Avantgarde & Fine Art FOG180 H16 Fotografi, gestaltning och den kreativa processen Presentation by Chanett Koldsø, 14/12/2016

Artist Statement

Why did I choose to work with the theme of Avantgarde and Fine Art? Well, Art Photography has always fascinated me – I love how the creative edit intrigues my eyes and make me want more. Ever since I got my first camera, I’ve dreamed of being able to create photographs that inspire people in the way I was inspired myself. When applying for the photography education at Media College Denmark in 2014, I remember saying:

“I have so many ideas I want to do, I just need the tools, to make them come true.”

After 1½ year at photography school, I have those tools and this project is the perfect setup for an art experiment. My ultimate goal is development with photographic technique, self-confidence as a photographer and knowledge of “how-to”.

Avantgarde is based on Surrealism and are often seen with extreme poses, crazy make-up and hair, insane outfits and highly creative photographic and editing techniques. Fine Art is mostly connected to portraits, but has a unique wow-factor in the edit and setup. The two genres often overlap each other and by choosing to work within both of them, provided me with a wider range of creativity and play.


During the process I have been challenged on my photographic technique, people-skills, creative idea generation abilities, planning skills and execution & Photoshop skills. The project has met ups and downs and it has given me a lot of know-how as well as new and useful experiences. I definitely feel that I have achieved my goal as mentioned earlier and I am proud of the development I have gone through. It was exciting to work with this type of photography and to see how my ideas came to live.

From Idea to finished product

The whole project has been a giant challenge in so many ways. For each session I have gone through three phases: idea generation & planning, execution and retouching.

Idea generation & planning

This is where I was challenged on the creative process of thinking. I had to figure out some ideas on a low budget that would look cool and were doable with my level of skills. I also had to find a stylist, a model, a look (hair & make-up) and all the needed accessories - I had to look into everything. It took hours of planning, researching, shopping and thinking. I consider this the most resource consuming part of the whole process. Without proper planning you may fail.


This is were I were challenged on my people skills, my knowledge on the use of photographic gear and the use of lights, as well as my creative thinking on the spot. A lot can go wrong during a session, when you are new to shooting in a studio. I had to have my eye on everything - the poses, the light versus shadows, the mimic. It is a lot to a inexperienced photographer and admittedly something did go wrong during the sessions. The two biggest challenges I met during this project, were;

  1. Being inexperienced with posing models - especially two!
  2. Getting the light right (light vs. shadow, light spread, mood, light characteristics etc.)

Retouching process - the final step

This is were the initial idea comes to live and transform. In this stage I review all of the taken shots and collect the most potential material. After having run multiple sorting rounds I come up with a few favorites and these goes into the series. Editing the photographs take a lot of time. I cannot do it without having a specific visual idea in mind, and when it is settled I can start the process. Depending on the specific photograph and the visual idea - retouching can take everything between 1 hour to 5 hours - EACH!

Presenting the final results

After a stressful couple of months the final results are in.

© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk

Behind the Scenes

Session with Tammie

© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk
  • Model: Tammie Bergholdt (known from Paradise Hotel season 6, DK)
  • Stylist: Nicoline Mourittzen Auken

Light settings

For this particular shoot I wanted a soft, feminine and dreamy look as well as a soft light setting that really compliments the features of the model. For my primary photograph I used a white background lit up by two Broncolor 400watt lamps at respectively 8 o'clock* and 2 o'clock pointed towards the middle of the background - each with a small standard reflector to contain the light spread. This was lit up enough to create a backfiring flare on Tammies skin. This provided me with a light dreamy look.

My main light was a Broncolor 800watt lamp at 7 o'clock with a beauty dish + honeycomb + diffusing cloth. I put the lamp close to the model in a 45 degree angle and turned down the intensity, in order to get a big and half transparent reflection in her eyes without burning out her skin. As fill light I used a Broncolor 400watt lamp with a softbox places right behind the camera at 6 o'clock.

For the second photograph I kept the main and fill light and switched off the background light as well as changing the backdrop from white to black.

*the position of the lamp according to the camera (6 o'clock).

Create your diagrams at: http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator

A lot of things happened in the retouching stage - I did remove the second reflection from the fill light in her eye. As I had put the lamp further away and turned up the intensity to almost match the intensity of the main light (that were put close to the model) resulted in a small and non-transparent white reflection in her eye that dominated over the soft reflection from the beauty dish, which was undesirable.

