Model: Pascale Celine
Makeup & Hairstylist: Terri Smith
Photographers: Diva Abrahamian and Yasmin Suteja [Dais Productions]
We are incredibly excited to present the next installment of The Handsome Project, from local Sydney duo Yasmin & Diva of Dais Productions. This is the first Handsome Project shoot for the Matriarch collection, and we couldn’t be off to a better start! Each month we’ll showcase an amazing young photographer who blows our minds, shoots our stuff and is all together fantastic. Read on to see the rest of Dais Production’s WAH photoshoot and interview…
How did you get to here? (What’s your photographer history?)
Yasmin: I was always interested in photography, but winning a photography competition in Year 12 gave me the money to invest in a DSRL and it all started from there.
Diva: I’ve always loved taking photos, when I was younger I used to do a lot of nature and wildlife photography. It was only when I started uni that I began exploring fashion and editorial photography. Telling stories and portraying emotion through different mediums is something that has always interested me, photography was just a natural progression.
Yasmin & Diva: We and met at uni in second year, on a student film production and quickly established a friendship based around our love of all things creative. At the beginning of last year we decided to set up our own production company, Dais Productions, and we’ve developed artistically from there. We started doing event videography and then gradually started doing fashion photography. We’re now really committed to continue fashion photography and explore fashion film and documentary. Our whole approach to our work, and photography in particular, is based around collaboration.
Are you a self-taught photographer or did you have a mentor/teacher that showed you the ropes?
Yasmin: I’m basically self-taught. I’ve been playing around with cameras since I was a kid
Diva: Self taught.
Yasmin & Diva: We both took an analogue photography course at uni last year, where we learnt the basics of analogue photography and printing. The course helped us understand the technical aspects of photography that can easily be neglected or cheated with digital photography. We’re also both studying Film Production at uni, which influences our still photography.
How did you come up with the concept behind your Handsome Project shoot?
Yasmin & Diva: We decided on 60s-inspired styling after coming across an image that we liked online, which featured a minimalistic approach to lighting and composition. We found that a lot of the prints and silhouettes in The Matriarch collection payed homage to this era. We wanted to represent the strong, independent and stylish woman of the 60s. We also wanted to include a set design element in our shoot, as we are both filmmaking students, and Diva is an avid set designer. So we decided on a few key props that we positioned strategically in each shot.
What keeps you enthused in the photography industry?
Yasmin: The people. I think anyone interested in photography shares a common interest in people and personalities, and I’m particularly interested in the personalities behind the camera.
Diva: New content. Seeing the new and innovative ways photographers choose to tell a story.
Describe your approach in three words.
Yasmin & Diva: Collaborative. Intuitive. Spontaneous.
Black & white or colour?
Yasmin: Colour. See: Douglas Sirk.
Diva: Depends on the shot! Sometimes colour works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Do you prefer film or digital? Why?
Yasmin: Digital. Film is becoming increasingly inaccessible in today’s digital world. Rolls of film are expensive and processing film is just as costly. We were fortunate enough to have processed own film at uni, but since we completed our elective we haven’t had this kind of access. Digital is convenient, so we’ll stick with that for now. I love the freedom for manipulation that digital photography allows. I don’t think editing a photo is ‘cheating’. I don’t view editing as an opportunity to correct shooting mistakes, I think it’s simply an opportunity to enhance what’s already there.
Diva: I love both, but digital is definitely easier to work and experiment with. Film photography takes a lot more time and precision, however the quality and feel is something really special.
Yasmin: I love my Minolta film camera, and I work with my Canon 7D on a daily basis, but it’s all about the lens guys!
Diva: My trusty 7D, however I’m quite attached to my Minolta SRT101 and I’ve recently bought a Canon T70.
Describe your photographic approach.
Yasmin & Diva: Collaborative. We’ve pioneered an approach to photography that is based around the photography duo. We’re not sure how long this will remain practical, but for the moment we’re happy to experiment with this dynamic. Yasmin usually shoots on her Canon 50mm/f1.4 and Diva shoots with her Canon 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 . It’s almost like playing doubles in a tennis match. Yasmin stands at the net getting close-up/portraits shots and Diva stands on the baseline getting the longshots. Both of us love working with natural light and simple set ups, it’s a very stripped back approach. This forces us to be more experimental, creative and resourceful, to let go of the intellect and immerse ourselves completely in the creative.
Yasmin: Gregory Crewdson. I love the cinematic look of his photographs, and the importance of mise en scene. There’s a story behind every image, and an intriguing surrealist element. The confluence of cinema and photography is something that really interests me. I think that photography is all about capturing a heightened reality.
Diva: There are so many to choose from! I love Diane Arbus, her photography focuses on really interesting and quirky characters. Will Davidson is another favourite of mine, he’s shot some stunning editorials for Oyster, Bazaar and Russh. And of course the talented Gregory Crewdson.
What turns you on?
Diva: Creative and fearless people.
What turns you off?
Diva: Pretentious people. Creative work is not about getting one up on everyone else or showing people how big you are, its about collaboration and experiences. Art is equal.
How do you decide on locations & subjects for your shoots?
Yasmin & Diva: We often do ‘recces’ of locations. Diva will drive and we’ll scout the streets outside the car window for textured walls, great lighting and funky alleyways, whilst blasting Frank Ocean from the car speakers. We’re inspired by dreams, fairytales, music, real life and real people.
If you could take your photography in any direction without fear of failure or rejection, where would it lead? What new things would you try?
Yasmin & Diva: We’d really like to try portraiture with a strong element of production design. We like the idea of using actors as models, and setting up an imagined space in which to photograph the subject. This combines our interest in film with our photographic practice. In fact, we’re often inspired by films when designing photoshoots.
Best advice you’ve ever received.
Yasmin: To become the best, learn from the best.
Diva: I’m still waiting for it!
What is the one quality you think is needed for a photographer to be great?
Yasmin: A very strong understanding of light. Photography is all about light. It doesn’t’ matter how interesting a scene is, or how much effort has been put into setting up the shot, if it’s not lit properly, it’ll come off flat and one-dimensional.
Diva: Flexibility. Photography can be quite hit and miss, so it’s important to stay creative and flexible. To know when to move on or try something different if a shot isn’t working.
Where to next?
Yasmin & Diva: We’re graduating university at the end of this year and we plan to continue building up our production company, and bringing more creative minds on board. Eventually we’d like to be working for fashion brands, coming up with conceptual photography and video content. Oh, and we also want to fit some travelling in there somewhere!
We would like to send a big hug and a million thankyou’s to Yas & Diva for putting together this gorgeous shoot. Dais Productions were the first to take on the Matriarch collection for the Handsome Project, and we adore the spin you’ve put on things! The first shot is definitely a WAH studio fave. xx