Sunday, December 6, 2015

NOT SAFE FOR WORK - My 2016 "NSFW" Calendar for Collegium Graphicum

It's the festive month of December and the flood of new calendars for the upcoming year is upon us. They range from the most artistic and sublime to the most explicit, giving their admirers a vast variety of options from which to choose. 

Collegium Graphicum, who has been producing a unique calendar every year for more than a decade, called me again this year (they already did it in 2011, when the US blogger community proclaimed our "Made in Slovenia" B&W calendar with 12 top models "the Slovenian answer to Pirelli") and challenged me to create another fine product for their company. Ultimately, I only gave them one condition - that my hands be completely free to pour my creative vision onto large sheets of high quality printing paper.

As you know, I am no stranger to fine art, having exhibited my photos in Milan, New York, The Holy Land and, most lately, at Art Basel in Miami. I won the Slovenia Press Photo award for my depiction of androgynous models (the jury was mostly Pulitzer Prize winners) and I have been shooting fashion editorials for glossies such as Cosmopolitan, Elle and Grazia for more than a decade. My work was also featured in almost every international Playboy edition around the globe and in the span of the 15 years of my Bunny pages career, I have photographed more than fifty covers for the magazine.

The calendar photoshoot started with with a clear mission - to merge the beauty of 12 fashion models with my own erotic vision, adding a pinch of what my colleagues call "the Bravničar look". Ten of the girls I photographed come from my home country of Slovenia, one is from Ukraine and one from Estonia. The avid Playboy readers might remember Karin Škufca, Katarina Benček, Ula Šemole and Eva Kofol, who have all been previously featured in my Playboy pictorials and everyone else will surely recognize the European and World Ten-dance Champion and model Nadiya Bychkova. There is also a newcomer featured here with no previous experience in modelling as I gave a unique opportunity to Lea Rogelj, a hot girl next door from a small town of Voklo, to be featured in the pages of the 2016 calendar.

The layout of the calendar is a creative domain of designer Zvone Kukec, who has crafted every single of the 14 calendars for Collegium Graphicum printers. "There is only one photographer in Slovenia who can produce such work we see here," Zvone told the Jamšek brothers who own the Collegium Graphicum company. "But don't take my word for it - ask the girls!"

They took Zvone Kukec's advice and talked to two models from the pages of the "NSFW" (Not Safe For Work) 2016 calendar, as I aptly named my 12-month piece-de-resistance that is unfortunately not for sale and will be printed in a few hundred copies only.

World champion dancer Nadiya Bychkova (month of November) told the media: "Aleš is the only photographer I trust completely. The outcome is marvellous". Ula Šemole (month of March), who was also featured on the pages of Playboy not long ago, added: "Aleš and I collaborate a lot. There is nobody else that I'd pose naked for but him".

The Jamšek brothers loved the final result and the calendar came out on December 4th with a big party. Here are some of the images from the opening night (courtesy of 24ur.com/Miro Majcen, Andraž Blaznik, Rok Mele and the girls).

Last but not least, I must mention all the people that helped on the way. They are all credited on the final page of the calendar. Special thanks to Zvone Kukec, The Jamšek Brothers of Collegium Graphicum, Loui Ferry for most of the hairdos, Romina Regvat (MUA) and Barbara Žgalin/CDB for three styling advices, Katarina Benček for selected make-up, Bojan Pejkovič of Arreda, Sandi Kovačevič of Hotel Cubo, Rudi Gubenšek of NOX, Veslaški klub Ljubljanica, Wolford for the support, Hensel Visit GmbH for the lighting and Canon Slovenija for having me as an Ambassador. Also to my dear friend Andraž Blaznik for assistance.
Thank you! 
PS. The calendar is a limited edition fine-art 14-page offset print (300 copies only) and is NOT FOR SALE!






Friday, August 14, 2015

THE QUEST OF LEARNING PHOTOGRAPHY (AND HAVING YOUR PHOTOS PUBLISHED DURING THE PROCESS)



It is the omnipresent question on all my workshops and seminars.
Everybody wants to know - can it be done?
The answer is: Yes, it is possible to have your photos published during the process of learning photography! Many of you might be too afraid to give it a try, but you just may be holding back your creative potential without realizing it.

