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Hi guys, it’s been again a long time since I have blogged my latest post here.  A combination of work, important projects and family life (3 kids now, and 2 of them at home for 2 months during holidays in July/August) made me virtually unavailable for anything else. I already can’t wait for our first holidays in more than 3 years, by the end of this year, back to Europe !

Anyway, during that time, I have done many different things, and among them, I have upgraded my lighting equipment with an amazing item: the Icelight. When I first heard about the Icelight early 2012, it was through my friend Jerry Ghionis when he was still testing it. Jerry is recognized as one of the best wedding photographers in the world, and he had the brilliant idea to design a continuous lighting that is really transportable and delivers a great light quality. I won’t describe the product here, there are lots of resources on that on the net – http://www.theicelight.com – but I simply would like to stress out that this product is amazing *.

So I have ordered 2 Icelights a couple of weeks ago and I got them last Saturday (17 Aug 13). They are not really cheap (US$500 each) but it costs less than a good speed light and for a far better quality of light. It’s as Jerry says: “it’s like carrying window light everywhere you go”. The product is manufactured by Wescott, a famous lighting equipment company, and is of great quality. The box itself looks like the one of an Apple product, and really you feel quality, reliability, solidness when you have the Icelight in hand. Everything looks perfect, and it is, but of course, there are a few cons: like the battery for instance, which lasts only 1 hour at full power (that being said, it’s quite rare that you need full power all the time, and between 2 shots, you can just switch it off …), or the maximum power, which doesn’t enable you to use it in bright outdoor conditions (the Icelight is clearly designed for indoor, studio or night shoots).

As every photographer, I am photo equipment geek … and as soon as I receive a new piece of equipment, I want to test and try it. In less than a week, I have already shot 2 photo sessions with my Icelights: one for a wedding and one that I have offered to a couple who wanted to do something very special (recreate the Wong Kar Wai movie “In the mood for love” mood and atmosphere in the streets of Port-Louis, Mauritius. Here are then some images taken during those 2 photo sessions … and really looking forward to the next sessions with them !

1. “In the mood for love” theme images:

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2. Images of Meelin and Oliver wedding – first time I ever used the Icelights:

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3. The Icelight with its box:

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* Note: I am not a distributor or reseller of this product in Mauritius or anywhere in the world – Jerry, if you read this, maybe we could do business together here 😉 lol. I am not earning any commissions or royalties by writing this blog post. I am just writing it because I love the product and I think it deserves to be better known.

I’m quite proud to have been chosen to take the first images of the new dress collection of La Maison de Haute-Couture Lionnet Fauzou. This new dress collection is based on the masterpieces of Mauritian artist/painter Vaco Baissac. Very well designed, very colorful, it’s a real pleasure for the eyes.

Here are some images I’ve taken, some of the dresses’ designs and a few Vaco Baissac paintings which inspired Ainais Lionnet and Fabien Fauzou, the 2 young and talented Mauritian designers.

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Dear friends,

I am very pleased and proud to announce that our first stop motion movie is on its final steps of production. We (Jasbeer and I) are very proud because this is quite of an achievement that we have done with this short film. And it is a real team work, that looked almost impossible and too challenging a fews months back. But we have successfully met this challenge, and here it is: we are almost there with our first movie ! :)Here is the cover image of our short film, named: “In my Dreams”:

Synopsis: A boy and a girl dream about each other even though they have never met in real life and despite sharing the same passion for ballet, until one day …

But let’s go back to the origins of this beautiful artistic creation. This short stop motion movie has a nice ground story, as it is the combination of 3 arts: ballet dance, photography and 3D animation. The project was born a few months ago, when I contacted Jasbeer, a Mauritian drawer expert in 3D animation who was freshly back from the UK, to propose her to combine her drawings with my photography. When we first met, early April this year, we talked about a few ideas that we would like to achieve together … but really, one project triggered our full attention: the ballet stop motion project was born !

