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Bohemian-style photography workshop in Phuket

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PHUKET: There was a Bohemian, Rolling Stone Magazine flare to the atmosphere when I walked into the Chalong hillside villa. The small group of photographers, the playboy model, her male counterpart and friends, sat around a long table drinking wine and digging into a feast of farang food – clearly not your typical photographers’ workshop.

They had finished the nude shoot in Frank Couture’s infinity pool, which overlooks Chalong Bay, and were on a dinner break. The sun had set and the darkness closed in tight, creating an ideal setting for strong contrasts in the next shoot: rain in the jungle.

“I’m planning to have this kind of workshop on a regular basis [once every two months], but I want to keep to a certain formula: more of a private party, where like-minded people get together with music, food, drinks and we also learn from each other,” said Adriano Trapani, while Andrei Goldobenko started setting up the lights and the rain machine.

“Generally, the kind of workshops that I’ve attended [in the past] are on a much tighter schedule. Everything is more formal.”

It is not uncommon for workshops to have more than 10 photographers allotted a short period of time, maybe three minutes each, to work with the model and shoot at the studio, Adriano explained.

“Once your time is up, it’s up, while here, everyone is working together with hints and tips. Of course, there is a main photographer shooting, and he’ll pass the time to another photographer [at some point].”

Ahead of the final shoot of the day, the scantily clad models relax on a couch overlooking the bay. A classic example of Parisian graffiti artist Noe Two’s work dominates the wall over their shoulder, feeding into the Bohemian vibe.

Playboy model Aleksa Slusarchi, who just recently finished a shoot in Los Angeles, contacted Adriano through ModelMayhem.com – a model, photographer and makeup artist social networking site. She and her rippling-muscled male companion, Alexander Kravchuk, were on a two-month holiday in Thailand and decided to pick up some work on the way.

“It’s not exactly a workshop, how people say workshop? I do not work in workshops usually. It’s more like a private shoot,” Aleksa says in an undeniably adorable Ukrainian accent.

“It’s not a hard atmosphere, like a ‘real’ working atmosphere. We have an atmosphere [here] that is really nice, like a holiday party and highly professional shoot. It’s fantastic.”

Aleksa’s, who turned 21 on January 15, started her career in Kharkiv about five years ago. She did her first nude shoot when she was 18 years old.

Casually, Aleksa and Alexander strip down to their seemingly flawless, taught, vibrant skin and wait to be ushered into the jungle scene and the cold “rain”.

Aleksa works in front of the camera alone, before she is joined by Alexander. The two stand naked, clutching each other as Andrei begins to shoot.

“I just try to feel everything that I can to make real the idea of the photographer. I try to feel what the photographer means to see in the picture. I try to feel everything he wants to see,” Aleksa said. “If you can feel something you can show something.”

As an observer it was hard to know exactly what is in Andrei’s mind – but it must be the right idea. The Parisian artists of the late 1700s would have no doubt been inspired by the work flashing up on the preview screen, as the photographers and models worked comfortably together.

Though there were plenty of lights and flashes, thanks to Andrei, the concept behind the workshop isn’t a flash in the pan, said Adriano.

The next round of the invite-only workshops will tackle the element of fire and earth, as a theme delving into the classical elements begins to emerge on the calendar.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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