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Breathing Life Back Into Fashion Photography: Happy Snapper Elaine Constantine

Her pictures of vivacious, laughing girls have injected life back into fashion photography. But as she tells Wonder Magazine it’s not all smiles.

Her portfolio is crammed with work shot for American and Italian Vogues, The Face, Arena Homme Plus and W magazine. Her client list includes Katharine Hamnett, Anna Molinari, Levi’s, Max Mara and Jigsaw as well as the cover for Robbie Williams’ Millennium sleeve. Each shot depicts what has become known as quintessentially Constantine. Girls laughing, hollering while riding bicycles, in pillow fights.

fair weather leather for american VOGUE
Fair weather leather for american VOGUE

 

elaine-fashion-photography
VOGUE China

All bright eyed, lively and fun. The energy blasts off the pages. But, according to Constantine, this is not the only reality she captures. “There are only so many times that you can photograph girls running and laughing,” says Constantine matter of factly. She admits to being pigeon holed but doesn’t feel trapped. “People expect a certain something from me. It’s my fault as much as anything.”

The heroin chic imagery of the early Nineties with ill and depressed-looking models led to the Clinton crusade. The President of the USA denounced the dangerous repercussions of the pseudo-chic imagery surrounding the fashion press, saying: “This is not about art it’s about life and death.” Then came Constantine with her euphoric images of healthy looking girls with broad grins and child like innocence and the editors lapped it up.

Elaine Constantine
Elaine Constantine, © SHOWstudio

As she points out: “It’s not that I no longer want to photograph girls laughing and having fun, it’s just that I’ve got an interest in portraying a non self-conscious state where you are totally engaged with an activity. Sometimes editors take out the non-smiley pictures because that’s what they want from me. It can be frustrating as it makes things one dimensional so you have to push the editors to allow you to do certain things.”

And this is what she is doing. Constantine has moved from stills to moving picture, directing commercials for Parco, Japan’s equivalent to Gallery La Fayette in France. Its rapport with the art world and its belief in creative freedom meant she was given the scope to produce a commercial that reflected her style. She did this with the help of directors of photography Jim Feely and Morgan Sousa. And the result? It’s like a flipbook of her portfolio.

 

Karen Homer
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Karen Homer

Freelance Journalist at The Guardian
Karen Homer is a freelance journalist who writes on food and fashion.Karen has written for Vogue, The Times and The Guardian. She has authored three books, including Things a Woman Should Know About Shoes.
Karen Homer
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Written by Karen Homer

Karen Homer

Karen Homer is a freelance journalist who writes on food and fashion.Karen has written for Vogue, The Times and The Guardian. She has authored three books, including Things a Woman Should Know About Shoes.

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