Thanks to the images that my friend Khatleen Minerve took of Meeyin Qiu, I knew there were some ballet dancers in Mauritius. Actually, we now know that there are several schools of ballet dance in Mauritius ! We contacted Meeyin, who then contacted a male ballet dancer, Christopher Charme – after our first meeting, late April, we were all very motivated to go ahead with this project. However, everything had yet to be achieved and we had lots of technical issues to solve.

First, we had to change my normal white photo studio (well it was more turning towards grey than pure white 😉 ) into a “green bubble” i.e. a green screen from ground to ceiling. Green screens are commonly used in the audio-video, cinema and TV industries as they are easier to remove during the editing process. So here we were, painting the ground in green, and creating green curtains for the walls and ceiling …

It was not easy to fix the ceiling curtain !!

The studio was then greeny ready 🙂 In the meantime, Jasbeer and I had worked a lot on the script of the story, cutting it in several sequences. Eeverything has been planned from the acting, the emotions, the background description, the color cast, the timing and number of frames for each sequences, the dancers’ outfits, the angle of view to the lighting and even its temperature ! Our dancers had then to meet to think of a choreography  and we had a few test shoots to solve the last technical issues.

 The beautiful Meeyin.

For the ones who don’t know what is a stop motion movie – this is a movie made of lots of still images rolling at 24 frames per second. Therefore, to see 1 second of film, you have to shoot 24 images. Linked to this fact, there are several constraints, like for instance, to capture a movement, you need to trigger the shutter quite quickly to get a flawless movement. I will certainly write about this in a later post. For the moment, let’s share some behind the scene images so that you have an idea of the whole stuff 🙂

First tests – Jas

First tests – Jas 2 🙂

During the planning process

Meeyin getting ready

The set up

Studio views 1

Studio views 2

Editing

Studio views 3

Studio views 4

Jasbeer choreographer 1

Jasbeer choreographer 2

Jasbeer choreographer 3

Jasbeer choreographer 4

Looking for the correct marks 🙂

I should have been a dancer 😉

What is it ? Ballet or rock ? 😉

A Sunday at work – visit of my kids

Jasbeer directing

Jasbeer directing 2

Chloe 1

Chloe 2

Proud Chloe 🙂

A nice angle

During the shoot

Shooting portraits

Flying Jul 🙂

Portraits

Meeyin and Christopher having fun

Editing

Editing 2

Editing 3

In total, the whole project took us about 3 months of work – 1 of planning, 1 of shooting (3 week-ends and a half of shooting) and 1 of post-processing (mainly Jasbeer). Some 4,000 images were taken, for an end result of a bit more than 3 minutes of film. It was a lot of work and efforts, but it really worths it … and we had so much fun ! 🙂

Now we just have to wait for a few more weeks before the last and final version of the film is over – then we will release it for film festivals, and then on the Internet. Let’s be patient ! 😉

Thanks for reading.

It’s been now a few months that I have opened my studio in Coromandel; however, due to a very busy agenda, I still haven’t been able to really start shooting in it. Also it still needs to be a bit renovated and better furnished, to properly welcome clients, models, make-up artists … Eventually, I have recently painted the shooting stage in green for a personal project which will combine 2 types of art – photography and animation. I’ll write more on this later on.

When launching my studio, I had in mind to widen my scope of photography to fashion and commercial photography. Recently, I put a first step into the small world of fashion in Mauritius … but not the studio. I took the opportunity of the first Fashion Photography Contest in Mauritius to gather a first small team around me to be able to submit nice images for the contest. This team was composed by Pawan Cavalli – fashion designer; Mélanie André – model; Valérie Lee – make-up artist; Nicolas Malachie – assistant. The shoes were provided by Bella Donna and jewels by Svarowski. Finally, I got some assistance from Sachin Sagar (he lend me some pieces of photographic equipment) and from East-Sider (which provided me with the male mannequin). Pawan designed and created an absolutely stunning dress, using the latest technology and materials, specially for this shoot. As usual, Valérie did an awesome make-up on Mélanie, who was the perfect model for the occasion. Finally, Nicolas’s assistance and help was extremely valuable, as I wouldn’t have been able to set-up all the lights without him. All this was put together in less than 10 days, and for free, which was quite improbable ! 😉 (the idea of the male mannequin even arose in my mind on the same morning as the shoot itself !)

