Dominique James, Photographer

It's all about the pictures …

Archive for April 2008

So very posh nails

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This is a photograph of Rica Peralejo for Posh Nails ad campaign photographed by Dominique James.

In a time such as now, when nothing seems to be no longer new, it is getting harder and harder to capture and hold the attention of the viewing public. The idioms of photographic imaging, it seems, have grown stale. Photography today is so ubiquitous that people are hardly surprised anymore with whatever pictures they see. Is the public eye now jaded? Or, is there just a need to exercise more daring and creativity when it comes to image-making? The question of attracting and holding public attention is one that marketing professionals and advertising executives are constantly grappling with. One question is always being asked: What visual idea can be created to make an image stand out from the countless photographs that constantly vie for the public’s fickle attention? In other words, what will make a photograph “sell”? Of course, there is no single right answer to this kind of question, and is there certainly no fail-proof formula to the process of creating a compelling image designed to grab the viewers’ attention, and then hold it long enough to make it memorable. There is, however, one thing that always seems to work. And that is by injecting a photograph with an element of surprise. While there is no guarantee that this will always work, one way to keep the public interested, and hopefully consistently excited, is to come up with images that feeds upon their unexpected expectations. When the public is used to seeing one thing, designing a photograph that is different from any other that has been done in the past, by the sheer force of juxtaposing seemingly unrelated ideas and concepts, often seems to be the thing that works best. It is the antidote to the tragic same-ness of visual expression that characterize many advertising campaigns. By playing it safe all the time, products which the photographs purport to promote, can easily be ignored. With this in mind, and as a perfect example, I photographed Rica Peralejo for Posh Nails in a way that is different from any of her previous pictorials. Together with a dedicated and talented team of creative professionals, and in keeping with the client’s vision and direction, I decided it’s time for a Posh Nails campaign to move away from its previous imaging and to try out something quite different. While there is really nothing new to the “new image” I was trying to achieve, it cameout as something that is unexpected. What I did, was to focus on the element of playfulness that is portayed in the surprised facial expression, the in-your-face pose, and the bursts of bright and happy colors. Putting together three new elements changed the imaging so much. And so far, it is working. People are noticing “Posh Nails.” The gamble to try “something else” has paid off. Personally, it is commercial photography projects like this that makes for a lot of excitement not only in my studio during the photo shoots, but, also for our clients and their target viewing public. While I do a lot of perfected catalog shots, I always take on the opportunity to stretch out in all directions, and to cross boundaries. As they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

A fashion statement that is not so “Bizarre”

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This is a fashion photograph created by professional photographer Dominique James featuring Yasmin Kurdi for Bizarre fashion brand.Knowing the market is a very good thing. It means, you as the owner or the manager of the business, can make decisions and take actions that will address the market conditions. When you know your market, you can focus your attention only on what needs to be done. Based on a bunch of market information that can range from a wide variety of official and unofficial metrics to something as simple as a gut feel, the right business strategies and decisions, everything that makes sense, can be reached. This includes the right choice of product endorser. Whether a celebrity or not, a star or a model, or even just a virtual “nobody” from the street, any person depicted in a fashion and lifestyle advertisement should naturally reflect the market. Like a mirror, the market should see themselves in the persona of the one depicted in the picture. Bizarre is a brand name for a mainly unisex casual and rugged line of mix-and-match clothing. Through the years, they have worked with young pop stars photographed by the best fashion photographers. For their latest campaign, they selected two of show business personalities, a male and a female, to serve as its new image models. The female modeling assignment went to Yasmin Kurdi. During our studio session, and working with some of the most creative hair-and-makeup artists and fashion stylists, I photographed Yasmin as the focus of the image instead of the clothing. I created a mood that is a bit more sophisticated and romatic than the usual all-bright and happy and clean image that is typical of catalog-type casual clothing imaging. I wanted to set the image apart from the usual. I therefore decided to approach the photographic styling in a somewhat dramatic but spot-lighted style. As a poster and print ad, splashed with the “Bizarre” brand name, I think this image will effectively catch the attention of the market because it is somewhat different. Of course, Yasmin’s inviting beauty will eventually be the one that will hold the viewer’s attention. Hopefully, the idea behind this campaign is not only to update the looks, but also to update and reinvigorate the fashion line’s branding to continue appealing to its diverse youth market. The photograph’s appeal is certainly there, and for sure, young girls, whether a Yasmin Kurdi fan or not, will be able to associate themselves to the picture. In the final analysis, the goal of all this is to sell the brand, and many, many pieces of clothing.

