The most successful photographers are those who can see shots in more than one way. Brett Nadal personified that trait when working on an impromptu shoot with Rachael Luesse, an international model whose hometown is in Central Illinois. Brett wanted to blend Rachael’s high-fashion modeling know-how with his photojournalist skills to create a lifestyle shoot. Brett knows that saying yes is essential — that if there’s a twinkle of an idea, go with it. “Rachael and the Country” is the result of taking that leap.
What did you learn on this project?
This project taught me that, at times, the importance of subject matter can far outweigh any artistic technique you can use to approach it. The right model can bring a photoshoot to another level. While I offer the ability to make people feel comfortable and happy about the way they look, you can’t take a bad photo of a great model.
Rachael’s extensive experience as a model is from the world of high fashion. My experience as a photographer and director comes from a world of documentary storytelling and lifestyle. In that regard, it was a wonderful experiment in offering each other new flavors that we weren’t always accustomed to cooking with. I think the result was fun, authentic, and beautiful! I allowed for her to be her own, spontaneous character and she offered me a different sort of experience in working with someone with an enthusiastic awareness and refreshing self-acceptance that is truly rare.
My personal culture as an artist is to greet any subject with an acceptance that often surprises people. I’m often told that I’m incredibly relaxed when I’m at work, possibly due to that I work with the intent to understand and enhance with communication, not to dominate and control.
What was your most memorable moment?
There was a moment when we jumped in the pickup truck while changing locations. There was no clear shot list, and Rachael put a lot of trust in me. So, I jumped in the back of the truck, taking in all that I saw. I noticed that Rachael was striking poses while on the drive — she was never off. It reminded me of my own background of always needing to be on but from the other side of the camera. At that moment, there was remarkably little verbal communication. I was responding to her through the lens and she was reacting accordingly. It really was one of the beautiful moments when two professional artists clique and get into the flow without having to speak.
What would you like people to know about you and your work after viewing this?
I can roll with the spontaneous. It isn’t lost on me, coming from a photojournalistic background, as someone trained to do what I do, to see a shot five hundred different ways — that I have one opportunity to get the shot.
I understand that you need to ensure you have the proper ingredients while you don’t have to have a detailed shot list. When shooting libraries, I ensure that I stay true to the brand and creative direction — understanding the aesthetic. But, I also take the opportunity to observe in multiple ways — seeing a scenario beyond just your hero shot. With all of the pieces in place, I work with the attitude the talent conveys, capturing genuine communications and interactions.
Follow Brett on Instagram for more visuals depicting what it means to see and be seen.