Interview with the Creative Director & Model: Ashley BeLoat
1. Could you please give us a little introduction and tell us about your first experience as a creative director? How did you get started?
Hi BleachFilm! My name is Ashley BeLoat and I’m an actress and fashion model living in Los Angeles, California. I often take on the role of creative director for my shoots. Many times for my editorials, I’m the one pulling the team together. When I take on the role of creative director I like to focus on a few key elements or the concept, talk with each individual team member about elements I could see them bringing to the table to tell the story through their medium and ask them ultimately what their thoughts are. I feel work turns out best when everyone involved feels excited about their part in the shoot. When deciding the order of looks on the shoot day, we have a collaborative conversation about which order will have the best transition for hair, makeup, and lighting. If we are shooting on location, we take the sun into consideration.
2. What was your first paid job? How did it feel?
My first paid job was as a fashion model back in my home state of Florida. A photographer wanted to shoot portraits on the beach during sunrise. It was a beautiful day of soft morning light and flowing dresses. I was thrilled to get paid to do something I enjoyed so much.
I don’t take on the role of creative director for others’ shoots, as I’m too busy with acting, modeling, and my other career as a registered nurse.
3. What else are you passionate about?
I love the arts of storytelling, pose, and comedy. For these reasons, I moved out to Los Angeles where I work and train now. Yoga and Pilates are also big parts of my life to help offset the stress of my other passion – nursing. Taking care of people is something I do from the heart, though the hospital environment and pace can be quite stressful at times.
4. Is there anyone in the industry you look up to? Who?
There are qualities I admire in many performers and creators. I wouldn’t say there are specific people I wish to pattern myself after, but I do love to look at the people enjoying success and study how they got there.
5. What do you value most in a photographer who collaborates with you?
Time is more valuable than money. It is significant when another artist takes their own time to create with you. I value when people are either inspired by a concept of mine or wish to bring me in as the muse for their own concept.
6. What are your goals for your career?
Goals in the creative world are interesting things. Artists can control what they create, how they study, how they train, etc. but they can’t control how their efforts are always received. For those reasons, I try to set goals that are fully within my control and let the good results come as beautiful surprises. My current goals are focused on which classes I will be taking next, where I would like to submit my materials for further representation, and what stories I would like to tell for myself – through photo and film forms.
7. How can we stay connected with you?
You can follow me on my Instagram @ashleybeloat! I post there about any new films or editorials I’m involved in and would love to see you there.
Photographer Interview: Lawson Chew
Full Name: Lawson Chew
Country: United States
Photography Genre: Fashion
1. Could you please provide us with a professional introduction about yourself and your photography work?
I am a fashion photographer based out of Los Angeles, California. I am not classically trained as a photographer but learned through trial by fire and studying other fashion photographers’ works. It’s been about 8 years and counting that I have worked on this craft and perhaps maybe just beginning to understand what is needed to consistently produce proper high-level images.
The majority of my projects are passion projects that are collaborations with other talented individuals such as models, hair and makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, and even property owners. They usually have to start off with a concept and with a story to be told.
Some of my work has been published in a variety of outlets such as independent fashion magazines, social media, and one image in Vogue.
2. Can you tell us about how you got started in photography?
Photography originally started as means to build a better relationship with my father. He grew up in the mechanical age while I spent it in a digital world. But he always loved the mechanical aspects of photography and thus enjoyed photography. Luckily, digital photography still relies on those same mechanical principles and it gave us fantastic conversation topics. However, I quickly noticed that photography workflow is no different than project management and it was something I’m very familiar with.
3. What was your passion driving you during your journey? Who or what prompted you to begin?
Fashion photography is a lifelong journey and in my lifetime I might or might not be able to master it. I remind myself that photographers before us, such as Helmut Newton and Peter Lindbergh, were able to create amazing photographs, images, and stories with photography equipment with fewer features than current modern photography equipment. There is no reason why I couldn’t do similar work with much more advanced equipment.
4. Could you walk us through your photoshoot planning process?
A photoshoot planning starts off with inspiration from a photo or a video that someone showed me or I found randomly. It sits in my head for a long period of time until the conditions are able to produce that idea. This may take days, months, or even years. I use the word conditions not just to describe weather but developed skill and style, wardrobe, resources, rapport, resources, opportunity, and most importantly time. A big portion of the photoshoot planning process is the simple test shoots done with various models, hair and makeup artists, and wardrobe stylists. This is where rapport and trust are built with these talented individuals.