To participate to this contest, I had to submit 2 fashion images before a certain date – and the last free date we all had was actually the day before the deadline. And on that day, the weather was quite grey, windy and rainy on the whole island ! I had decided to do the shoot at Cap Malheureux, the Northest point of the island. It rained almost the whole trip to there, and finally, the sun came out and we had a wonderful sunny afternoon ! Here are some images I took on that shoot:

After submitting my entries for the contest, I posted some images on my Facebook fan page. A few hours later, I got a message from Alexandra Weber Isaacs, who is promoting fashion in Mauritius through her nice and interesting blog. She wrote that my images were nice and pleasant to look at, and technically well realized, but that I missed some elements to compose some really excellent fashion images. Although I don’t deny it, as it was one of my first fashion shoot, it made me think of the definition of “fashion photography”. What is fashion photography really about ?

Alexandra’s definition is as such: “The principal aim of fashion photography is to combine two elements: the perfect presentation and display of a product and doing this in an original way that blends in and enhances a particular mood.” My opinion is that this definition isn’t fully complete as it missed an important piece of the subject: the model. To me, fashion photography is a kind of portrait photography for which the model wears some fashion items that are presented and displayed in an original way, respecting a certain concept and mood. To say it in another way, there is very little difference between fashion photography, portrait photography, modeling, glamour … Honestly, I am still not sure if I am shooting fashion images or just portraits of models, but to put this internal debate in my mind to an end, I got a part of the answer from contradictory comments on the same image – someone wrote that the mood, model and product did not work up to their combined potential and that it could have been better, stating that the male mannequin didn’t fit the mood or the location / on the same image, other people commented that this is one of the best concept image they have seen for a while and that it is a totally great and interesting concept, looking like a surrealist painting, Dali-style.

With this ambiguity in my mind, I came to the Fashion Photography Contest‘s final (I was selected among the 4 finalists) with the idea of building my own “fashion” style. Being a finalist of that contest meant to shoot 2 imposed concepts, with 2 models each. Dresses and outfits were specially designed for the occasion by La Maison de Haute Couture Lionnet Fauzou and by Sanjeet Boolell; models were provided by Mathis Models, directed by Karen Nicolini; make-up artists were Dominique Chan and Cédric Lanappe; shoes and accessories were provided by Bella Donna and the Mauritius Glass Gallery (which designed some amazing shoes in glass ! – see below). The day was really fun and tiring, it made me think of the TV show “Top Chef” for cookers – we had 2 imposed themes, on an imposed location (L’Aventure du Sucre) – although we could pick up whatever place we wanted inside the domain -, we got to know the models, the outfits and dresses and the accessories only a few minutes before starting the shoot. Finally we had a fixed limited time to complete the task, which was to create 2 fashion images by concept + 1 individual portrait of each model.

The first concept I had to shoot was about 2 queens: a dark/devil queen who wants to invade the territory of the white butterfly queen. The outfits were really amazing, the models acted very well. For this concept, I was inspired by the Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Kill Bill”, mainly the scenes in Japan with swords. On the field, I have looked for potential swords and found that sugar canes would perfectly fit both the place and the swords. Then I looked for a “grungy” place and found out an outdoor facade with a lot of textures, geometrical items, old stairs … Perfect for the mood I wanted to create. For all the below images, I wanted to convey a feeling of the strength of their fight, their anger and spirit of revenge ; I also wanted to experiment new angles, using the background for composing my images. To do so, I had to face some difficult elements, such as a strong and harsh sun (it was 11am), I had to climb on a not-so-stable ladder to find new angles, I used a fan to blow some air opposite to the existing wind … – it really looked like a “super-production” from the outside 😉

