Christian Blanchard is currently working as a freelance photographer and film director. Recently named by Capture Magazine as one of Australia’s top ten, Blanchard’s rising star has seen him shoot global campaigns for clients including Mimco, Amstel, Nobody Denim, Nintendo, L’Oreal Paris and Puma. Throwing dirty water on celebrities for the famed ‘Nobody was Thirsty’ campaign is indicative of Blanchard’s breakthrough approach that has seen him win international acclaim.
We spoke to Christian and asked him a few questions in the lead up to Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW).
After several years of built up frustration from studying I threw myself into the deep end and approached a photographic studio to do an internship for a year as a form of hands on free education. From there I slowly worked my way up the ranks to a full time assisting role and then onto become one of their staff photographers. Up until this point the single contributor to my success was motivation however it takes passion to allow you to grow with photography and turn that interest into a lifelong career.
A huge turning point in my career was relocating to Melbourne and signing to a photographic production agency. The partnership with an agency and most importantly a producer who is as passionate about your work as you are is essential to establish yourself in the national market. I have been fortunate in both cases to have the support and guidance of Miss Bossy Boots who have truly assisted in shaping who I am and facilitating the work I shoot today.
Passion for photography has driven me to learn with every mistake of every day and every shoot. It has also allowed me to stop at points in my career and question if I am happy and more importantly if I am comfortable. This sense of comfort is an indicator that I need change because things are becoming to easy and in turn I am not learning or growing with my work. This attitude of being thrown in the deep end has allowed me to work for 6 years in Perth, 4 years in Melbourne and now in my new home of Sydney. Internationally I have worked and been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Thailand and Indonesia and make time to travel abroad every year for work and inspiration.
Within fashion photography this means that we are going to see a greater acknowledgement of the medium being a true art form and being celebrated rightfully so.
The film based around the innately primitive rituals of the animal kingdom. Throughout the film we explore the notion of “survival of the fittest”, a policy all animals have abided by since the day life begun. The emotively charged story revolves around the 3 main characters as they engage in courtship rituals in a post-apocalyptic world. Two males violently compete for the prized female as survival of the unique species hangs in the balance. The species featured was conceived through extensive research into the animal kingdom with particular reference to avian, insects and land-based beasts. The result is a unique creature with a distinct physiognomy and facial features, individual personality traits stemming from a shared functionality and carefully orchestrated interactions between nature and themselves.
With the support of NPS (Nikon Pro Services) I was able to utilise a range of Nikons best equipment including D3s and D3x camera bodies and lenses ranging from 600mm f2.8 and 200-400m f4 through to 45mm tilt shift and 12-24mm lenses. Nikon’s durable design and architecture ensured that the equipment withheld the elements of shooting for 4 days in the snowfields of Victoria.
Nobody designed a not-for-profit t-shirt and the revenue from each t-shirt sold provides 2 people with 20 years of water. To generate global interest 3 photographers were selected from separate countries (AUS, USA, UK) to photograph a selection of their nations celebrity talent wearing the charity T-Shirt.
For me it was a fantastic opportunity to give a little back and work with some amazingly talented people. I acknowledged the importance and power of the campaign and recognised the value placed in creating evoking images so I wanted to engage the viewer enough for them to come a little closer and understand what it was all about.
The brief outlined what the charity was about and a few loose talent options however I was left with a free creative rein to come up with concept. Perspective and reflection was the basis of my photographic concept.
The outcome was to document the reactions of famous personalities interacting with water indicative of that consumed by those living poverty-stricken parts of the world.
The concept came about when thinking of what relationship humans have with water and what occurs when that relationship is changed or removed. Coming from a 1st world nation we take so much for granted and I think water would have to be at the top of the list. It is one of the most important needs in our life and yet we continue to place such little importance and respect upon preservation of this vital resource.
I was inspired to document this relationship but with a spin that related the images back to the charity, which fortunately lead me to pouring dirty water on celebrities. Or at least that was my justification for having a cheeky good time.
At the end of the day I just wanted the images to evoke viewers into reflecting on how easily we take for granted the simple necessities in our lives such as clean water.
The shoot was one of the most manic days of shooting but somehow seemed to fly by. I was shooting in Perth the day before and departed at midnight to arrive in Sydney at 6am for a 7am call to set.
Prior to the shoot I typed up a photographic directive outlining the concept and nature of the shoot for the publicist to pass onto each of the celebrities. Great in theory however it somehow became lost on the information super highway and so I was left on set with celebrities unaware that we had every intention of pouring dirty water all over them.
After some sweet-talking and by good fortune (possibly the nature of the shoot) we were blessed with 9 open-minded easygoing subjects willing to get dirty and wet. Could my job get any better?
We started with Jason Dundas and his high-energy attitude to life, which managed to awake me from my jet lag and set the pace for those to follow. Importantly though I wanted to show a range of emotions so to connect with a larger audience and reflect a little on each of the subjects. We had it all, from Gracie Otto and her more subdued expression stretching to the tips of her red finger nails through to Emma Lung venting repugnance at the top of her lungs and Alex Demitriades’s look of disgust. The message was clear.
There was a cast and crew of over 20 people and all was accomplished in 1 day without hiccup.
Other highlights in my career have included shooting International Campaigns for Mimco with super models such as Alice Burdeu and Emma Balfour, touring Australia shooting campaigns for L’Oreal and separately for Amstel Beer, working with UK pop celebrity Tara Palmer-Tompkinson on a resort campaign in Bali and the many opportunities to work and play in the snow, desert, beach and bush of our beautiful country.