Through The Lens

Renata Kaveh

January 7, 2010, by Chelsea Coyle

Lately I have been very busy with travelling, which leaves me little time for anything else. That's okay though. With all of this busyness, hopefully there will be lots to show for it. My return to "Through the Lens" begins with the beautiful Renata Kaveh.

I am always surprised by the uniqueness of Renata's work. As I am sure many others have, I have been watching her career closely in terms of what she has created and will continue to create. In a field that has historically been dominated by men, women photographers like Renata have solidified their place in a fiercely competitive industry.

Renata Kaveh was celebrated as one of the top female fashion photographers in Canada at LG Fashion week in Toronto. Her work has been featured in Parisian and North American fashion publications. Her videos and other works accent the exquisiteness that so obviously comes to her naturally.


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    model: Elite's Sarah Jordan in "Model Worship," by Renata Kaveh
    styling: Rashmi Marma; hair & makeup: Jess Sidhu

    The process of selecting a "Top Canadian Photographer" for this piece was easy. Both Modelresource's Publisher and I immediately agreed on our choice: the stunning Renata Kaveh.

    Can you tell our readers how you got into photography? How did you decide this was the right career choice for you?

    Stunning??? WOW, I don't know if I deserve that! But I'll take it! I grew up obsessed with fashion, fashion television, Vogue and photography. I even did photo sessions with my Barbie's, delicately placing their plastic limbs so as to capture the perfect shot. It occurred to everyone else around me but myself when I was sitting at a desk from 9:00 - 5:00, depressed, and doodling a happier existence in my notepad (think ShopGirl) that I was wasting my talents. I thought to myself 'there is no way you can make a living taking photographs and who in the hell would even buy my pictures?' Needless to say, I decided that photography was the right career choice the day I sold out all of my photos at the Women X Women Exhibit.

    The silent unnoticed supporters of up and coming photographers, like artist agencies and modelling agents that help fashion photographers gain experience, access amazing talent and help build confidence to make a career in fashion photography happen, deserve recognition. Special thanks to Allison MacGillivray with Ford, who has always supported me from the very beginning and who's been a great friend. Also, of course Roseanna, Cathy, Lyndon and Amanda at Plutino Group, to whom I owe very much.

    Can you tell our readers about being featured at Women X Women ( and how you were selected?
    The process was very simple actually; I was approached by the founders, Alice Keith and Angela Young. When I was briefed on the fact that it was a show celebrating the top female fashion photographers in Canada, I couldn't resist. I think that the concept is novel, providing photographers like myself with a real platform and an excited audience. WXW is no doubt a huge success and has been embraced by the fashion community and media so warmly. I was deeply humbled to be a part of the whole experience, as well as to be in the company of such great female talent all in one room. It gave me goose bumps.

    One of the most striking shoots that took place as part of this season's Women X Women Exhibit was your series entitled "Deserter." You travelled to Nevada to shoot this. Please share this experience with us.
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    model: Sophie in "Deserter" (Women X Women), by Renata Kaveh
    styling: Dwayne Kennedy; hair: Diana Dagher; makeup: Aniya Nandy

    I have to say that the shoot was quite ambitious, but once I get an idea into my head there is no turning back. It was shot in Death Valley, California and is one of the dearest projects to my heart. Not only due to the desert landscapes beauty, but the team behind it: Dwayne Kennedy (Stylist), Aniya Nandy (Makeup), Diana Dagher (Hair), all Plutino and of course Christina Woerns (Acting Documentary Cinematographer). This is a group of tremendously talented people, who no doubt are the future of the Canadian Fashion scene. There was a real heart and soul behind the shoot and real friendships grew from "Deserter." One day that sticks out, was our 4:30 a.m. call time to shoot in the desert sand dunes. We had to make sure we had the sunrise timed right. I think that we climbed over 12 treacherous dunes, racing to catch the sunrise. Let's just say cardio is not my specialty! When we finally reached the point where I was satisfied, this old man came out of nowhere and said "You've missed it! You should have been coming from this direction. The shots are way better from here." I remember turning over my shoulder and everyone giving me the look of death. I cracked up laughing and then eventually everybody followed suit. Needless to say we still got our sunrise shot.

