Fashion photographer: Christian Blanchard

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Published:  March 4, 2011
Alison Copley
Fashion photographer: Christian Blanchard

Australian fashion photographer, Christian Blanchard, has made a name for himself as a burgeoning force in the fashion industry. Spurred on by his passion for photography, Blanchard pursued his craft and has shot beautiful campaigns around the globe for clients such Mimco, Nobody, L’Oreal and Amstel.

Realising the difficulty of entering such a tough industry, Blanchard is offering his expertise at Nikon School’s Editorial Fashion Photography Course (which will be held in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) where he’ll outline fashion photography tips to lay the base for a fashion-focused photography career.

Desktop caught up with Christian to discuss his inspirations, challenges and career tips.

Christian_Blanchard

Hi Christian, how did your photography journey begin?
I have fond childhood memories of playing with my parents’ camera and treasuring the photo albums of my abstract masterpieces that were stored under my bed. However, it was not until high school that I acknowledged my passion for photography.

After several years of built up frustration from studying I threw myself into the deep end and approached a photography studio to do an internship for a year. From there, I slowly worked my way up the ranks to a full time assisting role and then onto become one of their staff photographers.

Up until this point, the single contributor to my success was motivation, however it takes passion to allow you to grow with photography and turn that interest into a lifelong career.

This attitude of being thrown in the deep end has allowed me to work for six years in Perth, four years in Melbourne and now in my new home of Sydney. Internationally I have worked and been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Thailand and Indonesia and make time to travel abroad every year for work and inspiration.

You’ve been shooting an array of fashion brands – how did you make your foray into fashion photography?
Here’s how I see it:

To become a photographer you need to understand the science and mathematics of light and cameras.

To become a successful photographer you also need to understand your subject and find balance between the art and commerce of your field.

To become a successful fashion photographer you need all the above plus x. X = personality + charisma + social skills + fashion sense + creativity x luck.

Mimco

Can you recall your first fashion shoot?
My high school teacher challenged me with various co-curricular topics to study and one such topic, scopophilia, was my introduction to fashion photography. For this, I created a series of shots with a female friend juxtaposed alongside the alluring curves of a glass coke bottle.

When I look back at these images I cringe a little but I also recognise the energy and passion I had back then and aspire to maintain that level of interest in my work today.

You’ve shot for clients like Mimco, Amstel, Nobody Denim, L’Oreal, can you single out a memorable shoot and explain why it stands out for you?

My most exciting job to date would have to be when photographing the Nobody Was Thirsty charity campaign back in 2008. This campaign was aimed to raise funds for wells and clean drinking water in poverty stricken villages around the world.

For me it was a fantastic opportunity to give a little back and work with some amazingly talented people. Given the free creative rein to come up with a concept, I chose to document the reactions of famous personalities interacting with water indicative of that consumed by those living poverty-stricken parts of the world. The concept came about when thinking of what relationship humans have with water and what occurs when that relationship is changed or removed.

This also gave me the perfect justification to pour dirty water on celebrities!

Other highlights in my career have included shooting international campaigns for Mimco with super models such as Alice Burdeu and Emma Balfour, touring Australia shooting campaigns for L’Oreal and separately for Amstel Beer, working with UK pop celebrity Tara Palmer-Tomkinson on a resort campaign in Bali and the many opportunities to work and play in the snow, desert, beach and bush of our beautiful country.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Moral conflicts. By working in fashion you are presented with many personal conflicts such as the implications of retouched images on society, endorsing the fur industry and the many immoralities of advertising.

The upside is that you can use your job to give back to the community. I have been fortunate enough to shoot animal liberation campaigns, The Nobody Was Thirsty campaign and many other national charity projects. The warm fuzzies do help clear the conscience.

What is your favourite part of your job?
The creative satisfaction. My job is a passion that comes with many sacrifices and in turn needs to be fuelled by some level of satisfaction. But at the same time, I lose interest in my work soon after it is completed because I am always striving for newer, bolder, greater levels of satisfaction.

Model

Can you explain your setup – what equipment do you use, are you mostly based in your studio?
I have been a loyal Nikon user for 15 years and the most exciting equipment in my kit would have to be the Nikon D3x. I waited so very patiently for this camera to be announced and when mine finally arrived it was more rewarding than all my childhood Christmas’s rolled into one. I am shooting international campaigns that are comfortably enlarged to mega posters and billboards.

My setup changes for every shoot and is dependant on the brief, location, lighting requirements and the mood and style that is being created. I am currently striping all the technicalities out of my process and trying to focus more on the creative side of my work.

Can you explain a little bit about your involvement in the Nikon courses?
I started educating with Nikon School last year by presenting a series of workshops at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week that coincided with the launch of my short film Animalia.

This year I am travelling to Melbourne (2 April 2011), Sydney (30 April 2011) and Brisbane (28 May 2011) to run the Nikon School’s Editorial Fashion Photography course for fashion photography buffs.

What can students expect from the course and how can they get involved?
Whether you are an aspiring fashion photographer or simply an enthusiast with an eye for fashion, this course is a perfect opportunity to take your photography to the next level. I will teach you specialised fashion photography techniques in a live studio environment with great practical exercises. I aim to provide relevant course material that will allow students to create their own successful fashion imagery.

Any tips for budding fashion photographers?
Live, breathe and dream it. I have yet to meet a fashion photographer who is not passionate about their work so be prepared to read fashion magazines, attend fashion shows, spend endless evenings studying other photographer’s work and developing and executing your own ideas. It is a world of fantasy and fiction so let your imagination run wild.

The best way to find out more about Nikon School’s fashion course and to book placement is to visit the Nikon website.

To find out more about Christian, visit his site:

christianblanchard.com

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