09 Dec Featured: Painterly Fashion Photography by Marguerite Oelofse
Marguerite Oelofse‘s photographs are dramatic and bold. Unlike the current fad of washed out whimsical images, hers are colour-saturated and fierce. Textured backgrounds and bolts of colour give her photographs a painterly quality. Marguerite has a special place in her heart for makeup and hair artists, which is apparent in her work. Together, they concoct elaborate characters, which Marguerite then ‘directs’ through the different plot points of the fashion story, bringing to life the vision. We catch up with this fashion photographer to find out what inspires her and how she creates her colour-drenched photographs.
What was the first photograph you ever took, and what prompted you to take it?
The first picture I took was for a student assignment during my 1st year studying visual communication. The assignment was to photograph the colour red, green and blue. Colour has always been my favourite element of art.
Since then, how have you honed and developed your style?
My journey began the moment my mother placed a paintbrush in my hand at the age of 3. I quote from Anais Nin: ‘We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.’ Personal growth plays a big part in the life and development as an artist. As we mature our work matures. The development of my style came naturally. My strengths are the fusion of colour and texture. Colour and texture only truly come to life with light, creating a three-dimensional feel to my work with my lighting.
Is there any single image that has profoundly impacted your work, and if so, how and why?
It is so difficult for me to single out a picture, because they all are like my children I deeply love. When I was living in Berlin 2 years ago, I shot a story that impacted my style hugely. I believe since that moment my style transformed into an otherworldly place.
When taking a portrait of someone, what are you looking to capture?
I wait to see what the person is willing to give. Often, I guide the person I’m photographing into a story synopsis. It sometimes is easier to play out a character, and through that exercise I’m able to capture their soul.
Do you have a team of collaborators that you often work with? If so, what do you enjoy about working in this manner?
My favourite people in the whole wide world are hair and makeup artists because they are also painters. As a fashion photographer I collaborate with a team consisting of stylist, hair and makeup artists and models. When we shoot the stories we work together. But, the moment the shoot is done I have the responsibility to complete the images. It is then when I work alone, shaping the pictures according to my vision.
Please tell us about your creative process when conceptualizing a fashion story – where do you start, what happens next…?
It’s important to determine what you want to convey in the story you plan to shoot. Usually my intent is fuelled by emotion, colour, texture and expression. I form a plot structure to direct the sequence of events that lead the character (models) towards the objective. I enjoy thinking of my stories as drama plays with key turning points in each shot. It is vital to work with exceptional artists that share the vision of the photographer. I have a deep love for makeup and hair artists. Once I’ve identified the artists that I would like to work with (stylist and hair and makeup), we discuss ideas and what would visually fit the shots. From an early age it was my goal to make my work unique and real.
What does post-editing bring to photography, and how do you like to incorporate it into your work?
I transform my images into the vision I set out during the shoot. Post-editing is just another tool I use.
Your work is characterized by bold color, dramatic lighting, stark contrast and rich textured backgrounds – what inspires you aesthetically and how do you manifest this in your work?
My work is a combination of photography and art. I shoot therefore I paint. The images that I create are of an otherworldly eminence. They are from the past and the future. I’m inspired by the great painters of our time like Goya, Caravaggio and artists from the symbolist movement. My goal is to create something authentic from what I observe and sense.
What are some of the themes that you are interested in and explore in your work?
I explore all themes where I can create high emotive images. I also love melancholic themes.
What are you reading, watching, listening to right now?
I watch a lot of movies, old and new. Often when I wake up in the morning I have songs playing in my head. I look up the albums and it becomes my listen to music.
What can we look forward to seeing from you soon?
I shot a beauty editorial in Berlin that was just released in an International avant-garde beauty magazine based in Paris.