DPP Home Profiles Michael Chevalier: Dynamism

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

This Article Features Photo Zoom

DPP: Your work is full of examples of that. For instance, the shot of the model coming out of the television in an otherworldly landscape. How did you create this shot?

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.

DPP: How did you light the shot?

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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