Once conditions are set, the inspiration will lead to the creation of a mood board and the sourcing of a location to execute the shoot. Next is finding talent that are willing to collaborate in this shoot. Usually, those who I have worked with before. and they have confidence that I won’t waste their time. A schedule is created and we go shoot.
5. As a photography expert, what sets your work apart from other photographers?
First off I don’t think I’m an expert in photography. I would like to use the word competent only in the small realm of female fashion photography. Expert means I would know everything and I’m confident enough to say that I don’t know a lot of things in photography. What I think sets my work apart from other photographers is my life experience, education, discipline, the lack of resources, the consistent drive to produce quality work, and most importantly the understanding of the entire social gamut working with talents.
6. Where do you get your ideas for photoshoots?
The ideas come from everywhere, historical books, tv shows, movies, magazines, video games, ads, art exhibit installations, and fashion shows. Most often, models usually have awesome ideas.
7. Can you tell us about the most memorable moment you’ve had as a photographer and what experience you gained from that?
Perhaps the most memorable moment I have had is the moment I learned that my photographs were able to consistently land work for models. My takeaway is that perhaps I’m actually making a positive impact on someone’s life.
8. What are the most important components of an extraordinary photograph, in your opinion?
Trust. The reciprocal trust you have with your team when making a photograph.
9. How do you strike a balance between your artistic expression and your client’s expectations during a shoot?
I’m unable to answer this because I don’t have clients. All my produced work is done in collaboration with very talented individuals.
10. How do other artists influence your work? Are there any other photographers you look up to? Who?
They give me an opportunity to analyze what they accomplished and for me to consider how I would approach that situation. There are a few photographers’ works that I look up to and study to improve my own style, such as Helmut Newton, Peter Lindberg, Steven Meise, Mario Testino, and Mario Sorrenti.
11. How do you enhance your vision after a session by post-processing your photos? Do you have a best-kept secret for editing processing that you’d like to share?
The best kept secret for edit/post-processing is photographing with the intention that there are things that need to be removed in post such as a powerline and to save time in the post you want to make sure what you are removing doesn’t affect the details of the model or the wardrobe. Also, good lighting and talented makeup artists will save you hours on the model’s skin.
12. Can you tell us about the most difficult photographic challenge you’ve ever had, including lighting, unexpected situations, and how you managed the issues on set?
The most challenging shoot I have done required the team to be on a location that was approximately 4 hours north of Los Angeles. The shoot had to happen on that specific day, rain was forecasted for the day before and the day after. I also had to fly out of Los Angeles two days after. Luckily, the sun came out to play with us on the day of the shoot and business was normal. Due to the trust that I had built with my team, a site visit, and my experience, there were no other issues on set.
13. What are your top tips for aspiring photographers on skill development and finding their own creative voice? How did you develop yours?
I’m not sure I’m in the position to provide top tips to aspiring photographers on this topic as I’m still developing my own. The one thing I apply for myself is that I will not be outworked and I test shoot once or twice a week, every week. It’s through this grind that I developed a style subconsciously, one would say muscle memory.
14. What is your favorite piece of work you’ve ever shot? (Please include links)
My current favorite piece of work is the editorial being published in this magazine. The team on this shoot was amazing. The model is someone who I tested and shot before. We have a great rapport and I’m able to capture her movements as she’s very familiar with the posing I’m aiming for. The wardrobe stylist is extremely talented, also worked with before, provided amazing styling that complemented the story we were trying to achieve. The Hair and Makeup Artist was very skillful and tremendously added the final touches to the images.
15. Can you tell me about an upcoming project you’re working on and the idea behind it?
Currently, I’m in a phase of experimenting with video and trying to produce fashion films alongside the editorial photographs on the day of the shoot. The video has its own challenges as it requires better means of directing and communicating with your model and makeup. It’s a bit harder to manage 24 frames for each second than one still photograph. Ultimately, I believe it would improve the quality of the still photograph.
16. Where can we view more of your work and connect with you?
My work can be found on instagram and my website.
Cr Dir & Model: @ashleybeloat