This is a little exploration into the art of styling, and the delicate art of having your picture taken. There are so many elements to be considered and it can be an all overwhelming experience. The way we see style or coolness if you like, is something that can’t be put down in words. A lot of my pals and I will just look at a person and say that he or she looks cool, and that’s all there is to the story. There’s not much more to say really. You can’t dissect coolness, nor can you try to capture its essence on purpose. So don’t bother trying to force it into a photograph.
To me I suppose style is a form of coolness, whether that be a super nerdy strain of it or not. People who chase coolness will never understand it, and people who are 100% themselves reek coolness from their armpits to their big toes. Why? because coolness is not in their thought process, it’s not considered, and it’s not compensated for, and yet it appears without fail. I would say that the super rad people I get to meet have a confidence in themselves that is rich and radiant. They are full of their own unique character, they’re really into what they do, and they are passionate about life, whether they be introvert, extrovert, or middle-vert. I’m definitely not going to hold back when saying that being overconfident is a total killer of coolness. Overconfidence will make people assume you’re full of it, and with the internet these days, people have become the most harsh critics. So style and coolness is all relative, and not usually realised in the eyes of the beholder.
When I style a set, a person, or myself, I’m not thinking about how to make stylishness out of thin air, I’m considering the individual or the thing. My intention is also never to make that person or thing cool, I’m just editing the junk so that people can see exactly who you are, in the one single image. Things I think about would be, what is the photograph all about? what is it/his/her purpose in it? does it all look comfortably right in the frame? It’s all about how I can make the image as natural and true as possible, while still drawing the viewer into a world that is literally detached from reality. After all, it’s staged photography we’re talking about.
The motivation behind an image is always really apparent in a photograph. People aren’t dumb, they can tell when someone in a photograph is trying to be as sexy as they know how to be, or if they’re just being carried away in the moment. That’s why even the shyest person will shoot (appear in a photograph) more beautifully than an attention-hungry monster… Sometimes their motivation can be so apparent it’ll punch you in the face, and that’s ultra cringeworthy to me. That’s also why I find it better to cast real people to shoot, over say a model, but that’s not to say that there aren’t some wonderful models who just get it – they’re often the ones booking all the jobs.
Someone who freeze-frames coolness really well is New York photographer Ryan Plett, driven by tonal perfection. He is that guy who really nails his darks, lights, shadows and highlights. He’s that dude who shoots super rich images that are full of character, and has a knack for pulling out a sense of rawness and realness that transforms that good photograph to a great one. In this photograph we unveiled half of my face with a bit of water and pomade that swept my bangs off of my forehead. I had a stick of reddish brown lipstick on me so I dabbed some on my cheeks in replacement of blush and it always works out just fine. I like how my freckles can still come through the tint. The shirt, a shawl neck workshirt is totally me, and therefore I’m confident and comfortable wearing it because I feel like myself in it. And that’s all folks.
This scene is shot on medium format, with his Pentax 67, a beauty of a camera. I shan’t dissect it, just look… don’t think.