Don’t Strike a Pose! In Search of a Naked Expression
A little while ago, we were introduced to Mang Galih and Indah. Two creatives who have a dynamic background in dance, design and fashion. They came to us with an idea. This idea was born out of a need. A need to experience a truly creative process again. After working so long, time and again being pulled back into a commercial vortex. It was like they were afraid they would get sucked into it so completely they would not be able to see the artistic light of day again.
The Start of a New Project
Long story short, they wish to collaborate on a creative conceptual project. However, it seems that not many people were interested in a project that didn’t have a clear commercial angle. Which is exactly the kind of project we love getting into. So began our friendship with this dynamic duo.
During our collaboration (which is still in progress by the way) we did an impromptu studio shoot with the couple last week. The main purpose of this is to get familiar with each other in the studio space. As a collaboration team, getting good chemistry and balance with each other I believe is crucial. Contributing greatly to the creativity we will generate together as a team.
This studio time is to get a simple set of portraits for both Mang Galih and Indah for their artist profiles. Presently, the portrait photography we do here in our space is very much an extension of the values central to Sawidji. Getting back to the purity of the creative process. Through honesty, art and creativity can function as a bridge. Connecting people and contributing back towards our communities.
Through Sawidji Articles I have at times discussed the dangers of overt commercialisation. How it can and has diminished the integrity and power that art can hold. Even during our simple studio portrait shoot with Mang Galih and Indah, we find ourselves looking directly into the face of the same beast. The world we are living in is a commercial circus. We face its impacts everywhere.
Talking about commercialism in a portrait studio session?
The economy for creatives runs on the fuel of popular demand. Even as creative individuals, we often find ourselves trapped on a merry-go-round of market trends. Often our creativity is slowly restricted and fashioned to fit the shape of the market we inhabit.
Portrait Photography in our modest studio is nothing fancy. But it is something I truly get immersed in. Each session is like unravelling a new puzzle. Because, every person that steps into the spotlight immediately, they are already performing. The camera is on! they stop, they smile, and they strike a pose.
That is part of the fun of course. Part of the creative process is often role-playing and giving voice to the different personas we have. But sometimes those personas have taken over and have become the masks we show to the facing camera.
Often the Truth Provides Enough Drama!
We have fun with drama and roleplaying. But on this day, with this advent of a new collaboration we have together, I wished to get to the simple essence of my new colleagues. They are performers, used to the stage and the world of performance. Whether as a dancer, as a model or as a content creator making storylines for other peoples’ products and businesses.
Yet all the while, their own wonderful creativity and unique vitality is veiled by many years of commercial practice. This session in our studio is valuable for the simplicity of its process. Of just being together and not needing to achieve a targetted outcome. We spent more effort in doing our best to strip away the conditioned poses.
Mang Galih is a dancer and choreographer. His comfort being on the stage is obvious and the charisma of a performer makes it easy and fun work for a photographer. Yet, we had a different idea in mind. His performances are centred on the roles that he plays. We simply wanted to capture Mang Galihs’ naked expressions, when this veteran performer is caught off guard.
Beauty is Indah Letting Go
Indah on the other hand has worked with many local brands. Modelling as a plus size model for fashion as well as beauty brands. She is also one that is set to strike an expected pose. Fitting into a product or a brand image is something she is accustomed to. It is something quite different for these two to shed all that away and bring out their natural energies unfettered.
So our photoshoot was simple but meaningful. Photography sits outside or on the borders of art much more so than the traditional fine art disciplines. As a primary tool in today’s visual communications, it serves commercial demands very naturally.
Not just the tools are needed for the commercial function but us as individuals are constantly making unwanted choices. Creative freedom is weighed against commercial viability and market demand. There is something I found wonderful through this experience. Regardless of where you’re creative journey has taken you and how much of yourself has had to compromise your inspirations in order to survive..it takes courage to say
‘I don’t want to lose myself. I want to be inspired again and create something honest and meaningful’ and to follow that through with action.
Did we get beyond the POSE?
I don’t think it’s wishful thinking to believe that in our captures here, we captured more than just a face. Instead, we caught some of the rebellion that is happening inside Mang Galih and Indah. Bursting energy to reclaim something they feel was lost. To fight for honest creative freedom and the simple joy of being true to who they are.
Because of that, this wasn’t simply just a photoshoot but an experience that is memorable for all of us. A great start for our collaboration. Special thanks to Mang Galih and Indah for being exceptional in striking a pose as well as facing the camera simply as they are. From our Sawidji Studio, ManButur, Jun and I all had a fantastic time during our shoot.
Explore Art and Photography with Sawidji Studio
- Artist and Pose: Spinning into ExistenceAn artist’s experience of being the embodiment of art itself. A collaboration with artist Kerry Campbell and Sawidji.
- Behind Kala & the Guardians lies a ‘Leap into the Void’The themes behind Kala & the Guardians and looking at the advent of conceptual photography through the works of Yves Klein.
- In the Studio with Ellen LanePortrait photography in the studio of artist Ellen Lane, and a closer look at environmental portrait photography as a genre.
- Think Portraiture with Topeng KerasA little history, some approaches to portrait photography and reflections on the honesty of Masks.