Phillip Wong Photography


Swimwear: On Location

Shooting swimwear seems easy.
A model. A swimsuit. Natural make-up and hair. Location.
But shooting on location makes everything more difficult. The sun. The changing time of day. The volatile weather. And shooting on a beach removes the production from access to anything.
For commercial photography, in a controlled amount of space, the apparel has to look good, but editorial image-making is more dynamic, balancing the awesome beauty of our world, with the beauty of the model and the created beauty of what she is wearing.

This was shot on the Quai d’Orleans across from the Cathdrale Notre-Dame de Paris and a grey, foggy day for an editorial shoot. It epitomizes what I look for in fashion editorial photography: mood, mystery, story.

Regardless of how provocative, sexy and glamorous a shot should be, there should always be an eternal undercurrent of classicism.

We searched and found, many locations on Kauai, Hawaii, but the undercutting of the island by the pounding surf, created these dramatic overhangs that balanced the landscape with the simplicity of the swimwear, and the color of her neckwear. 

The model was perfect. Her projection echoed the natural strength of her background.

While straightforward fashion images should show the cut, the silhouette, the colors and the quality of whatever the model is wearing, it does not (nor should it be) boring.

I always consider that if I don’t care about the model, the image, or what she is wearing, why should anyone else care? The image shows the world, from the eyes of the photographer. Even if it is commercial, there is still an element of art, that lurks.

My visions have been shaped by film. But all of us, have been shaped by the media that comes into our lives and influences us.

We had been shooting at beaches all day in Southern New Jersey and clouds were forming as we came into a town that the make-up artist knew had a stream with a bridge. In the middle of town, as the rain began to pour down, I sent this model onto the rocks in the monsoon. She instantly understood the drama behind what we were doing, and from our struggles with pushing aside the rain pouring around us, we got this image.

The context of body, fashion, nudity is very different in Europe than America. There is a maturity and sophistication in Europe that is resisted in America, while being denied.   

I shot for Italian, French, German and British publications that all encouraged the freedom of my vision to create images that would involve their audiences. In a world in which there are 20+ languages on a single continent, their ability to communicate non-verbally, influencing emotion and stimulating thought, drives for a subtlety and sophistication which is denied in America. What is considered daring and provocative in America, is considered interesting, in the parts of society that our commercial world, wishes to reach.

Contrast draws attention. But differences hold attention.

The ability to get an audience’s attention. And then hold it. Is critical in an often chaotic world.