“Animal Within”: conceptual portraits exploring the themes of Animalism and Zoomorphism.
The images featured were created in front of a live audience on the Vanguard Stage at the Photo & Film Expo, an annual event hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa. The body of work reflects my latest interest: the spontaneity of in-camera effects; combined with my passion for including animals and natural elements into my studio work.
Animalism is the concept that we as humans are intrinsically animals, set apart from other creatures simply by our cognitive thinking… our self-awareness. I believe we are organized chaos, our intellectual mind often at war with our animalistic instincts. The idea of acting on these instincts and giving in to desire is sometimes perceived in a negative light, but I imagine it more as giving in to free abandon on the dancefloor… Savage and untamed, yet graceful and charged with energy. This inspired me to seek out dancer Samantha Supra from Wessel’s Dance Studio to assist with the shoot. With a background in Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Spanish, Ballroom dancing and of course Classical Ballet, I felt she was someone who understands the spirit of dance and the limitations placed upon it by traditional forms.
I portrayed this inner struggle through movement and dance, using in-camera effects such as coloured lighting, multiple exposures, freeze photography and motion blur to capture the turmoil. I chose these techniques as I wanted to introduce chance into the work, allowing the motion and flow to bring something to the image that cannot be predicted or totally planned. This move towards experimentation is inspired by my interest in Automatism: a technique developed during the Surrealist movement that shifted creation from conscious control to chance.
The theme is visually established through the use of Zoomorphism, the addition of animal attributes to the human form. For the origami inspired masks I collaborated with paper art designers at Wintercroft. The templates selected were based on animals representing woodlands creatures: the fox, hare, deer and owl. To compliment the geometric shapes of the masks I worked with the award-winning designs of Lizan Zondagh Couture, adding chiffon to add visual interest and chance into the images.
Working with in-camera effects, a good quality tripod is a necessity in my creative process, and I rely on the Vanguard Pro 283CGH with 300T pistol grip to create stable and accurate long and double exposures. These images were lit with four Photon Studio flash lights, and the 3D lighting effects created received praise from international magazine Atlas.
This experience has only re-affirmed my desire to work with in-camera techniques, and I intend to take this journey of chance discovery onto location in Finland later this year! (More on that to follow soon).
I would like to take this moment thank my sponsors at Fotacs, through who I represent Vanguard and Photon in South Africa, for the oppurtunity and platform to present the work I do.
Capture & Retouching | Natalie Field Photography
Photographic Assistant | Mamaki Rakotsoana
Fashion | Lizan Zondagh Couture
Animal Masks | Wintercroft
MUAH | Tris Alves
Model/Dancer | Samantha Supra at Wessels Dance Studio
Sponsors | Vanguard and Photon