Session with Roxanne & Pernille

© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø, www.chanettkoldsoe.dk
  • Models: Pernille Diana Alba from Modelbooking.dk & Roxanne Hellevik
  • Stylist: Mihaela Luca

Light Settings

For this session I knew I wanted a very narrow light spread with a dramatic transition from light to shadow areas as well as a very dark and harsh shadow line. In order to get this I chose a Broncolor 800watt lamp with a standard reflector with a small sized honeycomb to spot the light even more. I only wanted a small area of the models to be lit up. I placed the lamp 6 o'clock with a 45 degree angle and about 1,5 meter from the model to get an even harsher light. The further away a lamp is placed the more spotted the light will get. I used no other lamps, as I wanted a dark shadow.

Create your diagrams at: http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator

This is were I met serious ups and downs in this whole project. First of all - the main idea with the paint fell to the ground, as I had chosen to work with a liquid not suited for the ideas I had. I learned to do some serious research on an idea like this and not just winging it. Furthermore - being inexperienced in posing people, I chose to pose two models together, both being lit by a very spotted light source and each with different skin color (Black vs. Caucasian). I had also chosen a black background in order to create a very dramatic dark look, but both models had black hair. I had two choices:

  1. Either turn up the intensity to light up the hair, but risk overexposing Pernille and lighting up the background, which was undesirable, or...
  2. Risk an underexposure of the models to keep light off of the background and then manually paint in the light in Photoshop.

Each choice had ups and downs and when I got back from the shot I was distressed. Nothing turned out as planned and I felt it being a massive failure. These choices for this session I believe was too much of a challenge considering my level of skill. In the end - I did get some great shots after all, but nothing with the original idea with paint.

The idea of Avantgarde lies within the movement of Surrealism. Who decides what is surrealistic or not? I believe that Surrealism is many things. In this shot I believe the Surrealism contains within the heavy make-up, crazy lashes and not least the kind of creepy and freaky pose provided by Roxanne Hellevik. How she managed to move like this I do not know - but I LOVE it. I like the fact that her left arm looks like a mannequin arm reaching out from nowhere. Avantgarde is all about make-up, hair, poses, lighting, creative edits. It is a fantasy and you get to make your own idea.

It were great to work with both the models and the stylist. Each of them did a great job - I blame myself for my failure. What can I learn from it?

  • Do more research
  • Gain more experience working with models before pairing them up
  • Think Twice
  • ... And think again..

Session with Cecilie

© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk
  • Models: Cecilie Friis from Modelbooking.dk
  • Stylist: Mihaela Luca

One of the tricky things when working with models, is the risk of one of them having to cancel. This also happened to me during the project and I had to come up with a new idea and go for an extra session. For this idea I really wanted to imitate the mood of Desiree Dolron, who is known for her very special series XTERIORS imaging women (and men) in the 1800s (I think). These inspirational pictures can be found in my Workbook.

I had to analyze the inspirational pictures in order to figure out what type of light source I would be using to recreate the mood. This was an extremely fun and challenging shoot as I was also looking to use the same light characteristics. I could tell from the angle of the shadows that Dolron had used the contour light characteristic, the shadow itself were light meaning she had some kind of fill light to soften up the shadows. From the reflection in the eyes of Dolron's subject I could tell she had used some sort of round light source, whether it'd be a softbox, a round window or a third thing could be difficult to know for sure.

For my main light I went with a Broncolor 800watt lamp with a standard reflector and large honeycomb to spot the light, then shooting this light through a medium transparent (white) diffusion reflector to soften the light- and shadow cast. It would give a really beautiful and soft light in the highlights and also gives a more faded transition into shadows, which I needed. As fill light I chose to use a silver reflector as a lamp would have been too intense.

To remove a little of the unwanted reflective light in the model's face I placed a big piece of molton cloth next to the lamp. I also had another lamp - Broncolor 400watt with a small standard reflector - to light up the background to ensure a separation in the black tones, enabling one to see the lines from the model's dark clothing from the background.

