Concrete Cat Explains is a series that takes a deeper look into the artists and stories that inspire objects and lead experiments at our studio.
The most captivating images are ones that look like they’ve been clipped out of a movie scene, projects that involve many moving parts and require a high attention to detail from everyone in production as well as from the viewer of the final photograph. While colourful minimalist photos are equally complex in that it leaves nothing to hide behind - bad lighting, editing and composition reveal itself in this approach - it is exciting to share a moment with a photographer when there is something that catches your eye off to the side of the frame or if there’s human interaction happening. Creating images that encourage attention from the viewer to spend more time picking out details from a scene is the goal.
A shoot like The LingNan Lookbook does this. The set is unique, bold on its own and honestly is what makes the photos. Restaurant and bar spaces are recognizable, giving context to object function and human scale. Behind the scenes, we have people lead different tasks such as food and object styling. A team that creates space and trust to lead on ideas, test ideas, and delegate tasks while still challenging ways of composing props, shots, or light is ideal. Ultimately everyone must care about the details of their respective parts.
The LingNan shoot was technically challenging having never visited the location. Wanting the look of a harsh on-camera flash meant there were many test shots from strobe mis-firing or blowing out highlights. This was also the first time we experimented with gels. Gaining knowledge about lighting through consistent practice is the key to overcoming this challenge.
Having a shot list or vision board is important because time is crucial, especially during shoots that have many moving parts to track. There are scenes envisioned before getting to set and the shot list can be a way to communicate those imagined frames to team members. Opportunity to experiment will come naturally on set but having a baseline is security for time and overall cohesiveness of a project.
The same rhythm can be said about many of our Lookbooks, like the shoot with dry ice. Instead of many objects, it was about capturing an instantaneous moment with billowing clouds of dry ice vapor but it follows the same attention to detail, teamwork, and preparation.
Words and Images by Vivian Han-Tat