Questions and answers with Stephanie Cammarano.

{November 2020}

Title: Whiplash.

Home: Melbourne, Australia.

Where was the final image from this photoshoot featured?

Sicky Magazine.

Give us a bit of background on the photoshoot concept.

The concept was really a mesh of nostalgic observations going to heavy metal shows as a teenager. It began with the idea of using a friend’s Orange Tiny Terror amp as part of the set. In the editorial you’ll see a reference to Metallica, 80’s style white sneakers thrash bands wore, mullet hairstyles with trucker sideburns; I even took inspiration from the old dudes I’d see at dive bars wearing crazy petrol station sunglasses inside (yes, at night!) I wanted to offset the nostalgia with a weirdly futuristic feel and an infinite atmosphere. I am so grateful to the team who brought so much more to my silly ideas.

Why did you/your client choose the final image compared to the outtakes?

I think what makes the best final image is when you scroll through your capture and it just hits you like a bat out of hell. I look for images where there’s no visible distractions to take you away from that feeling. Outtakes wise, maybe my framing was slightly off, or the skirt wasn’t sitting right; it’s always something stupid but the details are really important to me.

I chose this particular final because I love how strong Ange’s profile is and the energy of the image. At the risk of appearing psychotic I just noticed I retouched out the cable on the left side of the frame too thinking it might look a bit cleaner.

Sometimes, it may also be a case of opting for an image that adds more variety to the story instead of your initial choice. You could assess your final layout and have a feel for what might be missing or maybe what you’ve repeated too often. I love this profile shot of Ange within the story.

Any cheeky moments during this photoshoot that you'd be willing to share?

My time management was shocking that day. I had the studio booked for a full day but insisted we wouldn’t need it, but had to cheekily revoke my message to the studio when I realised it was 2pm and I’d barely shot anything.

The shoot had been in the works for months, then Ange and her girlfriend Emma were moving to Melbourne (from Sydney) in the midst of our planning. I felt like I was meeting two estranged friends once the day finally arrived. I invited Emma to come by too, I ordered some food, everyone on set sat around for a break having such a laugh… then I remember panicking, looking at the time thinking “have I really only shot two outfits in three hours?!” I’m normally all over pre-production and sticking to a schedule, but I think we were all just getting carried away with meeting the girls for the first time. Even though I shot the last look in five minutes and probably missed another set idea somewhere, every time I look at this editorial it brings back the best memories. I don’t know if excitement coinciding with poor time management constitutes as ‘cheeky,’ but that’s all I got.

Have you ever experienced a fanboy/girl moment?

I had the opportunity to work with Jesse Draxler who is one of my major inspirations. Jesse is an incredible multidisciplinary artist and we collaborated with a local jewellery atelier Alicia Hannah Naomi. Not long after the release of the campaign, Jesse asked if he could include some of the outtakes as part of a personal series that later appeared in his book Misophonia. To be involved in his art both on a commercial and personal level was an honour. He even posted two original panels from the campaign and his book to my home all the way from NYC. That was unbelievable.

Shed some light on how you got involved in photography.

I got into photography kind of as a result of laziness – I know that sounds bad. I was obsessed with portraiture and the works of the masters from the Renaissance period. I had this mad fantasy I would become a painter and move to Italy. My unrelenting impatience to do basically anything that took longer than a few hours in front of a canvas was my reality check. I discovered photography later on in high school, an entirely digital program. I fell in love with the fact that I could see the result immediately, then refine the image further in post. After high school I went on to study at RMIT University and completed a BA in Commercial Photography with Fashion as my major.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I gravitate towards artforms that have a darkness about them. Firstly there’s music, all music. I especially love soundtracks that bring you back to the atmosphere of that film. I love looking at vintage magazines, I own a lot of archival Italian Vogue, some really bizarre fetish books and 70’s Playboy for the lingerie and leather (and a huge laugh at the advertisements.) Other places of inspiration for me include cinema, drag performance, nostalgia, the female form, religious iconography, cowboys, Italian culture and my travels

What's it like being on set with you?

