In this article, Simone talks us through the inspiration and process behind her series and how she hopes it will help to raise money for organisations fighting against climate change in the future.
Today we live in a world full of too many things and too little value. We do not take time to focus on what is important, to think about our lives, nature and its resources. We as humankind take everything that nature gifts to us for granted and ignore the consequences. Thinking about this is heartbreaking to me, and I felt kind of hopeless, but nevertheless, I wanted to try and do something within my abilities to make these problems more visible.
This project is not just about trying to make people reduce the amount of plastic they use. It is more about making people think about where we are coming from and where we will end up.
“This project is not just about trying to make people reduce the amount of plastic they use. It is more about making people think about where we are coming from and where we will end up.”
Using the symbol of melting, and taking nature from outside to the inside and the other way round, I create a surreal setting which confuses and confronts the viewer with something unexpected, and hopefully that will lead to reflection on their own behaviours.
I hope they will start to see nature, not as an endless resource which we can just consume until nothing is left anymore. I hope the pictures will inspire people to think deeper and inform themselves about their consumables, the way they live or even political decisions which they are making.
In this case, the idea came when I was on a walk and found so much plastic waste everywhere. It made me want to do something, more than just collecting everything that I found. I wanted to make something to visualise how we, as humans harm our planet.
Then I thought about what a world without any natural plants or flowers would look and how I could transform that into images. All the ideas became rough sketches, and I created a mood board so that designers, models and makeup artists that I work with would understand my vision and goal for this project.
I find that inspiration can come from anywhere—a colour, a song, a location or—most of the time—an emotion. For ‘Méduse en Plastique’ I was inspired by an article I read about fishes and turtles that are eating plastic bags because when they float through the ocean, they look like jellyfish or algae.
Here’s an insight into how I created the series and how I plan to develop it in the future.
Photographing the different elements
Everything which functions as props within the pictures, I have made myself. I collected trash, melted old plastic bottles and spray-painted them. I also gathered sticks and branches.
People must have thought I was a bit crazy carrying all that trash into my flat!
For some of the pictures I had the incredible pleasure to work with Ann Wiberg who designs gorgeous haute couture gowns in Copenhagen. They are made with reused antique fabrics, laces and unique embroideries. They are hand-dyed and transformed into these gorgeous pieces of art which she calls ‘trash couture’ and are worn by celebrities all over the world.
I also submerged plastic bags in water and took photos to use in some of the final images.
Creating the final images in Affinity Photo
To create images for the series I first look through all the shots I’ve taken and mark which ones I like in Lightroom. These can be multiple ones, for example if I prefer the hand, arm or leg from one picture, and the head, body or dress movement from another.
For ‘Méduse en Plastique’ I also selected the different plastic bag and bubble versions I wanted to use in the final picture, which I had photographed separately.
Then the most time-consuming but also the most interesting part is combining all the pictures in Affinity Photo and creating layer masks to just show the parts that I want to have in the picture. I then adjust these different layers with colour, brightness, etc. to fit into the picture. Here I also painted in some light rays and worked with motion blur to highlight the movement of the dress, arms or legs.
My final images consist of more than 150 layers, which I always group or I would become lost. Lastly, I apply some final colour adjustments to ensure the image matches all the other pictures in the series to achieve a cohesive look.
Taking the series further
So far, the series consists of eight images, but it is not yet finished. I plan to explore more topics of climate change, the use and consumption of resources and the amount of waste humankind leaves on this planet. It would be great if, by the end of the project, there could be an exhibition where I could raise some money for organisations fighting against climate change or those supporting nature and the resources of our planet—that is my goal.
“It would be great if, by the end of the project, there could be an exhibition where I could raise some money for organisations fighting against climate change or those supporting nature and the resources of our planet—that is my goal.”