Vladimir Kravchenko - a fashion photographer based in Sydney, Australia. In his works, characters find themselves in seemingly illusory, dreamlike yet realistic situations. Ranging from realism, landscapes, and street elements to high fashion stories the works transcend continents, styles and merge to a complicated ever-developing range of photographic visions.
Vacant Space is shot in the Business Club underneath the iconic Sydney skyscraper. The team on set masterfully solved difficult, unexpected circumstances, edited the narrative switching the story. A charming muse awaits. Boredom is a relative state when there are so many sections in an empty of people building to explore. Elegantly styled, exquisite garments emphasize the delicate muse's postures.
"The sleek and future-facing mushroom-like exterior of the CTA unexpectedly continues, as you descend two storeys, in a gentlemen’s-club bonanza of carpeted floors, muted lights and oil paintings".
What was the vision you had before the actual shoot for the story?
As often in my experience, the vision came from wanting to shoot at a particular location. The place in question is the Commercial Traveller's Association Business Club (known as CTA) located underneath the iconic Sydney skyscraper called The MLC Centre. The CTA was rebuilt (made significantly smaller) in the late 70s to accommodate for the then dying and now all but extinct industry of travelling salesmen.
When I used to work as a lawyer in Sydney CBD a couple of years ago, I'd often visit the bar that functions a few days a week in the otherwise mostly vacant CTA interiors. To me, this bar, and the surrounding velvety, eerie and empty halls, is reminiscent all at once of such things as Twin Peaks, Blade Runner, the 20s and the 80s.
This is partly because the place is a mishmash of styles and moods. The sleek and future-facing mushroom-like exterior of the CTA unexpectedly continues, as you descend two storeys, in a gentlemen’s-club bonanza of carpeted floors, muted lights and oil paintings. At the same time, there are glaring poker machines there, and the place rattles when a train goes by (seemingly right behind one of the walls). When I learnt that I can shoot there, I at once imagined a surreal narrative where a protagonist (the main model) is dreaming of a certain restaurant or hotel in which characters out of her past or subconscious, maybe the ghosts of travelling salesmen, appear.
So, the vision was to shoot a dream-like story with several models on film. I also wanted to play with tungsten lights. I wanted the lighting to look as true to what regular interior lights look like in real life (to preserve the CTA atmosphere) and to nod in the direction of the old-school lighting that recent Gucci campaigns evoke.
Did it change in any way on set?
Yes, in several ways. For example, even before we got to the set, my film order did not arrive on time, and so I had to shoot on a borrowed digital camera. Also, halfway through the shoot, we came to the conclusion that a narrative with multiple characters had to be abandoned in favour of a simpler editorial featuring one model. Still, in spite of it all, I feel that the original vision is traceable in the atmosphere of the photos.
"Several times, right in the middle of it all, one, two, or all of the lights went out".
How complicated was it to shoot in numerous locations in terms of moving the set and keeping everything organized?
One tungsten light on a stand weighs ten kilos and gets very hot. My assistant and I had four of them and the boxes they came in and the kill-switch boards and the diffusion silks and other stuff to move up and down stairs and from one room into the next. The ceilings were too low to get the lights high enough for acceptable results, and so we had to bounce light and come up with all sorts of makeshift solutions for each setup. It was also impossible to tell where and how many circuits there were. As a result, several times, right in the middle of it all, one, two, or all of the lights went out.
All of these issues created unnecessary tension and took a lot of attention that I wish I could have directed elsewhere.
How hard was it to close the shooting day with the building owner knowing you will need a ‘Vacant Space’?
This aspect was easy as ultimately we had more time in the CTA than the team had energy for. The kindly bartender also gave us free beer, which tasted heavenly after the long day.