The second concept I had to shoot dealt with a soldier, coming back from the future to save his beloved princess who was imprisoned in a steel jail. For this shoot, I had to find futuristic inspirations in the locations and in the outfits, which were also really great. The huge engines of the sugar cane plant, the wheels, the wooden boat, the tubes, all in all formed a good set-up for picturing my tale. Because I have apprehended this shoot as a story in 4 steps (images), with the soldier cruising back through future, her beloved princess in her wheel jail (inspiration from “Modern Times”, Charlie Chaplin), the soldier climbing to deliver her and finally the start of their romance. Here I wanted to show the power of love in a futuristic place, using the great-but-difficult-to-deal-with background. It was very dark indeed and my challenge was both to keep as much ambient light as possible and darken all unnecessary disturbable elements. This second shoot was also very challenging for my team as we had to change lighting set-ups 5 times, at 5 different places … within 1 hour and 15 minutes !

Last but not least, I would like to thank a million times Ali Ghanti and my wife – they have assisted, helped and supported me during this whole long and hectic day. The work of an assistant is very interesting but also very demanding – you need to be proactive, to anticipate, but also to react very quickly; you need to suggest and propose improvements in lighting, posing, framing … Both Ali and Diane did that perfectly ! Thanks a lot again !

And wish me good luck for the results ! 🙂

In this blog post, I would like  to tackle a few tips to create nice portrait images. Portraiture is certainly the most common type of photography, as it is extremely vast – it goes from a simple casual portrait, to kids portraiture, family portraits, corporate portraits, weddings, fashion … Obviously, you will not apprehend your clients from the same angle and with the same techniques if it is fashion or corporate portraits. But the few tips I will give you should enhance your images … hopefully 🙂

1. Communication with your model – it seems obvious, but when you are beginning in photography, it is not natural at all to communicate and direct your subject, and it is far more comfortable to be hidden behind your camera. Photography here is more about psychology ! Very few model believe they are photogenic – actually every subject is photogenic. It is our role as photographers to make them feel comfortable, to position them, to find the best angles and techniques to make them look beautiful and be proud of their images. This, of course, cannot be learned in a book – it requires experience, self-confidence, good communication skills, empathy …

2. Find a dynamic in your pose – the whole dynamic of a pose is made by your subject’s body, this is what we call “body language”. Here, the key parts of your subject’s body are the shoulders, the arms and hands, and the legs (if you’re shooting a full body portrait).

– shoulders should be 2/3rd turned – shooting a portrait of someone’s shoulders looking straight at the camera will make him (her) look fatter, as their shoulders will take more place of the frame. Instead of having our client face square to the camera, we need them to do a 2/3 turn away from the camera. Having them turn away will give them a slimmer profile look in the camera and shave off those 10 extra pounds 🙂

– arms and hands should be occupied – keeping your arms and hands straight down your side is really not dynamic and gives the impression of not being comfortable or of being bored. Asking your model to put a hand in his (her) pocket or a hand on his (her) hip will create diagonal lines which will provide a dynamic composition. Also, except for some specific messages that you want to convey with your image, avoid having your model with crossed arms.

– with legs, you can play with the height of your model, being seated, kneed, or standing. Legs can be crossed, one straight one in diagonal … You can make them jump … Any movement would be good for your composition, always trying to avoid having your model planted like a tree 🙂

3. Find an expression in your model’s face – I believe that this is a critical point to make a good portrait. When I am looking at most fashion images nowadays, I really get bored. There’s nothing, not a smile, not a look in the eyes, the skin is so made-up and photoshopped … there is basically no personality in those images, as the model is not the key part of the image – it’s more his (her) clothes that are important (which, I believe, is crap – a model, with some personality and showing happiness to wear those clothes, will certainly give a much more powerful message to potential clients). Hence my point, a good photographer should always try to convey emotions through his (her) pictures – in a portrait, emotions and feelings are initiated by the eyes, the mouth, the global face expression and the body language.