My promise to seminar attendees was always not only to create an event where they would shoot some of the most beautiful models and have one hell of a good time doing it, but also ending up with usable material for future publication. 


When you return home with your images, it is where your journey really begins. Most attendees from my workshops bring back photographs that could be sent to the editors without embarrassment and are frequently approved for publication. 

 
And here is the proof: The photographs I shot as a mentor at last year’s STC Workshop with Neža Marolt were published on the cover and inside Playboy magazine, fashion model Barbara Sorčič, who posed for me as guest photographer at Samo Vidic Workshop in 2014 got a two-page spread in Playboy with an image I shot there and this March at STC Miami, through popular demand, I set up a “classic” Playboy set, only to land a full page photo of model Jade Amber Williams in the magazine we all grew to love.  


The fruits of my 4-day May 2015 workshop in Pelješac, Croatia manifested as another Playboy cover, this time with the wonderful Manca Mlakar, and numerous other educational travels around the globe all resulted in worldwide published pictorials, catalogues and campaign images. 


I hope this answers the big question. Remember, your future lies in your hands. Just add a pinch of love to what you do and your world of photography is ready for a major boost. 

The next lightning bolt of inspiration is happening this October in Santorini.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

FOTOGRAFSKA DELAVNICA NA PELJEŠCU 2015

FOTOGRAFSKA DELAVNICA Z ALEŠEM BRAVNIČARJEM


Ste se od nekdaj želeli preizkusiti v modni in glamur fotografiji in pred objektiv postaviti čudovito manekenko in Playboyevo sanjsko dekle? Sedaj je prava priložnost!


WORKSHOP z ALEŠEM BRAVNIČARJEM
30. april – 3.maj 2015
4 dni/3 noči trajajoča delavnica modne in glamur fotografije
Pelješac, Hrvaška




Le kdo si ne želi pokukati v svet Playboyevega fotografa in spoznati skrivnosti njegovega poklica? Aleš Bravničar, ki že 15 let soustvarja vsebino najbolj zaželene revije za moške, pa tudi  številne editoriale za modne časopise in fotografske zgodbe za oglaševalske agencije, bo na delavnici v družbi profesionalnega modela razkril nekaj svojih pristopov za izvrstne fotografije, ki navdušujejo urednike po vsem svetu.


 
4 dni/3 noči, polni penzion, 599€ z DDV

Kotizacija vključuje predavanja in praktični del fotografiranj na lokaciji, delo z manekenko, uporabo studijskih bliskovnih luči Profoto B1, POLNI PENZION (3 zajtrke, 3 kosila in 3 večerje s pijačo) ter nastanitev (3 nočitve) v sodobnih in udobnih apartmajih Luna (4****) v ribiški vasici Lovište na skrajnem zahodu dalmatinskega polotoka Pelješca. V ceno so vključeni tudi vsi transferji na lokacije in nazaj. Prihod do Pelješca je v lastni režiji (avto, avtobus iz Zagreba, letalo do Dubrovnika + transfer).



Na delavnici, ki bo primerna za napredne amaterje in profesionalne fotografe z željo po nadgradnji svojega znanja, bo poudarek na Aleševi najbolj priljubljeni tehniki - glamur fotografiji na lokaciji. Spoznali boste nekatere tehnike studijske fotografije, ki so primerne za lokacijo, izpilili znanje o uporabi odbojnikov in se preizkusili v postopkih izdelave piktoriala, kot ga Aleš objavlja v Playboyih po vsem svetu.



Za delavnico potrebujete fotoaparat, ki bo imel možnost proženja studijski bliskavic (X-kontakt). Priporočamo zoom objektive 24-70mm ter 70-200mm. 



Alešev model bo manekenka Nana Wolke, sveži obraz slovenske modne scene, ki je trenutno eden najbolj iskanih modelov mlade generacije pri nas. 

Število udeležencev je strogo omejeno na 8, zato pohitite in si zagotovite svoje mesto še danes!




