One interesting little shoot I did recently took place at Circomedia, Bristol with burlesque and circus performer, Miss Alexandra Hofgartner.
Alexandra is a former graduate of Circomedia, an internationally-recognised Bristol circus school that recently celebrated its 25 year anniversary. She now combines performance gigs with teaching hoop skills at local dance schools.
Alexandra is also a noted aficionado of vintage style and is usually seen decked out in immaculate retro attire that evokes the 1940s and Golden Age of Hollywood especially. Her burlesque and circus performances also draw heavily on this interests. She claims not to even own a pair of jeans! Good to see someone waging war on the pernicious influence of drab casualwear… I’d first seen her perform an umbrella-based burlesque routine at a Coco Boudoir burlesque show in Bath, which for me was a stand-out act of the night.
In terms of the photoshoot, I felt there were these two sides of Alex to combine – the circus skills and her head-turning vintage look. We set up in a corner of the former churchCircmedia operates in Portland Square, St Pauls, using a thick black curtain as a backdrop. A Bowens soft-box was used as a key light, placed quite far to the right to give a sense of shape and direction. A fill light was present to control the level of shadow and and bounce-umbrella acted as a kind of rim/back light, carving Alexandra out of the dark background. A little light was also allowed to spill on the background to reveal a little texture in the curtains and prevent the curtain from appearing pure black.
It was a new kind of photoshoot both for me and for Alexandra and a little trial and error was needed to find the best shapes. I was concerned about creating strong images while Alex, a real perfectionist, had the added concern to make sure the hoop moves were executed perfectly. In the end, though, I loved what we managed to achieve and hope to work with her again soon on a promo shoot showcasing her costumes. She is currently constructing a brand new website, which will appear here soon.