“In August, I met a group of volunteers, several guys and girls,” photographer Ivan Tsupka tells us. “From the very beginning of the war, they began to weave camouflage nets in the evenings and on weekends, when they could. Later, they expanded their activities and began producing camouflage suits, thermal blankets for soldiers and wounded, special pillows for hospitals, and many other items for the army.” Of the many times that we’ve featured Ivan and his work on this site, we’ve always been aware of the fashion angle that he takes with these causes he cares about. And in this case, he’s working to help raise money for the efforts in Ukraine.
All images by Ivan Tsupka. Used with permission.
The idea was to have models wear camouflage suits to bring awareness to the campaign via a fashion editorial-style shoot. For this shoot, Ivan had no budget — and he felt it would be inappropriate to invest money into the shoot itself. But they needed to create the camouflage suits. “Fortunately, we already had a professional model – Olga Chuvakina – one of the girls who sewed these camouflage suits from the early days of the war,” he tells us. “In all the scenes, she wears camouflage suits that she made herself, which were sent to some snipers at the next day after shooting. So, the problem of finding a model did not even arise.”
To continue to save money for the shoot, Ivan chose to do it in the streets. It was easiest to shoot at night because it was otherwise too hot outside during the daytime in the city. Originally, he wanted to work with intersections but concluded that he needed a darker space so they could illuminate the camo suits.
Stylists, make-up artists, and wardrobe assistants all came together to help with this shoot. They shot at 8:30pm each night and had to finish by 11pm to get home before curfew.
Ivan shot using his Sony a7r II, a 24-70mm f4, and Godox speedlights. “The idea was to use a relatively long exposure, around 1/3 – 1/4 for the night city, and at the end of the exposure, highlighting the model with a flash,” he tells us. “The in-camera image stabilization system, combined with slight camera movement, created intricate patterns, and the rear flash mode triggered the flash at the very end of the exposure, leaving a subtle trace behind the model. I adjusted parameters for each new scene, slightly altering the exposure and changing the flash power.” They all experimented on the go when shooting.
The most difficult part? Synchronizing the models moving with cars. “Currently, due to the war, evening traffic in the city is minimal, but we aimed to utilize the red lights of departing cars in the background,” Ivan says. “This required synchronizing the model’s movement, the car’s movement, and the actual shoot, which didn’t always go as planned.”
With over 600 photographs, basic adjustments were made in Lightroom, and final selections were made. Minor Lightroom retouches, like smoothing the shiny cream out, were done.
How to Help
I hope our shoot has captured your attention and reminded you that Ukraine still needs your help as much as it did a year and a half ago. Please help using channels you trust; you can always find genuine volunteers in need on social media, with the Little Gang of Angels being one of them. The direct Little Gangs of Angels PayPal is email@example.com, and you can be confident that all funds sent to them will go towards camouflage nets, costumes, and similar needs. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of volunteer groups in Ukraine, all in need of your support. We thank you in advance for any, even the smallest, help and donations!
- Model – Olga Chuvakina
- Photographer – Ivan Tsupka
- Stylist – Elena Sydorenko
- MUAH – Irina Domanina
- BTS shooting – Murat Makoev
- Organised by Olya Karpiuk
- Special thanks Nimble Scissors
The Phoblographer works with human photographers to verify that they’ve actually created their work through shoots. These are done by providing us assets such as BTS captures, screenshots of post-production, extra photos from the shoot, etc. We do this to help our readers realize that this is authentically human work. Here’s what this photographer provided for us.