PROGRAM DELAVNICE PELJEŠAC 2015

DAN 1 (Čet)
15.00 - 18.00 Prihod do Apartmajev Luna v Lovištu (Pelješac, Hrvaška)
18.00 - 19.00 Pozdrav, namestitev, registracija
19.00 Večerja in druženje

DAN 2 (Pet)
09.00 - 10.00 Zajtrk
10.00. - 12.00 Prezentacija in teoretčni del s projekcijo
12.00 - 14.00 Kosilo
14.00 - 18.00 Fotografiranje na lokaciji, praktično delo z modelom (Lokacija 1)
19.00 Večerja in pregled najboljših fotografij dneva

DAN 3 (Sob)
09.00 - 10.00 Zajtrk
10.00. Transfer v srce otoka – Na lokacijo vinarije Bartulović
11.00 - 13.00 Fotografiranje, praktično delo z modelom (Lokacija 2)
13.00 - 15.00 Kosilo na lokaciji
15.00 - 18.00 Fotografiranje, praktično delo z modelom (Lokacija 3)
19.00 Večerja in pregled najboljših fotografij dneva, druženje
Transfer do apartmaja

DAN 4 (Ned)
09.00 - 10.00 Zajtrk
10.00 - 12.00 Rezime, zaključno predavanje o poslovnih priložnostih fotografa, podelitev certifikatov
12.00 - 14.00 Kosilo




“Veselim se vaše prijave in udeležbe. Skupaj bomo ustvarili serijo odličnih slik na mojih priljubljenih lokacijah Pelješca, kamor se vračam vsako leto, in se – kar je najvažnejše – v pristnem dalmatinskem okolju imeli uživaško dobro.”
Aleš Bravničar





Prijave in informacije: Marija Augustinović (marija@venevent.com), +385 1 48 200 48.
Organizator: VenEvent d. o. o., Gundulićeva 3/III, 10000 Zagreb, Hrvaška

Možnost plačila na obroke (do 3).
Možnost plačila v EUR in HRK.
DDV je vštet v ceno.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

The single focal length challenge - shooting a Playboy pictorial with Zeiss OTUS 1.4/55

(Scroll to the end of the article for behind the scenes video.)

At the end of 2013, the Apo Distagon T* 1.4/55, the first member of the new high-end SLR family of Zeiss lenses came on the market. The most important goal in developing this lens was to achieve a “no-compromises image quality”.  Imagine something like a Zeiss Master Prime that you can mount on your DSLR and you will get the idea.


As Zeiss tells us, the Otus 1.4/55 contains all the expertise and experience of more than 120 years in the field of optics and mechanics. Only the best materials and the highest-quality glass were good enough for a lens whose development was driven by one thought at every phase: offering the best-possible results when used by sophisticated photographers. And it is made in Japan!


The scops owl (Latin: Otus scops), the same one you know from Candy Crush Saga, is the name giver for this new family of lenses and thanks to its superb sharpness, ultimate image contrast and almost complete absence of chromatic aberrations the perfect image quality can be achieved even when shooting wide open. This lens truly sets a new standard, whether it is used in advertising, fashion or studio photography – with no compromises when rendering the details in an image.


I was fortunate enough to get the Otus for a test drive directly from Zeiss in time for my trip to Cuba. I was pondering my lens choice for a Playboy pictorial shoot and finally decided to take just the Otus 1.4/55 and my equally stunning EF 70-200/2.8L II from Canon. The latter would come in handy for that Sports Illustrated style Caribbean cover look.


The Otus proved to be an absolute jewel. No difficulties whatsoever with manual focusing (kudos also to Canon's ultra handy focus confirmation signal), flawless performance wide open, amazing build quality and solid grip thanks to the wide rubber focusing ring. I liked the lens so much (the standard focal length is my favorite) I ended up shooting the whole Playboy pictorial (12 final photographs) with just the Otus. Portrait shots, wide shots, everything. My EF 70-200/2.8L II was used only for the cover image.


The steep price for an all-time manual focus lens surely is a bit painful. But it only hurts once. When you see the sharpness and the beautiful rendering of details on your photographs that pop out in what can only be described as the Zeiss look, the pain will be forgotten. As I write this the Otus must be the single best piece of glass with an EF mount and electronic contacts I can mount on my Canon.


