Interview with Photographer Juliette of Somnolent Images

Interview with Photographer Juliette of Somnolent Images
July 6, 2013 Lowana

I am delighted to present this beautiful photoset featuring the Aimée gown, taken by Somnolent Images and modelled by Amy. As you can see, the photos are dreamy, feminine and each image tells a story. Juliette (photographer) was kind enough to take part in an interview and had some really fascinating things to say regarding her art form.


Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Lowana O’Shea: First off, thank you for doing this interview with me! 🙂 To start, I’d love to hear a bit more about yourself: How long have you been a photographer? What was it that prompted you to get into photography? Did something inspire you to start?

Juliette Lichman: It’s my pleasure! I’ve been interested in photography since 2007, but it really became a passion from the start of 2009. It started by being a part of the online art community deviantART. I went to several meets and noticed that the majority of artists were photographers, so I began to explore the medium. It was how I met my wonderful boyfriend of five years, and we helped to inspire each other’s photography work. It was a wonderful website for artists and I made many good friends over the years.

LO: How would you describe your photography?

JL: In my photography work I strive to capture something that is halfway between fantasy and reality, as if I have stumbled upon a stunning rare sight that must be documented. I’m also interested in fashion, so this usually plays a big role in the majority of my work as I believe it helps to transform the wearer into an otherworldly creature, helping to bridge the gap and make the scene more believable.

 

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

LO: How did you develop your style?

JL: My first photographs were initially all scenery and non-portrait work, since that was what my deviantART friends were shooting and I was learning from them. It was easy to meet up and shoot a particular location – we’d all have entirely different shots in the end! After a while I started taking photographs of my friends in the Lolita fashion community, as I believed that there was something missing – an emotion or certain “story” element, and all the outfits were easily on hand. At the time I was also creating digital art consisting of composite photography, which almost always had a female ‘protagonist’ and I wanted to see whether I could recreate the same kind of emotion and atmosphere with just photography. After shooting my Lolita friends for a few years I began again to branch out and explore different types of fashion, collaborating with designers and other models who wanted to shoot particular looks. Right now I want to experiment with set-building and creating very beautifully styled location shoots, where the location is integrated with the model in a mode cohesive way, which creates really over-the-top fantastical and stunning visuals.

LO: You recently photographed my dear friend Amy, what was the inspiration for that photo shoot?

JL: Yes it was such a wonderful shoot, lovely cool weather, gorgeous gardens, beautiful model and such a luxurious dress! I had wanted to shoot Amy in that dress for a long time, but hadn’t really had many ideas that weren’t already done. Ideally this would be gorgeous shot in the gardens of Versailles, but that obviously wasn’t an option, so I tried to emulate something similar, not showing any particular elements of the location but rather just small areas that are universal. The story was that a countess was having a secret meeting in the gardens with her secret lover, and while it is beautifully lit and a gentle colour scheme, there is still an element of drama within the images.

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

LO: Do you have a ‘favourite’ photographer you admire? What is it about their work that you love?

JL: I have many favourite photographers, it’s difficult to choose! My biggest inspiration at the moment is Kirsty Mitchell. She takes what I dream of and makes it 500% better, creates things that I could never think possible, and is constantly pushing the boundaries. The detail in every single image is mind-blowing – I could find something new every time I open the same photograph. Also, her prop-building skills are really out of this world, they look like museum pieces or very high-fashion/theatre costumes. I’ve spent many hours poring over her props gallery on her website alone, the craftsmanship is impeccable.

LO: What inspires you on a regular basis?

JL: It’s really difficult to stay inspired for me, especially during stressful university semesters and freelance/client deadlines. Music has always been a huge inspiration, and continues to be. Recently I’ve made an ‘Inspiration tumblr’ on which I reblog any images that spark an idea or convey a certain mood. Another source of inspiration for me is favourite artists and illustrators, as they are always creating something new and it’s amazing to watch their progress over the years, just to name a few: Natalie Shau, Mark Ryden, Kukulaland and Ray Caesar.

 

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman


LO:
In your opinion, what makes a good picture stand out from the average?

JL: This is something I’ve only understood recently – connection is everything. There are some photoshoots that are visually beautiful but lack a certain something; and others that are seemingly effortless but really stand out. Apart from excellent lighting (which every good photographer keeps in mind), connection with the model is the single most important aspect; the look in their eyes captivates the viewer and really makes an unforgettable image. Posing and body language is another very important aspect, as these really help to convey a certain mood.

LO: Is there a goal you are working towards within your photography?

JL: My goal within my photography is to take high quality sharp images that look seamlessly cohesive and capture atmosphere and emotion, but still contain delicate feminine fragility.

LO: What kind of equipment do you use?

JL: For the past few years I have been using the Canon 550D with my two main lenses f1.8 50mm and 17-55 f2.8 and I’ve recently upgraded to the Canon 6D with the 24-105 f4 lens, in preparation for my trip to Europe. The only other equipment I use is a reflector. I own an external flash and umbrella set-up but I have still yet to find a use for them – unless it is studio work I rarely use flash because most of the time it looks too unnatural for my tastes.

LO: What kind of tools do you use for post processing?

JL: I use Photoshop CS5 mainly. I’ve used Lightroom on other computers and really like it, I’ve procrastinated too long about getting it onto mine. Other software I use sometimes is Darktable, which I mainly use for lightening shadows, but it has a few other excellent features.

 

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman


LO:
Are you self-taught or have you formally studied your craft?

JL: I’m pretty much self-taught. During my course at university I did do photography subjects, but I didn’t really learn anything new from them apart from using a few studio flashes. I prefer to learn via practice and trial and error rather than theory!

LO: What is one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

JL: Good lighting is everything!! I used to suffer with editing lighting and shadows, going out on sunny days and not understanding why photos were turning out so harshly. It sounds so silly and obvious, but being young and self-taught, I learnt the hard way!

 

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman


LO: Tell us something that few people know about you…

JL: I suppose it’s not a really widely-known fact, but I am Ukrainian and was born there. It’s difficult to really say if Australia is my home or if I’m still just a traveller here. My heart still belongs to Europe and I hope to live there in the near future, as snow in winter and changing autumn leaves are really second-nature to me. I love historical sites and beautiful forests – Europe has so much history and beauty that one cannot find in Australia!

LO: One last question, where can my readers find you if they’d like to see more of your work?

JL: I can be found at my official website http://somnolentimages.com and on the following social networking sites: Facebook, deviantART and Model Mayhem. Thanks so much for the interview!

LO: You’re very welcome! Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos with us!

 

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

Photography © Somnolent Images | Juliette Lichman

For those of you wishing to know a little bit more about the gown pictured in these gorgeous photos, Amy (who did her own hair and make up for the shoot) is modelling a decadent three-piece ensemble, an adaptation of a “robe à la française”. Made entirely out of 100% silk, this luxurious gown features a “sacque back” (pleats falling from the high back into a small train and connecting to the skirt) as well as pink and silver French lace on the sleeves. A scrumptious hand-made trim of burgundy and pink silk frames the front of the dress. As was traditional in the 18th century, the wearer is sewn into the dress with invisible stitches connecting the dress to the embellished stomacher. This gown is designed to be worn over panniers but it is pictured without for this photo shoot. If you wish to see more images of this 18th century gown, visit the portfolio or check out this footage or photos of it on the catwalk!

Thanks so much for reading, and remember you can subscribe at the top of the page to receive (non-spammy) email updates as new posts are added.

Xx
Lowana.

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