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November - Heidi Niemala.

Heidi’s clients include Neiman Marcus, Avon, Delta, Caress, Coty Perfume, Air France, too name a few. Her images are normally highly stylised, well-studied fashion and beauty imagery denoted by muted tones. But for the calendar two strong images have been chosen where colour is a bold element that cannot be missed.

Fashion photography and beauty photography are general terms for a variety of imagery. For example, it is normal for fashion shots to communicate less about an item of clothing and more about lifestyle; more about fantasy than fact, quite simply. And fantasy is a word that Heidi Niemala literally uses when she talks about her work where the emphasis could be said to be on the mood implied or feel created, and not necessarily the reality. It is that certain extra ingredient, not always easy to define, that lifts her work apart. And it is that certain ingredient that has attracted big-name clients to the cool and controlled images by this New York photographer.

Heidi Niemala was not a stranger to the world of fashion when she began in photography. Six years as a model had provided her with what it was all about. Further education beckoned and she became drawn to the other side of the camera when at college, though she was studying other subjects at the time. It was fashion photography specifically that caught her interest and remains as her way of creating beautiful images, quite simply. Her images are creations of course, there is little that just happens by chance. They are pre-meditated constructions where décor and stylists play a role too. As a pointer to how she appreciates things visually and photographers she admires you could leaf through the works of Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi, Mert & Markus, Diane Arbus, Javier Vollhonrat and Sarah Moon. Regarding her own work, Heidi says it is a distinctive style that she aims for — she wants people to look at her work and know who it was who shot it. This style has been picked up by some brand names to communicate their message: Coty Perfume, Caress, Avon, Lee Jeans and Air France, for example. When not on assignment for clients, Heidi works on her own personal projects; a subject that is close to her heart. When asked what projects satisfy her most concerning her work – personal or commercial – she says it is “…the ones that convert my dreams into images. The ones that create timeless images…”

 To achieve this carefully crafted work, Heidi uses Hasselblad cameras, namely, an H1 and a 503CW. She has 80mm, 120mm and 150mm lenses, favouring the 120mm. Flexibility, reliability and superior optics are characteristics mentioned along with the fact that the cameras can be used hand-held. There is a signature look about many of her images that is cool and muted, where the colours are watercolour in strength; echoing another time.
This particular look comes about through film processing chemistry where bleach times are changed. Heidi does shoot digitally but prefers film if she has the opportunity. She openly admits she does not relish change but nevertheless she knows that photography cannot stand still and perhaps pressure from clients, as well as technological improvements, might persuade her to re-think somewhat.

Currently, Heidi can afford to spend about 50% of her time on her personal work. She recognizes that determination and dedication are called for to succeed in professional photography. Indeed she classifies her interests as an obsession. Another key issue she highlights for those in search of a career is the realization that professional photography is a business, not just an extension of an art form. In other words, work will not necessarily sell itself and some form of business practice has to be put into operation.

Nevertheless, Heidi Niemala has strong feelings about her style and the way she works. She recognizes that it does not suit all type of client and so she has decided to choose clients that approve of her style instead. That way she can concentrate on producing the images she believes in, happily mixing pleasure with work. A precarious, perhaps, but pleasurable way of making a living. See her website to see what can be done with a strong personal style