    What do you look for in casting for your films and photo shoots? Who are some of the Canadian models that you have worked with?
    I look for something slightly imperfect - mystery! I like models with sass and personality. A real actress if you will. I've shot with Frances (Elite), Paris (Ford - watch out for this one) and Grace (Next). All amazing talents!

    You have been the creative director on video shoots as well such as "Rencontrer," shot in Paris. Describe to us your creative process in shooting this video?

    I was approached by Billie Mintz (Arc Institute) and Angela Young (The Advocates) to follow me on my shoot for Polysh Magazine in Paris. Once again, I couldn't pass up on working with two such amazing artists. I gave them free reign, but I knew that I wanted the streets of Paris to play a major role. Angela and Billie ran with it and weaved together a classic Parisian love story; the aesthetic created is like none other. It was a great pleasure doing this film with them.

    One of my favorite projects is the lingerie inspired fashion film where you once again served as the Creative Director. This video was also produced by the Advocates. Can you tell us what the process was like in making this film and what you looked for when casting this film, as well?

    This editorial is actually being featured in Bambi Magazine. I wanted this shoot to have a particularly vintage feel - where our model would be the "Agent Provocateur." Greatest of all, we were given access to one of the most sought after private night clubs, Le Cercle, in Paris by my good friend Hugues Piketty. I find that the landscape/location plays a major role for me in almost all of my projects. I cast blonde bombshell Maaike (Madison Agency), Director Billie Mintz, Producer Angela Young, Stylists Nicolas Chicanot and Maxime Ninot, Hair Stylists Elliott Deparis and Makeup Artist Amalie Russell.

    "Je Veux Ton Amour" was a fashion short directed by Carly Bangs and Derek Blais and the Art Direction and Photography was by none other than you. The spread that inspired the film which was published in Filler Magazine.

    With Je Veut Ton Amour, I wanted it to be sexually charged and on the sadist side of things. It's an obsession story. Carly and Derek took it to the dark side in a very subtle but impacting way, as only Carly Bangs knows how.

    Your most recent fashion film "Rupture" was screened for the Fashion Collective's launch party during LG Fashion Week. As a model myself, I am inspired by video and film and hope you do many more of these. Can you tell me what motivated you to do these films, as well as the still shots for publications?

    I think that there is no doubts that fashion films are playing a major role on all of the runways and with the fashion houses. Film is very powerful and directing a film is not that far from directing still photography. I think that the two art forms complement one another quite nicely. I enjoy the challenge film offers! The story telling and direction is very much the same. I hope "Rupture" will be the first of many future film projects. It was a film I conceived and directed out of my deep and profound respect for Guy Bourdin, who greatly influenced the film. Although it definitely has a David Lynch "Hitchcock” undertone to it. It was important that the film had real crime thriller intensity. What we ended up with was something highly seductive and intoxicating. I am very proud of this film and I have to especially thank Naz Melconian (Producer), Christina Woerns (Director of Lighting), Terri Dacquisto (Styling), Aniya Nandy (Makeup), Hair (Diana Dagher) and of course our models from Elite (Alex & Leigh).

    The competition for photographers is very competitive - Especially for women. What do you do to stay on top of your game?
    I dedicate myself to my work and what is important for me is that I have a body of work that I am proud of 50 years from now, regardless of who sees it and where it's published. I don't spend time competing; I spend it creating.

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    models: Ford's Paris and Spot 6's Alex & Shane
    "Three to Tango" (Moose Magazine), by Renata Kaveh
    styling: Dwayne Kennedy; hair & makeup: Diana Dagher

    How can being a woman photographer in today's fashion industry be a disadvantage or an advantage?
    I think it's an advantage! Just simply even the vibe on set. Shooting woman to woman is less intimidating and allows more room for nuance, creativity and it really provides the breeding ground for authenticity and beauty.

    What publications can we see some of your work, past and future?
    Unfair Magazine, Lush Magazine, Filler Magazine, Luxsure Magazine, Dirrty Glam Magazine, Poor But Sexy Magazine, Moose Magazine, Dress To Kill Magazine

    Thank you Renata! Your ambition and love of art is truly inspiring!


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