The third test I did was one of my favourites ever. I was introduced to Fanie Nel through the agency, he was test shooting a lot of their new girls. Fanie did everything himself: the make-up, the styling and the photography. Not bad for an Afrikaans boytjie from Bloemfontein?
When Fanie was done with my make-up, I stood by the mirror in awe. He knew just where to shade, where to highlight and accentuate. He'd painted me some cheekbones, perfected my eyebrows and made my lips seem fuller. Genius. Then he pulled out a suitcase filled with fabric, tops, dresses, scarves and jewellery from which he styled perfect outfits within minutes. We started off with a groomed and elegant, slightly more mature look.
As soon as Fanie had the camera in his hands, I discovered his next super talent, directing a model. He made me clench my jaw, put my tongue up against the roof of my mouth and stick my head out towards him. It felt quite strange while I was doing it, but the pictures blew my mind. At twenty my face was very soft and child-like, leaning towards round, but his instructions gave me shape and angles.
Fanie also taught me how to get expression in my eyes; he told me to think of something, anything at all. The tendency is to go blank when someone's pointing a camera at you and that shows in pictures. When you just let your thoughts go, emotions rise involuntarily and reflect in your eyes.
For the second look, we kept it sweet and simple. My hair was straightened with a straightening iron for the first time in my life!
When these pictures were in my book, clients were always saying I looked like Katie Holmes. Dawson's Creek was big at the time!
While driving from one location to the next, we stopped next to the road where some reeds were growing. A black shirt, a cowboy hat with a hole in it and we were done.
For our final shots, Fanie said we should do something a bit more directional/fashion/fun.
Great fashion editorials are pure creative fantasy, where editors and stylists work together to create an image that needs no real life relevance, it's the art of the fashion industry; beauty for beauty's sake. So Fanie pulled out of his magic trunk a little pink frock, added some messy woodland nymph hair and a sprinkling of glittery eyeshadow. To complete his fairy fantasy, we drove out to a small section of forest nearby and I went boldly into the undergrowth.
I was working very hard at remembering all the instructions Fanie had given me during the day, and it shows in these photographs. The poses are good (for 1997), my face is defined and there's plenty of expression.
This photograph was on the front of my Z-card in one country or another for at least six years!
My only critique would be that my face is so much lighter than my body, an issue that's easily fixed in post-production these days. Which reminds me, these pictures were all shot on film and no retouching was done. Disturbingly, that is almost unheard of these days.