INTERVIEW: Balarama Drama, DOCUMENTING #MADEfw
Balarama Heller creates personal interpretations of runway shows and after-parties for MilkMade.com. Always noticing this young man, often with a handful of cameras hanging from his neck, we sat down for a chat to find out more about his work and his creative motifs and motivations. Click on each photograph shown here to be taken through to a gallery of his images from Creatures Of The Wind, Erin Fetherston and Katie Gallagher.
Milk Made: How do you see your mission at milkmade.com?
BH: I guess I see myself more as a mercenary, a hired gun. Kind of a rogue agent, unpredictable but I always come through on payday. For me the challenge for fashion week is I’m given the same set of ingredients every year and I have to top myself creatively from what I did last year. It’s a challenge because you’re given five or four basic ingredients and I have to reconfigure them each year to come up with something compelling. It can be a little bit nerve wrecking but it always pushes my creative levels. Last year I had no idea I was going to come out with this.
MM: So how would you describe your visual take on what you’re seeing at the runway shows and at MADE Fashion Week?
BH: As a documentary photographer being my foundation I go into a situation and I try to empty myself of ideas, then I literally respond and react to what the environment is telling me. As I try to kind of give the viewer a more distilled experience of what the fashion show is or what the presentation is, I strip away the distractions, what I consider distractions. And I try to leave them with a very distilled, most basic common denominator of what the designer is trying to convey; so extract elemental visual motifs and in post production I may arrange them as such in a way that is sort of seamless and the viewer becomes suspended for a few moments trying to put together this enigma. Like improbable perspectives something that speaks to the essence of who she is as an artist.
MM: Tell us about some of the projects you have been working on recently.
BH: Most recently, I did a men’s editorial ad in a newish magazine called Style Zeitgeist. In that we tried to meld this optimistic, summery lighting with really Gothic clothes like Rick Owens, just really, really, edgy dark stuff. The same approach as my work during fashion shows only using only locations and trying to see through the use of geometry and light.
MM: What else have you got coming up?
BH: One never knows
MM: Good answer. Which shows are you looking forward to this year?
BH: Definitely Erin Fetherston for sure, she’s a neighbor of mine. I just really like what she does and her presentations always offer so much visually, it gives me a lot to work with. [Nomia]( http://nomia-nyc.com/) shows at The Standard, she’s always a favorite. And some of the off-site shows, which hopefully I can get to like Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler. Jeremy Scott always is the best, The Blonds, they’re both being held at MADE Fashion Week inside Milk so I’ll be there for sure.
Photography by Balarama Heller