Girls on film

By photographer Jesse Simons for Jessica Greer. Model: Annabel Kerr.
By photographer Jesse Simons for Jessica Greer. Model: Annabel Kerr.
By photographer Mark Currie for designer Cheska Pasco. Model: Pagan Curruthers, Ali McD.
By photographer Mark Currie for designer Cheska Pasco. Model: Pagan Curruthers, Ali McD.
By photographer Tara Douglas for Becky Clegg. Model: Pagan Curruthers, Ali McD.
By photographer Tara Douglas for Becky Clegg. Model: Pagan Curruthers, Ali McD.
By photographer Julia Johnstone for designer Jenna Dudley. Model: Ella Buchannan, Ali McD.
By photographer Julia Johnstone for designer Jenna Dudley. Model: Ella Buchannan, Ali McD.
By photographer Michelle Kraus for designer Hollie Perniskie. Model: Victoria Cooper, Ali McD.
By photographer Michelle Kraus for designer Hollie Perniskie. Model: Victoria Cooper, Ali McD.
Ute Mahler (kneeling) during the shoot at Moana Pool. Photo by Werner Mahler.
Ute Mahler (kneeling) during the shoot at Moana Pool. Photo by Werner Mahler.
By photographer Emily Hilavac-Green. Model: Ella Buchannan, Ali McD.
By photographer Emily Hilavac-Green. Model: Ella Buchannan, Ali McD.
By photographer Emily Cannan for designer Meg Gallagher.
By photographer Emily Cannan for designer Meg Gallagher.

Take some fashion design and photography students, add the experience of an international photographer and you have an extraordinary fashion collaboration. Jude Hathaway reports.

Early on a cold Monday morning in Dunedin an extraordinary project rolled into action.

It saw six talent-spiked groups of New Zealand's future photographers link with the country's next generation of fashion designers in locations in and around the city to see what magic they could muster.

There was plenty. But it was not entirely student-generated.

Underpinning the venture with her vast knowledge and wise counsel was Ute Mahler, a Hamburg-based professor of photography and one of Germany's gifted and long-established fashion photographers.

The German photographer's trip to New Zealand with her husband Werner - also a notable professional photographer - was made possible by Germany's Institute for Cultural Relations (ifa) in co-operation with the Goethe-Institut, in Wellington .

The catalyst was the compelling "Zeitgeist Becomes Form" German fashion photography exhibition at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery - in which some of Mahler's own tantalising work features.

The success of the collaboration between Mahler and the Otago Polytechnic School of Fashion and the photography department of the School of Art, is captured in a swathe of distinctive images.

The project also called on the skills of models from the Ali McD Modelling School and Agency and makeup artists, while always close by were the polytechnic's tutors including the academic leader of the School of Fashion, Margo Barton, and Max Oettli, academic leader in photography at the polytechnic's School of Art.

"It was a fantastic experience for the designers," said Ms Barton.

"This was suddenly the real world, marketing their designs on models in front of a camera and receiving tips from a photographer who knew instinctively how to get the most from the models and garments."

The often surprising locations selected by each student group - which comprised two designers, two photographers and one model - also fed the success of the venture.

Models ended up in and under the water at Moana Pool, where pool staff managed to make space for the fashion shoots during a busy morning timetable.

They lounged in chairs in an artist's studio; they braved wet streets at night; they walked the cliffs of Otago Peninsula, posed in restaurants and under the austere gaze of pioneers at the Otago Settlers Museum.

Two weeks out from the workshop, teams were formed by matching photography students to fashion design students, after which work began on sourcing locations.

Included among the photography students were fourth-year trainees Emily Cannan and Kate Muir.

"Because each group only had four hours with the model we had to have everything organised, including locations and props," Emily explained.

Emily knew she wanted to incorporate night shots. She began in the late afternoon in order to have two hours shooting in darkness.

"We began inside in the Plato Restaurant complex. I was having a bit of difficulty and it was Ute who suggested we get out in the street."

The dark empty streetscape proved a perfect backdrop for designer Meg Gallagher's geek-chic gear.

Kate, in turn, sought airy outdoor space, which she found around the gun emplacements on the Otago Peninsula.

"We wanted to set the model against the sky. To do this I was flat on my back on rocks at the edge of the harbour, my hair dangling in the water."

But full immersion was left to the Moana Pool groups, where designers and photographers using underwater equipment worked with model Ella Buchanan above and below the water line or through the viewing windows for stunning effects.

And always Ute was there, directing and encouraging, her words quickly translated so no moments were lost.

"It also raised the question of whether we are fine art photographers or fashion photographers," Kate and Emily agreed.

That's for the future to decide.

 

 

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