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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Informing Contexts – Work Evaluation – Mature Model Shoot

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Figure 1: Sutherst 2017

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Figure 2: Sutherst 2017

Whilst casting for models for performance shoots, this subject contacted me.  “I love your work. I’m very interested to see what you could do with a mature model. I love experimenting, so would like the opportunity to work with you”.

I booked the shoot and then the nerves kicked in.  The subject had set the bar quite high and I felt under pressure to get the styling and theme exactly right.  An incorrect decision and the shoot would be a disaster.

Before the subject arrived at the studio, I discussed a tribal war paint makeup with the makeup artist. I wanted to make the subject feel very powerful and strong.  The makeup artist had previously made the costume for another shoot and suggested that to would go with the makeup.  When the subject arrived, she told me that she suited blues and really wanted to do a shoot based on tribal warriors.  Thank goodness we were on the same page!

The shoot was lit for high key work on a white background.  This light is the most flattering to the subject and I wanted to produce images that were soft and flattering, and which didn’t draw attention to the lighting itself.  The lack of shadows and low contrast made this lighting perfect for the shoot.

Again, as in so many of my performance shoots, humour played a big part.  The subject easily got into character and was transformed in front of the camera.  The resultant images in figures 1 and 2, are playful and full of the character of the subject.  I gave her an open-ended brief as to the narrative of the shoot.  She was able to apply her own life experiences and knowledge to the character and she happily explored storylines.  These complemented the creativity of the makeup and styling I had designed along with the makeup artist.

“The photograph isn’t what was photographed, it’s something else. It’s about transformation”.

– Garry Winogrand

The lighting isn’t quite right on the backdrop as there are slightly darker areas.  I think though, that this adds to the images and makes them visually appealing.  A truly white background with no shadows could appear sterile and cold.  The shadows add a little interest.

The subject is stood on a fake fur coat which was used effectively to look like her latest kill.  During the shoot many different props were used and this helped the subject to transform into the character.

Both of these images work compositionally with the visual weight of the images both leading to the subject.  She looks confident and happy in her performance.

The subject was pleased with the results.  She messaged me once I sent through the images to say “Yaa thanks Jo they are amazing.  Please say thank you to everyone for yesterday. I had so much fun and you all made me feel very welcome.”


Winogrand, G. From Redeye. 2017. Photography is the most important visual art | Redeye. [online] Available at: important-visual-art. [Accessed 26 February 2017].

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