Big things are currently happening in the Fashion Industry within Canberra. As many readers will be aware, we’ve just hosted a very successful Fashfest, highlighting just how exceptionally talented and competitive our local designers are. The Toni team were lucky enough to be reporting at the major event from the front line and it’s amazing to see just how much goes on behind the scenes.
Without argument, one of the most critical factors in successfully delivering fashion to the public is the shoot. In a world where the engineering of photography can be paramount to success, it takes exceptionally talented photographers to produce images which translate the beautifully unspoken language of the captured image.
When considering exceptionally talented fashion photographers based in our nation’s capital, there’s one name which you can be sure you’ll hear, Robert Coppa.
Robert Coppa has mastered the art of translating that unspoken language on the national and international stage. An artist who has a comprehensive understanding of photography, great depth of creative vision and an outstanding reputation within the industry to orchestrate shoots which produce stunning results.
In the early days of Robert’s career he was based in Seattle. Even then he showed a determination and persistence which has been the driving force behind his success. After sourcing out the regions photographers whose work he had come to admire, Robert sent out about 120 emails requesting the opportunity to become one of their assistants. Although only two of them replied, one took him on as an assistant and Robert fully seized the opportunity and began an apprenticeship.
Robert spent eight years living in the US and it was during this time that he started developing his vast skill set of photography. Whilst fulfilling remedial tasks, he was working on retouching images and noticed that the standard was not very high. After working on the images he soon found that his efforts had greatly improved the quality of the finished product. This brought him to the conclusion that he could do photography as well as get the total product of the shoot, retouching, colour grading and delivery to the customer.
Not only did he learn the technical side of the profession but he fine-tuned his own natural talents for the creative and artistic perspectives which make the difference between a good photographer and an exceptional one. He mastered the art of dealing with hair, makeup, styling and interacting with his talent as well as with his models. This has given him a reputation within the industry of have an outstanding ability to be able to get the most out of models without breaking them.
Robert eventually returned to Canberra from the US to find that there was very little on offer within the industry, especially for fashion photography. Social media, like Facebook, were not a big thing at the time so it was quite difficult to try to put together a group at an attempt on a collaboration or an editorial. Given the circumstances, he decided to put fashion to the side spent some time on production stills and movie sets, being involved in various films and television work – some with channel 7 and channel 9 in Sydney. However, fashion was still his passion and once social media really took off in Australia and particularly at home in Canberra it paved the way for Robert to return.
Over the last couple of years the boom in social media has opened so many doors and Robert has once again found himself in a commanding position within an industry which is about to explode. He’s not only doing work locally, but in Sydney, Melbourne and overseas.
Robert, in many ways, is a pioneer who is leading by example and actively promotes and encourages the new generation give it go, experimenting and stepping outside of their comfort zones. He believes that we have a great deal of amazing makeup artists and stylist, with names like Amy Capeda, Jolina O’Hair, Karen Mathias and David Reid.
Where he believes our attentions should be focused is on the modelling side of things by getting people to pose better and relate better. Robert also acknowledges that here at home we have some very talented photographers and that as the industry matures in Canberra more and more will be coming out here.
Robert Coppa is a very experienced professional photographer who’s produced some amazing work. Last year a client flew Robert over to France where he shot in a 500 year old chateau. Very modestly, and in the highest regard, Robert humbly describes the great privilege the experience was and the amazing hospitality in which his client displayed. The model came in from the UK, the makeup artist from Wales, the stylist from Dubai and Robert coming in from Australia just goes to show the level at which Robert is performing on. Understandably, he’s excited about returning to France in July for the continuation of his work. Although the information has not yet been made public, he did let it slip that it will be in Brittany shooting on the English Channel, but that’s all he would reveal.
Robert is currently involved is some very exciting things, especially now being partner of the label Sarah Joseph Couture. Some of the work he’s done with Sarah has received some great accolades. As many readers would be aware of the black ribbon dress which was at Fashfest last year, winning quite a few awards internationally, which has received a lot of fantastic recognition.
The SJC label was started about 5 years ago in the UK before. Sarah migrated to Australia. Robert and Sarah met each other and she booked him to shoot her new collection. Robert recalls with fondness how they got talking and identified a lot of synergy between their businesses, referring to her as absolutely amazing and a fantastic designer. After a couple of shoots together and observing the flow of natural progression decided to join forces. He still has Robert Coppa Photography and its own entity but is now also a partner of Sarah Joseph Couture.
Robert is enjoying his collaboration with Sarah Joseph Couture and he explains that the strength is the SJC people. He expresses the importance and places great value in the core group of people around him that “understand what we’re about.” Robert emphasises the fact that talent is “extremely and extremely important – a model who is a able to move and flow” and the location are pivotal factors which make for a great shoot. Originally he used to do almost 100% studio work but is now moving out to shoot more location based and a combination of the two.
Robert and I spent some time reflecting on his many various experiences with shoots. Some funny, some challenging. He recalls shooting the Denim and Skin shoot in Sydney on its hottest day, some 46* plus in a studio with a broken air conditioner. Or the time he was shooting one particular model who was quite flat on the day, only to end up shooting the makeup artist and then getting an editorial out of it. Upon reflecting on being under pressure he also recalls doing a shoot where “ we were shooting two or three people and we were just going through look after look and he would get the girl up and do a couple and we would shoot 20-30 frames and boom the makeup would just transform. It was a bit of like conveyor belt situation, yeah he was definitely one of the best makeup artists in Canberra.”
I myself have had the fantastic opportunity to work with Robert and know firsthand why he is so well respected in his field. We at Toni Magazine value and appreciate Robert’s insight into the industry, reflecting from his own personal experiences. One great observation that Robert made was the profound affect that social media is having on the industry and how it is fueling growth and one of the key tools in communication, networking and bringing awareness. This was fantastic coming from Robert as obviously that’s what we here at Toni Magazine are all about. Things too look out for are definitely the exiting new designs coming out of Sarah Joseph Couture and Robert’s upcoming work being shot in France.
Robert thank you once again,