Advertising, Editorial & Commercial Photographer in Melbourne, Australia

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Quiet // Motion: surreal pictures and a fun soiree

What happens when you bring some people in to the studio and get them to jump, twirl, leap and lunge around for an intriguing and surreal series of portrait images?

Our latest image series Quiet // Motion, conceived and shot by Brence, explores the strange interplay of stillness and motion, using everyday people as subjects.

The idea

Brence was keen to do some personal work based in the studio. Something simple but compelling. Something that wasn’t focused on showcasing a specific tricky lighting technique but that would provide a meaty challenge in terms of conveying a mood and working with live models. Something a bit different.

And hence the idea for Quiet // Motion was born. Brence set about shooting a series of double portraits of everyday people: one close-up shot depicting a quiet, still and perhaps introspective moment, and another full-length shot with a dynamic sense of motion or action.

We gave a shout out for volunteers to become our experimental subjects. We targeted people that would have some degree of agility and body awareness (they all had experience in either dance, gymnastics or martial arts) as we figured it would come in handy for working through the motion images.

Here’s a few of the image pairings… you can see the final series in the Quiet // Motion image gallery in our portfolioQuiet // Motion series, image by Brence Coghill Quiet // Motion series, image by Brence Coghill Quiet // Motion series, image by Brence Coghill Quiet // Motion series, image by Brence Coghill

The process

The lighting design was kept super simple. The challenge would be to create the sense of stillness/motion and mood through what we like to term ‘gesture’ – body language and facial expression – rather than having a sense of quietness or dynamic energy dictated by the lighting style.

Softbox and gridded background light for the headshots, and a one-light softbox setup for the full-length shots.

Headshots were steered away from smiley expressions and more towards other emotive expressions of seriousness or introspection.

For the motion shots we worked with each subject – playing to their various movement skills – to identify specific shapes or arcs of movement and then breaking the movement down to become less overtly recognisable and to find interesting moments within each movement.

Often the subjects would repeat the same movement a number of times while we identified the essence of what needed to be captured and tweaked things to hone in on making the shot work best for camera. One of our models, Kieran, very gamely repeated a side lunge until we got just the right shot. It was pretty athletic stuff and all the subjects were super awesome at giving it 100% to the point of some feeling a bit worse for wear the next day…

We aimed to capture moments that were a little surreal or even sublime, but as you might expect we often caught stuff on camera – test shots and in-between moments – that were just plain silly…

The show

The final results were so ACE that it felt like an anticlimax to simply post them on our website and email a link to the participants. No, this called for a more highbrow affair. With beer!

So we staged a one-night-only casual exhibition/studio party, giving everyone a chance to experience the completed image series together, and to see their pictures for the first time in the same room in which they were created.

In a supreme planetary alignment of people’s schedules, all of our subjects were able to attend the show (with the sole exception of Kim, who gave apologies that he had tickets to see Noel Fielding that night, pffffffffft!)

We hung prints on the wall of our favourite image pairings and made a slideshow of the other final images as well as a bunch of fun extras and ‘outtakes’.

It was great fun to launch the image series with such a fun event. Perhaps we should end every project with a studio party :D

Photography exhibition by Brence Coghill at Image Workshop Melbourne Photography exhibition by Brence Coghill at Image Workshop MelbournePhotography exhibition by Brence Coghill at Image Workshop Melbourne Photography exhibition by Brence Coghill at Image Workshop Melbourne


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