Driven by Character

Driven by Character

Sylvè Colless grew up in rural Australia, and spent much of her childhood ‘alone in nature’, exploring the world. And even though her work – both commercial and artistic – has seen her travel all over the world, this connection to home and nature still informs her raw, edgy aesthetic. Here Sylvè talks about her early influences and where she drew inspiration for the SemiPermanent and Facebook collaboration. 


What were your influences growing up?

As an only child I spent a lot of time alone in nature. We lived on a property with dogs and horses, and I’d head down to the river or the beach. Time spent in nature was a very formative part of my childhood. 

While you were at university you dabbled in fine art and architecture – how have those elements informed your work?

I’m still very interested in art, especially painting and light installations. I often reference certain qualities when I start working on a new project.

Architecture is equally pragmatic, artistic and mathematical, much like photography. I became very intrigued by different qualities of light and the different ways it can give shape to a form.

Harmonia / Sylve Colless

Do you approach your corporate/fashion photography differently to your personal work?

Mysterious and intriguing images are the most interesting and powerful to me. When I’m not working to a client brief I have the opportunity to explore this in a more indulgent way. I like to keep this aesthetic with my commissioned works but in a more commercially safe way. 

In both aspects of my work I’m very involved in the process of casting, selecting locations and developing creative.

How do you recharge your creative juices?

I have a ritual of throwing myself into the ocean, whenever I arrive somewhere. It’s the ultimate recharge.

"Mobile is making photography so accessible. Everyone can be a photographer, everyone can make a film. So for me it’s about authenticity and true creativity."


Tell us about the SemiPermanent and Facebook collaboration – what interested you about it when you were approached?

I liked the unique nature of this project and being able to tell a story with just four frames. It took some toying with the idea to figure out how best to tackle it, but I really enjoyed the process.

It was a great opportunity to work with both Semi Permanent and Facebook on a unique and exciting brief that would be viewed by the wider creative community.

Aurelia / Sylve Colless

What inspiration did you draw from the Dan Winters image?

I like the idea that with a photo booth everyone who enters emerges with a unique experience of having his or her picture taken. It’s like your own little world when you close the curtain for a brief moment of time – and your imagination determines the outcome of the images you leave with.

"I have a ritual of throwing myself into the ocean, whenever I arrive somewhere. It’s the ultimate recharge."

What was your approach to crafting the story specifically for mobile? 

I was excited to use the Carousel format to tell a story. It really made me consider each frame and its significance. It was really important that I took the viewer on a journey, each frame played a key role in doing this.

I wanted the images to be understood at a glance and for each image to draw you in and flow into the next. Images that were understood at a glance was paramount.

Behind the scenes of Preludes 1 / Annabella Barber & Sylve Colless
An(im)a / Sylve Colless

What opportunities do you think the mobile-first world presents for creatives?

Mobile is making photography so accessible. Everyone can be a photographer, everyone can make a film. So for me it’s about authenticity and true creativity. That’s what stands out from the noise. It’s a wonderful opportunity to create something that reaches so many people on a device so personal.

What opportunities do you think Facebook and Instagram present for creatives?

It’s a very different viewing experience for both film and photography, I like that it’s an inclusive community of sharing, and an opportunity for people who have a unique vision or a great eye to reach a broader audience. The feed environment is really becoming an exciting canvas for the creative industry.

Check out Sylve's Carousel here

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