30 years back. Some items where older then I am, which kind of made me feel like a toddler but I found it extremely fascinating. It proves the timeless aspect of fashion. Although fashion changes every season, it’ll always be there. Designers all over the world have created such beautiful silhouettes before we where even born and they’ll continue to do so for many generations to come.

I think I know where Dr Lectroluv found his inspiration…

What also makes these receptions fun to go to is the people you meet. New interesting people or people you’ve already worked with. It’s always pleasant to chat up with colleagues you normally only talk work with.
A perfect example, and almost always keeping me company on events like these, is our lovely Aileen. Almost everybody that’s into photography and bought some professional equipment lately knows her. She’s the spine of Calumet, providing me with the best gear there is ranging from Hasselblad to Profoto and helping me out when I have technical (or not so technical) questions.

In case you’re wondering, our matching outfits are a complete coincidence.

I might be yawning a bit more then I’m supposed to but it was very much worth it. A very inspiring night indeed.

I end my post with a confession, I didn’t really touch Bono… I touched his shirt.

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And Batman saw that it was good

We all arrived slightly frozen at work today (oh my it is getting cold in Belgium), ready to start the new week.
Tomorrow we’ll start with a six day shooting for Dirk Bikkembergs’ new book: “The best of fashion designer Dirk Bikkembergs”.

In this book he will revisit his entire collection from the beginning of his career until now and reinvent it through new pictures.
I prepared the production, arranged a make-up artist, made sure the models from London have a nice place to stay, ordered catering and so on. Luc will be photographing and Marcin and me will help anywhere we can on set. A set that Marcin built himself.
When Luc was renovating the studio he decided not to build a cyclorama (a background that’s smooth in the edges and is fixed in a room so models can lean on it), thus keeping all options open: we often rent the studio out for events and offering guests a glass of bubbles inside a cyclorama does not seem very appropriate.

However, to compensate, Marcin created this unbelievable construction in a matter of hours.

He used hinges to secure the panels holding up the walls. This enables the walls to tilt backwards should a client wish to do so. This also means we can fold all the panels in order to stock them neatly and compact.

Our latest purchases were a truss (metal construction used often for events) and a heavy duty stand we bought at a small, almost hidden store that provides equipment for events called Megalight in Brussels. This stand has 4 legs which makes it a lot more stable then it’s 3 legged brothers and it happens to be a lot less pricey! It has a wind up system which makes it a piece of cake to adjust the height of (in this case) our gaint umbrella, even for ‘not so strong’ people, like myself. Very handy indeed!

The truss is 5M long and can be used with the two stands to create a bridge. In this case we attached it to our ‘background box’ so we can attach our lights using super clamps. Backlights without visible cables or tripods: we like it.

So no time to sulk and pout over Blue Monday. Shooting days can get quite hectic so we want to be as prepared as possible. We put on some working-vibe music, roll up our sleeves and get going. All the needed equipment gets assembled, put in place and tested. Tomorrow, will only be a matter of plug and play. And from the corner of the studio, batman looked, and saw that it was good.


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Hello world!

“Hello World!”

The first post of every new wordpress blogger. And that goes for us as well. The beginning of a new year comes with new year’s resolutions. So we at black and light studio decided to join the wordpress family.

We’ve all had a fulfilling holiday season, we enjoyed the company of our friends and family and we’ll start the new year with recharged batteries. Our calendar shows a lot of interesting bookings so it’s bound to become an inspiring year.

As we’re starting to get to know wordpress, I feel it’s in place that I introduce us in return.

First of all there’s Luc, the founder of black and light studio. He started this company in an old bronze foundry in Antwerp in 1999. Around a year ago he finished the renovations and black and light reopened it’s doors. With his 25 years of experience he has seen all the discomforts a photographer can see in a photostudio and he made sure that clients will not have to endure them.

Helping hand and always smiling is my one and only colleague Marcin. He paints our ceiling and creates our make-up table, he’s the brain behind many of our challenging set ups. We need a shower on set? He’s building us one as we speak. In between his hard work he’s always happy to provide us with some jokes.

And then there’s me. My business card reads “studio management” and I have a degree in photography. Long story short, I found the perfect marriage between photography and production. If clients call, I’ll pick up the phone, answer their questions and customise their wishes. I’ll get them a caterer or even make them breakfast myself. I take pride in welcoming everyone into our studio as if it where my home.

And finally to put a face on our team, here’s a picture of us during the making of our Christmas card.

Thank you for reading and see you soon!

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