– focus must be on the eyes – that’s the basic of a good portrait: if the focus is not on the eyes (i.e. the eyes are not sharp but out-of-focus), but on the nose for instance, then you lose considerable impact (moreover if you use wide aperture like f/1.4)

–  focus must be on the eyes, not on the chin ! – be careful at your angle, it is always better to take a portrait of someone from a higher point of view. From there, your model will rise his (her) eyes up to you, making them pop up while his (her) cheeks will look thiner. Shooting a portrait from a lower angle is good to create an impression of power … but not really appropriate for beauty shots (except if you want to put the emphasis on the model’s chin) 😉 Thus remember, chin down, eyes up !

– make your model smile – attention, not 1,2,3 … smiiiile ! But really smile, with a good joke for instance. I mean, people look really better when they do smile, don’t you think so ? A beautiful smile should drastically improve 90% of your “not-so-good” portraits.

– avoid systematic direct eyes contact with the camera – looking straight at the camera is natural, as your model is reacting with your, who is behind the camera. However, and except for some specific images (ID portraits, corporate portraits, advertising portraits where the eyes have to “talk and sell something” to the image viewer …), it is also important look at something else – the horizon for instance, providing a visionary message; or a couple who look at each other, full of love, is a far better image than the same couple looking straight at the camera with a “cheesy” smile ! 🙂

– light the face of your model – the role of a photographer is to find the best light for his (her) model. Light will create texture, shadows, depth … a whole atmosphere that will bring personality to the image. The photographer will then have to position his (her) model according to this light, may it be natural light or flash.

4. Overall composition of a portrait – the rules of third is important in portrait, as it is in almost all fields of photography. The key element of a portrait are the eyes, they should be placed on a force line or a force point, as shown here:

Also it is important to pay a careful attention to the background when making your model pose. In Mauritius for instance, you need to be careful of the boats on the sea, of the palm tree that can look like Indian feathers behind your model’s head 😉

5. Specific portraits:

– kids portraits – kids are a difficult subject, like animals 🙂 Indeed, they don’t obey and don’t pose as we would like them to. In order to succeed in kids portraiture, a photographer need to get familiar with the kid (talking with him (her), showing him (her) the camera or your flash …). I also use a little plastic mouse that makes some noise when pressing on it … just so that the kid will look in my direction when I would like him (her) to 🙂

– group portraiture – an important point here is to constitute an homogeneous group, and then to make them do something – talking, laughing … Also try different situations where they are comfortable, as 2 parents lying down in the garden with their kids for instance.

– corporate portraiture – first is to understand the needs of your client (what will the image be used to), then is to find the place where to make the portrait (if in your client’s office), considering light, environment, composition.

– fashion portraiture – for fashion, except if you are working on your own projects, you need to meet specific requirements from your client. Those requirements concern the model, the pose, the clothes, the attitude, even the type of lighting you will use. It is thus very important to assimilate all those requirements before starting the shoot, but it also doesn’t prevent you from knowing what to do to get a great image 🙂

I hope those few tips will help you, photographers to make your model better pose for you, and you models, to be aware of what is a photographer looking for when making you pose for him (her) 🙂

Today, 23 September 2011, is the official launch of www.winners.mu, the brand new website of Winner’s supermarkets.

Just to remind you, Winner’s is the proximity supermarket leader in Mauritius, and the favorite supermarket chain of Mauritians. A few weeks ago, I have worked for Winner’s on a few projects, among which was the launching of their website, a key success factor in their communication strategy. I have already posted a note with some sample images here on my blog some time ago, but today, I am very proud to be part of this website, which I find very beautiful, well built and very practical.

