By Diane Betties
Diane Betties is a London based photographer. In her works she is creating compelling and striking visuals that focus on communicating a sense of freedom, and highlight the synergy and narrative between her subject(s) in symbiosis with its natural environment. The subject whose stare you capture through the lens is autonomous is a sense of being a true self-indifferent to the eye of the beholder. The cinematic imagery is composed by capturing moment(s) in life in the best filmmaking tradition. Light and colour play in unison and create a unique and memorable frame that can only be captured with the analog camera.
DARE ME is an editorial shot at several locations in Berlin. The main theme is sustainability in today’s world's craze of over consumerism. Several fashion houses popularise the importance of wearing sustainable fashion items, however, the consumer is still reluctant about investing in not such a cheap solution. What if we imagine that being eco-friendly can come together with being fashionable and trendy from season to season? DARE ME is about creating this better world both aesthetically and environmentally.
How did you choose the location/s for this shoot and where did it take place?
For this shoot in particular, we wanted something that had an authentic feel and supported the subject of sustainability and therefore picked a few typical Berlin family-owned businesses (such as the fruit stand and the newspaper stand, which probably have been around since before the wall came down) that still exist despite of big chains of brands and multinationals taking over the high street and local communities.
“We wanted to achieve a beautiful juxtaposition of old and modern”.
At the same time, my stylist Mimi and I wanted to have a balance and ensure the chosen locations add and emphasise the colours of the designs. We further wanted the model to camouflage with her surrounding to have a moment of fashion merging with everyday life moments.
What led you to the decision to shoot on the analog camera?
I started out with analog photography, and film will just always be my first pure love. There are just so many factors that I love about shooting film such as the manual process that comes with shooting but also the rich colour tonalities and depth of color, the incredible rendering of shadows and highlights, its three-dimensional quality… It is just hard to replicate this with digital and my team shares my love for the aesthetics of analog images.
Especially for this story shooting analog was a no-brainer since it really emphasizes how “vintage” still functions today but also survived the power of digital...
“Also, for me personally, analog shoots are a great exercise in decision-making, you have to have a very clear vision of what you want from the project, your team, model and image composition”.
Otherwise, it gets costly fairly easily.
What is the most challenging while working with a model?
Developing a personal connection and making sure she trusts you and the creative process without starting to feel nervous or insecure. Usually, there is a lot of communication happening between the model and me so I can feed her back about what we are doing and what works and what doesn't. When I shoot digital, we go through the images together and establish where we can push it. It's definitely always a learning curve on set. There are models, that get it straight away and then, there are girls, where it can take longer for them to get into the zone. Continuous encouragement/communication during the shoot and showing her the images definitely help to build the model’s confidence so she can leave her usual comfort zone. This is even truer when you work outside on location and/or analog where we sometimes cannot check in constantly on the images produced.
Shooting on location with an audience and bystanders can definitely add to the model’s insecurities. So overcoming that can take time. However, our model Jil was an absolute star and completely in the zone. She felt comfortable in the clothes and was very natural in her movements. She knew which angles worked for her and me which made shooting on analog so much easier since shooting on analog can at times be somewhat limiting.
Oh… and don't get me started on the weather…
When finalising the analog photos on digital what is your usual process of post-production?
Very very little actually. Most of the times, when looking at the scanned photos, the coloration is pretty much perfect and to the point. The beauty of analog is that skin almost all of the times looks perfect. I don’t believe in overly retouched images anyways and rather make sure all ingredients (hair, makeup, styling, light, etc.) are as perfect as possible when working on set. Retouching is time-consuming and expensive (and nobody really wants to pay for it anyways lol). My images don’t live from post-production but from its naturalness and the moment.
Do you play any music while on the set?
As for the music, we had to move fast between locations for this shoot, so we didn’t have a chance to share our musical preferences with each other. But usually it is an important element and I love good music on set. Some models get more comfortable with their role if they start perceiving it as a dance or a music video or a runway show. Emotions get channeled in a different way when music is on set. It’s a great way to make someone feel what they need to feel to portray the role. Everyone feels like they’re the lead in a music video when they’re walking down the street with headphones and their favorite tunes are playing - that’s the beauty and power of music. Also, it’s good for keeping up a fast pace, the team's mood and getting everything done in time!
What is the story behind DARE ME?
DARE ME is about using vintage fashion brands as a very simple solution in reducing the carbon footprint and be a great way to reuse your wardrobe whilst minimising the overall resources used and at the same time being fashionable and going with the latest (definitely re-occurring fashion) trends. You have to start somewhere, and sometimes a small change can make a big impact.
Being trendy is chic but sustainable products are not available on the cheap which is stopping the vast majority of consumers from changing their consumption patterns. A simple solution is wearing vintage clothes and learning how to experiment with different outfit combinations from one’s existing wardrobe. This can help to overcome seasonal trend boundaries, add a huge dose of versatility to one’s wardrobe, keep one’s wallet in check and minimise the use of resources by expanding a garment’s life cycle.