Setup for the Desiree Dolron light imitation

The setting looks like this:

Create your diagrams at: http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator
© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk

Second idea of the session was another approach on fine art portraits, where the light, contrast, edit and make-up would be the main focus of the shot. I wanted a spotted light in the same sense as with Roxanne and Pernille. I wanted a very narrow light spread, a dark shadow cast and a sudden transition from light to shadow. So.. I used a Broncolot 800watt lamp with a standard reflector with a small honeycomb to really get this spotted narrow light. To spot it even more AND to make the transition in the highlight/shadow area seem even more harsh, I placed the lamp a little away from the mode. It resulted in a hard light on the model, which I wanted.

When it came to posing the model I wanted her facing front but created a beautiful curved shape, by turning her upper body sideways. I like the neutral mimics and any other mimic (smile, cry, laugh og anger) would not fit into this idea.

In Photoshop I softened up the contrast and put some magenta colors into the shadows. I gave the whole picture an overhauling and ended up with a nice, crisp look with lots of detail. I emphasized her make-up and eyes to make a really intense color look.

© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk

Setup for the Fine Art shot

Create your diagrams at: http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator

Session with Nikoline

© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk
  • Model: Nikoline Hald fra Modelbooking.dk
  • Stylist: Mihaela Luca

Yet again I was working with two different ideas and setups. One with a silhouette look and another more dramatic look. For this particular session I had bought a feather collar to wrap around the upper body as well as tulle, to wrap around the model as a dress.

The first setup was the silhouette-look. To achieve this look I chose a white background and two Broncolor 400watt lamps on each side of the model, each with a small standard reflector to contain the light spread. Each light pointing to the middle of the background. On either side of the model I hang some molton fabric as well to stop the light from touching the object. In Adobe Photoshop I added intensity in the highlights and darkened the shadows and black areas.

The set looks like this:

Create your diagrams at: http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator
© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk

The second Idea involved yet another lamp and another look. At this stage I wanted a dramatic look by focusing on lighting the object and background, but maintaining the high contrast in shadows and shadow transition. The feathers added to the organic shapes and made a natural drama along side with the hair and make-up.

My main light was a Broncolor 800watt lamp with a Beauty dish + large honeycomb + diffusing clot attached, placed close to the model to give the big, beautiful and transparent reflection in the eyes. It was placed at 7 0'clock pointing 45 degress down . Turning the model sideways the opposite way added shape and depth. Having the model turn her head towards the lamp gave kind of an inverted contour light instead of the traditional contour light on the broad side of the face as seen from the viewfinder.

The dark grey backdrop was lit up by a Broncolor 400watt lamp with a standard reflector and a small honeycomb, to spot the light to create a circle centered behind the model. Again I refer to my Workbook, containing inspirational images for this light setting.

The setting itself looks like this:

Create your diagrams at: http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator
© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø. www.chanettkoldsoe.dk


So what did I learn from this project?

I learned that thorough preparation takes time - and sometimes a lot of time. An idea would be to co-up with clothes designers, jewelers and a hairdresser in order to get easy access to materials for a shoot as well as being able to do crazier hair styles, as Mihaela is more confident with make-up rather than hair.

I also learned that my confidence is only as strong as my doubts. I failed miserably in one of my sessions and took a mental beat down. I learned to face my defeat and look for whatever positive result in the situation. I've heard mentioned earlier, that;

Without failure there can be no success..!

I guess it is true. I for one has learned to reflect on my work, my ideas, where I want to go and where I'm headed.

Looking at the technical part I have had training in analyzing a picture based on the characteristics of highlights, midtones, shadows, shadow transitions, tone separation and eye reflections. I also learned not to work with two models in the same shot, before I am more experienced with posing models in general. I was struggling with an inner voice beating me down during the shoot, telling me that my knowledge wasn't sufficient enough to succeed with these types of poses. I will have to work a little more with my confidence. But the fact that I've made some photographs that got great response from the models, their family & friends, my stylist and my own network is proof that I can do something right - now I better start believing it.

In the end I am very pleased with my very diverse series of challenging photographs, each different and with different focuses. I most definitely feel that I got to show of my colors and to do something for fun. This I hope will help showing off who I am as a photographer, what I can do and how I work, when I apply for apprenticeships to finish my education as a photographer.

I did not - however - find my very own style as such, as the series has a lot of different moods and touches. Except that I think I stayed true to my case of study.

The important thing is that I am wiser now, than when I began the project..!
Created By
Chanett Koldsø


© Copyright 2016. Chanett Koldsø-

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.