Sammm Agnew calls. I instantly know that it could be something wickedly horrible. She’s an FX artist. And we’ve worked together on several gory projects. “Is it zombies again?” I ask. She laughs, “No, it’s for a fashion shoot.” Of course this is Sammm Agnew. And this won’t be any ordinary fashion shoot. So I say yes and look forward to another adventure.
Life is never dull working alongside creative people like Sammm. And modelling, acting and extra work has given me the chance to be involved in some interesting shoots. It’s an unpredictable life and I never really know whether I’ll be wearing my own face or someone else’s.
At the studio I meet photographer Marta Petrucci. With nine years in the business, Marta has worked for publications such as Sony Music, Collective Magazine and Eeva Magazine.
I’m told that the shoot is called Albino. I see fellow model Iris Musel having her hair painted an icy white. She looks like an Icelandic queen with her milky hue and crystalline eyes. I wonder what transformations will be worked on me and ask Marta where she got her inspiration.
‘Sammm and I were brainstorming and we saw a reference picture on our mood board of an Albino girl sleeping, and we got the idea to create two different types of albino. A dark one and a light one…rarity of nature.’
Now sitting in the make-up chair my hair is held up whilst bursts of hair spray coat my every strand. It’s scraped into a bun and then painted a mocha colour. My body is also sprayed and I no longer recognise myself. My skin tingles as the make up product almost singes away my flesh. A new me is born. It hurts to look good.
Iris and I are completely different in stature and I wonder whether the contrast will come out as Marta envisages.
‘We wanted two models with different structure body, face and colors. And that could transmit emotions with their face. So girls you were perfect good job!’
‘Being a fashion photographer you need to have creativity and good communication skills to create a great team of people who have an understanding of the shoot.’
I’m convinced as Iris and I are both secured into the harnesses that Sammm has designed. My bones crack as the last of the straps are fastened.
Marta starts taking pictures and I notice the cameras she is working with.
‘I have 2 Nikons, a D80 and a D800 E, then a cool Pentax ME and a compact Canon. I love working with all of them for different reasons, situations and needs. I’m not a person that has a fetish for a specific brand, but I can see the differences and choose the tool that gives me the result I want. My favorite lens is the 85 mm fix,’
I’m interested to know her thoughts on zoom lenses.
‘I don’t really like zoom lenses. If there’s need to get closer, I’m glad to have my legs.’ I laugh and think ‘tell that to a paparazzi!’
The shoot is now underway and Iris and I take instruction from Marta. We’re told to bend and contort our bodies like some alien humanoid species that has just descended to earth. Our bodies are symmetrical as we pose together. In some positions we use our bodies to balance against one another. I stare into Iris’ eyes and our pupils rage against each others as we become our characters. Modeling is a mental and physical workout and not as easy as it looks.
Marta explains that whilst modeling is a skill, conveying the interpretation of the image is also very important.
‘Since the beginning of history humans have always tried to reproduce nature and what is in nature. The interpretation of reality has always been a central part of artistic research. I personally try to work with my dreams and nature. What I represent in my pictures are creatures and situations from my dreams or sometimes just an elaboration of the beauty I see in the people.’
‘Photographers have many ways to create their own views of reality. This can be achieved by deciding on a different length of lens that can distort the view of the scene, choosing the mood by reading the light and the shadows or you choose the still moment that has the meaning of what you want to express and not the movement.’
It’s been over six hours and artistic philosophy aside the truth is we’re knackered. Marta shows us some of the raw images and even from the small screen I can tell they’re spectacular.
‘I hope to send these images around. Visibility is important. I don’t have a magazine in mind yet but I hope that I’ll find a good spot for them to be seen,’ Marta says as she packs away her gear. She has a powerful imagination and a unique artistic vision of what Albino should be. It has been a long day and we’ve all worked hard to make that concept a reality.
Before Marta leaves I ask her what she’s working on next
‘I’ve been working on a very big project for the last 6 months and I hope that I’ll be able to finish it. It’s a beauty make up project with 12 models representing 12 hours of the clock. It’s based on a fairly unknown Christian Andersen story.’
Marta’s project reflects her dreams; a mixture of fairytale with a sprinkle of nightmare and high-end fashion all in one.
A few weeks later I receive a call from fashion Photographer Digpal Singh. He wants to use me in his latest shoot. Once again my special make up artist Sammm Agnew is working her make-up magic. The project is called Carnal Desires. How can I refuse?
The freedom given by metamorphosis continues as I venture deeper into the worlds inhabited by extraordinary fantasy characters. I add Carnal Desires to my growing list of transformations. So far I’ve been a Zombie (a few times), Child of the Forest, Metal Creature, Amazonian Queen, Albino, Life Model, dancing Tiger and a Vampire. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
For more information on Marta Petrucci and Digpal Singh
And please contact me if you’d like to use Iris Musel or me for modeling.