You can capture your whole life in images

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Lately, we wanted to follow one of our photographers more closely, to let you gain insight on shooting for online and the magazine content. So we watched Chiara Steemans as she filled her studio with fog to photograph artist and performer, Dushime. In a partnership with Fujifilm Belgium, Chiara used the large format system camera GFX50S II with a 35-70 lens to take vibrant images, even in low lighting. Then, we sat down with Chiara to talk about photography, her inspirations and working with the new camera.

How did you first get into photography?

A friend of my dad was a photographer, and he showed me how to take a picture when I was thirteen or fourteen. I started with my tablet, then I had a little camera and would take pictures of flowers and things I saw. I don’t think I have stopped taking photos since that day. Even when I would take breaks I would still be looking things up and learning about photography, or creating concepts. I can’t remember a day that I did not think about photography. 



Was it difficult to learn how to use a new camera for this shoot?

Working with the Fujifilm camera was different, but not in a negative way at all. The camera that I usually use is a bit broken in places, so a lot of technical problems sometimes makes it harder to get my creativity out. This camera did not have any issues, which was so nice. The quality was also amazing, of course. 

The camera had a touch screen and was super different from my camera, but it didn’t even take me that long to figure out, considering it is a new brand and type of camera than I am used to. It worked really well with low light. With my camera, I can never photograph someone in my basement without using flash, but I got to do that in this shoot.


How did you come up with a concept for this shoot?

When we did the original interview with Dushime she was wearing blue, and she was also in front of a blue wall. That colour really suited her, and just seeing her made me think about shades of blue. I wanted to use that feeling, so for the shoot, we had a blue background, and we used blue colour gels and even a fog machine. It felt like a dreamlike night. 



Did the Fujifilm camera add anything special to this shoot?

With this camera, I could put focus points wherever I wanted, on the screen. This makes it easier because I won’t have to crop in photoshop like I usually do. For me, it is also really important that a camera can show every skin colour correctly in all lighting, which was hard to do with my other camera. I think it was amazing that the quality of the Fujifilm camera allows this because I always want to photograph everyone at their best.

For me, it is also really important that my camera can show every skin colour correctly in all lighting

I usually have to edit my photos a lot, because the colours turn out really dull with my camera, but with the Fujifilm camera, this was not so necessary. I don’t like to make excuses for myself so I made sure to learn how to edit and make sure my photos are always good quality. With the Fujifilm camera, it took me half the time it usually takes to edit. 



Where do you usually find inspiration for shoots?

I don't always think about colours in relation to the models, but colour is definitely very important in my photography. I don't want to shoot concepts that don't suit the models. Most of the time I am inspired by women; I find all the things women are capable of to be mind-blowing. I mainly photograph women as well.

How you look is not even relevant compared to everything else your body does

Sometimes I find someone who really inspires me, but most of the time my inspiration comes from women and the human body. I think it is very interesting that your whole body can function in ways that benefit you. You need every part of your body, everything your body does, but we only focus on beauty. It is really interesting that nobody cares about how well you can eat, drink or breathe, but they care about how you look. How you look is not even relevant compared to everything else your body does. This is a concept that really inspires me.


How do you portray this idea through photography, something so visual?

Lately, I've been trying to photograph the workings of the body. I have a fisheye lens that distorts people's bodies, giving them really long legs or arms. I really enjoy experimenting with how people look now. I like finding a balance, so that it doesn’t look like photoshop, but it's not quite meeting beauty standards either. 



Photography is so accessible these days with modern technology, how has that influenced your life and work?

I think it was actually helpful that I started off taking photos on my tablet because I learned how to work with poor quality technology. Now I am adaptable and can make my broken camera, or whatever obstacles I face, work for me. It’s also really great that everyone has access to photography, even if they are not so interested in the art, they are able to capture a memory. I love that we can capture our whole life in images, and then go back and see how much we have progressed.

Find out more about the GFX large-format system cameras by Fujifilm  

The photos of Dushime by Chiara will be published in the upcoming Sound Of The Belgian Underground issue of January/February 2022.  



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