A Fashion Shoot of Victorian Decadence | Interview with Hennadiy Kvasov
Starting in 2008 when he bought his first DSLR, Hennadiy Kvasov has always been drawn to fashion photography. He studied at Brooks Institute of Photography and interned with famed celebrity photographer, David LaChapelle. He was hired on to be a retoucher and digital tech/assistant at LaChapelle’s studio.
I had the opportunity to speak to Hennadiy about a recent fashion shoot he had at Unici Casa.
Tell me a little about the photo shoot.
The shoot was very spontaneous. I received a call from Mikey from the Runway Archives & Showroom saying there is a great opportunity to collaborate with very talented group of artists. I was given an amazing location, thanks to the owner of Unici Casa, Michael Foroutan, and was able to work with a team of very talented artists.
I only had one day to get ready for the shoot. That meant that I had to have a concept, lighting and my gear sorted out in a very short period of time. It’s a lot to think about and visualize.
How did you come up with the concept?
The concept was conceived when I looked at the images of Unici Casa on the Internet. I fell in love with the place. It had so much color and so many great already stylized areas that I could use for the shoot. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted it to look but the ﬁnal concept was truly born when I was on location, the day of the shoot. I arrived earlier to meet my team and to take a closer look at the location.
[REWIND: Elements of a Successful Fashion Shoot]
Upon arriving I was presented with great designs by Puey Quinones. I was given an idea about makeup and hair and for the ﬁrst time I got to meet our models for the day. With that information, I went ahead to ﬁnalize my ideas and to pick ﬁnal locations for the shoot. I picked 8 different location inside the Unici Casa, but we only shot 4 of them due to time restrictions. We spent roughly and hour per set capturing different poses and emotions.
What are the most important things to consider for a successful fashion shoot?
Directing the talent is very important on these types of creative fashion shoots. The
talent needs to know what they need to do and what mood and expression they need to
In my opinion, there are many ‘ingredients’ that need to be exceptional when it comes to
making great fashion images, but to me there are four most important ones:
A good mix of these four ingredients will make any fashion shoot successful.
How did you set up the scene to evoke the emotion you were looking for in the images?
I wanted all images to look grand and theatrical maybe with a hint of Victorian era. It’s a scene with big dresses, warm lighting and lot’s of smoke. Since we had all of the ingredients to make it happen, we went for it.
How did you use lighting to help you set the scene?
When I light the scene, I always start with one light and then add more as needed. In this particular case, I was exposing for the ambient light – ﬂoor lights, sconces and chandeliers. Additionally, I had one ﬂash head pointed at each girl because they were a bit underexposed. The next step was to balance it all out. I didn’t want the ﬂash to take over the images. I still wanted to have that ambient feel. The proper combination of warm lights, ﬂash and smoke machine made these images look like this. Well, not really, as there is also retouching. I feel retouching is the biggest and the most unaccredited and unspoken part of today’s photography.
Did these images require a lot of retouching after the shoot?
Retouching or post-production, as I prefer to call it, is often the most criticized aspect of photography, even though it’s been done as early as 1860s. Today, however, we have a
tool to blame, Photoshop. A tool that’s been perhaps overused or not used properly. Often, it seems many are screaming, “Photoshop, too much of Photoshop!” This may well be true in some cases, but I have found in many cases there is no Photoshop involved what so ever. If you have a great team of artists that can do an excellent job, and a beautiful light, the image will look retouched and very clean without Photoshop. I think it’s just a popular name to shout – Photoshop!
These images where retouched by my company Pixmode. It took a few days per image of post-production to get the ﬁnal product. Everything that you see was there, was captured, nothing is fake. The post-production is often about bringing the best pieces together. The best expression, the best pose to create the best possible image. The Photoshop is not about creating a fake image, it’s about creating the best one out of what you shot. Because there is so much to think about when you shoot a big job or big creative project. It’s practically impossible to capture everything and everyone perfect in one single shot. There is no perfect picture.
Speaking from my own experience as a professional retoucher, I can tell you that the amount of post-production on the similar creative image is usually the same as the amount pre-production and shooting put together. Sometimes retouching projects last for years, but that’s a different story.
What gear did you use for this shoot?
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lenses Used: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Canon 70-200mm f2/8
Tethered shooting into MacBook Pro 15 with Capture One 7 Software.
2 Pocket Wizard Plus II
Speedotron Black Explorer 1500 Battery Pack with two Snooted Heads.
C-Stands, sand bags, CTO Gels.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to set up a fashion shoot like this one?
In the end, it’s not about makeup artist or your stylist or post-productions. I think the most important part of any shoot is your team as a whole. If you have a great team to work with, then you’ll have a great product. And it’s not always about planning and setting things up for weeks, because at the end, when you’re on set, you will changes and adapt to the environment you’re in and learn make changes on the ﬂy. The team was amazing and I wanted to thank them for the work and talent they poured into this shoot:
Makeup – Christy Maurer, Hairstylist -Leanne Hare,Designer -Puey Quinones, Stylists – Mikey & Alexis at Runway Archives, Showroom and Assistant Wardrobe – Jennifer Monroe. Our talent was pretty great too. The girls, JJ & Krystal from Photogenics and Elizabeth and Lucy Crokite of Envy Model Management did a great job at posing and delivering the characters for the shoot.
To see more of Hennadiy Kvasov’s work, check out his website.
CREDITS: All photographs shared by Hennadiy Kvasov are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.