The most asked question about the Otus line in the photographic community was, why on earth just manual focus? Zeiss would never have achieved such precision had they incorporated the AF mechanism. They say it could only be done with a manual focus lens. At almost $4.000/€3.500 and weighing slightly over one kilogram, this lens certainly is not for everyone. As somebody somewhere put it, 99% of photographers will not understand the philosophy behind the Otus. But Zeiss builds them for that 1% who do... 





SEE BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO WITH NADIYA BYCHKOVA HERE.



Otus lens image courtesy of Carl Zeiss AG. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The NANA WOLKE Playboy shoot or How to get the most out of confined spaces


I was commissioned to photograph a young and talented artist and painter Nana Wolke for Playboy Celebrity Pages. These four pages in the magazine have been on my shooting agenda for the past 10 years and I have exclusively lensed more than 100 celebrities, actresses, singers, athletes, models and fresh faces for them. 
 

The idea behind the shoot with Nana Wolke was to keep everything as simple as possible - no big sets, no complicated lighting, no massive production design. After scouting several locations and testing various available light scenarios we have decided to opt for the amazing ambiance of Hotel NOX in Ljubljana. NOX is a designer hotel with a creative twist - each of its 24 rooms has a different theme, a different character and a different layout. Some of the most brilliant architects in the country have put their thinking caps on and created an exquisite habitable experience for both travelers and those of us on the look for stunning interiors.


The room we chose was bright and spacious and offered all the shooting potential a hotel room with immense floor-to-ceiling windows can. I brought LED fresnels and panels with me to use as a fill light, but following initial tests with our model Nana the lights (all but one, read on) quickly went back to the bag. The best choice for creating the right atmosphere was a 120cm/47'' silver-and-white Profoto collapsible reflector with handles, so the assistant could actually fine-tune the reflection of daylight from the window and position it precisely at the right angle. I shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70/2.8L zoom wide open, mostly staying at 50mm which is by far my favorite focal length and the ISO setting varied from 800 to 1600. To check for focus and for ferocious clipping of the whites I tethered the camera to my MacBook pro.


The diagram shows the position of the model (reddish dot) and the shooting direction of the camera. During the shoot I changed four different positions in the 16m2/172 sq. feet room to capture four different photographs, making each scene as different from the previous one as possible. 

SCENE 1:
 


This is the perilous "contre-jour" shot straight into the light. Here a 50/1.2L lens was used for its immaculate light distribution and bokeh capabilities. I have chosen a cooler white balance for Nana's piercing looks and let the light from window in the back flood the background. The final shot looks like it has been made in the studio.

SCENE 2:


 
The hot "argyle overknees" look was done with just the window light falling onto our model. We actually used the Profoto reflector to cut some light coming from below that was creating distracting villainous shadows on her face. The only time we used a constant light on this shoot was for this scene - a LED panel with diffuser positioned behind the bed on the floor camera left and set to daylight color temperature added a little dimension and depth to the background.

SCENE 3:



A designer couch is a superb tool for posing your subjects. We changed the styling and used the same technique as in Scene 1 (reflector angled from above), but this time I pushed my Canon to the limits of its dynamic range and was able to retain all the detail in the window light. The lilac hues of grading create a slight retro atmosphere.

SCENE 4:



Putting away the reflector I positioned Nana against the plain wall and let the window light hit her from the side. The light was very soft because the light source was bigger than the photographed subject. Leaning against the wall with my zoom set to 50mm I was able to get the full figure in frame and my monopod helped to stabilize the camera for a pin-sharp result. Orange and green neon hues were added to the photograph in post for warmth and for that modern fashion magazine look.

Confined spaces pose no problem for an accomplished photographer who knows how to turn a difficult situation to his advantage and gets the most out of it. In the era of low-cost, low-budget productions you simply can't let the quality of your product diminish. The good news is, in most cases, you don't have to.


The editor was satisfied with the results and the photos were published in Playboy Slovenia (February 2015 edition). Nana really loved the photos. Here is both of us saying "hi".

(BTS photos + make-up by Tina Modlic.)