Adelaide-based photographer Dave Leane and model Amy Heather have been collaborating prolifically for the past four years – creating some amazing work together. We talk to Dave and Amy about their creative process and feature a selection of images from their substantial back catalogue. Enjoy…
You have worked together a lot over the past couple of years; tell us a little bit about the collaboration and what it is that makes it work so well.
Amy: Trust, communication and belief in one another. Dave and I build each other up and have a wonderful creative relationship. I can trust him to the moon and back. He was there for me right at the beginning of my modelling journey, instilling in me a strong belief to trust myself and him. Now almost four years later, working together is like breathing, its second nature. We can understand each other’s moods and draw from that. With emotions, you have to choose how you use it in your art; to use them, feed on them and let it all fall out of you, or to escape from them into a world entirely of your own creation.
Dave: It is trust on a professional and a personal level. It’s the trust that we will achieve something useable with the knowledge that not everything will perfect, but failure is not a failure it’s a learning curve. What’s nearly as important as the trust is the friendship; this has allowed us to be open and honest in our photo shoots. The understanding of each other’s traits and personal issues, and the understanding of each other’s faults as well as strengths.
Inspiration strikes at all hours, I keep a notebook by my bed! I sometimes freak Dave out by messaging at 12am with some idea that I’ve just thought of (sorry Dave!)
Where does the inspiration come from for your shoots; is it a combined effort?
Amy: Definitely! Each shoot is a mesh of ideas from the two of us. Inspiration strikes at all hours, I keep a notebook by my bed! I sometimes freak Dave out by messaging at 12am with some idea that I’ve just thought of (sorry Dave!). You can’t force creativity it demands to be felt, or it doesn’t.
We help to inspire each other a lot, especially during the slower moments of creativity. Creativity can come in waves and we give the other a boost, if one of us is not feeling creative, we build the other up by sharing ideas and re-inspiring and pushing each other. We talk on the phone a lot about our concept ideas and we flesh out the details, send each other inspiration images and create mood boards together.
Dave: Yes, it comes from discussions, it comes from what inspires each of us. Taking inspiration from each other and turning it into our own. It starts from an idea and we mold it and shape it to make it our own. We are very mindful to make it as original as possible.
A perfect shoot is when it is no longer driven by the inspiration we started with and the shoot becomes alive.
Is each shoot meticulously planned or do you rely more on a sense of spontaneity and a common understanding of what you are both trying to achieve?
Amy: Spontaneity for sure. Prior to a shoot we will talk about the general vibe we are aiming to capture and we’ll talk styling ideas etc but when it comes to the day, we roll with how we are each feeling at the time. Some of our favourite shots that we have created together have been completely unplanned. A spot off the road we couldn’t resist driving past, the perfect crack of sunlight though some old blinds in an abandoned house, a field of flowers newly in bloom, a lit up phone box in the middle of the night – next to a police station! There’s only so much you can plan, in going with the creative flow you capture moments that can never ever be relived or recreated. You will regret not taking the opportunities otherwise.
When a shoot is perfect, there is a point where I detach from reality. I just become… me. There ceases to even be an idea, I move and flow and I am simply being honest, following with the emotions that I have running through me at the time. This allows me to release the energies and feelings inside of me in a raw and exposed way. It allows me to be completely free.
Dave: Our ideas are always flexible because our moods are always changing. We will start a shoot and very quickly understand our emotions and it will take us to where it takes us. A perfect shoot is when it is no longer driven by the inspiration we started with and the shoot becomes alive. Where it’s a free flowing capture of emotion. I stop thinking about the lights, I stop thinking about the camera, it just becomes an extension of me. Every single thing that I have learnt about photography becomes fluid, sharpness remains critical, exposure becomes emotion driven. Sadness and fear are often dark, happiness and beauty require more light.
Where do you see the collaboration going next? Are you working on any shared projects that you can tell us about?
Amy: Wherever it will take us, it will take us there together. We adore working together and that’s something that will never change; Dave is such a wonderful artist and friend. Our next big adventure will be the release of our first ever coffee table book! The book will feature new work and never before released images.
Dave: We are exploring the ideas on how to release our work in new ways. Rather than shooting purely just for enjoyment we are exploring ways in which to share our collaborative art in new forms. Our best is definitely ahead of us, we have barely touched on experimental and film ideas. Yes, a coffee table book is in the wings! Let’s just see where it takes us!
You can see more of Dave and Amy’s collaboration at:
All images copyright David Leane.