The first portrait of the month:

But the key feature of this website certainly is the complete 360° virtual tour of a Winner’s supermarket. When I met Mr. Venpin, General Manager of Winner’s, back in June, I proposed him this product which is not well developed in Mauritius and which is very rare for a supermarket (even worldwide). He was immediately enthusiastic about this idea as this is, I believe, a great interactive tool for a website. Moreover, the product I proposed him is interesting as the viewer can visit several rooms or places from a unique screen thanks to links in the virtual tour itself. For the Winner’s virtual tour, you can switch from the main entrance, to the fresh fruits and vegetables corner, to the butcher stand, to the bakery (a view from the private inside of Winner’s) and then to the drinks alley for instance … all that with just a click from one tour to another.

I am quite proud of the final result, which, I am sure, will help Winner’s in their communication strategy and visibility on the Internet.

Very soon I will make an announcement for the launching of my 360° virtual tour product. If you have an hotel, bungalows, a flat to sell, a supermarket or a shop, if you are an interior designer, an architect, or work for a real estate agency … this type of virtual tour is a great opportunity for you to make visitors discover your property, your product, your services. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂

Dear friends,

I am very happy and proud to announce the opening of Pixel in the Box studio, which is based in Coromandel. Although I still need to find a few accessories, I can already propose  lots of services – personal portfolios and fashion images, corporate portraits and images, family and kids portraiture, commercial images, products images … I have loads of ideas I’d like to realize in my studio and share with you !

Also, since I have a lot of space there, I will be able to propose some photography courses soon. More news about this to come in a few weeks.

Those services are only available on appointment. Thus, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a quote and to book your photo session !

Yesterday, while setting up all my equipment, I have shot a few trial images with my wife, Diane (who is not a model and who doesn’t like to pose hahaha 🙂 ), to check if everything is working fine. Here are those very basic first images taken in my studio:

A few weeks ago I spent a wonderful time with Lucilla & Chung for their wedding. Lucilla is Mauritian while Chung comes from Hong Kong, and they both live in the UK. The day was beautiful and we took pictures at Cap Malheureux (couple portraits), Sugar Beach (family images and tea ceremony) and Domaine Ana (ceremony and reception).

Here are a few images among the thousand I took during the day 😉 :

I have recently been asked to capture some corporate portraits for a Mauritian proximity supermarket chain, Winner’s. The object of those portraits was to describe and picture the important values of Winner’s: the welcome spirit and the expertise of their staff, the quality and freshness of their products, the dynamism and the friendship spirit of the company. For instance, I was pleased to see that all breeds and pastries are home-made with nice up-to-date equipment ! Same for the freshness of fruits and vegetables, which are directly bought to small producers in the mornings.

We had 3 different sessions in 2 supermarkets (Winner’s has some 17 supermarkets across the island), the third one being for the launch of my new photography product: 360° virtual tours (more to come on this topic soon). Here are a few of the numerous images I took during this collaboration:

Hi my dear friends,

I am very sorry to have not been able to update my blog for more than a month ! I’ll try to catch up soon with a lot of new images 😉

Let’s start this with a great day Diane and I had yesterday, for a great event: our 10th wedding anniversary ! 🙂 Time really flies so quickly, I can’t believe it’s been already 10 years ! For this special occasion, we wanted to do something special, together without the kids. We decided then to spend the day in the South-western part of the island close to Le Morne, a famous UNESCO patrimony mountain.

We started to climb Le Morne at 6:30am – the landscapes were just amazing: wonderful mountain profile of Mauritius, breath-taking beauty of the lagoons … It was a not very easy trip with a slope of more than 500m from the sea level to the top of the mountain. We did it with Yan De Maroussem, a friend of us – if you want to organize some climbings, some trecks or anything linked to nature in Mauritius, he is THE guy to contact (his website). 3 hours later, we went back to the seaside at he feet of Le Morne for a good refreshing orange juice, chilling out on one of the most beautiful beach in Mauritius. For lunch, we drove in the mountain to a great restaurant with another different view of Le Morne – Varangue sur Morne. We rested a bit in the afternoon, picked up the kids at school and went for a delicious Beijing duck in a chinese restaurant. What a great day we had !! 🙂

Please enjoy some images taken during the day, mainly from the climbing of Le Morne:

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