Meet The Singapore Fashion Photographer With The Cinematic Flair

As part of our Independent Issue this month, we chronicle four of the most budding and creative fashion photographers around. Could Marisse Caine be our answer to Michal Pudelka?

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Marisse Caine. Photo: Sharon Shum

Growing up in an all-female household plays a big part in shaping Marisse Caine’s perspective on life as well as her creative pursuits. It partly explains why this 26-year-old is inherently drawn to capturing women and female subjects on camera. You’d just need to browse through the works of this former alumna of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts to see how.

There are portraits of friends like Female Collective member Linda Hao (clearly a big muse for Caine judging by the number of photographs of Hao). And then there are the more off-kilter images like that of a bunch of girls in their lingerie in the library with books covering their faces.

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On top of the cinematic quality of her photos, Caine’s works also comes with a dark and wry humour.

Caine’s work come with a general sense of ennui, cinematic and documentary style, but also possess a dark and wry sense of humour (cue the series of underwear-clad models at the wet market, petrol kiosk, et al) that calls to mind the work of Slovakian photographer Michal Pudelka. The starting point for her red story with Female for the Independent Issue in June, however, is something more personal : An irreverent poem called Perfect Demons, which was penned by her then-13-year-old cousin.

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Two unpublished photos from the red-themed spread that Caine shot for Female’s June issue.

I choose photography as my medium of expression because…  I can recreate or capture what I observe with clarity. I am not eloquent with words the way say, Charles Bukowski or Haruki Murakami, is. When you read their books you can visualise the situation or scene they are describing — that’s a gift only some people have.

Good photography is… something that makes you question or upgrade your perspective of the world. For example, I recently discovered Amy Arbus’s street portraiture series entitled “On the Street 1980-1990” in my friend Elvis’s salon in Johor Bahru. The series showcased larger-than-life bohemians in New York from the ’80s. It almost felt like I was there experiencing the vibrant energy of these people. I never knew how people living in New York in the ’80s looked like until that point. There wasn’t really one look; people was so diverse and individualistic then.

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Caine’s body of work will appeal to fans of documentary photography.

Three words I would use to describe my images are… curious, honest and magical. I say magical at the risk of sounding dense but what I mean is, you can find magic everywhere and in everyone, if you bother to look properly.

My style of photography is… random.

The subjects I always photograph are… inspiring.

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Women are subjects she is drawn to.

The camera I use is… currently a Canon 6D because it’s all I can afford. I always believe that the camera is not that important but I have recently learnt that it could be in different situations. For example, when it comes to commercial photography some clients require higher resolution for their images then you would need a better camera. But also for some, it depends on the subject matter you’re interested in. Architecture photographers need a different lens.  A friend Timothy Wee told me recently that the (style of the) photographer follows the (type of) lens they use and I believe this to be true.

My photography heroes are… John Berger and Susan Sontag.

One person I would love to photograph…  is anyone whom I find interesting. But if I had an opportunity to meet and shoot someone, I guess I would pick Jane Goodall, Grace Jones or Iris Apfel.

I’m currently working on… my ability to understand the world more than what you see on the surface.

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