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Super colliding

11 August 2014

ariana-perez-illustrationIllustrator: Gina Kiel, model: Bay Berger at Nova

Fashion photographer Garth Badger takes on a global collaboration in his latest personal project

While an element of collaboration is always necessary in successful fashion and beauty photography, Garth Badger has taken the idea to another level with his new project, Collision. The plan, hatched by the photographer and make-up artist Verity Griffiths, was to produce a series of portraits that would then be sent to illustrators around the world to modify in unique ways.

Badger approached artists from as far afield as the Ukraine, Spain, and the Philippines — most contacted through the Behance creative social network — and found them all to be very receptive to the idea of artistic cooperation.

Illustrator: Ariana Perez, model: Holly Rose at Red 11

“It’s an opportunity to work on something outside of yourself, and I think that’s why a lot of them jumped at it,” he explains. “There’s a lot of sitting there in the dark, working on things alone. I know that’s why I jumped at it — when you come at something collaboratively, you get something better than anything anyone is individually capable of.”

It was important for the project that each of the illustrators, though distinct in approach, specialized in beauty, and once an appropriate entourage had been signed up, Badger began the process of finding the right model for each style.

“We looked at the type of people these artists would draw and, it’s amazing, when you really start looking at their stuff you can kind of see, ‘Oh that’s this person’. Then we went to all the agencies and booked the best international models available at the time, and couple of the best locals, and started matching them to artists.”

Illustrator: Carne Griffiths, model: Breonne Rittinger at Nova

Tying the images together from a photographic standpoint was difficult, as Badger had no idea what the artists would do to his images. For his part he kept the lighting consistent throughout, and worked to give the artists something to build upon, even if it meant producing an unfinished-looking edit. He resisted the urge constrain the illustrators with colours or styling.

“I didn’t want to dictate that; I’ve got no interest in telling an illustrator how to illustrate,” he says. “The brief was literally to take the image and make it theirs, while retaining some level of the original photographic quality.”

To give his collaborators even more freedom, Badger sent out four or five image options and allowed them to select the one they would work on. He then Photoshopped the chosen image and sent it off to be reimagined. This was a process that took between a little over a week and six months, depending on the individual artist’s practice and schedule.

Illustrator: Alexander Fedosov, model: Chloe Wheatcroft at Red 11

“What we’ve ended up with is a series of individual images that work very well,” Badger says. “I don’t think they run together amazingly (though some of them do), but individually they sit really, really nicely.”

Badger has released the images on Facebook and Instagram to an extremely positive response. “A lot of the time you’re working away on commercial projects, so it’s nice to get some feedback on something you really care about,” he says. 

The photographer has had requests for prints but, at this stage, has no big plans for the usage of the Collision images. The process was his purpose and, as an example of creative collaboration, it has been a clear success.

About Garth Badger

Garth Badger is an Auckland-based fashion, beauty, and advertising photographer working with both still images and video. He began his photography career seven years ago at the age of 25 — before then he worked as a beekeeper. Badger opted for self-directed learning and interning, rather than formal study, as his path into the industry — a decision that has paid off in a rapid rise to prominence within it.

To see more from Garth, including the rest of the Collision series, head to . 

All images: photography by Garth Badger, make-up by Verity Griffiths