Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Michael Chevalier: Dynamism
After leaving a life as a tree-climbing landscaper, Michael Chevalier is creating high-impact, high-concept fashion and beauty photography that shows he’s still striving for new heights
Chevalier: It began when I was driving and I saw this TV out on the curb so I pulled over. The guy who owned it happened to be outside. He said it didn’t work and that I was more than welcome to have it. So I loaded it up in my pickup truck, and the ideas started racing around in my head. I realized that my grandfather’s old chair from the ’30s or ’40s would be a perfect match for it in a photo. I then found a few other pieces that would work and cast some models for the shot. It has become one of my strongest conceptual portfolio pieces.
DPP: Was it shot in a studio, then reworked and composited with your dramatic environment in Photoshop?
Chevalier: No, I shot it on location in an old limestone quarry. It’s a really cool spot that looks like a mini-canyon. I used Photoshop to get a stick out that was holding up the angled table, as well as a boom arm that was holding the hat floating above the model on the right. I try to do as much as I can in-camera. I feel like that’s more of a challenge and yields better results.
If you start out in New York and can manage to make a name for yourself, you probably can move to wherever you want to be based. But when you’re trying to start out in a rural area of Michigan, it makes it a little tougher.
Chevalier: For the light inside the TV, I had two Dynalite open-head strobes with the power turned way up inside the set that I had gutted. One just wasn’t doing it for me. I really wanted it to glow. I later enhanced it in Photoshop. I had another Dynalite head on one of the girls and a Profoto Pro-7b strobe with a beauty dish on the other girl. I used a portable power supply battery called Tronix Explorer made by Innovatronix for powering the Dynalite packs. These batteries are inexpensive and they work great.
DPP: Besides cloning out unwanted elements in your photographs, what techniques are you using in Photoshop?
Chevalier: I’m using the healing tool and the paintbrush a lot for skin. My technique for lighting and darkening areas is with curves and not with the burn and dodge tools. I feel I have much better control over the areas I select to work on.
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