Creating a really energetic atmosphere on set is a priority for me. By nature I’m pretty introverted, but on set I am the loudest. I always have music blaring, lots of laughter, lots of caffeine or stressing that people eat properly if it’s a long shoot.

Do you prefer photographing with a big or small team on set?

Always a small team for a more intimate day. I find it’s far easier to communicate with everyone and have the team feeling comfortable to contribute ideas and voice any needs they have.

Describe your ideal photoshoot.

In studio (yes, I’m sorry to be predictable) with a team of beautiful people that are just excited to create and have fun. Loud music, good food and coffee, lots of laughter. In this ideal photoshoot everything works and never crashes. Oh and thousands of dollars to buy obnoxious props but that’s a whole other thing.

What makes a photograph special, in your opinion?

I feel what makes a photograph so special is that it’s completely concrete. There’s no threat of it vanishing before you. It’s amazing what impact a photograph can have on you, where it can transport you, what it means to you and how you can always return to it; or perhaps have it find you. I think there’s so much power in visual language as I’ve never been overly confident emoting with words, but I can express a million things via an image.

Express what photography means to you.

Photography to me is an indulgent form of escapism. Through this craft, particularly working in fashion I’ve been able to find an innate sense of self while discovering what my personal idea of beauty is and how I intend to capture it.

The reason I work in photography aside from the creativity is because of the people I have met and continue to meet. People from all over the world, from different generations, who have taught me so much just by sharing a slice of their life and experiences. There’s something unexplainable about connecting with creative people. And it’s cathartic being around that kind of like-mindedness.

Do you photograph full-time? If not, what helps to pay the bills?

I do! I’m so grateful to be in this position where I’m doing what I love full time.

Instagram and photography...need we say more? Give us your two cents.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. I know some of the incredible opportunities I’ve had have come up through the ’gram, because of the ease of reaching out to others and vice-versa. The negative is the pressure that can come with it – curating your feed to an obsessive perfection, stressing about likes and hashtags – but I’ve really stopped caring about all of that. Those things aside, I think it’s such an asset to have as a creative. I love the feeling of sharing something new, and where/who it reaches or what may come from it.

Do you have any suggestions to budding photographers out there?

Developing a visual voice as a photographer is so important. Building an aesthetic that is inherent to who you are is the way we can set ourselves apart in any saturated industry. Shoot as much as you can, assist where you can, show your models respect. Lastly, never compare yourself to others.

Any additional info you'd like to share about yourself and/or your photography?

I hope that everything about me comes through in my work in some way. I share less of my commercial work on my Instagram and more of my creative work in the hopes that it feels more personal. I’m happy to keep some of that mystery about me and let the work speak for itself.

We obviously believe this outtakes concept is brilliant, but why do you think it's important for outtake photographs to be promoted in the industry?

Outtakes are a great way to see someone’s process. In this time of isolation, I think a lot of us are sharing outtakes from past shoots, myself included. It’s so interesting being in a completely different headspace revisiting a shoot months later – it’s wild how time can change your perception of the work and embracing the shots that didn’t make the cut.

Those who have worked with me know that I’m not a “serial clicker” – it sounds so silly but I’m all about less is more. I’d rather come completely prepared, shoot less frames with a really clear vision. Then it’s having the painful task of selecting that final shot amidst some really strong outtakes, instead of drowning in thousands upon thousands of images while just winging it.

Anything you're working towards with your next move in photography?

This pandemic has left many creatives in the same place mentally when it comes to our careers and our next move. I had plans to go to London, Paris and Rome in the June that just passed.

Throughout lockdown I’m embracing those random bursts of motivation by jotting down ideas as they come up, casting models, researching and going through my collection of books. I think all we can do is wait everything out and take each day as it comes. The next move eventually will be more travel, but in the meantime I really want to push my work further conceptually. I’d love to work more within casting and art direction too, as the pre-production process for me is just as rewarding as image making.

Share a quote you live by.

I’m going to break the rules and share two:

‘A mighty flame follows a tiny spark.’
- Dante Alighieri.

‘There is no moment in life that can’t be improved with pizza.’
- Daria Morgendorffer.


︎see the outtakes
︎follow Stephanie on Instagram

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