The ethereal beauty of an Angel

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Angel LocsinA movie’s box office success is determined by a delicate but decidedly heady cocktail of factors. To achieve top draw, the mix should be perfect. The public should perceptively view the concoction of big screen offering as delectably thirst-quenching. As everyone already know by now, part of creating an appealing movie theater entertainment is due in large part to who the celebrities who are billeted in the starring roles. Movie producers know this as the formula, and that’s why, they try, as much as their budget can accommodate, to pack a showcase with stars that are infused with very broad appeal–beginning from the top with the lead performers and then down to the supporting cast members. The business of entertainment is a risky one, perhaps, even as risky as playing the stock market. As a hedge against uncertainty, producers and movie executives naturally cast big-name stars that draws the most shrieks from a mass-based following. Often, how “hot” a celebrity is can serve as a somewhat good gauge or indicator if a movie will be a blockbuster hit or not. In the recently released movie, Angel, for example, the perfect star to play the lead role would be no other than, Angel Locsin. The movie, as a matter of fact, has been carved out to perfectly fit her. She is a huge star with a huge following, and with the addition of a powerhouse cast, the movie is already somewhat assured of a box office draw. For the movie’s all-important poster and publicity stills, I photographed Angel Locsin and member of the cast as ethereal beings. In the photo images, I coated and infused them with a gleaming aura that gives them a decided parallel association with titular heavenly beings. But of course, I didn’t stop there. If I did, the photos will look flat and uni-dimensional. I took the image-making process one step forward by twisting the photographic portrayal to actually show the deep character roles portrayed by the stars in the movie, and then, I even went further– by projecting them as simply their real selves. Can a person be portrayed as angelic, and at the same time, devilish? If you look at their portraits, at first layer, they are the angelic beings. But if you peel the outer layer, and if you continue peeling, you’ll begin to see something else entirely. That’s the fun, and interesting part of image-making. To see is to be deceived.

Written by dominiquejames

April 8, 2008 at 3:40 AM

In the eye of the beholder

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Sam Milby promotes a new line of eyewear with headphones for the retail shops of Executive Optical.It helps to have a very popular and famous personality for an endorser, but to begin with, it also definitely helps if the product being advertised is just as great. When a very established retail company, Executive Optical, recently wanted to launch its line of lifestyle eyewear combined with a pair of headphones, they decided to get Sam Milby. Sam Milby is one of the sensational stars to emerge out of the phenomenal TV hit series, Big Brother. Although he was embroiled in a somewhat scandalous controversy, and though he didn’t stay that long inside Big Brother’s house, he has captured the attention of so many people that his stardom was almost assured. The moment he stepped out of TV-land’s most famous house, he was immediately packaged and treated like as if he was already a big star. Largely because of his good looks and charms, and because he’s a nice guy, his popularity propped him up to fame. Sam Milby has been photographed a number of times since. But familiarity, they say, breeds contempt. Which is why, despite the fact that he is the most ideal candidate when it come to promoting mass produced lifestyle items such as an eyewear doubling as a headphone (an accessory which has a great sales potential largely due to the popularity of portable music devices such as the iPod), Sam Milby must be photographed and portrayed in a never-before-seen way. His pictures for the campaign must make him look a bit different from any of the pictures of him which has been previously released. Creating a “new” and “unique” image, therefore, of a celebrity endorsing a product, is the challenge of this pictorial. The image of Sam Milby has been carefully cultivated to project “a good guy” which, in truth, he is. In this photograph, however, we aimed to introduce an element of “danger” in his persona to promote an all-black eyewear. The photograph I created for him, together with one of the best hair-and-makeup artist and fashion stylist today, Lala Flores, successfully projects a new look for Sam Milby that is dangerous, but at the same time, one that we know is playful. There’s a thin line there somewhere, and with this picture, we’ve successfully kept ourselves within the line–doing it, but without overdoing it.

Written by dominiquejames

April 6, 2008 at 8:29 PM

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