Christian Blanchard is a fashion photographer and film director. Recently named by Capture Magazine as one of Australia’s top ten, Blanchard has shot global campaigns for clients including Mimco, Myer, Maybelline, MBFWA and Puma.
He effortlessly transitions between his still work and his new passion for film, and has been commissioned by his clients to handle both elements for their campaigns. Christian’s editorial work includes covers for magazines such as Fashion Trend, Kurv and Spook and he is a regular contributor to Koncierge, 1am, Umno (Paris) and K-Mag (Poland).
Giver us an overview of your career
At a young age I was forced to switch writing from my left to right hand, which impinged my abilities at school with arts. One of the most humiliating memories as a child was the day I arrived at a new school and the first class was arts. The alienation of being the new kid and the kid that couldn’t trace a frog was enough to conclude I would never become an artist.
Jump a few years to high school and my photography teacher, Cliff Woodroofe, literally opened my eyes to photography and gave me a tool to express myself with. He challenged me with the topic of Scopophilia and from that I started to explore the world of voyeurism and the female form. This exploration has grown into 15-year career and obsession with fashion photography, film and more recently self funded and commissioned art projects.
How would you describe your style?
Narrative driven. I love telling stories or at the very least create tension for the viewer. This insights thoughts and questions and allows each person to have a unique interpretation on what they feel and what the image is about.
At the moment I am interested in striping back the technicalities and pursuing honesty in the subject.
Who inspires you?
I think the two qualities rarely go hand in hand so I love discovering success stories in creative people who have a great business ethic and professional acumen.
What makes a photograph compelling?
I think in both instances the power of a photograph or a film is the ability to evoke an emotion and a response. As an artist the worst response you can receive from an audience is indifference.
I much prefer for someone to feel dislike, disgust or hatred towards my work than nothing at all. If I can strike an emotional cord then my work has been engaged, talked about and consumed.
How do you approach a new client brief? What is your creative process like?
Each project has a different approach, some I am very hands-on and leading the creative direction and others I am fulfilling someone else’s ideas and vision. But what remains consistent is the sense of collaboration. I like to involve others, listen to their ideas and work in a way where we collectively best serve each project.
The most important part of my process is to communicate visually. If the outcome is visual then the majority of conversation should be visual to avoid misinterpretation through talking. I despise when buzz words like “edgy, raw and editorial” are thrown around because they are so subjective.
If I want to describe what sort of location I have in mind I find photos of a similar location and so forth for every department and decision-making process of the project.
What kind of changes have you seen in client briefs as marketers shift to include a strong focus on digital?
The shift into digital has become one of the hardest and yet most exciting challenges of my career. These days everyone is a photographer, which in turn has caused rates to drop, demands to increase and an overall more competitive market.
With that in mind there is now an abundance of white noise, photos are everywhere and it is much harder to stand out in amongst all the noise. This has driven me to focus on innovations like Cinemagraphs and push creativity to the forefront of my proposition.
Talk to us about cinemagraphs.
Cinemagraphs are fast becoming the most popular content engagement on Instagram and Facebook. Part photo, part movie the content defies what viewers are used to seeing on social media and holds their engagement up to 10x the amount of time a still image does.
The ability to use subtle movement within a still image is exciting. That tool can be used to reveal a garments fabric quality and weight or to heighten a certain element your client is trying to sell. Like hair moving for a beauty/hair product campaign. More importantly, it becomes an additional devise to tell stories.
Has your work taken you to many places around the world?
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many places with work including Indonesia, Japan, Italy, France and the USA. I absolutely adore New York for so many reasons personally and creatively and just returned from a month there in September shooting a series of editorials and personal projects.
Last month I was in Paris for a week and another week in the South of France in a provincial town called Arles. It was my first trip to the south and I absolutely fell in love with the place and the amazing weekend markets there.
What kind of impact do you think locations have on a brand’s campaign shoot results?
Locations are most certainly an important element to sell the story of the brand’s lifestyle and mood. A location sets the scene and takes the viewer to a place where the story or underlying message of the product can be told.
Personally I much prefer location shoots because a location brings an extra dimension to a shoot that a studio doesn’t have. Plus it is a great excuse to explore new places.
What has been your favourite location in the world to shoot?
South of France was amazing but I think a little town called Malfa on an island called Salina in Sicily takes the prize. I would drop everything to go back there and happily shoot for any brand wanting to sell any product. Anyone…
Salina is part of an Archipelago of volcanic islands so there is no sand on the beach, which means there is no sediment in the crystal clear water. The scenery is insanely diverse, the air is so fresh, the people are so friendly and the food and produce are so flavoursome thanks to that volcanic mineral-rich soil and the small farm principals. Oh and the wine too!
To see more of Christian’s work visit christianblanchard.com.